Orlando in Florida is a massive family destination that I would consider absolutely unmissable. I’ve been there before with my husband and I already have plans to visit again with William once he’s old enough to appreciate it – yes, I like to prepare well in advance! I’ve researched and come up with a list of the ten must visit Orlando attractions for the whole family. These are big-hitting essential days out, full of memories you’ll cherish forever.
I recommend looking into purchasing packages for Orlando tickets in advance as you’ll often find the best deals and prices this way. You can get combination tickets for Disney and Universal, 6 Park Tickets or even Ultimate Tickets that cover pretty much everything you’d want to visit. It saves you the stress and hassle of buying tickets when you should be relaxing by the pool and helps you to budget in advance, which is always important for a big holiday.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is the must visit number one attraction in Orlando as it’s the flagship theme park of Walt Disney World Resort. It’s unmissable for the whole family and I personally have some great memories of visiting. It’s dedicated to all your favourite Disney characters and classic fairy tales, with the iconic Cinderella’s Castle at the focal point. Magic Kingdom features many special events throughout the year, with parades, firework displays and special character visits, so it’s well worth planning the time you go around what’s available.
Epcot is the second of the four theme parks built at Walt Disney World and is a large site at 305 acres – more than twice the size of Magic Kingdom! The theme of Epcot is innovation, technology and world culture. It still has a classic Disney family feel with loads of things to do for the whole family.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
This was a fantastic day out when we visited. Disney’s Animal Kingdom combines a theme park with some epic rollercoasters and rides, with an expansive zoo. You can watch animals roam in their exhibits from boat, train, foot or above. I’m a massive fan of zoos and have been to a lot, having worked in conservation and with exotic reptiles my whole life and I was very impressed with the space and care offered to the animals here and how informative it was, as well as interactive.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This theme park focuses on Hollywood stories, and offers a whole host of entertainment and rides with quite a different feel to the other three Theme Parks. Because each of the four major parks has such a strong theme, you really want to visit them all so you don’t miss out, and each feels very distinct from each other whilst still having that familiar Disney brand. If you don’t want to do all four parks then you might want to hit this one instead of Animal Kingdom if you prefer movies and Hollywood to animals, but I personally think they’re all unmissable.
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios is a theme park which focuses on the entertainment industry, in particular movies and television. It has a whole cast of character appearances so the family can meet their favourite characters, from Marilyn Monroe and Betty Boop to the Simpsons, SpongeBob, E.T. and more. It has frequent special events that you might want to check out and one I personally recommend is the annual Harry Potter Celebration celebrating J.K.Rowling’s books as well as the Wizarding World franchise. As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan!
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay is owned by SeaWorld entertainment and is a combination zoo and theme park, featuring nine rollercoasters, with lots of other rides, water attractions and a narrow gauge steam railway. The big draw for me is over 200 species of animals, including a free flight aviary with over 500 birds and an absolutely massive 65 acre exhibit for free roaming African species. It has amazing landscaping, a tropical feel and I think it really hits the right balance between entertainment and animals for people who love both.
If you can’t quite make it to Florida any time soon, a UK park that I think gets a good balance between a theme park and a zoo, suitable for the whole family, is Chessington World of Adventures.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is one of their two major water parks and is located Lake Buena Vista near Orlando. The theme is the Disney legend of a typhoon which wreaked havoc on a tropical paradise, resulting in storm strung buildings and attractions scattered among many swimming pools, waterfalls and slides. Although it brings in over 2 million visitors each year, the site is so large and with many different areas set in a tropical environment, that it still feels private and not too crowded. A day at the water park is a welcome relaxing break to walking around the theme parks and suitable for the whole family.
Discovery Cove is a tranquil, beautiful day out. This serene park has a very tight restriction on entry numbers, so it never feels crowded. You can swim with sting rays and snorkel with tropical fish and if you choose, can swim and have your photo taken with dolphins too. Sunbeds on the beach, private cabanas and food and drink included too! Despite being entirely artificial, I thought it felt very natural and was an amazing, relaxing day that I’ll never forget.
Kennedy Space Center
This is a combination of history and science with a celebration of space travel and engineering. You can get nose to nose with the historic space shuttle Atlantis and even taste real space food. The park is split into mission zones grouped by chronological era and gives the whole family lots of chances to get up close and personal with spacecraft and astronauts. I think this is a great day out which offers something a little different to the rest of the attractions in the area as it is such a unique place to visit.
Legoland is building heaven for everyone who loves creativity and Lego blocks. Suitable for toddlers up to grandparents (but with a focus on families with children under 12), it’s a 150-acre interactive theme park with 50 rides, shows and attractions. There are some amazing sculptures throughout the park built with hundreds of thousands of Lego bricks, really stretching the imagination and giving the family ideas for what they could build (in miniature perhaps!) when they get back home.
So from Disney’s rollercoasters, to swimming with dolphins to explore the edge of the galaxy, I hope these attractions have got you excited about a trip to Orlando, Florida and you’re already planning your next family vacation.