Located in the center of the Sunshine State, Orlando is Florida’s crown jewel of tourism. Miami may be a glitzy, sun-soaked paradise for grownups, but Orlando is the perfect place for the whole family to have fun in Florida’s tropical weather.
When people think of Orlando, they immediately think of Disney World. While Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and Hollywood Studios are an iconic must-do for families, there is much more to Orlando. While there are several other amusement parks in the city, it’s also a great place to enjoy theater, dinner shows, golf, water sports, wildlife shows and nature hikes.
What to Do
Disney World: Every family should visit Disney World at least once in a lifetime. This really is a magical, masterfully created place, with both beloved classic attractions and innovative, ever-changing new rides, shows and activities.
Photo source: Disney World
Disney is divided into four main parts: the Magic Kingdom, which is best for smaller children and those seeking an iconic Disney experience; Epcot Center, which is a more educational, cerebral park better suited for older children and adults; Hollywood Studios, a movie-based theme park with thrilling rides that older children, teens and young adults will enjoy; and Animal Kingdom, which is a wildlife habitat where people of all ages can enjoy an up-close and personal experience with wild animals.
Some of Disney World’s best highlights include the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks display; the La Nouba Cirque du Soleil; the Epcot World Showcase, which hosts a spectacular nightly fireworks display; and the Animal Kingdom Safari Tour, where visitors can see African animals in a natural savanna habitat.
Universal Studios: This vast theme park is based on popular movies, comic books and cartoons. It features seven separate islands, each of which has a different theme, and different related rides. Ride along with Harry at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, save the world with your favorite superhero at Marvel Super Hero Island, enjoy silly fun at Toon Lagoon, or get an up-close view of dinosaurs at Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent.
Gatorland: A departure from Orlando’s theme parks, Gatorland offers visitors the opportunity to get an up-close view of native Florida wildlife, including alligators, crocodiles, snakes and nesting birds. The park features 3000 alligators and 89 crocodiles, with daily alligator feeding shows and reptile and bird exhibits.
Discovery Cove: This immense water park’s main draw is the opportunity to swim with dolphins, which is exciting enough. However, it also features an aviary where birds will come and eat right from your hands; a lazy river perfect for relaxing; and scuba diving with the opportunity to see real fish. The park hands out drinks, cookies and other snacks all day, which are free with the price of admission.
iFly Orlando: This unique indoor skydiving attraction is well worth a visit. Here, you can experience the feeling of being in freefall in complete safety, at any age.
Lake Eola Park: This is a fantastic place to experience Old Florida. The park is situated on a beautiful lake, complete with resident swans that love being fed. On the weekends, the park holds festivals and a farmer’s market.