10 Best Things to Do in Orlando

Orlando Best Attractions

When it comes to things to do in Orlando, it’s no surprise that the city’s famed line-up of theme parks takes up the bulk of the action – and rightly so. Both Disney and Universal dominate the tourist market here, with 9 different parks between them, not to mention all the branded shopping, dining and nightlife experiences that don’t require a day-pass.

Although visiting Orlando without at least saying a quick ‘hello’ to Mickey and Co might feel like you’ve not had the full experience, the city – and surrounding central Florida area – does promise plenty of alternatives. Explore the quaint downtown quarter and the inner-city parks on foot, airboat your way around the vast alligator-infested swamps, or take a tour to the world-famous Kennedy Space Centre on the eastern shores.

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    While other theme parks around town tend to cater more towards certain age groups or tastes, Universal’s Islands of Adventure has got it all. Live action stunt shows entertain the kids, rollercoasters and themed rides tower overhead, and immersive simulators place you in the middle of your favourite movie – ideal for those who prefer their adrenalin fix to be a bit closer to the ground.

    Opened in 1999, Islands of Adventure is made up of 7 different areas, with the ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ pulling in the most visitors each day. It sits alongside the likes of ‘The Lost Continent’, ‘Toon Lagoon’, Jurassic Park’ and ‘Marvel Super Hero Island’. Read More...

    • Location: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819, USA
    • Tel: +1 407-224-4233
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    Disney World’s first ever theme park remains one of its best. Magic Kingdom welcomes a whopping 20 million visitors each year with its 6 different lands of fun and adventure. The iconic Cinderella Castle stands as the park’s centrepiece, lit up every night at 10pm by the famous fireworks display (that can be seen for free if you get close enough).

    Entrance into the park – which starts at around $100 – unravels a whole world of Disney-inspired shows, parades, rollercoasters, rides and simulators, most of which cater more towards the younger kids. Among the 6 lands are Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Main Street, and Liberty Square. Read More...

    • Location: 1180 Seven Seas Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA
    • Tel: +1 407-939-5277
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    Universal Studios Florida

    One-half of the wider Universal Orlando complex, Universal Studios draws in the bumper crowds with its long line-up of Hollywood-inspired rides and attractions. Get up close with those naughty yellow minions from Despicable Me, fly across Springfield with The Simpsons, ward-off alien attacks in the Men in Black simulator or get lost in a world of magic at Harry Potter’s Escape from Gringotts ride.

    Compared to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the action here is more focused on delivering an immersive movie experience, with state-of-the-art technology used throughout the range of simulators. Read More...

    • Location: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819, USA
    • Tel: +1 407-363-8000
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    Seaworld Orlando

    SeaWorld has long been a firm fixture on Orlando’s list of big-name attractions, with plenty of shows, aquatic themed-rides and hands-on animal experiences to keep the family occupied for the day. Venture through the shark tunnel to uncover an underwater world, get up close to the dolphins and rays at ‘Sea of Shallows’ or watch the orca whales showcase their skills at the famous Shamu Stadium.

    Admission price varies between weekdays and weekends (starting around $80 a ticket), and SeaWorld also has a range of multi-day options with various add-ons for entrance into the adjacent Aquatica waterpark and Discovery Cove. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 10am to 6pm
    • Location: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821, USA
    • Tel: +1 407-545-5550
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    The Kennedy Space Centre is one of the region’s most popular attractions – away from the all the theme park action, that is. It sits on the eastern coast of Florida, around 45 minutes from downtown Orlando.

    Thanks to Orlando’s relentless tourism boom, the Kennedy Space Center has become so much more than just a site for NASA to launch their astronauts off from the surface of the Earth. Now you can get up close with the original Apollo Saturn V rocket, stand nose-to-tail with the huge Atlantis Space Shuttle, take a trip out of the atmosphere in a simulator, or even arrange to have lunch with a veteran astronaut. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 7pm
    • Location: Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953, USA
    • Tel: +1 855-433-4210
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    Aquatica Park

    Orlando has a fair few water parks to choose from and one of the best is Aquatica, located next to the larger SeaWorld complex. Alongside all the water park essentials like head-to-head slides, rapids, and high-speed flumes, Aquatica also delivers a few slightly more unique attractions.

