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The Ultimate Non-Disney Theme Park Guide

Chances are, if you are planning a trip to Orlando, a theme park visit is on your itinerary. Orlando is widely known as a theme park capital, with several world class theme parks in and around the Central Florida area that attract millions of visitors each year! Although Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was the first theme park to open in Orlando in 1971, there have since been many theme parks outside of Disney that are just as magical. The many theme parks of Orlando make it a great place to visit again and again and always get to experience something new! Before you pack up and head out to Orlando, be sure to read through our ultimate theme park guide to make the most out of your next vacation.

Universal Resort Orlando

The magic of movies comes to life at Universal Resort Orlando! It consists of two separate parks—Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure—that each offer a slightly different theme park experience with unique lands, attractions, and live entertainment to enjoy. Also visit Volcano Bay, their water park, to truly beat the Florida summer heat! From traditional thrilling roller coasters and 3-D ride adventures to water rides and kid-friendly attractions, between Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay, you get a complete theme park experience that is perfect for the whole family.

Universal Studios

Tickets and Pricing

When planning your trip to Universal Resort Florida, you want to be strategic in how you plan out your days in the parks to make the most out of your tickets. Like many theme parks, the more days you purchase on your ticket, the more value you get out of it. Although it is possible to enjoy one fun-filled day here, to make the most out of your stay you will probably want to devote at least a couple of days. Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are two separate parks, but they offer park-to-park passes that allow you travel back and forth between the two parks on the same day. This is definitely the best ticket to purchase if you want to make the most out of your time in the parks! They also offer one park per day tickets, beginning at $109 for adults and $104 for children. Volcano Bay tickets must be purchased separately, and prices begin at $80 for adults and $75 for children, with no park-to-park passes available. If you are planning to come to Orlando multiple times a year, definitely consider an annual pass to get the most bang for your buck!

Rides and Attractions

Universal Resort Orlando has truly spared no expense when it comes to attractions. One of the most popular destinations in the resort is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which actually spans both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Ride the Hogwarts Express to quickly travel between Diagon Alley in London and the magical town of Hogsmeade and enjoy magical thrill rides such as Escape from Gringotts, Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure, and the Forbidden Journey. Fans of the classic movie Jurassic Park should definitely venture to Islands of Adventure to experience the Jurassic Park River Adventure and the newly opened VelociCoaster! However, Universal Resort isn’t all thrill rides. Enjoy fun for the whole family on attractions such as Shrek 4-D, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, and the kid-friendly rides at Seuss Landing.

Live Entertainment and Shows

As you might expect from a theme park that brings the magic of the movies to life, Universal Resort Orlando has many live shows and entertainment that are sure to delight the whole family. For stunts and action, consider Animal Actors in Action or the Bourne Stuntacular, which both bring the thrills. Each land within Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure has its own version of a live show or other entertainment. Enjoy carnival games at Springfield: Land of the Simpsons, meet a velociraptor in Jurassic Park, or meet the driver of the iconic Knight Bus in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


Don’t forget your dining reservations when you are planning your time in Universal Resort Orlando! There are plenty of quick service dining options, one of the most popular being to grab a bite and butterbeer at the Hog’s Head Tavern in Wizarding World. However, the full-service restaurants offer a more relaxed experience for your trip. Make sure you make your reservations in advance at great spots such as Lombard’s Seafood Grille in Universal Studios or Mythos Restaurant in Islands of Adventure. There are also tons of sit-down dining options outside of the park at the Universal CityWalk. From high end Italian to standard sports bar fare, there is a great dining option for everyone in Universal Resort Orlando!

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld is one of the most iconic theme parks in the area, creating the perfect combination of aquarium, zoo, and class theme park entertainment all in one! Here you’ll find great thrill rides that are sure to entertain even the most discerning thrill seekers, but you’ll also find great events and attractions for the whole family such as live animal shows. Anyone who loves the ocean and its creatures will love spending a day at SeaWorld park!


SeaWorld offers a variety of ticket options that allows you to customize your visit. Depending on which day you choose to visit, tickets start at $89.99 with all children 3 and under receiving free admission. You can also choose from a number of add-ons that can make your visit even more seamless. Add a dining pass for $30 that allows you to visit participating restaurants within the park as often as once per hour. Pay for parking in advance with your ticket purchase to save time at the gate. You can even purchase their Quick Queue pass that allows you to get unlimited front of the line access to their most popular rides, or a Reserved Seating pass that gives you VIP seating to one show during your visit. Make the most of your time in SeaWorld from the start by buying the perfect passes!

