So, you’re planning a trip to Orlando – maybe it’s your once in a lifetime trip. You’ve seen the adverts about the place where dreams come true, the kids or kids at heart have seen pictures of Hogwarts in Universal Studios. And now you’ve decided to invest the money to get to the best place on Earth (in my opinion!). But, now you’re looking into it there just seems to be so much to take in.
This initial post will cover all the parks and a brief overview of what is in each one. There is so much more to Orlando than just the parks which I will write about too, but let’s face it – it’s the main reason a lot of us head out there.
Disney (6 parks)
The Magic Kingdom – the one you see on tv with Cinderella’s castle at the centre.
A day here is all about escaping reality and entering a world where everything and everyone is happy
Epcot – the one with the golf ball. Future world is packed full of attractions and world showcase gives you a taste of cultures from around the world
Animal Kingdom – with a safari, one of the best coasters in Orlando and animals everywhere this is without doubt my favourite park in the world.
Hollywood Studios – previously MGM (or as I called it as a child MGMG). All about how they made the movies – but at the moment a bit of a Star Wars fest.
Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach – Disney’s two water parks
Disney also has Disney Springs (a free to access shopping and eating area), two mini golf courses, Disney Quest & many more attractions not in the theme parks themselves.
One of the most frequently asked questions is “How long does it take to walk in between parks?”. The answer to that is although it’s probably technically possible to walk between some places on Disney property e.g. Typhoon Lagoon to Disney Springs is pretty manageable, I would never recommend it. You’ll be doing enough walking in the Florida heat around the parks without walking between them too! When you get there you’ll quickly realise the scale of the thing is unlike anything we have in the UK – Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is 40 square miles – that’s the size of San Francisco.
Universal (2, nearly 3 parks)
Universal Studios – the original and the best in our opinion, all about how they made the films and featuring the newly opened Diagon Alley
Islands of Adventure (IOA) – full of some of Orlando’s biggest rides and including Hogsmeade and Hogwarts in Harry Potter World.
Volcano Bay – opens 25th May 2017. This water park is going to be the first “virtual queue” park where you “tap in” for a time at an attraction, go off and enjoy the other attractions and you’ll be notified when it’s your time to ride.
You can walk easily between Universal Studios and IOA through City Walk which is also a great place to spend an evening shopping and eating. The parks are also connected by the Hogwarts express which runs between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. You will need a park hopper ticket to ride this attraction.
Sea World (4 parks)
Sea World – if you don’t like Sea World just scroll on past this section, that’s totally fine. Sea World has a number of rides including the longest, fastest coaster in Orlando. My favourite part is all the shows which are done so professionally.
Aquatica – Sea World’s water park, not our favourite water park but worth going to if you’re going all in on the Sea World Tickets
Discovery Cove – heaven! Swim with dolphins, snorkel with rays and it’s all inclusive so all your food and drink is included in your ticket.
Busch Gardens – a zoo crossed with a whole load of huge rides. We love it, it’s about an hour from the main tourist areas of Orlando but worth the journey.
In my opinion the best way to do Sea World parks is to go to Discovery Cove. You get 14 days free admission to Aquatica and Sea World included and for an extra $20(ish) you can add Busch Gardens and all your parking. So, if initially DC looks pretty expensive, it’s actually not too bad when it includes all that. This is 100% what we’re doing on our next trip.
Often overlooked but it’s the cheapest day in an Orlando Park. It’s technically not in Orlando, it’s just over an hour away at Cape Canaveral. It’s an easy drive if you’ve got a car, and if not there’s loads of options for an organised day including your travel each way. This is such an educational park, and even though space is not my thing at all, I left desperate to be an astronaut!
Approximately 45 mins drive from the main tourist areas. I can’t really comment as we’ve never been. The people I’ve spoken to who have been say it’s not as good as Legoland Windsor but if you’re kids love lego then it’s probably still worth a visit (although there is a big lego shop in Disney Springs if you just need a quick fix!)