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Photograph: SeaWorld Orlando

The best theme parks in Orlando

We've rounded up the best theme parks in the city, with all the new rides opening this year

Megan duBois
Written by
Megan duBois

You might be in Florida for its boiling, sunny climates and great food scene, but really, you’re here for its theme parks. The theme parks here are like no other, full of all the insane rides, sprawling resorts and sugary sweet treats you can imagine. But there is more, far more to Orlando’s iconic theme parks than Mickey Mouse mascots and very long lines. 

Here you’ll find storybook castles, childhood fantasies and real-life sea creatures. You’ll find your favorite adventure films and mesmerizing dinosaur parks. Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve broken down the best theme parks in Orlando and ranked them too, noting what you should do, eat and see at each one, and what’s new and coming up soon. This year 2023 will see a new Minions experience, an expansion of Toy Story Land and a new meet and greet with Moana (and much, much more). There’s something for everyone. Here are the best theme parks in Orlando right now. 

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Best theme parks in Orlando

  • Attractions
  • Theme parks
  • Camino Real

There really is nothing like walking down Main Street USA at Walt Disney World. Magic Kingdom is filled with nostalgia for young and old with rides like Space Mountain and The Jungle Cruise, and characters like Mickey Mouse and Snow White parading down the street waving to guests. 

What’s new: In late 2023, the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration for Disney’s 100th anniversary will commence, and it's going to be big.

Pro-tip: Did you know you can get your hair cut on Main Street, USA? Make an appointment at the Harmony Barber Shop first thing in the morning and see what the professionals at Magic Kingdom can do to make you feel like royalty for the day. 

  • Attractions
  • Theme parks
  • Turkey Lake

Universal’s Islands of Adventure is the place for Harry Potter fans. The park plays host to wizards, witches, and goblins as they take flight on attractions like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. On the other side of the park, you’ll find a land dedicated to Dr. Suess charters, Marvel Super Hero Island (where you can fly high with The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man), and a Jurassic Park-themed land. 

What’s new: The new Jurassic World VelociCoaster is now in full swing in the Islands of Adventure, and the resort is working on a new Epic Universe, featuring How to Train Your Dragon and yes, more Harry Potter

Universal’s Islands of Adventure pro-tip: While everyone knows about frozen butterbeer, you can also get the iconic flavor in ice cream and fudge. 

  • Things to do
  • The Fountains

The worlds of Toy StoryStar Wars, and classic Disney characters all come together at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The park may be the smallest of the Walt Disney World properties, but it became a prime destination when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened in 2019. The themed land has its own original storyline that fits into the ongoing Star Wars saga. Inside you’ll find two attractions, a bar, a few restaurants and plenty of shopping. Kids will love the larger-than-life Toy Story friends who have come out to greet them, and they'll even get to ride on the back of Slinky Dog on Slinky Dog Dash. 

What’s new: Toy Story Land has received a major expansion of late, including the Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant, which just opened. 

Pro-tip: If you see 13 as the wait time for Tower of Terror get in line because that means that there is actually no wait!

  • Bars
  • Convention Center

EPCOT is usually known as Walt Disney Word's adult-centric park with festivals that encourage eating and drinking all day and popping in and out of shows about each country represented in the World Showcase. But the park is currently undergoing a refurbishment and new attractions are set to open over the next few years, which are expected to make the park lean more towards being kid and family-friendly. 

What’s new: EPCOT is getting a new nighttime fireworks show in late 2023, and the Moana-inspired Journey of Water should follow too. 

Pro-tip: Remy's Ratatouille Adventure inside the France pavilion is one of the newest experiences at the park. You can wait less time by going here first thing in the morning or getting in line late at night just before the park closes. 

  • Attractions
  • Zoo and aquariums
  • Westwood

At LEGOLAND Theme Park everything is bigger and better than any kid could have imagined with attractions like Lost Kingdom Adventure and LEGO NINJAGO World. When it’s time to take a break, head over to Pirate’s Cove to watch Brickbeard’s Water Sports Stunt Show on the lake that backs up to the LEGOLAND property. 

What’s new: The newly-opened Pirate River Quest (from late 2022) has been going down a storm, with eight-person boats sailing across the waters. 

Pro-tip: Be sure to get the apple fries at the park! These are easily the best treat at LEGOLAND Theme Park. 

The newest theme park to open in Orlando is the Peppa Pig Theme Park, part of the LEGOLAND Florida Resort. The theme park is mainly for preschoolers with rides based on the popular cartoon series it is named after (no great surprise there). Many of the attractions do not have a height requirement, meaning even younger kids can enjoy a day at the theme park.

What's new: It's a pretty new park on the whole, so give it all a go, especially the family shows at Mr Potato's Showtime Arena. 

Pro-tip: This is a great half-day park, especially for parents with kids who have never been to a theme park. 


This massive theme park has lands dedicated to Africa and Asia that will make you feel like you're traveling through real-world locations, and the park also has fictional lands dedicated to the worlds of Avatar and dinosaurs. While many people will race off to ride Avatar Flight of Passage first thing in the morning, real Disney pros know that the first stop should always be Kilamanjaro Safaris, because this is when the animals are the most active. If you’ve never heard a lion roar after your morning coffee, you’re really missing out. 

What’s new: As of April 2023, you can now meet Moana at Character Landing. This was introduced for the park's 25th anniversary. 

Pro-tip: Tackle Expedition Everest faster by doing the single rider line. If you enter the line as a group you will be split up, but it's worth it to get on the coaster faster. 

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Florida Center

Universal Studios Florida is home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley, E.T. Adventure, and The Mummy, among other attractions. Inside Diagon Alley, you can zip through Gringotts Bank on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and drink a glass of Butterbeer with your pals at The Leaky Cauldron. After channeling your inner wizard, hop on a bike with E.T. to get him back to his home planet on E.T. Adventure. Universal fans also know this is the best ride to walk through the queue because of the iconic smell that hits you the moment you walk into the forest. 

What’s new: Interactive gaming experience Villain-Con Minion Blast is opening summer 2023, where you can join Illumination's Minions on their quest. 

Pro-tip: When you're riding Men in Black Alien Attack, be sure to press the red button when prompted. This will boost your score and will likely make you the high-point scorer in your car. 

  • Attractions
  • Zoo and aquariums
  • Florida Center

Just because SeaWorld is last on our list doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting. The expansive park shows off all sorts of creatures from the depths of the sea, including dolphins, whales, and adorable penguins. Adults will love the high-speed coasters like Kraken and Manta, while kids will enjoy seeing their favorite Sesame Street friends at Sesame Street Land. Be sure to take a ride on Sky Tower, so you can see the entire park from a bird's eye view along with panoramic views of Orlando. 

What’s new: Ice Breaker, a new coaster at the park, opened in February 2022. 

Pro-tip: You can schedule tours to learn more about some of the animals at SeaWorld, including dolphins, sea lions, penguins, and sharks. Tours should be made ahead of time, but there are sometimes slots available at the park.

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