Exploring Orlando for Families Attractions
The theme parks in Orlando offer the perfect family fun, regardless of the age of your children. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, LEGOLAND Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando, along with the many water parks offer more family fun than perhaps any other place in the world. Thrilling rides, tons of aquatic fun, amazingly themed experiences, innovative attractions, and experiences, and feature-packed resorts all guarantee a great time for kids of any age in Orlando. And be prepared; Orlando will bring out the kid in you.
There are thousands of activities to be had in Orlando and the surrounding area, and you will not be able to experience all of them in one trip. Orlando has evolved into one of the top destinations in the world for a good reason. Although the theme parks come to mind first, many people visit the destination without stepping into a theme park and have exciting and wonderful stays.
Orlando has matured into a destination that offers hundreds of non-theme park attractions, world-class museums and culture, and a great dining scene. Orlando sits in Central Florida, which enjoys great weather year-round, gorgeous natural resources and parks, and is close to some of the world's most beautiful beaches within an hour or two to either the west coast or the east coast of Florida.
A key to planning a vacation in Orlando for families that’s tailored to your family, their interests, and their ages is to manage expectations and understand the priorities of each family member. If your family is all about Disney, you still must pare down which parks best meet your needs and plan an itinerary that will cover all the top priorities for your family.
If you have teenagers who think Florida means beaches and sunshine, no problem, we have you covered. If your gang is competitive, we have all kinds of family challenges that will keep the friendly competition going. Check out our useful guide below for tips on navigating Orlando for families.
The Theme Parks
Walt Disney World Resort - Keeping the "Happiest Place on Earth" happy doesn't have to be difficult with a bit of planning. The parks are all designed for kids, and no matter their ages, Disney has something for them. The best parks for you and your family will be based on your interests and the kids' ages. If you are traveling with young ones, Disney's Magic Kingdom is a must. A trip to Disney without seeing Cinderella's Castle and meeting Mickey and other beloved characters is missing the mark. And watching the kids do this can be just as rewarding for the older ones and parents. There are plenty of rides here that the littles ones can ride on mom's or dad’s lap. For the older ones, Space Mountain and other rides will provide excitement.
Disney's Animal Kingdom is Disney's zoological theme park. It is perfect for explorers who want to travel deep into Asia and Africa or see gorgeous exotic animals in the wild. Don't miss the Tree of Life or Festival of the Lion King. See wallabies, giant anteaters, exotic boars, and deer, and be sure to take the Kilimanjaro Safari and Expedition Everest- Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. This park is excellent for all ages and a must for animal lovers.
Disney's Hollywood Studio is another excellent choice for all ages. Take a trip behind the scenes at a movie studio. The biggest attractions, Slinky Dog Dash, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Rock'n'Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, offer lots of thrills and are perfect for tweens and adults. The immersive rides, Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, are an ideal way for your Star Wars fan to live out his or her fantasy.
Epcot offers a chance for visitors of all ages to sample cultures from around the world. They provide diverse entertainment that takes visitors to 11 new countries. Sample the food and shop in the World Showcase. Their rides, Test Track and Soarin' Around the World, are a must-do for teens and adults. If you have a Frozen fan, Norway's Frozen Ever After is sure to delight. Mulan waits in Chine, Belle in France, and Snow White in Germany.
Universal Orlando Resort offers gorgeously themed hotels and Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split between Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade at
Universal Islands of Adventure. Your Potter fans will want to cast spells, drink butterbeer and watch a Quidditch match in this wondrous world.
Islands of Adventure has many high adventure experiences based upon blockbuster films such as MEN IN BLACK, Fast & Furious, and Transformers. Ride and rock to Hollywood RipTide Rockit, a music-fueled coaster that reaches 65 mph or Race Through New York with Jimmy Kimmel. The little ones won't want to miss the animated fun of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Shrek 4-D, or Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster.
Warning: You may get wet on Jurassic Park River Adventure and Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls.
If you are traveling during the warmest weather, a day at one of the water parks is a great call. Disney has Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Blizzard Beach features a winter motif built upon a polar theme of a ski resort now melting in the Florida sun. Take a "chairlift" to the top of Mount Gushmore, to multiple waterslides and rides like the Downhill Double Dipper, Summit Plummet, and Toboggan Racers. A great family adventure for six is a ride on the world's longest whitewater raft at Steamboat Springs. Chill out at Melt-Away Bay or tube on Cross Country Creek lazy river.
Typhoon Lagoon contains shipwrecks and other debris caused by a Typhoon Storm that created lazy river rides, waterslides, and wave pools. There are lots of thrills with Humunga Kowabunga, the park's longest and highest waterslide featuring a near-vertical 5-story drop in the dark. The younger ones have plenty to do also at Ketchakiddee Creek, with ten different aquatic activities.
