Introduction

Are you ready to dive into the ultimate adventure in the Sunshine State? Brace yourselves, thrill-seekers and fun enthusiasts. Then buckle up because we’re diving into the 5 Best Orlando Theme Parks You Need on Your Bucket List.

From heart-racing roller coasters to immersive themed lands, Orlando boasts many attractions that ignite your wanderlust and leave you with unforgettable memories. Join us as we journey through the seven must-visit theme parks that deserve a prime spot on your bucket list. Get ready to experience the magic, the thrills, and the excitement like never before!

7 Best Orlando Theme Parks

Orlando’s theme park haven awaits, but with so many options, where do you start? Fasten your belt because we’re diving into the 7 must-visit parks that’ll make your Florida vacation legendary. From soaring alongside dragons at Universal’s Wizarding World to plunging slides at Aquatica, we’ll unveil hidden gems, heart-stopping rides, and aquatic adventures for every age.

Discover the perfect match for you! And remember to check out the Best Hotels Close to Orlando’s Theme Parks for a truly magical stay. Are you ready to plan your grand trip? Read on!

1. Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World
Disney World Orlando

The renowned theme park complex in Florida, often regarded as one of the best Orlando theme parks, is a sprawling entertainment complex near Orlando and Kissimmee. Operated by The Walt Disney Company, it comprises four theme parks (Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park), two water parks (Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park), as well as 27 themed resort hotels.

Moreover, it features nine non-Disney resort hotels, multiple golf courses, two marinas, and a bustling shopping, dining, and entertainment area known as Disney Springs. Don’t miss out on the adventure; hop on a virtual tour of Walt Disney World Resort today!

Popular attractions in Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World Resort has various attractions and experiences for visitors of all ages. Some of the most popular attractions include:

  • Magic Kingdom Park: Step into the enchanting world of fairy tales and meet beloved Disney characters. Iconic attractions like Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion are perennial favorites.
  • Epcot: Explore the future at Future World, where Spaceship Earth and Test Track await. Then, go into a culinary journey around the world in the World Showcase.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Immerse yourself in movies and entertainment. Take advantage of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, where you can pilot the Millennium Falcon and experience the Rise of the Resistance.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Encounter exotic animals and thrilling rides like Expedition Everest and Avatar Flight of Passage.
  • Character meet-and-greets: Guests can meet their favorite Disney characters at various locations throughout the resort.
  • Dining: Walt Disney World Resort has over 200 dining options, including table service, counter service, and quick service.
  • Entertainment: Walt Disney World Resort offers a variety of entertainment options, such as parades, fireworks shows, and stage shows.

What’s new at Walt Disney World?

Walt Disney World is constantly adding new attractions and experiences. Some of the newest attractions include:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind: A reverse launch roller coaster at EPCOT that features the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster, a 360-degree rotating car, and the longest indoor coaster track in the world
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance: A dark ride and tracked ride simulator at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that sets riders in the middle of a conflict between the Resistance and the First Order
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway: A dark ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that takes riders on a zany adventure with Mickey and Minnie Mouse

2. Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida

The popular theme park destination in Orlando, ranked among the best Orlando theme parks, is situated in Orlando, Florida. It is a renowned entertainment complex owned and operated by Universal Parks & Resorts, a division of Comcast NBCUniversal.

Comprising three theme parks (Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park), six resort hotels, and two entertainment districts (Universal CityWalk and Universal’s Epic Universe, currently under construction), the resort is a global tourist hotspot.

Moreover, boasting immersive-themed lands, exhilarating rides, and top-notch entertainment, Universal Orlando Resort drew in more than 21 million visitors, solidifying its status as one of the world’s premier destinations.

Popular attractions in Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida has various attractions and experiences to offer visitors of all ages. Some of the most popular attractions include:

  • Universal Studios Florida: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D, Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  • Universal’s Volcano Bay: Krakatau Aqua Coaster, Ko’okiri Body Plunge, Kopiko Wai Winding River, TeAwa the Fearless River, Waturi Beach
  • Character meet-and-greets: Guests can meet their favorite Universal characters at various locations throughout the resort.
  • Dining: Universal Orlando Resort has over 100 dining options, including table service, counter service, and quick service.
  • Entertainment: Universal Orlando Resort offers a variety of entertainment options, such as parades, shows, and special events.

