Trying to limit this post to just the top ten attractions in Orlando is nearly impossible to do since there is so much to offer in the area to keep friends and family entertained. The city of Orlando is located in one of the world’s most visited tourist regions. Among its principal tourist attractions are Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando, and Universal Orlando. Within easy reach, too, is the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral. So let’s start with the obvious…
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is Florida’s most popular family attraction and has been for many years. The Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot Theme Park, and MGM Studios are just some of the highlights that have long entertained children and parents. There is enough to see and do to keep families occupied for days on end. Additions, such as Downtown Disney, now cater to a more adult crowd, with shopping, restaurants, theaters, and music venues. You are sure to find something for everyone at Walt Disney World!
Orlando’s SeaWorld, with its huge aquariums, dolphin and whale shows, touch pools, and extensive list of rides, draws large family crowds year-round. It also allows opportunities for close up encounters with dolphins and other residents. SeaWorld in Orlando is among the world’s largest marine parks. The entire family will have a “splashing” good time here at SeaWorld!
Universal Studios offers a look from behind the scenes of Universal studios, but also offers all kinds of other attractions and entertainment. This combination theme park and working studio was designed in consultation with Steven Spielberg to give visitors an interactive experience with the movies. There are two different theme parks at Universal: Universal Studios Florida, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Let’s not forget the Harry Potter experience at Universal as well…. You’re sure to be spellbound by the fun. Each of these offers something a little different. The first offers a look at the studios and Islands of Adventure is where visitors will find theme areas with rides and eye-catching sights. Many visitors spend much more time here than they had anticipated. City Walk, also part of Universal, is a huge entertainment complex, featuring dining, shopping, movies, and other day and night entertainment. Universal Studios literally puts you inside of some of the most popular movies ever.
Located next to SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove is a premier attraction in the Orlando area. Visitors can experience some of the mysteries of the sea in an island resort setting. Some of the options include swimming with the dolphins, snorkeling along a reef, and wading among stingrays. On land you can relax in lounge chairs in the tropical setting. Visitors can purchase an all-inclusive one-day pass but due to the extreme popularity of Discovery Cove you are best off booking a reservation well in advance during peak season
Back to the Disney properties for another dip in to fun with Typhoon Lagoon. This water park is one of Disney’s most popular with all kinds of slides and rides, a wave pool for surfing, and areas for small children to enjoy themselves. Shark Reef gives visitors an opportunity to swim with leopard and sharks, along with stingrays and other fish.
Island of Adventure
Also located at Universal Orlando, Islands of Adventure has five unique islands, each designed in their own theme, complete with rides and various other forms of entertainment.
Wet ‘N Wild
One of Orlando’s first water parks, Wet ‘N Wild contains enough fun and thrill rides to entertain people all day long. You’ll find a wave pool, water slides, chutes, raft rides and flumes throughout the park. There are both individual and multi-person rides. Some of the highlights include “The Surge,” a six-story speed slide, and “Bomb Bay” where the rider is dropped in a capsule from a great height. For those looking for a little less adventure but just as much fun, there is a Lazy River where you can drift down a man made river in an inner tube.
Orlando Science Center
Showcasing several branches of science from mechanics to biology and applied technology, the Orlando Science Center makes learning fun. There are a variety of themed exhibits. Among the top favorites is “Kids Town.” Kids Town is available to children under 48 inches tall with stimulating interactive exhibits. There are also laser shows and large format films at the Dr. Phillips CineDome. In addition to the exhibit galleries, the Science Center presents touring exhibits from across the country.
Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe
Looking for a little piece of history? Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine was built in the 1980s. This large church can seat 2,000 people and is adorned with impressive stained glass windows. The church contains an eight-foot marble statue of Mary, created by sculptor Jill Burkee. In the outdoor chapel is another sculpture of the Mother and Child by Jerzy Kenar. On site is a museum with religious sculptures, paintings, and a relic of Saint Desiderius. Also of interest is the Pilgrimage Center, offering information on the history of the Christian Pilgrimage. This Catholic Church serves the many visitors to the Orlando area as a place of worship.
Who can come to Florida without visit the gators? Gatorland has thousands of alligators, crocodiles and other reptiles, some of which perform in daily shows and demonstrations. The “Alligator Jumparoo” show and “Gator Wrestlin’” are just two examples. The facility is also home to rare leucistic alligators, which are white in color. A small train does rounds on the grounds and an observation tower provides views of the breeding marsh and surrounding region. One of the more recent additions to Gatorland is the zip line that runs over top of alligators and crocodiles. For the less adventurous, there is the self-guided swamp walk, and kids will enjoy the Gator Gully Splash Park.
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