Theme Parks in Orlando Florida

Orlando Florida is probably the theme park capital of the world and if you’re looking for some family friendly fun then this is the city you want to visit.

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom obviously has to head the list of theme parks in Orlando but what can you say about the Magic Kingdom? It’s one of the most popular theme parks in the entire world, captivating the hearts and imaginations of everyone who visits. The park opened October 1, 1971 and quickly grew to be a favorite among locals and tourists. The park is divided into several sections: Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Mickey’s Toontown Fair. Each themed region has its target audience and rides and other attractions designed to cater to that group and fit the theme. The overriding theme at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is one of make believe and magic. Guests are encouraged to leave the real world behind and enjoy the ride.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a zoo on steroids. With more than 1,700 animals, 250 species and stretching across 500 acres the park is the largest animal themed part in the world. To best display the animals and the elaborate landscapes the park is divided into seven areas: Oasis, Discovery Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, Dinoland USA. Each area features live animals that fit the theme, and some of them are even open for hands on exploration. In addition to the animals the park features exciting theme rides, Broadway style musical shows, restaurants and shops. If you’d like a more in depth experience, try the Backstage Safari Tour or the Wild By Design Tour.


Epcot or EPCOT Center joined the Disney line up on October 1, 1982 with an eye toward introducing and celebrating international culture and technological innovations. Although the park is now simply called Epcot, it originally was EPCOT Center and the EPCOT part stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The vision was for a community or city that was advanced and using the newest technological advancements available. It was really originally seen as a community with people living and working in a sort of utopia, but of course that original vision never came to fruition. By the time the park opened its concept had changed so much that it currently most represents a permanent World’s Fair. The park basically has two sections, Future World and World Showcase. Epcot features international themed areas with products imported directly from that country and often staff that are originally from the region as well. There are also rides, theater and stage productions and other attractions throughout the park.

Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is another theme park under the Walt Disney helm. This behind-the-scenes view of Hollywood productions such as feature films, live stage shows, special events, and popular television shows. The rides and attractions are similarly themed with new ones being introduced fairly regularly to keep up with the latest entertainment trends. The studios offer a lot of hands on activities making some of the experiences feel like the chance of a lifetime, which can be quite exciting for those with movie star dreams.

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is an unusual theme park in that the theme isn’t so much a fantasy land or a fairytale setting but it’s an amped up Americana street with a slew of restaurants, attractions, entertainment options, and shopping alternatives. Downtown Disney is divided into three sections, Downtown Disney West Side, Downtown Disney Marketplace, and Pleasure Island. Due to the retail and service nature of the attractions there is quite a bit of turnover, making the downtown area always seem just a little bit different.

Universal Studios Orlando

In keeping with the movie and television theme, Universal Studios Orlando opened in 1990 with an expansion in 1999 that added the Islands of Adventure to the lineup. Universal claims to let its visitors Ride the Movies, with different thrill rides, movies and adventures that are based around famous films. Some of the themed rides have some staying power and continue to draw audiences in droves while others are updated fairly regularly. There are basically six themed areas: Hollywood, Production Central, New York, San Francisco/Amity, World Expo and KidZone.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Universal’s Islands of Adventure was added to their slate in 1999 and is designed to be an escape of sorts where guest leave a main port to explore five different islands (a sixth is planned for 2010 based on Harry Potter): Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurasic Park, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing. Each area is designed specifically to fit within its theme with shows, rides, stores and restaurants to fit.

Sea World

Sea World in Orlando is one of the most popular parks in the area and its unique focus on aquatic life makes it an entertaining and informative experience for everyone. But not just your typical aquarium, Sea World has a number of features that make it more of a theme park than anything else, there are a large number of attractions and rides, some of them incorporating the animals into the attraction. The animal exhibits get quite elaborate with underwater tunnels surrounded by sharks, hands on experiences with stingrays and dolphins, and nurseries. There are also a number of live shows featuring killer whales, dolphins, exotic birds, sea lions and otters, cats, dogs and a few humans.


If you like the animals but prefer something a little toothier, then Gatorland may be the theme park for you and your family. This protected habitat claims to be known internationally as the Alligator Capital of the World with 110 acres of both theme park and nature conservatory rolled into one. Gatorland got its start in 1949 as a roadside attraction but now features thousands of alligators and crocodiles, a breeding marsh, a boardwalk through the marsh to an observation tower for better viewing, reptile shows, an aviary, petting zoo, a number of educational programs, and a road show with alligator wrestling.
Creative Commons License photo credit: yeowatzup