    One such example is the ‘Dolphin Plunge’, where your transparent flume passes through a pool full of dolphins (they’ll even try to race you as you zip along, if you’re lucky), as well as the oblivion-style drop at ‘Ihu’s Breakaway Falls’. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 10am to 5pm
    • Location: 5800 Water Play Way, Orlando, FL 32821, USA
    • Tel: +1 407-545-5550
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    Gatorland Orlando

    For a theme park with a difference, Orlando’s highly-rated Gatorland provides a little extra ‘bite’ – it’s home to dozens of live alligators and crocodiles. The timetable of live shows and demonstrations here provides a great way to learn more about Orlando’s most famous reptiles, but what will really leave a lasting memory is the park’s much-talked-about zipline ride over the gator-infested swamps – easily beating any other rollercoaster in the city to the title of Orlando’s scariest attraction!

    Entrance is very reasonable, too, with this being one of the cheapest of Orlando’s many tourist attractions. You do pay a little extra for things like the zipline and gator training sessions, though. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 10am to 5pm
    • Location: 14501 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837, USA
    • Tel: +1 407-855-5496
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    Disney’s Hollywood Studios is where movie magic comes alive, with the collection of family-friendly shows, rides, and attractions inspired by Disney’s early movies. Scenes from the 1930s and 1940s classics draw in millions of visitors every year.

    Rides like ‘Tower of Terror’ and the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Coaster’ provide some more pulse raising excitement alongside live action rides and immersive simulators. Movie buffs shouldn’t forget to check out the excellent ‘Animation Courtyard’ either, home to a few particularly interesting exhibits detailing the life and work of Walt Disney himself. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 8pm (Sundays till 8.30pm)
    • Location: 351 S Studio Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA
    • Tel: +1 407-939-5277
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    Legoland Florida

    Legoland Orlando

    Legoland Florida delivers heaps of things to see and do, including rollercoasters, huge Lego-built models (such as Florida, New York, Kennedy Space Center and Daytona Speedway), shows and performances. Most of the rides here are geared towards kids in the 2-12-year-old age bracket, such as their popular Duplo fairground-style rides, the indoor-outdoor ‘Dragon’ rollercoaster, wooden ‘coastersaurous’ and safari trek.

    A range of flexible day passes are available for Legoland, with prices structured for adults and children. There’s also a Legoland Water Park next door, which costs around $100 for a combined ‘park-hopper’ pass. Legoland’s largest park sits right next to Lake Eloise in the Lakeland region, around an hour’s drive from Downtown Orlando. The good news is that there is a $5 shuttle service that runs to the park every day from International Drive (at 9am).

    • Location: 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884, USA
    • Tel: +1 888-690-5346
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    Discovery Cove Orlando

    As an alternative to the slightly more commercialized SeaWorld, head to the adjacent Discovery Cove for a more intimate and altogether more unique experience. The top-rated activity here is easily the ‘Dolphin Lagoon’, which lays on 30-minute small-group sessions with the dolphins in the water, allowing you to swim, hug and even kiss the dolphins (if that’s your thing).

    The ‘Freshwater Oasis’ zone offers much of the same thing, just with different animals like otters and marmosets, while ‘The Grand Reef’ is the place to check out some exotic fish with a snorkel set provided. ‘Wind-Away River’ is a slow-flowing river that passes through landscaped jungles, caves and waterfalls. Almost all the attractions here involve getting in the water, so don’t forget your swimming costumes. Packages are fully customisable and best booked well in advance via their website. Read More...

    • Location: 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, FL 32821, USA
    • Tel: +1 407-513-4600
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