Rides and Attractions

Considering that SeaWorld is primarily an aquarium, they offer some amazing rides for both thrill seekers and little ones alike. Enjoy high-speed coasters such as Mako, Kraken, and Mantra that rival coasters seen as classic theme parks like Six Flags or Cedar Point. To cool off during your day, consider water rides such as the rapid ride Infinity Falls or the combination flume ride and coaster of Journey to Atlantis. If you are visiting SeaWorld with little ones, have no fear! There are great rides for children here, too. The recently opened Sesame Street Land is perfect for little ones and was voted the #1 new amusement park attraction in 2020. Enjoy several Sesame Street-themed attractions, such as Elmo’s Choo Choo Train, Big Bird’s Twirl n’ Whirl, and Abby’s Flower Tower.

Sea World

Live Shows and Animal Experiences

Although SeaWorld offers some great coasters and attractions, what they are truly known for is their amazing live animal shows. Their Orca Encounters show is perhaps the most iconic, featuring one of the ocean’s most powerful predators, the killer whale. You may also want to check out the Dolphin Adventures show, where dolphins are sure to delight with a fun performance that is also educational. There are also several aquariums located throughout the park where you can view penguins, beluga whales, pelicans, manatee, stingrays, sharks, and more! SeaWorld’s Shark Encounters allows you to view sharks up close and personal through one of the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnels. Anyone who loves ocean creatures will be delighted by the opportunity to interact with so many animals!


Perhaps the best choice you can make when dining in SeaWorld is adding the unlimited dining pass to your ticket! For just $30 more, you can dine at one participating restaurant per hour, which includes one entree, one side or dessert, and one beverage. Anyone who has dined in a theme park can tell you that $30 sometimes barely covers one person’s meal, let alone a whole day of dining! Those looking for a splurge-worthy dining experience should consider making a reservation to Dine with Orcas. Enjoy a delicious sit-down meal while you view the orcas and learn about ways to preserve our oceans.

Legoland Florida

Anyone with small kids knows that Legos often are one of the first inspirations for children to get creative and use their imaginations, and they have been a source of fun for kids for generations. One of the best theme park experiences you can give to any kid who loves Legos is to spend time in Legoland Florida! Here, the creative world of Legos comes to life in the form of rides, live entertainment, and unique lands that bring the world of Legos into the real world. In addition to the great theme park, Legoland Florida also includes a world-class water park that is perfect to cool down and have fun during those warm Orlando days. You can’t pick a better theme park to go to with kids than Legoland Florida!


Like many other theme parks in the Orlando area, Legoland offers a number of ticket options with reasonable pricing that allow you to pick the ticket tier that perfectly suits your vacation experience. You can choose tickets to just the theme park, just the water park, or bundle tickets for both parks for multiple days and get even more value! Tickets are offered for as low as $52.50 per day depending on which pass you choose, making Legoland one of the most affordable parks in the Orlando area. In addition to great value in their daily tickets, they also offer competitively priced annual passes. Depending on which pass you choose, you can gain complimentary tickets to give to friends and family without annual passes or discounted tickets for additional tickets purchased at the gate which is unique in the theme park annual park market. No matter which pass you choose, you can’t beat the incredible value of Legoland!

Legoland Florida

Rides and Attractions

Legoland theme park offers a great number of age-appropriate rides and attractions that range from gentle rides to full coasters that are great for kids of all ages. Whether your kid is more timid or adventurous, there will be a number of rides for them in Legoland Florida. The Duplo land is geared more toward smaller guests, with gentle rides and play areas perfect for little ones. If your kids are a bit older, they will probably enjoy faster roller coaster style rides such as Flying School, Mia’s Riding Adventure, and the Dragon. In addition to rides, you’ll also find plenty of play areas that let your kids get all their extra energy out, and plenty of water tables and splash pads to keep them cool during the warm days.

The water park at Legoland is also filled with fun, featuring 14 water slides that will keep you cool and allow for plenty of fun! The lazy river is a great place to grab a raft and relax, and your kids will probably love the wave pool that lets them swim freely and splash in the waves. There are also two interactive splash areas, Duplo Splash Safari and the Joker Soaker, for even more fun!


Legoland features many great dining options that are sure to satisfy the palette of even the pickiest eater. Here you’ll find lots of pizza, chicken tenders, and sandwiches to suit the tastes of little ones. You may be surprised to find that there are some spots that suit more mature tastes, such as the Ninja Kitchen Food Truck featuring Asian cuisine and the Dragon’s Den that serves up craft beers. However, a must eat while in Legoland is their unique treat called Granny’s Apple Fries. This secret recipe combines cooked Granny Smith apples covered in a cinnamon sugar dust and served with a whipped cream dipping sauce. No matter how you slice, this treat is a hit!

Whether you’re looking for thrill rides or family-friendly fun, there is the perfect theme park waiting for you in Orlando!

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