Not only is Florida rightly nicknamed The Sunshine State, but it’s home to some of the world’s best theme parks making it a great family holiday destination. In Orlando you can immerse yourself in the thrills of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, all designed to create magical moments and a lifetime of memories.
Here are some of Orlando’s best theme parks to explore on your next visit, with the most exciting roller coasters, waterparks and family entertainment. Guests staying at Disney Resort hotels can even enjoy Extra Magic Hours at select parks early in the morning.
Walt Disney World
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is an enchanted park where you can discover themed lands such as Fantasyland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland and Adventureland.
Ride the thrilling Thunder Mountain rollercoaster, test your laser skills on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and enjoy a mind-blowing speed on Space Mountain. There’s a rollercoaster, ride or simulator for all ages, plus plenty of restaurants, sweet shops and café’s to recuperate, plus and the option for character dining.
One of Magic Kingdom’s biggest draws is the Happily Ever After fireworks and illuminations at Cinderalla Castle in the evenings, and daily Festival of Fantasy Parade where you can see classic characters and dance along to theme songs.
Full of lush tropical plants, trees and wild animals, you’d think you were somewhere far from a busy theme park in America.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a magical park with attractions themed on all of your favourite movies like Lion King and Avatar. Watch live shows from Finding Nemo and meet characters from Pocahontas and Up.
Get your dancing shoes on for Bollywood Beats performance, and listen to the sound of Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe. With immersive rides and rollercoasters, plus a special open-air Kilimanjaro Safari, it’s a truly wild adventure.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Star Wars fans, this is the park for you. Step into a galaxy far away at the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Meet Jedi’s, blast through 3D simulator flights, and catch Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular nightly firework show.
Elsewhere in the park, live out your own Toy Story on Slinky Dog Dash rollercoaster and the 4D arcade ride Toy Story Mania. Watch a Frozen sing-along live on stage, plus Mickey & Friends at Fantasmic.
For thrill seekers, Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster is a must, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which hurtles you up and down a pitch-black elevator.
(Image credit: Disney’s Hollywood Studios).
Travel around the globe at Epcot, where you can explore exciting attractions and enjoy seasonal events inspired by countries around the world. Epcot international food and wine festival is a must-do and happens each year (this year from 29 August to 23 November).
The park also has some amazing rides and interactive attractions. Epcot Forever is a magical illumination show with fireworks and laser lights. There’s also a Guardian’s of the Galaxy rollercoaster, a 4D Ratatouille Adventure, and Test Track – a SIM car where you’ll reach speeds of up to 65 miles per hour!
Some other seasonal events include Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy, Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, and New Year’s Eve Fireworks.
Universal Orlando Resort
See your favourite blockbuster movies and characters at Universal Studios, from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley to Revenge of the Mummy. This working film and TV studio that features rides, shows and attractions that put you right in the middle of the action.
Discover different themed zones including Woody Woodpeck KidZone, San Francisco and New York. Ride 3D and 4D simulators with Shrek, Transformers and much more. A must-do is Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon – a thrilling race through, below and above New York City.
CityWalk, the parks incredible nightlife and entertainment strip, is home to restaurants, bars and shops overlooking a river. You can even get a water taxi back to your hotel!
Islands of Adventure
Step into powerful myths and meet your favourite movie legends at Islands of Adventure. Discover Jurassic Park’s heart-pumping River Adventure, Skull Island: Reign of Kong and Marvel Super Hero Island’s Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
Toon Lagoon is a colourful village of rides and attractions based on cartoons and comic strips. There’s a wet and wild flume ride Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and character meet-and-greets.
Harry Potter fans will love The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade with its spooky castle and brand new ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
Universal’s water park is for thrill seekers! It’s just moments from everything else Universal Orlando Resort has to offer.
Plunge down Krakatau Aqua Coaster, Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides, and Ko’okiri Body Plunge. Take things easy at Wave Village where you can relax on the beach and ride the warm waves in the lagoon. If you’re feeling extra lazy, take a slow ride along Kopiko Wai Winding River in River Village.
The TapuTapu™ wearable wristband lets you hold your place in the ride queues and reveal wondrous surprises with just a wave of your wrist.
(Image credit: Universal Studios).