Florida's Top Theme Parks
Florida is famously known for world-class theme parks. There’s so much choice in terms of different parks to visit in Florida – each with different attractions tailored to various interests and age groups. To help with the decision making, here’s a guide to the must-visit theme parks!
Split into two parks – Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, you'd ideally need a couple of days to cover all of the magical attractions on offer...
Universal Studios Florida is the original theme park and a sure-fire trip down memory lane. A stroll around the block will remind you of all the classics like E.T, Back to the Future, Men in Black and Blues Brothers. You only have to turn the corner to find Jake and Elwood driving down the road in their Bluesmobile ready to burst into song or Doc Brown will be waiting to have his picture taken with you…it’s all going on!
Check out Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers The Ride: 3-D and our personal favourite Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit - a terrifying vertical climb followed by 65mph loops and dips, all whilst listening to your favourite song which you select at the beginning of the ride. What an experience!
Everyone's favourite suburbian town Springfield comes to life in The Simpsons section of the park. Fans will be over the moon with being able to grab a burger from Krusty Burger or have a pint at Moe’s Tavern. It really is a fantastic experience and the 3-D ride is pretty impressive too...
For any Harry Potter fans – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios is as good as it gets! It’s a surreal world of replica buildings and intricate details which are set to dazzle and enchant. Wander through the streets of Diagon Alley and visit the shops just like in the film such as Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and Quality Quidditch Supplies where you can buy souvenirs for all the muggles back home. You can even stop for a snack in the Leaky Cauldron or explore everything that the Dark Arts have to offer down Knockturn Alley.
One of the most impressive buildings is Kings Cross Station, and it’s from here at Platform nine and three quarters that you can take the Hogwarts Express over to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Take a seat inside your very own passenger compartment and wind through the British countryside on an adventure directly to Hogsmeade Station!
Over in Universal’s Island of Adventure, Harry Potter is the main attraction and Hogsmeade certainly lives up to the hype! Above the charming village is the impressive Hogwarts Castle which includes the fantastic Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride where you’ll feel like you’re on a broomstick in an adventure with Harry and the rest of the gang. There is also the excellent Dragon Challenge rollercoaster where your legs dangle whilst you twist and loop across the sky.
Elsewhere is Universal’s Island of Adventure: explore Jurassic Park. Ride the River Adventure and escape the jaws of the T-Rex or if you don't want to go the way of the dinosaur, you can join Spider-Man on a comic style 3-D adventure and take a plunge on Doctor Doom’s Fearfall ride…plus much more.
So, if you hadn't guessed it - we're big fans of Universal Orlando! Both parks are brilliant, and a special wizard's hats off to The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter which has left visitors spellbound since it's launch in just 2014.
Top tip: extend your ticket to an Express pass. This will save you precious park time and may even get you on attractions more than once - oh, the powers of a queue-jump style pass... (please note that Express pass does currently not apply to The Wizarding World Harry Potter).
The park boasts four major rollercoaster rides – Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra, Kumba and Montu plus many others, including water rides and smaller rides for children. But you’d be mistaken if you thought that Busch Gardens was all about the rides – there's also wild animals, beautiful gardens and even a locomotive that takes you on a relaxing journey through the park.
Once inside the park – head straight to SheiKra. North America's very first dive coaster, this attraction climbs up to 200 feet and then drops straight back down at up to 70 mph… at a 90-degree drop! It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted…and spectators, beware of the splash zone!
Another fantastic ride is the Cheetah Hunt. Hurtle at up to 60 mph through an African inspired landscape before plunging 37 meters into the abyss. This ride is full of surprises and is a record-breaking three and a half minutes long – try and nab a front row seat for the best adrenaline rush!
If you need a little break from all of the excitement, wander through the park where you'll come face to face with some of the world's most endangered species – the animals are truly amazing and you can even take part in feeding sessions with animals like kangaroos and elephants. You’ll also feel like you’re on safari on the in-resort Serengeti Railway…the giraffes can be extremely curious, so hold onto your hats!
All in all, Busch Gardens is a great place for all the family – the rollercoasters and rides are among the best in the world and the added magic of wild animal encounters provides a memorable experience for everyone.
Top tip: To get the best value for money, buy a 3 Park ticket which also includes Sea World and Aquatica and offers unlimited entry for 14 days. Also, check the Attractions Update on the Busch Gardens website to check for scheduled ride closures so to avoid potential disappointment when you get there.
Disney – Magic Kingdom
Some say that Disney is what Florida is all about. The Magic Kingdom is certainly the epicentre of it all - picture enchanting parades, thrilling rides and Disney characters all in one big all singing, all dancing procession... From the moment that you step onto Main Street, feel-good music fills the air and the iconic castle glows in the distance.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is designed with little ones in mind - but in reality, you're never too old to pose with your childhood faves. The park's attractions vary from the slow-paced It’s a Small World to the EPIC Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and legendary Space Mountain. On top of rides, there are performances throughout the day and plenty of interactive events to get involved with, like the famous Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial.
Top tip: You cannot purchase queue jump style tickets for the park. However, Disney does offer a free Fastpass ticket with a designated time slot for you to return to the attraction with. This can save queuing up for hours on end with restless children!