Which amusement parks in Florida are worth a visit? These are the best theme parks in Florida. And some handy tips!
How many theme parks are there in Florida?
For many people, the amusement parks in Florida are one of the main reasons to travel to this sunny state in the US. There are no less than 10 major theme parks in Florida and there are also more than a hundred smaller parks.
Most of the theme parks are located in and around the city of Orlando and that’s why they call Orlando “Theme park capital of the world”. Everywhere you look in Orlando, you see a glimpse of the amusement parks. In this article, you’ll find an overview of the largest and most famous theme parks in Florida with the best attractions.
One of the largest theme park areas in Orlando is the Universal Resort. This area consists of two theme parks and a Citywalk that connects the parks. The Citywalk is a kind of promenade with many restaurants, cinema,s and clubs. You walk along the Citywalk to the theme park you are planning to visit.
After the Citywalk, turn right and you will arrive at Universal Studios. This is the somewhat ‘tamer’ part of Universal. Here you’ll find many attractions for (smaller) children, such as a 4D film by Shrek and a kind of dream flight through the world of E.T.
When I visited this park back in 2013, I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite park. But in 2014, they added Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books/movies and it’s totally awesome now! This is an incredibly beautiful part of the park, where it seems as if you’ve found yourself in the world of Harry Potter. The main attraction is ‘Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts’. It is almost impossible to describe this attraction, but this is a kind of roller coaster and virtual reality at the same time. During the ride, you have the feeling that you are in the movie, very cool!
Universal Islands of Adventure
The park on the left of the Citywalk is the bigger brother of Universal Studios because the attractions in Universal’s Islands of Adventure are a bit more intense. It consists of six islands, each with its own theme. Here too, a part has been recreated from the Harry Potter movies with a similar attraction as in Universal Studios, and you travel through Hogwarts. Also worth a visit is the Marvel Super Hero Island with, among other things, a cool Spiderman attraction, where you seem to float between the skyscrapers in New York. They have also recreated part of Jurassic Park, with a spectacular water attraction, one of my personal favorites.
TIP: get a pass that is valid for both parks in one day. With this pass, you can travel between the two parks on the Hogwarts Express.
Wet ‘n Wild
Wet ‘n Wild is Universal’s water park. We received a free entrance ticket to this park with a Universal multi-day pass. It doesn’t have the best look and feel, but the attractions are awesome, especially on a hot day. They also have some pretty hefty rides, including a slide where the ground disappears beneath your feet. Would you dare?
Walt Disney World
The most famous theme park in Orlando is, of course, Disney. Walt Disney World has four major parks and three water parks.
Magic Kingdom Park
Magic Kingdom is probably the most famous amusement park in Florida (perhaps in the world), almost everyone knows the image of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Although there are no scary rides or wild roller coasters, there is plenty to do in this park for every age.
Epcot is almost twice the size of Magic Kingdom and a very interesting park to visit. It is an educational park, you can learn here about the current world (about culture and food, for example), but also what the future will (or could) look like.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Do you want to immerse yourself in the world of film? Then you should definitely visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This park also has some exciting attractions, such as the Tower of Terror or the amazing Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Animal Kingdom is the largest amusement park in the world and is all about animals. In this park, there are many attractions, you can go on a safari and also see some fun shows. This park is also suitable for all ages.
Disney’s Water Parks
In addition to the four major theme parks, Walt Disney World has three water parks where you can enjoy yourself during hot days.
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
- Disney Springs
Seaworld is an amusement park with animals and attractions. In addition to a few (intense) roller coasters, there are many animal species that have something to do with water. For example, you can see turtles, manatees, flamingos, and sharks. In addition, there are also various shows, including a dolphin show and the show with killer whales. This is what Seaworld became famous for, but not always in a positive sense. The park has a controversial image, but if you like shows, heavy roller coasters, and want to see animals, it is definitely worth it.
Also part of Seaworld is the Discovery Cove, which is on the opposite side of the park. A completely different park than the others, because you have to make a reservation before you go. Only about 1000 people are admitted per day. Most people visit Discovery for the ‘main attraction’, which is swimming with dolphins.
This park comes with a hefty price tag, but the food at Discovery Cove is included and you also get free entry to the other Seaworld parks. So it’s definitely worth the price.
Please note: With the current knowledge, I wouldn’t visit a park like this. I believe that wild animals should mainly remain wild and not be used for tourism. You can read more about this in my article 9 mistakes I don’t want to make any more when traveling.
Just like Universal, Seaworld also has a water park, which is called Aquatica. Just like Wet ‘n Wild, this park also has some spectacular water slides. One of the more fun slides is the Dolphin Plunge, where the slide goes through a pool of dolphins.
This is the only park in this list with the best theme parks in Florida that is not located in Orlando, but in Tampa. Busch Gardens is also part of Seaworld, but very different from the other parks. In short: Busch Gardens is a zoo with a lot of (thrilling) roller coasters. Because of the awesome roller coasters, I personally found Busch Gardens to be one of the best theme parks in Florida.
Are you a fan of Lego and lots of color? Legoland Florida is a very beautiful park, especially for young children (it is aimed at children between the ages of 2 and 12). There are many rides and shows, in addition, Legoland Florida also has a water park and a botanical garden.
Where can you find the cheapest tickets to Florida theme parks?
In all amusement parks, you can buy tickets at the box office. You often have different variants, day tickets, multi-day passes, combination passes, and annual passes. It is always good to study this beforehand.
To avoid long queues, it is always a good idea to order the tickets in advance. I myself have very good experiences with the website Attraction Tickets, they often have very good offers with combination tickets. This website is very convenient if you travel to the US from Europe. Through this website, you will receive the real tickets by mail and you do not have to go to the box office to exchange them. In some cases, you can also opt for mobile tickets.
When you’re from the US, you might want to check CityPass Orlando for some great deals on theme park tickets.
Tips for your visit to the theme parks in Florida
- Decide in advance which parks you want to visit during your vacation in Florida. It is impossible to visit them all at once. So make a choice and take your time to enjoy all these incredible theme parks. Do you like it? Then you can always decide to go on another Florida vacation. That’s what I did!
- Before your visit, check how busy it is in a park. Search Google for “crowd calendar Orlando” and you’ll see some options. For example, the overview on Undercover Tourist is a good one to check. This is especially useful if you are in Florida for a bit longer, so you can get the most out of your (expensive) theme park tickets.
- The quietest times are usually in the early morning or late afternoon and in the evening. When I was in Florida over the Christmas holidays, I sometimes went to an amusement park twice a day to avoid the biggest crowds. This saved us a lot of frustration and we were also able to avoid the traffic jams.
- Some parks have convenient ways to bypass the long lines. In Universal, for example, you have a single rider row at some attractions, so that you go into the attraction alone (and that saves a lot of time!). In Walt Disney World you have a special Disney FastPass+ service, which allows you to make reservations for your visit.
- Get more out of your visit with travel guides to Orlando theme parks and attractions. For example, for Disney, there’s The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. For Universal, there is The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. In these guides, you can read about fun places in the parks that not everyone knows about and get useful tips to make your visit even more fun.
Which Florida theme parks would you like to visit?
Want to read more about Florida?
Are you looking forward to a vacation to Florida? Increase your anticipation by getting one of these travel guides:
On this website, you can also read more about a vacation in Florida. For example, check out these articles:
- Florida itinerary: an amazing 2-week road trip
- Everglades National Park: alligators everywhere!
- Awesome things to do in Florida’s Gulf Coast
Do you want to read more about a trip to the United States of America? In recent years, I wrote more than 50 articles about traveling in the US. You can find them all on this page.
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