- Jonathan Chum
The City Beautiful has so much to offer and is a great place to visit any time of year. However, if you're looking for something specific, this list of top things to do in Orlando will help you decide where to spend your time.
Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World Resort is a vacation destination in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks and Resorts division. It opened on October 1, 1971 (just outside Orlando) as the first of four theme parks built at the Walt Disney World Resort. The original park has since been split into two separate parks: Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
The park is represented by Cinderella Castle, a fairytale castle that serves as the park's icon. It is also home to many other attractions and shows. Magic Kingdom opened with 20 attractions, 5 restaurants, and a gift shop, which has now expanded to over 50 attractions, 11 table service restaurants, and numerous specialty shops.
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure is one of the most popular theme parks in the world, and for good reason. It has an amazing collection of rides and attractions that will appeal to all ages. If you're looking for a unique experience, make sure to check out The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! You can explore Hogsmeade Village and ride on Hogwarts Express, or even drink a butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks!
If you're more interested in thrill rides than family fun (don't worry---you're not strange), Islands of Adventure also has several roller coasters that'll give you a rush like no other. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is an indoor roller coaster where riders are transformed into minions as they zip around their new home base with Gru; Revenge of the Mummy puts you right in the middle of ancient Egypt as it twists through dark tombs; Transformers: The Ride 3D lets guests take control as they fight evil robots alongside Optimus Prime---and if that doesn't sound exciting enough, wait until they realize they have to shoot them down with virtual blasters!
SeaWorld Orlando is a marine life theme park located in Orlando, Florida. Owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, it is the largest of the three major theme parks in the SeaWorld chain. The park opened on March 27, 1973, as Marine World: Land of Sea Thrills and was originally owned by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich before being acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev through its subsidiary Busch Entertainment Corporation in 2009.
On July 1, 2016, SeaWorld officially announced that they would end their orca breeding program and theatrical shows involving killer whales effective immediately. The plan also included an expansion to their whale habitats known as Blue World Project (BW).
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a must on any Orlando itinerary. Hogsmeade Village is a literal replica of the town in the Harry Potter series, right down to its cobbled streets and thatched-roofed buildings. You can visit Ollivanders Wand Shop to find your perfect magical wand, or buy butterbeer (a non-alcoholic drink) at The Three Broomsticks tavern. There are also plenty of rides for kids and adults alike:
Hogwarts Express: Ride this train through Hogwarts Village and into London before disembarking at King's Cross Station!
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: Join Harry on his quest through Gringotts Bank as you soar over its underground vaults, past dragons, and into otherworldly scenes from all eight movies!
Flight of the Hippogriff: This family-friendly roller coaster ride will send you soaring through Hagrid's pumpkin patch before diving back in time for a lesson about hippogriffs with Hagrid himself---don't worry though---you won't have any trouble keeping your seat!
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts: Explore one of Lord Voldemort's most sinister lairs as you take flight above cavernous chambers filled with goblins, trolls, giant spiders & more (yes there will be some darkness involved)!
Downtown Disney Area
The Downtown Disney Area is a small, but bustling area located in the heart of Orlando. It has everything you could want in a vacation spot: shopping, dining, and entertainment. The best part? It's all in one place! You can get lost here for hours without even realizing it by visiting shops like World of Disney or grabbing some grub at Earl of Sandwich (the ultimate sandwich experience).
Orlando is also home to some great theme parks that are worth checking out if you have time during your visit. They include DisneyQuest, Jungle Cruise, and Splash Mountain as well as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Pirates of the Caribbean. Dinosaur and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom are also popular spots for children (and adults) alike!
WonderWorks Orlando is an amazing hands-on science center that has more than 100 exhibits. The museum allows visitors to explore the wonders of science in a fun and interactive way. They have more than 50 themed galleries that feature unique experiences like walking through a giant bubble, exploring inside a giant tornado, or taking part in the space shuttle simulator.
WonderWorks also includes several rides such as the Mind Eraser, which makes you feel like you're going upside down while sitting in a chair; the Human Gyroscope where you can rotate around like a spinning top; and their brand new attraction called Gravity Max! The next time you head over to WonderWorks Orlando make sure to check out some of their great exhibits or try out one of their many rides!
Orlando Science Center
Orlando Science Center is a science museum in Orlando, Florida, United States. The Orlando Science Center is located at 777 E. Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803.
The Orlando Science Center was founded in 1982 by a group of community leaders and educators who wanted to create an interactive learning experience for children and families in Central Florida. Today the OSC has grown into one of the largest science centers in Florida!
Orlando Science Center - Kinetics Exhibit
This exhibit explores the science behind kinetic energy and its many forms, including wind, water, and sound. The exhibit is divided into four sections:
Kinetic Energy - an interactive ride that simulates the forces of nature that affect our lives every day
Dynamic Earth - an attraction that explains how Earth's internal engine gives rise to earthquakes and volcanoes, as well as its seasons and climate patterns
Motion Mountain - a hands-on experience that engages visitors in learning about motion through interactive displays such as a ball drop tower where participants must design instruments to catch a falling ball before it hits the ground
Force Lab - guests can feel how forces work on them by experiencing them first-hand with a variety of fun activities including racing ramps and steering wheels
The Disney Parks
Disney Parks are the main attractions in Orlando, Florida. The parks are divided into four different areas: Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot Theme Park, Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and Disney Springs. Each of the parks has its unique attractions and you will spend an entire day at each park if you plan to visit all 4 during your trip. Disney's Hollywood Studios is also one of the most popular attractions in Orlando with movies like Toy Story World, Star Wars World and so much more!