Get ready to make a splash at SeaWorld Orlando. All ages will enjoy the interactive shows, thrilling adventures, and close-up animal encounters. The rides range from kiddie rides in Sesame Land to thrilling coasters like the floorless Kraken, where your feet dangle as you loop at over 50-feet high and navigate large drops and turns. Infinity Falls takes you on a journey through a lost jungle civilization in a whitewater voyage. Thrill ride lovers will not miss the Mako "hypercoaster" and "Manta" for their soaking journey to Atlantis. The younger kids will enjoy the mild ride of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins, followed by a visit to the penguins.
If you have any LEGO fans in your family, block out time right now for LEGOLAND Florida Resort. This is designed for kids 2-12 and includes an interactive theme park with more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions, all inspired by LEGO. Imagine famous cities, including Orlando, recreated by LEGO. Their water park is a great way to beat the heat and can be added as an upgrade to your park admission. You may even catch some water stunts like barefoot-skiing and the ski pyramid.
TIP - When visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, consider a FastPass+ to cut your wait time for your favorite attractions. You can bypass the longest lines by visiting within a specific window, which can be reserved at least 30 days in advance. Universal Orlando Resort offers Universal Express Pass at an extra fee, but this one has no designated time frame. SeaWorld has Quick Queue Unlimited for front-of-the-line access.
Orlando Florida Attractions for Families
Orlando is full of attractions that are perfect for families. Choose a night of indoor go-kart challenges at Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, see who can solve the clues, and free you from The Escape Game or soar above the city and the parks on the 400-foot high Wheel at ICON Park. Take an airboat ride in the Everglades with Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Rides, or try iFLY Orlando Indoor Skydiving. These are just a few of our Orlando Florida attractions for families. Click for more ideas of Things to do Besides Disney.
Dining and Evening Entertainment
Family dining and entertainment abound. Check out a dinner theatre like Medieval Times for a great time, or choose a family favorite on International Drive. Choices are unlimited. Click for more on The Best Orlando Family Restaurants.
Get Outdoors and Get Active
Orlando and the surrounding area offer beautiful opportunities to enjoy nature. Take a guided kayak tour, visit Weikiwa Springs State Park for nature trails, canoe rentals, incredible vistas, and family-friendly play areas. Enjoy a peaceful Swan Boat ride or hike around Lake Eola Park, right in the heart of Orlando. Check out more about Nature and Adventure Beyond The Theme Parks here.
Hit the Beach! - A Teen Pleaser
If you're traveling with tweens or teens, your stock is guaranteed to go up with a day trip to the beach. Head east to Cocoa Beach for a visit to the beautiful sandy beaches that Florida is known for. Get a boogie board for some fun in the waves. There’s plenty of free parking, restroom facilities, playground, picnic pavilions, and showers. Check out Cocoa Beach Pier, a surfing and fishing hotspot and a great place for waterfront dining and shopping. Take some time fishing beside the park at Jetty Park. You'll need to bring your own pole.
Cocoa Beach is famous in the surfing community, and the tweens and teens will love visiting the vast and iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop. This one is guaranteed to make the teens and tweens smile, and they may even want to book a surf lesson.
You will be very close to Kennedy Space Center, so your space fans and future astronauts may want to visit.
Tips for Exploring Orlando for Families
Traveling with kids is never easy, but traveling in Orlando with small children can be incredibly taxing. There's so much to see and do, the parks and attractions can be crowded, and excitement levels for all ages are at an all-time high.
Here are some tips to help you manage expectations and navigate Orlando like a pro.
Manage expectations - An excellent place to start is to talk to the kids about what Orlando has to offer. Making a list of everyone's top priorities is a great place to start. You will not be able to see and do everything in one trip, so pick the top choices so you can select a nearby hotel and plan an efficient itinerary that limits travel time, wait times in the park and for transportation and checks a couple of boxes for everyone. Help the kids understand that there will be more visits to Orlando, and this is about everyone getting to do one of their favorite activities and a lot more.
Don't "overbook" yourselves, as you can always expect the unexpected on any vacation, and discovery is the best part of travel. Leave time for unplanned exploration and fun and for downtime to help manage the "crankies" and take advantage of the activities and amenities that your own resort offers.
Consider leaving your stroller at home and bringing an inexpensive, light one with you to make it easier to get on and off transportation and maneuver in the lines and crowds. Strollers are available for rent at the theme parks or throughout Orlando.
We can all get a bit cranky when we are tired, hot, or waiting for things. And you may well spend some time in line at the attractions. Carry simple snacks with you into the park, and think about putting a bag in a locker if it is too much to carry all day.
Packing musts: swimsuits, sunscreen, reusable water bottle, comfy shoes, wipes and hand sanitizer, cheap rain ponchos, light sweaters, and jackets.
Download the Visit Orlando app for additional trip planning information.
We hope our guide to Exploring Orlando for Families helps you plan an epic vacation that’s perfect for you and your brood.
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