Walt Disney World (13.8 miles:- 19 minutes)
A truly massive theme park covering over 27,000 acres or the size of San Francisco or Greater Manchester in the UK.
Walt Disney World Resort is the world’s largest theme park featuring 4 separate major theme parks which are Disney's Magic Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios as well as two water parks.
Disney World in Florida is the flagship of the worldwide Disney theme park empire and is the most visited resort in the world.
The Magic Kingdom was the first of the parks to open and it is here that you will find a land of fairy tales and Disney characters including the iconic Cinderella's Castle which looks quite magical when illuminated by the evening firework display which is a must see for many visitors to Orlando.
Epcot is a theme park dedicated to the celebration of human achievement as shown through technological innovation and international culture. The IllumiNations firework show which encompasses fireworks, music and lasers is outstanding and one of the best displays we have seen.
Universal Studios Theme Park ( 25.2 miles:- 36 minutes)
The number one movie and TV based theme park in the world. At this real working motion picture studio you’ll go behind the scenes and beyond the screen as you experience an incredible array of rides, shows, movie sets and attractions including Transformers The Ride 3-D, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, The Simpsons Ride, Revenge of the Mummy and Shrek 4-D and loads more. Not forgetting too the totally magical ET ride. We first went on this many years ago and did again when we visited in January and we were as impressed by it as much as we were the first time we experienced it.
The park is divided into two - Universal Studios and The Islands of Adventure. You can board the Hogwart's Express from Hogsmeade Station which takes you to "King's Cross" station in Universal Studios (or travel in opposite direction from Kings Cross). You will need to purchase a park to park ticket if you want to board the train at either station and visit both parks.
We visited in January of this year and it was really good in terms of how quick the queues were for all of the rides. Most were no longer than 5- 10 minutes waiting time with the exception of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride which was over an hour. In peak season all of these rides will, I am sure, have much longer waiting times. We loved all of the rides especially flying over the grounds of Hogwarts on the Forbidden Journey although this ride was too much for my 80 year old parents!
The new King Kong ride which opened in 2017 attracts big queues and whilst it is a very good ride it seemed to be over very fast and the wait of nearly an hour didn't feel quite worth it really.
Loved too Jurassic Park River Adventure but did get very wet, which just added to the fun.
We started our day in Universal Studios and then after lunch caught the Hogwart's Express over to the Islands of Adventure. Both parks are fantastic but initially we were most impressed by the rides in The Islands of Adventure. However after now having been to both parks three times we think that the Universal Studios park with attractions such as Diagon Alley and rides such as the Transformers is the best.
Legoland Florida (23.3 miles:- 36 minutes)
LEGOLAND is Florida's newest theme park. It is a 150-acre family theme park located in Winter Haven, just 36 minutes southwest of Florida Delight and is located on the former Cypress Gardens. One family who recently chose to rent our villa did so because one of the main reasons they were coming to Florida was to visit Legoland as they had a young family so it was a good theme park to suit that age group because of its family rides, interactive attractions, shows, restaurants and beautiful landscaped gardens all designed for young families with children aged up to 12 in mind. Our villa was the perfect choice of location being central for both Legoland to the south and Disneyworld to the north.
Legoland in Florida is the biggest LEGOLAND Park ever and offers a unique mix of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, including spectacular LEGO models and other interactive elements for the whole family to enjoy together.
After only recently opening, it has now expanded to include a Water Park, the water park attraction features a wave pool, Build-A-Raft lazy river, tube slides, body slides and an interactive water-play structure all based on the popular DUPLO Safari product range.
Seaworld (20.8 miles:- 27 minutes)
Seaworld is a wonderful theme park with a great mix of rides, roller coasters, shows and other attractions and appeals to people of all ages, thrill seekers and animal lovers alike.
Seaworld is one of my favourite theme park in Orlando and the shows are totally magical. We first spent a day there in January 2015 and went to two shows. The first was The One Ocean show, featuring killer whales in the Shamu Stadium which was both funny and stunning. We then had time for a leisurely stroll across the park, stopping for a light sandwich lunch en route, to watch the Blue Horizon show which was totally breathtaking and featured dolphins, tropical birds and acrobats. Friends who live in Orlando had recommended the Pets Ahoy show which has dogs, cats, ducks and even pigs in it and is meant to be hilarious. We didn't get the time on this occasion but it is on our list to see next time we visit.
We have been to Seaworld twice more since our first visit in 2015. The most recent was in February 2018. It was interesting to see how the shows have changed in the three years since we first went. Seaworld has had a great deal of bad publicity in recent times related to the handling of the whales and the coverage that came out in a documentary. Their shows have changed, presumably in response to this, and are now much more about educating the audience about sealife and marine conservation. I can totally understand why they have had to change and it is the ethical thing to do but as a result the shows have lost a lot of their "razamataz" (for want of a better word). They are still worth seeing though and supporting.
The sharks were an amazing sight and a fantastic way to observe them in the glass tunnel.
I am not normally a fan of roller coasters but at Seaworld I was persuaded by our son to go on Manta and then Kracken. I was so pleased that I had finally overcome my fear and found both rides totally thrilling and can't wait to go on them again soon. The rides at Seaworld are extremely good and probably amongst the best in Orlando such as Kracken, Manta and the latest addition Mako. When we went to Seaworld in February 2018 my family rated Mako as the best they went on out of all the rides in Seaworld and Universal. My son described it as "insane".
Seaworld is a really fantastic family day out and has so many things to do and see there.
Busch Gardens (63.9 miles: 1 hour 4 minutes)
Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay is a large theme park where you can go for a great day out for all the family with plenty of exciting rides, great attractions for younger children and the opportunity to see a range of animals and birds such as gorillas, meerkats, elephants, giraffes and cheetahs. Observe the animals as you walk along the pleasnt, shadey walkways or by hopping on board one of the four replica locomotives that make up the Serengeiti Railway that take you around the park. Or you can enjoy the fun of an off road African safari jeep experience where you will get the chance to see the animals up close when you take a ride on the Rhino Rally which is suitable for children aged 3 and upwards when accompanied by an adult.
As well as Busch Gardens being well known for having some of the best roller coasters in the area there are also a range of shows at various times during the day or you can go behind the scenes at the Animal Care Centre.
Busch Gardens puts on a number of different events during the year such as the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival.
Busch Gardens is open from 10 am to 7pm
17 Hidden Gems for Harry Potter Fans at Diagon Alley (25.2 miles:- 36 Minutes)
Harry Potter World is a must see for anyone heading to The Islands Of Adventure, Universal, Orlando. At every turn you will find mind blowing sights but there are some things that are slightly more difficult to spot unless you know what you are looking for. This guide lists 17 hidden gems for Harry Potter fans to look for in Diagon Alley. Try to spot them all!