An Easy Guide to Orlando | Theme Parks
Orlando, the classic holiday destination for many families and young adults in the UK. And around the world. It has everything from beaches to thrilling theme parks. Disney lovers can immerse themselves in a world where their favourite characters eat breakfast with them and animal lovers can wake up to giraffes outside their window.
However, it can be difficult to decide which parks you’re going to visit – if you don’t have the time, desire or funds to see them all.
Ticket prices can be pretty high so it’s better to have a good idea of what to expect before committing to a park you may not like too much.
PSA:I’ll be doing a separate post for water parks.
This is a theme park dedicated to blockbuster hits and TV shows we all know and love. There’s a wide range of entertainment themed rides and attraction, with something for everyone. From the Despicable Me Minion ride to Revenge of the Mummy, Men in Black Alien Attack and Fast and Furious – Supercharged. There are also attractions if rides aren’t your thing; you have the opportunity to star in your own tv show, watch Shrek in 4D and can peruse the TV and movie sets.
This is a must-do park in Orlando, it’s one of the bigger ones and definitely one to visit if you like rollercoasters.
You can also have breakfast with Marvel characters in Universal Studios (an additional fee).
Star Rating (in my opinion): 5/5
Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure is connected to Universal Studios. You board the Hogwarts Express at ‘Kings Cross Station in London’, which is in Universal Studios, and it takes you to Hogsmeade Station which is based in Islands of Adventure. You get off at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which I’m sure is very high on Potter fans’ list.
Aside from Harry Potter, there are more big rides here including fan favourite: The Incredible Hulk Coaster. Rides also include The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (more of a simulation) and Skull Island: Reign of Kong. There’s also an area for those who aren’t a fan of rollercoasters, where you become submerged in a Dr Seuss world. The Cat in the Hat takes you through a journey similar to the film, all great fun.
Due to the smaller size of this park, you can easily do Universal Studios during the day and then head to Islands of Adventure later on. Tickets for both cost $159.
Star Rating (in my opinion): 4/5 (just because it’s not as big as the others).
This is the park you think of when you imagine what Orlando is like. The Cinderella castle in the distance as you enter the long strip into the park is truly magical and definitely something to visit if it’s you’re first time. This is full on Disney. It doesn’t matter how old you are, this park will have you feeling child-like almost instantly.
There are lots of rides here, one not to miss would be Space Mountain. However, there’s a lot more to do than just rides here. A lot of the focus is on other entertainment. Every day, the characters host a parade where thousands of people sit and watch the action unfold on the Magic Kingdom streets. At night, they have a firework show – definitely worth staying all day for. And throughout the day there are various meeting points to see the characters. For example, head to the Town Hall to meet Disney characters (think: Goofy, Mickey Mouse and Minnie), go to Princess Fairytale Hall to meet and get pictures with the likes of Cinderella, Rapunzel and Merida in the Fairytale Garden.
Even when you’re just walking around you’ll see characters too, many just walk the park and will happily interact with you. Remember: you’re never too old !
Price: I’ve found a one day ticket for $133.
Star Rating (in my opinion): 5/5 (it’s just a classic; one you cannot miss).
As the name would suggest, this one is all centered around the animals. There’s much less rides here than the others already mentioned, there’s one rollercoaster which is called Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain but there are smaller rides like It’s Tough to be a Bug! and Kali River Rapids. But, as rides aren’t the main focus here, you will remain entertained throughout your time spent here.
You can walk through various animal areas which are typically separated by the country they come from. This is my favourite thing about the park – walking through the different countries. Africa and Asia were my favourite, here you can see elephants, African birds, gorillas, giraffes, lions, zebras and many more!
There’s a Kilimanjaro Safari – open from 8:15am to 10:00pm – which takes you to see more of the animals. The best time to see the animals is during the cooler periods of the day so head to the safari at the start of the day, rather than mid day/early afternoon as many won’t be visible during these times.
The different countries offer anything from henna tattoos, drum shows to bird shows.
I’ve never been a big animal fan, but this is my favourite park!
Price: A one day pass is anywhere from $96 onwards.
Star Rating (in my opinion): 5/5
Personally, I would never attend this park again due to watching Blackfish. I’ve been here quite a few times when I was a child but we won’t be attending on our next trip.
The park, having visited the year Blackfish came out – a few months after, has really suffered due to this documentary (rightly so I believe). It wasn’t busy when we last went a few years ago and the park just looked quite run down. Although we didn’t watch any of the shows, we walked around seeing the animals(turtles, dolphins etc) and went on a penguin ride which despite the long wait, wasn’t very good.
If you want to see beautiful creatures like dolphins and killer whales I highly recommend you take a boat trip to see them in the wild rather than in a small tank. Although orca whales are rare to see in Florida, there are many trips where you can see beautiful bottle nose dolphins. Many come close to the boats, jumping in and out of the water and playing together.
Star Rating (in my opinion): 0/5
This is another Disney park but in my opinion, is quite different from the rest. As a child, I hated this park because I simply found it boring. The park focuses on technology as well as international culture. Admittedly, I would probably like this park a bit more now I’m older and enjoy travelling.
The park can be split into two sections: Future World and World Showcase. Future World features attractions like Test Track: Presented by Chevrolet and Spaceship Earth. Whereas World Showcase has 11 themed nations. You can walk through these and experience food and drink in each one.
The pavilions include Germany, Italy, China, Norway, Mexico, United States of America, Japan, Morocco, France, Canada and United Kingdom. Each on typically has some form of an attraction, usually showing you the history of the place, as well as restaurants, shops and pubs.
The UK one, for example, has six shops (where you can buy anything related such as swords to Twining’s tea) as well as a Yorkshire County Fish Shop and the Rose and Crown Pub. The cool thing about Epcot is the employees in each of the pavilions come from that place! They offer placement programmes where you can go work in Epcot, providing you’re from one of the 11 places.
Country related Disney characters walk around too and are available to meet. In the UK pavilion, you can see Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins and Alice.
Price: You can visit for one day, which costs from $96+.
Star Rating (in my opinion): 3/5
(Don’t visit this park if you’re looking for thrilling rides and rollercoasters, but do visit if you want to explore new cultures and essentially eat/drink your way around the world!)
Disneys Hollywood Studios
I miss this place. I haven’t been here in quite a while but it is one of my favourites. This park is also dedicated to the entertainment field (TV, movies, music and theatre) and takes a heavy influence from old Hollywood. Originally, this was an operating production studio. As a result of this, you can walk through backlots in the ‘former streets of America’ area.
One of my favourite parts of this park is Hollywood Boulevard, which is the parks entrance. There are lots of appropriately themed shops and restaurants and they hold parades down this main street throughout the day.
Top ride to go on: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Price: Prices from $96 a day for a single ticket.
Star Rating (in my opinion): 4/5