Disney Springs is a shopping mall right next to all of these parks which makes it very convenient for families looking to shop while they visit other attractions throughout Orlando!
If you're looking for something even more adventurous than these famous theme parks then consider visiting Blizzard Beach Water Park or Typhoon Lagoon Water Park where guests can enjoy water slides or lazy rivers without having to leave any time soon!
The Disney Parks - Magic Kingdom Park
The Magic Kingdom Park is inspired by animated films of Disney. It's the first Disney theme park to open in Orlando and has become a place where people from all over the world come to experience some of their favorite characters and stories.
The castle at this park is called Cinderella Castle, but it's also known as Sleeping Beauty Castle because it towers over a smaller one named after her fairy godmother. Both are beautiful landmarks for visitors to see when they enter Magic Kingdom Park.
As you might expect from an amusement park located near Orlando, FL (home of SeaWorld), this one features plenty of rides---some scary, some silly---alongside shows and parades that bring more than 100 years' worth of movie magic into play!
The Disney Parks - Magic Kingdom Park, Cinderella Castle
The Magic Kingdom Park is the original theme park of Walt Disney World Resort, and it's still the most popular of all the parks. It's home to Cinderella Castle, which is the icon of Disney World and a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Orlando.
The centerpiece of this park is Cinderella Castle, an enormous replica of an old European castle that was built to resemble Sleeping Beauty's castle. This colorful building stands in front of an artificial lagoon called Seven Seas Lagoon, where many boat rides are located such as Jungle Cruise or Pirates of the Caribbean.
The Disney Parks - Epcot Theme Park
Epcot is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products division. The park is divided into two sections: Future World and World Showcase.
Future World focuses on technology-related exhibits and experiences, while World Showcase presents a model of the world's nations.
The park opened on October 1, 1982. Its name was changed from Epcot Center to Walt Disney World's Epcot in 1994, and then to simply Epcot in late 2018.
The Disney Parks - Epcot Theme Park, Spaceship Earth
The first thing you'll see when you enter the Epcot theme park is Spaceship Earth, a slow ride narrated by a robot host who takes you through the history of communication. The ride itself is set in the future, where man has established colonies on Mars and other planets. Your narrator is a robot (voiced by Michael Crawford) that serves as an ambassador for all mankind as he guides you through different periods in time.
Epcot's Spaceship Earth ride has been around since 1982, but it still holds up today with its immersive experience and an educational message about how new technologies have helped us communicate with each other over time---from cave paintings to written language to radio waves today.
The Disney Parks - Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Animal Kingdom is the only Disney park without a castle, but it makes up for this with its theming. The park's name comes from the idea that it is a "Disney park unlike any other". That's because its focus is on animals, both real and imagined. With more than 1,000 animals of 250 species living on-site, Animal Kingdom was named "best zoo or aquarium in America" by USA Today readers in 2017.
The Disney Parks - Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Tigger bouncing through the trees in Hundred Acre Wood
Tigger is a character from the Winnie-the-Pooh series. He bounces through Hundred Acre Wood with boundless enthusiasm, befriending all he meets along the way (including Christopher Robin).
The Disney Parks - Animal Kingdom Theme Park is a huge park that covers over 500 acres and features exotic animals and rides like Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, Festival of the Lion King, and more!
There are many activities to do at this theme park such as a ride on Kilimanjaro Safari or Expedition Everest where you can see giraffes up close while you get off your car or ride on a train around Africa! You can also watch The Lion King musical as well as enjoy live music performances throughout the day!
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort is a mega-resort that brings together theme parks, on-site hotels, and an entertainment complex called CityWalk. You can travel to Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay water park by using the convenient shuttle system (which runs 24 hours).
Universal Studios Florida: This theme park has been around since 1990 and is home to some highly popular attractions like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- Hogsmeade (where you'll find Hogwarts castle), Madagascar: A Crate Adventure, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster, and Kongfrontation.
Islands of Adventure: This themed area is centered around seven islands based on various islands in Southeast Asia as well as other exotic locations such as Africa and ancient Greece. You'll find rides/attractions like The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Jurassic Park River Adventure raft ride, Poseidon's Fury 4D movie experience at SeaWorld Orlando, or Skull Island: Reign of Kong 3D movie experience at Universal's Islands of Adventure Theme Park.
Volcano Bay Water Park: Located inside Universal Orlando Resort next door to Volcano Bay Water Park can be found on International Drive within walking distance from your hotel room at Marriott Grand Bohemian Hotel or Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. This water park features 25 acres of land filled with over 23 million gallons of water - making it one of the largest artificially created bodies of fresh water in Florida!
Orlando is one of the most visited destinations in the world, and for good reason. The city has something for everyone. Whether you're looking for some thrills and adventure at Universal Studios or just want to relax with your family at Walt Disney World Resort, there are plenty of options available! Don't forget about all the other attractions as well---from SeaWorld Orlando to WonderWorks Orlando; Downtown Disney Area to Orlando Science Center---there's something fun and interesting around every corner. Get out there and explore what this amazing city has to offer!