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Five reasons to go to Orlando’s theme parks

By Time Out in association with British Airways

There’s a reason Orlando’s theme parks are so popular: they’re fun! They’re where kids can go wild and adults can feel like kids again. Between Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld there’s pretty much something for everyone, all in the lush Florida heat. Here are five reasons why Orlando’s theme parks are well worth a ride.

1. They’re thrilling for all ages

Whatever gets your heart racing – freefalling 13 storeys, flipping through multiple loops, gently floating past animatronic pirates – Orlando’s theme parks have got you covered. Alongside rides that’ll make any seasoned adrenaline junkie weep (like the Incredible Hulk roller coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) there are thrill-machines for every age, from grandparents to toddlers. As long as they’re tall enough to ride, of course.

2. They’re truly immersive

Orlando’s theme parks are huge, totally immersive environments, where everything is intricately themed down to the tiniest detail - even the bins. There isn’t a straight line in sight at ‘Suess Landing’ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the ‘Kilimanjaro Safaris’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom really feel like a trip through the savannah, and it actually does get to freezing temperatures on SeaWorld’s ‘Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin’. It doesn’t stop at the theme parks, either: restaurants, hotels, even buses – they’re all part of the immersive experience.

3. They’re like stepping into your favourite movies

Ever wanted to help Spider-Man defeat the Green Goblin? Or fly over London with Peter Pan? Now you can. The rides in Orlando are like live Hollywood movies. You can order a pint of Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, travel at lightspeed with C-3PO on Star Tours: The Adventures Continue and sing ‘Heigh-hooooooo!’ with Dopey and Doc on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. And there’s no diva-ish behaviour from the world’s biggest movie star, Mickey Mouse. Meet him in his Magic Kingdom home and he’ll happily take a selfie and sign an autograph. He’s so down-to-earth.

4. They’re not just about the rides

The rides and roller coasters are only a small part of what Orlando’s theme parks have to offer. There are characters to hug, shops to explore, shows that rival the West End and delicious food for every taste and budget, from quick-service fries to haute cuisine. At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter you can easily spend days exploring the nooks, shops and alleyways and not go on a single ride. 

5. They become totally different at night

After the sun sets, each park takes on a new personality. A stroll around the Magic Kingdom – with Cinderella’s castle twinkling at its centre – is, well, magical; Epcot’s sci-fi-esque buildings look particularly futuristic when floodlit; and Moe’s Tavern at Universal Studios’s Springfield is most inviting after dark. Most of the parks are open late – 2am, in some cases – and many end the day in the most spectacular way possible: with $10,000's worth of fireworks.

Orlando is on sale now at For holidays, call 0344 493 0124 (daily 7.30am to 10pm).

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