Once the area of Orlando in Florida it was a green and fertile expanse mainly devoted to agriculture, but since the 70s the whole area has undergone such transformations as to make it practically unrecognizable.
As Celentano would say: "where once there was grass now there is" ... the most incredible and daring concentration of theme parks in the world, the Orlando parks, where the desire for fun for adults and children has led to the creation of ingenious installations and imaginative reconstructions that will leave you breathless!
In this article we will take a close look at the 3 main ones amusement parks of the city, hoping that some information and advice will be useful for you to choose which ones to visit during your Florida tour. But first some preliminary tips!
- How to move to reach the parks of Orlando?
- Where to sleep to visit the parks in Orlando?
- The main parks
- 1. Walt Disney World
- 2.Universal Orlando
- 3. SeaWorld Orlando e Discovery Cove
- The other parks
- 4. Legoland® Florida Resort
- 5. Gatorland
- 7. The Holy Land Experience
- 8. Sea Life Aquarium
- 9. WonderWorks
How to move to reach the parks of Orlando?
The best way to reach the theme parks is to use a car (take a look at our tips for hiring a car in the United States at the lowest price), but if on the road isn't your thing, you can use the following public services:
- I-Ride: with this service you will use characteristic buses with a nice customization. There are only two lines (Red Line and Green Line) and connect the main hotels along the International Drive area and Universal Boulevard. Red Line buses run every 15 minutes, while Green Line buses run every 30 minutes. The cost of the ticket is $ 2 but it is possible to buy passes for a full day, for 3, 5, 7 or 14 days which will allow you to save considerably.
- Lynx: This is a real public service for getting around the Orlando area. Very convenient therefore even if you have chosen a hotel a little further away from the parks. There are many lines to choose from, so I refer you to the convenient trip planner of the company that will help you choose the most convenient route for your needs. Again, a ride costs $ 2 and passes for a full day, 7 or 30 days are available.
If you want, you can rely on private tours to move you from the main Orlando hotels to the most popular attractions. Here are some examples:
- Roundtrip transportation to Orlando parks: This service connects hotels located in various areas of the city with some of the most popular attractions. First of all you need to check the area of your hotel. If you are staying on International Drive you will be in the so-called 3 zone, while if you are near Lake Buena Vista, Highway 192 West or Walt Disney World you will be in 4 zone. Parks are also grouped by location, they are part of thearea A the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom, while they are grouped in thearea B Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Aquatica, and Islands of Adventure. Therefore, based on the area of your hotel, and the area of the attractions you want to go to, you will be able to understand what the price of the service will be.
- Theme Park Express to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort: this convenient shuttle service connects the main hotels along the famous International Drive with the two most famous and popular parks in Orlando. Furthermore, if you plan to stay in the city for more than a day, you can purchase passes for several days with unlimited use of the shuttle, thus saving further on travel.
In addition to what has been said, of course, services such as taxis or the popular Uber remain valid (even if more expensive).
Note: did you know that Orlando is not just amusement parks? There are a few attractions in Downtown that you might be interested in visiting… in case check out our guide on what to see in Orlando.
Where to sleep to visit the parks in Orlando?
We have published an in-depth study on where to sleep in Orlando, where you can read that the best place for value for money according to the visit of the main parks is theInternational Drive, a street full of hotels that will allow you to move easily between the main attractions of the area. To look for a cheap hotel in this area I suggest you take a look at the link below:
List of hotels on International Drive
The main parks
No more chatter now, the time has come to choose the park that best suits our tastes. Here is the list of the most important:
1. Walt Disney World
If there is one main reason why Orlando has become the most touristy area in Florida, this is it Walt Disney World, the most impressive amusement park ever made!
Suffice it to say that inside there are 4 main theme parks, each of which would require a full day for a complete visit.
In short, not even the Californian counterpart (Disneyland, Los Angeles), however beautiful and fascinating, can hold its own. Here are the attractions of the 4 parks of Disney World Orlando:
- Magic Kingdom: you know the giant Cinderella castle present in all the postcards of Walt Disney World? Well, that photo was taken at the Magic Kingdom, the most typically Disney area of the park, full of attractions for children, but also of technologies, eight steering wheels and rides that can leave even adults breathless.
- Epcot: the immense 56-meter geosphere in the heart of the Future World unequivocally sums up the theme of this park: science, technologies and cultures from all over the world, an attraction full of wonders even if for children in the long run it can be a a bit tiring, as long distances have to be covered on foot.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios: the park, born in the early 80s by virtue of an agreement with MGM, was initially called Disney-MGM Studios. Subsequently, the themes of the park were expanded and today at the center of attention, in addition to the ever-present cinema, there are also music, theater and television.