What’s new at Universal Orlando?

Universal Orlando is constantly adding new attractions and experiences. Some of the latest attractions include:

  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster: A launched roller coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure that reaches up to 70 mph and features the tallest inversion on a roller coaster in the world.
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure: A roller coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventures takes riders through the Forbidden Forest to meet Hagrid and his magical creatures.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley: A themed land at Universal’s Islands of Adventure that features attractions, shops, and restaurants inspired by Diagon Alley, the wizarding shopping street in London.

3. SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando

The renowned marine theme park in Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, is recognized as one of the best Orlando theme parks. It is owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, LLC, and is one of three SeaWorld parks in the United States, alongside SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld San Antonio.

Moreover, SeaWorld Orlando is home to over 20,000 animals, including dolphins, whales, sea turtles, penguins, and sharks. Additionally, the park offers a variety of attractions and experiences, including animal shows, rides, and educational exhibits.

Popular attractions in SeaWorld Orlando

Some of the most popular attractions and experiences at SeaWorld Orlando include:

  • Animal shows: SeaWorld Orlando offers a variety of animal shows, such as One Ocean, Dolphin Days, and Orca Encounter. These shows allow guests to learn about and see marine animals up close.
  • Rides: SeaWorld Orlando has a variety of rides, including Manta, Mako, and Infinity Falls. These rides are designed to be fun and educational, allowing guests to experience the thrill of being underwater.
  • Educational exhibits: SeaWorld Orlando offers a variety of educational exhibits, such as the Shark Encounter and the Wild Arctic. These exhibits teach guests about marine animals and their habitats.

What’s new at SeaWorld Orlando?

SeaWorld Orlando is constantly adding new attractions and experiences. The latest attraction is

  • Penguin Trek: This new, family-friendly launch coaster will take riders on an adventure through the icy landscape of Antarctica. The ride is set to open in spring 2024.
  • Mardi Gras: SeaWorld Orlando’s annual Mardi Gras celebration is happening now through February 18th. The event features live music, dancing, food, and drinks.
  • Ultimate VIP Tour: This new, exclusive experience allows guests to enjoy the best of SeaWorld Orlando with a private guided tour.
  • Dockside Pizza: This new restaurant now serves delicious pizzas, salads, and sandwiches.
  • Pipeline: The Surf Coaster: This new high-thrilling roller coaster opened in 2023 and is a must-ride for any adrenaline junkie.

4. Legoland, Florida

Legoland Florida
Legoland Florida

A Florida-based theme park and resort complex is situated among the best Orlando theme parks in Legoland, Florida. It features two theme parks, LEGOLAND Florida Theme Park and LEGOLAND Water Park, three hotels, and a Legoland Discovery Center. Notably, the 150-acre park offers over 50 rides and attractions for families, while the 50-acre water park features six themed areas.

Popular Attractions in Legoland

Some of the most popular attractions and experiences at LEGOLAND Florida Resort include:

  • The Dragon: A roller coaster that takes riders through a fiery volcano
  • Driving School: A driving simulator where kids can learn to drive LEGO cars
  • Coastersaurus: A roller coaster that takes riders through the prehistoric world
  • Miniland USA: A miniature replica of the United States made out of LEGO bricks
  • Ninjago The Ride: A 3D interactive ride where riders help the Ninjago ninjas defeat their enemies
  • The LEGO Movie 4D: A 4D movie experience based on the LEGO Movie franchise
  • The Joker Soaker: A water slide where riders get soaked by water cannons
  • Build-A-Raft River: A lazy river where riders can build their own LEGO rafts
  • DUPLO Safari: A water play area for younger children

What’s new at LEGOLAND Florida?

This exciting theme park destination offers something for everyone, from thrilling rides and interactive shows to amazing LEGO builds and water park fun. And there’s even more in store for 2024!

Newly Opened:

  • LEGO® Ferrari Build & Race: This brand-new attraction launched on March 8th, 2024. Visitors can sit in a life-sized LEGO Ferrari, build their mini versions, and test them on a racetrack.
  • The LEGOLAND® Story: Immerse yourself in the history of LEGOLAND Florida Resort and discover how it came to be. This attraction allows you to be part of building the next chapter of the story.

Coming Soon:

  • Sea Life Aquarium: Scheduled to open in Fall 2024, explore the underwater world with interactive exhibits and diverse marine life.

