Amusement Park Roundup for Orlando, FloridaCentral Florida is home to over a dozen major theme parks, making it the undisputed attraction capital of America, if not the world. Unless your vacation is many weeks long, you've got some tough decisions to make.
Here are Orlando's top rated theme parks that you may want to consider visiting one on your next visit to Florida.
Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure
Each area of Islands of Adventure has a unique theme dedicated to a different universe of characters. Visit the greatest new attraction, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and bring the Harry Potter world to life by exploring the corridors of Hogwarts, visiting Hogsmeade, and sipping Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks. In addition to facing the groundbreaking Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey dark ride, you can compete for the Triwizard Cup on the Dragon Challenge twin inverted coasters, or take the kids for a gentle spin on Hagrid's Flight of the Hippogriff.
Other themed areas of the park are devoted to Jurassic Park, Marvel Superheroes (including Spider-man and the Hulk), Dr. Seuss' Grinch and Cat in the Hat, and classic comic strips like Popeye. These "islands" include roller coasters, raft rides, play areas, and plenty of other exciting adventures.
SeaWorld operates at a slower, less stressful pace than its frenetic competitors, making a visit there feel like a refreshing break in many visitor's schedules. However, it is still a top Orlando theme park and won't leave your family disappointed. In over 200 acres you can explore a variety of roller coasters -- including the breathtaking "flying" coaster Manta -- and other rides, aquariums, and shows.
At SeaWorld, you can see performances starring Shamu, the world-famous killer whale, and trained dolphins, seals, sea lions...even cats and dogs! Enjoy a variety of dining, from Spicemill, which serves Cajun and Caribbean specialties, to the upscale Sharks Underwater Grill. New in 2013 is Antartica: Empire of the Penguin, which combines icy animal habitats and a cutting-edge trackless simulator vehicle for the "world's coldest" theme park attraction.
Discovery Cove Orlando
Discovery Cove is by far the priciest park in town, but you get your money's worth in a exclusive experience reminiscent of a stay at a four-star tropical resort. You will be able to swim with dolphins, feed exotic birds, snorkel, and enjoy plenty more activities. You will see plenty of amazing sealife such as barracudas, sharks, and sting rays.
Enjoy the white sandy beaches, snorkel among colorful fish at the Grand Reef, or explore the new Freshwater Oasis, home to marmosets and otters. Best of all, all your meals, snacks, and drinks (including alcohol) are included in your ticket.
Wet 'n Wild Orlando
Wet 'n Wild is arguably Orlando's best waterpark for thrill seekers. Get your heart racing as you speed down a water slide and then cool off in the lazy river. Take the whole family on a multi-person tube ride in the unique "wet dark ride," Brain Wash. For a frightening thrill, take a ride down the nearly vertical slide, The Bomb Bay.
The newest addition is Blastaway Beach, a 60-foot-tall multi-level sandcastle (featuring 15 slides and 160 interactive water toys) for the kids to explore. When you want to relax, enjoy a game of volleyball, or visit the wave pool.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
It's "nahtazu," as Disney's marketing campaign once claimed, but Animal Kingdom is Orlando's most lovingly detailed and lushly landscaped park. Here, you can experience a combination of animals, rides, and shows. You can get a close up view of the animals on the African savannah by riding Kilimanjaro Safaris, and even pet animals in the Affectation Station at Rafiki's Planet Watch. Thrill-seekers will want to sprint to DINOSAUR, where you can take a dark, bumpy voyage to the prehistoric past, and Expedition: Everest, a forwards-then-backwards roller coaster adventure around the mysterious Yeti's mountain lair. The more sedate can experience the daily afternoon parade, performances, and Broadway-like musicals of The Lion King and Finding Nemo throughout the park.