Need help deciding on which theme park—parks?!—to take the kids to while visiting Orlando? Here's a roundup of the best of the bunch.
Some visitors come to Orlando with no intention of setting foot in a theme park. But many more (in fact, millions each year) come for no other reason.
Walt Disney World® Resort is made up of several parks: Magic Kingdom® is where one can mingle with Disney characters, see Cinderella's castle, and ride the legendary Space Mountain. Disney's Hollywood Studios® is dedicated to show business, from studio back-lot tours to behind-the-scenes information and exhibits on how movies are made, including an area devoted to animation. Epcot® is divided into two sections—Future World, focusing on technology and innovation; and the World Showcase, depicting the culture and cuisine of almost a dozen countries including Norway, Italy, Japan, Morocco, and France.
At Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, you may see lions, warthogs and wildebeests on Kilimanjaro Safaris®. Or for an extra fee, take a guided 3-hour Wild Africa Trek, featuring close encounters with wildlife in the theme park's 110-acre Harambe Reserve. You'll observe massive hippos and Nile crocodiles from just a few feet above as you make your way across a rope bridge. Next up is a ride in a rugged safari vehicle over an open savanna teeming with African creatures, including giraffes and rhinos. When you've worked up an appetite, you'll enjoy African-inspired snacks at a shaded hut with sweeping views.
SEA THE SIGHTS
SeaWorld is still the home of the world-famous killer whale Shamu and other animals (including dogs, cats, ducks and even potbellied pigs) that entertain crowds. There are rides galore; behind-the-scenes tours; and even the chance to feed dolphins, sea lions and sting rays by hand.
BE A STAR
You may not realize that Universal Studios is actually a working film and TV production studio. But besides that, it's a full-on theme park with crazy rides and shows that feature characters from Despicable Me, The Simpsons, The Cat in the Hat, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man and many more.
Don't forget Universal is also home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The park offers two different lands to explore: Hogsmeade, where you can wander through wizarding shops and eateries, or the classrooms and corridors of Hogwarts; and Diagon Alley, where you can escape from Gringotts bank—just like Harry did.
LET THE FUN BUILD
Immerse yourself in a world of interlocking blocks at LegoLand Florida Resort. Check out shows of pirates doing battle (on water skis!), stage exhibitions and a 4D movie theater; experience Lego-inspired rides that let kids take control of the action; even build, climb, play or relax in attractions built just for kids of all ages.
Walt Disney World: disneyworld.disney.go.com
SeaWorld: 7007 SeaWorld Dr.; 1.888.800.5447; seaworldparks.com
Universal Studios:1000 Universal Studios Plaza; 1.877.688.8011; universalorlando.com
Legoland Florida Resort: 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven; 1.877.350.5346 legoland.com/florida