5. Aquatica Orlando

Aquatica Orlando
Aquatica Orlando

This water park in Orlando is owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Additionally, Aquatica Orlando features a variety of water slides, pools, and other water attractions, as well as animal encounters with dolphins, penguins, and other marine life.

Popular Attractions in Aquatica, Orlando

Some of the most popular attractions and experiences at Aquatica Orlando include:

  • Dolphin Plunge: A water slide that takes riders through a tunnel surrounded by dolphins
  • Cutback Cove: A multi-person water slide with a drop that sends riders into a bowl
  • Ray Rush: A family-friendly water slide that takes riders through a rainforest setting
  • Loggerhead Lane: A lazy river where riders can relax and enjoy the scenery
  • Roa’s Rapids: A whitewater raft ride that takes riders through a series of rapids and waterfalls
  • Walkabout Waters: A water play area for younger children

What’s new at Aquatica Orlando?

Aquatica Orlando has been undergoing a multi-year refresh, and 2024 brings some exciting new additions to the park! Here’s a rundown of what’s new:

  • Tassie’s Underwater Twist: This brand-new water coaster opened in February 2024 and takes riders on a thrilling journey through a world of watery wonders. The coaster features twists, turns, and drops, all set to an inspiring musical score.

Other New Additions:

  • More shade: Aquatica has added over 1,000 new beach chairs and premium loungers, so you can find a shady spot to relax after enjoying the rides.
  • New food and drinks: There are several new culinary additions throughout the park, including a churrascaria, a build-your-own salad bar, and a smoothie stand.
  • Upgraded attractions: Some of Aquatica’s existing attractions have been upgraded, including Omaka Rocka, which can now accommodate double tubes, and Kare Kare Curl, which now features new five-seat rafts and a conveyor belt to carry them.

6. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

The water park at Walt Disney World Resort is situated at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near Orlando. Notably, it is one of two water parks at the resort, preceded by Disney’s River Country, which closed in November 2001. Furthermore, it opened on June 1, 1989, and is themed after a tropical typhoon hit the island.

Moreover, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park features a variety of water slides, pools, and other water attractions, as well as dining and shopping options. Additionally, it is home to Crush ‘n’ Gusher, a water coaster based on the Finding Nemo films.

Some additional things to remember:

  • Typhoon Lagoon is typically open seasonally, from March to September.
  • The park can get crowded, especially during peak season. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons (March–April or September–October).
  • Check the latest information before your visit.

Popular attractions in Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Some of the most popular attractions and experiences at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park include:

  • Crush ‘n’ Gusher: A water coaster that takes riders on a thrilling journey through the Finding Nemo films.
  • Humunga Kowabunga: A 214-foot-long drop slide that is one of the tallest and fastest water slides in the world.
  • Miss Tilly the Towboat: A family-friendly water slide that takes riders on a journey around a tropical island.
  • Keelhaul Falls: A rapid river attraction that takes riders on a thrilling journey through caves and waterfalls.
  • Castaway Creek: A lazy river that takes riders on a relaxing journey around the park.

7. Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove Orlando
Discovery Cove Orlando

The all-inclusive day resort in Orlando, Florida, offers unique opportunities to interact with animals and explore breathtaking underwater worlds is Discovery Cove. Moreover, it’s the perfect destination for families and animal lovers seeking an unforgettable experience.

Latest information:

  • Operating hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily
  • Check-in: 7:15 AM (7:00 AM for 3+ add-on experiences)

Popular Attractions in Discovery Cove

  • Dolphin Lagoon: The signature experience, allowing guests to swim and interact with bottlenose dolphins in a tropical lagoon. 
  • The Grand Reef: Snorkel among thousands of colorful fish, vibrant coral reefs, and playful stingrays in a massive underwater environment. 
  • Explorer’s Aviary: Walk through a lush aviary teeming with exotic birds, hand-feed them, and learn about their conservation. 
  • Freshwater Oasis: Relax by a serene lagoon, swim in crystal-clear water, and encounter playful otters. 
  • Serenity Bay: Soak up the sun on pristine beaches, lounge in hammocks, and enjoy refreshing drinks at the beachside bar. 
  • Wind-Away River: Float along a lazy river surrounded by lush landscaping and tropical plants. 

