New Additions & Venerable Classics in Orlando: the Best of the Theme-Park Capital

A.D. Thompson

By , Local Expert, Orlando
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If you're going to drop your hard-earned cash at a theme park, being an informed consumer is imperative. The Disney complex alone, including the childhood fantasy land of the Magic Kingdom, exotic nations (not to mention fascinating live residents) of Animal Kingdom, sparkling liquid allure of Typhoon Lagoon, big-screen excitement of Hollywood Studios and the futuristic, multicultural playground of EPCOT, houses more parks than you can count on one hand. Add in Universal, SeaWorld and the myriad independently operated attractions vying for your leisure dollars and you've got some big decisions to make. Are you after the...  Read more »

  • 1

    Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure®

    The heady amalgam of a park where you can combine Hogwarts and butterbeer with Dr. Seuss and Spiderman make Islands of Adventure tough to beat.

    Local Expert Tip: "Though tops all around, if your time and/or money budget allows for only one Universal park to delight the preschool set, you might opt for Universal Studios instead."

  • 2

    Magic Kingdom® Park

    Magic Kingdom is the Orlando classic. And with the additions in New Fantasyland, a new era is being ushered in.

    Local Expert Tip: "Search for Hidden Mickeys. Subtle representations of the Disney icon are hidden throughout all the Disney parks and properties in the architecture, decor - just about anywhere! Bonus: it's a good anti-boredom strategy while waiting in line. "

  • 3

    Universal Studios Florida®

    Blazing hot with everything from Transformers to Minions to the Simpsons' Springfield, Universal Studios is a Hollywood-style heavy hitter.

    Local Expert Tip: "Eat your way through Fast Food Blvd in Springfield (probably best AFTER you ride Revenge of the Mummy). "

  • 4

    Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park

    Between its exotic residents, its incredible coaster and its beautiful Disney-driven details, Animal Kingdom is a definite Top-10 park.

    Local Expert Tip: "Star-quality performances and truly stunning puppets make the 30-minute "Finding Nemo: The Musical" a must-see. "

  • 5

    SeaWorld Orlando

    SeaWorld is where zoo meets aquarium meets thrill ride, a Franken-park that deserves a place amid the 10Best.

    Local Expert Tip: "Need a break from the heat? Check out "A'lure, The Call of the Ocean" and "Pets Ahoy," and enjoy two great shows in air-conditioned comfort. "

  • 6


    Gatorland is fun, fascinating and friendly to both families and budgets. Win-win-win.

    Local Expert Tip: "From February through July, bird-watchers and wildlife photographers can enter the park at 7:30 am (Friday- Sunday) by way of a Birder's Pass and enjoy one of the largest, most accessible wading bird rookeries in Florida. "

  • 7

    EPCOT ®

    Want to scratch a host of countries off your travel Bucket List in a day? Until teleportation becomes reality, there's always EPCOT.

    Local Expert Tip: "Fall brings a foodie's delight to EPCOT with its annual Food & Wine Festival, a favorite of locals who eat and drink their way around the world while enjoying celebrity chef demos. "

  • 8

    Disney's Hollywood Studios™

    If the phrase "Jedi Training Academy" isn't enough to garner Disney's Hollywood Studios a place, what is?

    Local Expert Tip: "Coming around the holidays? The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is not to be missed. "

  • 9


    Before Aquatica, visitors lamented: water park or animal park? Now they don't have to choose.

    Local Expert Tip: "Relaxing and cool, Loggerhead Lane's lazy river floats past colorful aquariums, beneath shady bridges and waterfalls and offers a fish-eye view of the Commerson's dolphins. Don't miss it."

  • 10

    Disney's Typhoon Lagoon

    Thrilling water park + Disney-level theming = A gorgeous way to beat the Florida heat.

    Local Expert Tip: "Refrain from sporting swimwear with rivets, buckles or exposed metal; these are not allowed on the slides."



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