- Disney Animal Kingdom Park: this is the most recent area, and it is a real must for those who want to closely admire the animal species of the most varied continents. For each one the typical natural landscape of the area has been reconstructed and it is possible to venture into these areas through suggestive safaris.
Do you think it ended here? Not at all! Within the complex there are also 2 water parks (Blizzard beach e Typhoon Lagoon), a sports area (Disney’s Wide World of Sports) and the town where you can stroll, eat and shop (Downtown Disney).
Walt Disney World Tickets
The advice is to buy them online before the visit, thus avoiding the long queues at the ticket office and taking advantage of the various offers and discounts. There are different types of tickets to visit Disney World and different sites where to book them, for a detailed overview and advice on how to save when buying tickets, I refer you to our guide to Disney World tickets.
Our guide to Disney World tickets
The park dedicated to cinema Universal orlando it is Walt Disney World's biggest competitor, although not yet on the same level in terms of the number of visitors it manages to attract. It is the equivalent of Universal Studios in California, with many differences.
The park is in fact structured in two large macro-areas:
- Universal Studios: the area where you will find shows and rides designed with a specific purpose: to make you feel suddenly catapulted into a film, making you relive even famous scenes (you want to experience what it means to resist the tornado of Twister attaching yourself to whatever passes you by?).
- Islands of adventure: here the paths, as the title suggests, are marked by adventure, and sometimes even fear, given the incredible technology of motor simulation, sensory stimulation and three-dimensional immersion that characterizes the attractions of this park. Entire areas are dedicated to Marvel superheroes and Jurassic Park dinosaurs.
But there is more! Both parks have two large sections dedicated to Harry Potter, as if they were another park in their own right (which we explored in our guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando).
In summary Universal Orlando is the ideal park for those looking to relive the thrills of Hollywood movies. Furthermore, with the CityWalk, you will also have a good alternative for nightlife. We talked a lot more specifically about all of these things in our article devoted entirely to Universal orlando, don't miss it!
Universal Orlando Tickets
The cost of tickets varies according to the chosen formula. Again, book online to avoid queues and get a better price; the most interesting solution is thePark to Park option, which allows you to freely move from one area of the park to another in 1, 2, 3 day formulas, and also has bonus packages. The thing to watch out for is the Harry Potter theme park, where the attractions are spread over both of the 2 main parks. Before choosing which type of ticket to buy, I recommend that you read our guide on tickets for Universal Orlando.
Our guide to Universal Orlando tickets
3. SeaWorld Orlando e Discovery Cove
In this case we are facing the best marine park in Florida and probably the best ever. In a full day, you will enjoy not only the sight of amazing aquatic animals (killer whales, beluga whales and sea lions), but also spectacular themed rides (be prepared to get wet!).
The most fascinating shows are the Believe, a good 30 minutes of jumps made by sea killer whales, and it Shark Encounter, a peaceful underwater walk among the sharks (don't worry, you will be inside a transparent tunnel).
Il Discovery Cove it has a limited admission to 1000 people per day (so book in advance) and is the ideal place for those who want to swim side by side with dolphins, snorkel or swim among tropical fish of any kind.
Discovery Cove tickets are also valid for SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. Also in this case, I strongly advise you to buy them online because there are advantageous offers for the single ticket, for entry on weekdays and for the combined ticket with other parks (Aquatica, another nice park with rides and water slides, e Busch gardens, one of the best zoos in North America).
SeaWorld tickets on GetYourGuide
SeaWorld Tickets on Viator
The other parks
If all this was not enough, here is a selection of the other parks around Orlando.
4. Legoland® Florida Resort
Lovers of famous bricks this is definitely the place for you. It is not located in Orlando but in the small town of Winter Heaven, however, not far away. Obviously the park expresses its greatest potential if you stay traveling with children in tow, who will surely be positively impressed by the setting recreated in perfect Lego style. More than 50 rides, shows and a themed water park await you at Legoland Water Park which is open seasonally during the summer months.
One of the must-see attractions is definitely Miniland, where you can visit various areas of the United States rebuilt with bricks including the Kennedy Space Center, the city of New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and many others. Star Wars fans should not miss the section dedicated to Lego Star Wars, in which seven scenes taken from the films of one of the most famous and long-lived sagas in the history of cinema have been recreated.
As in all large American playgrounds, there is obviously no shortage of restaurants, many of which are themed, which will satisfy virtually everyone's tastes. As you can see, the entire park has been designed to guarantee you a real full immersion in the Lego world.