What’s new at Discovery Cove?

No major new attractions or experiences were announced for Discovery Cove in 2024. However, they offer various exciting upgrades and packages to enhance your visit:

Popular Upgrades:

  • SeaVenture: Explore the depths of the Grand Reef on an underwater walking tour with a dive helmet.
  • Cabanas & Day Beds: Reserve your own private space for relaxation and shade.
  • Premium Drink Package: Enjoy unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day.
  • Animal Trek: Go behind the scenes and learn about the care of animals.
  • Trainer for a Day: Get hands-on experience working with dolphins or other animals.
  • Flamingo Mingle: Feed and interact with these friendly pink birds.
  • Swim with Sharks: Have a thrilling encounter with these magnificent predators.

Packages:

  • New Year Sale: Save up to 50% on Dolphin Swim Tickets for all dates in 2024 and 2025.
  • Theme Park Ticket Sale: Use code PRICEDROP for 7% off tickets when you add a SeaWorld or Aquatica park to your Discovery Cove visit.
  • Special Occasion Packages: Plan an unforgettable proposal or celebration with a private cabana, personalized touches, and animal interactions.

Tips For The Best Orlando Theme Park Adventure

Explore the best Orlando theme parks and family attractions for unforgettable adventures. Enhance your experience with tips to make the most of your trip.

Packing Essentials

Before you jump on your Orlando theme park adventure, it’s essential to pack wisely. Here’s a list of must-have items:

  • Comfortable Footwear: Orlando theme parks often require a lot of walking. Opt for supportive sneakers or walking shoes to keep your feet happy throughout the day.
  • Sun Protection: Florida’s sun can be relentless. Remember to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield yourself from UV rays.
  • Rain Gear: Orlando is known for its sudden rain showers. Be prepared with lightweight, waterproof jackets or ponchos.
  • Backpack: A small, comfortable backpack is ideal for carrying essentials like water bottles, snacks, and souvenirs.
  • Portable Charger: With all the photo-taking and navigation, your phone’s battery may drain quickly. Keep a portable charger handy to stay connected.

Best Times to Visit to Avoid Crowds

To make the most of your Orlando theme park experience, consider these crowd-avoidance strategies:

  • Off-Peak Seasons: Visit during non-holiday weekdays or shoulder seasons when crowds are thinner.
  • Early Mornings and Late Evenings: Arrive at the parks when they open or stay late after closing for lower crowd levels and shorter lines.
  • Use Park Apps: Utilize park apps to check ride wait times in real-time and plan accordingly.
  • FastPass+ (Disney) or Express Pass (Universal): Utilize these services to reserve access to popular attractions in advance.

Dining Options

Exploring the top-rated Orlando amusement parks can work up quite an appetite. Most parks offer various dining options to suit all tastes and budgets. Some even offer meal plans that can save you money while providing convenience.  Consider adding these to your meal plans:

  • Advanced Dining Reservations: Make reservations well in advance for table-service restaurants, especially at Disney parks.
  • Mobile Ordering: Many theme parks offer mobile food ordering through their apps, allowing you to skip the lines.
  • Meal Plans: Check if your resort offers meal plans that can save you money on dining.
  • Try Local Flavors: Don’t miss the opportunity to savor Orlando’s diverse culinary scene. Venture beyond the parks for unique dining experiences.

Conclusion

As we wrap up our exhilarating journey through Orlando’s finest theme parks, it’s evident that this city is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences. From heart-pounding rides to enchanting shows, there’s something for everyone here. Now, it’s your turn to plan your adventure! Gather your loved ones, pack your bags, and head to the best Orlando vacation spots. Remember to book your stay through the Best Hotel Booking Site for comfort and convenience. Don’t miss out on upcoming events and attractions; Orlando constantly evolves, promising endless excitement. Don’t wait any longer; plunge into your journey to the best Orlando theme parks and create memories that will last a lifetime!

FAQs

Q1. What is the most visited theme park in Orlando, Florida?

Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. Several sources, including Statista and TEA/AECOM, report that Magic Kingdom consistently leads in attendance among Orlando theme parks.

Q2. Which Orlando theme park is best for adults?

Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, or Epcot at Walt Disney World (depending on individual preferences).

Q3. Is Disney bigger than Universal?

Yes, regarding the total land area covered, revenue, market share, and global reach.