More info on tickets
If you want, the entrance to Legoland Florida Resort is included in the Go Orlando Card passes.
But it will not be only the rides that characterize your stay, the flagship of this park are also the two hotels Lego-themed that can also be useful as a support point after a whole day spent inside the park. You can book yours and get more information by clicking on the link below.
Look for accommodation in the park
It may seem strange to you to dedicate an entire amusement park to crocodiles and reptiles in general, but here we are in America where everything is allowed. Gatorland can be defined as a cross between a playground and a zoo where you can also find out more about the life and habits of alligators and the like. In fact, a lot of attention has been paid to making interaction with these animals as interactive as possible, also carving out a space for fun for the whole family.
But there are not only crocodiles and alligators, in Gatorland there are also two Florida panthers, snakes, scorpions, lizards and giant tortoises. As for the more playful aspect of the park, you will have the opportunity to undertake some particular attractions such as the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, and watch adrenaline-pumping shows with alligators as the main protagonists. As far as the Zip Line is concerned, you will pass at high speed over crocodiles that will never seem so close to you as in this moment; not screaming will be almost impossible.
Admission to Gatorland is also included in the Go Orlando Card and Sightseeing Pass. Near the park there is also a large free parking for guests.
Look for accommodation near the park
7. The Holy Land Experience
If with Gatorland you thought you have seen everything regarding the bizarre themes of an amusement park, get ready to be amazed again. There Holy Land Experience it is in fact a theme park dedicated exclusively to the events narrated by the Bible and to the life of Jesus. Inside you can attend performances inspired by the Holy Texts and walk among perfectly reconstructed buildings and streets including the Temple of Jerusalem in front of which shows are staged and plays.
One of the main attractions is the large model (called the largest replica in the world) of Jerusalem, which took more than two years of work, entirely handmade with hundreds of characters that almost seem to come to life in front of you. Among the locations reconstructed in full size you can visit the Tomb of Lazarus, the Garden of Gethsemane, and many others.
L'audience Church of All Nations, which has a capacity of more than 2000 seats, is the main place where you can watch the shows. The most important show that is staged here is currently The Empire and The Kingdom, divided into two parts, in which the events of St. Peter's on his journey to Rome to bring hope to those persecuted in the faith are narrated. Do you want to learn how to fight like a Roman soldier? Then the Roman Soldier Training Camp it is definitely the place for you, here you will in fact be instructed in the fighting techniques of ancient Rome.
This park is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 00pm. The price to access is $ 18, if you want you can add the option with an additional $ 00 Behind The Scenes Tours, thanks to which you will be led to discover some more curiosities about how the whole park works and the work behind it.
8. Sea Life Aquarium
If visiting SeaWorld was not enough for you, you can consider a stop in this park which is home to, among other things, the only one transparent underwater tunnel all over Florida. Thanks to it you can literally walk underwater and observe a multitude of fish, turtles and other specimens swimming all around you at 360 °. Certainly one of the most exciting attractions in the park.
The opportunity to find out more about the animals present, and to amaze the little ones if you travel with children in tow, is to participate in the shows in which the park staff immerse themselves and interact with the different marine creatures, or observe how they are fed. You can find out the times and programs of the day divided according to the species directly at the information desk of the park. The bravest and curious can also try to touch with your hand some of the most curious marine species including sea anemones, starfish and crabs that are found living in the so-called rock pools or natural pools that are formed with the tides.
More info on tickets
The Sea Life Aquarium is open every day of the week from 10:00 to 21:00. Convenient and economical to take advantage of the free parking on site. Entrance to the park is also included in the Go Orlando Card passes.
More than an open-air park like any other, in this case it is a series of interactive attractions and exhibits largely on the edge between the strange and the absurd, set inside a large upside-down building. From the outside it makes a big impression, and even if you don't have time to explore the inside, it might be worth stopping by just to take a souvenir photo.
Among the attractions you will find an earthquake and tornado simulator, you can experience what it's like to lie down on a bed of nails like a fakir, wear a spacesuit and experience a series of games and various optical illusions. Surely this theme park gives its best in case you are traveling with children because, even if curious, I don't think the main attractions will be able to fully satisfy an adult.
The price of tickets has a starting base of approximately $ 34 for adults and $ 25 for children aged 4 to 12. The park is open every day of the year from 9:00 until midnight. The closest car park is the paid parking at Pointe Orlando Parking Garage ($ 4 for the first two hours then $ 2 every hour thereafter up to a maximum of $ 10 per day).
Learn more about WonderWorks tickets
Admission to WonderWorks is also included in the Go Orlando Card and Sightseeing Pass.