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      Here are the 8 Best Amusement Parks in Florida in 2024

      Holly Riddle
      Best Amusement Parks in Florida

      Many people will argue about the best beaches in Florida. But, when you think of amusement parks in Florida, you likely think of Disney World. However, the Sunshine State has a lot more amusement park fun to offer beyond this famous vacation destination. Disney World itself even has multiple parks within its boundaries. But not all of these parks are the same.

      To help you pick the best amusement park in Florida to visit, we’re giving you a quick hit of everything you need to know about Florida amusement parks. Get the skivvy on the pros and cons of each, their top attractions, who the parks are best suited for, and more. We’ll even give you a recommendation on the best hotel to stay at for visiting each park. 

      The Vacationer Tip

      Ready to dive in? The vacation planning starts now. 

      When to Go to Florida 

      But before you book those tickets, you need to carefully plan when you’ll visit Florida. While you might think that Florida offers fun in the sun all year round, or that family-friendly parks are budget-friendly, too, that’s not always the case. 

      Most of Florida’s most well-known theme parks are situated around Orlando. There, you’ll find pleasant temperatures in the spring and fall, March to May, or around November. In the winter months, things can get a little chilly (as they do just about everywhere in Florida from Orlando northward). In the summer, in contrast, things can get unbearably hot. Beyond temperature, though, hurricane season is a consideration. Hurricane season is June through November, but the season is most active in Florida from August through October. 

      But March to May and November are ideal Florida-visiting months for other reasons as well. Prices can skyrocket for flights and hotels alike during the summer months and around the holidays, as families flock to the parks. 

      So, for the best weather and best prices, keep these months in mind as you go to book your Florida amusement park vacation — and, without further ado, here are those amusement park top picks. 

      The Vacationer Tip

      Our Top Picks for Amusement Parks in Florida

      1. Disney’s Magic Kingdom

      Disney's Magic Kingdom

      Photo: Pixabay

      While Walt Disney World Resort might be the most well-known theme park complex, Disney’s Magic Kingdom is likely the most well-known theme park within that complex. When you think of Disney World, you’re probably thinking of the Magic Kingdom. The castle, the parades, the fireworks — it’s all there. You’ll find all of your favorite characters, all of your favorite movies, and all of the classic rides that you’ve heard so much about. There’s the It’s a Small World ride, the Haunted Mansion, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and the Jungle Cruise ride, just for starters. 

      Pros: It’s all the magic of Disney, in one place. 

      Cons: It’s Disney. There are going to be a lot of crowds, a lot of families, and a lot of kids. 

      Audience: Any hardcore Disney fan, or anyone who’s never been to a Disney park before (this is the recommended park for Disney first-timers). 

      Best Park Hotel: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. This national park-inspired property sits on Bay Lake in the Magic Kingdom area and is a AAA Four-Diamond hotel. (Click Here to Browse All Orlando’s Hotels Inside and Near Disney)

      Location: 1180 Seven Seas Dr., Lake Buena Vista

      Click Here to Browse Disney Magic Kingdom’s Ticket Options

      2. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

      Busch Gardens Tampa Bay


      Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is about an hour away from all the Disney fun, but it offers a few key benefits that you just won’t find at a Disney park. 

      For one, Busch Gardens is significantly cheaper, both for your initial tickets, as well as for other things, like dining. It also offers more adult-geared, adrenaline-pumping, thrill-seeking rides than what you’ll get at the Magic Kingdom. 

      The park boasts more than 300 acres of African safari-themed fun. Roller coaster fans will enjoy a wealth of ride options, such as Sheikra, Iron Gwazi, Kumba, and Cheetah Hunt. Iron Gwazi is currently the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid coaster.

      Pros: Save cash on your theme park tickets, with an environment that’s more geared toward thrill-seekers.  

      Cons: Common complaints included cleanliness (or, rather, lack thereof). It’s also worth noting that Busch Gardens is owned by SeaWorld, which some animal rights activists may not want to support. 

      Audience: Thrill-seekers who want fewer kiddy rides, as well as budget travelers. 

      Best Park Hotel: You won’t find park-set hotels here, but you will find many nearby hotels that put you within easy reach of the park, downtown Tampa, and the beach. This is a nice perk for travelers who might not want to spend the entirety of their vacation solely in an amusement park setting. Partner hotels include the Hampton Inn & Suites Near Busch Gardens and Holiday Inn Express and Suites Near Busch Gardens.

      Location: 10165 McKinley Dr., Tampa 

      Click Here to Browse Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Ticket Options

      3. Universal’s Islands of Adventure 

      Islands of Adventure


      Just like Disney, Universal offers multiple theme parks within the overarching Universal Orlando Resort. For many, the favorite is Universal’s Islands of Adventure, which opened in 1999. Dinosaurs, magic, and myths are par for the course here, and celebrated franchises include the Harry Potter series and Jurassic Park universe. 

      Though, do note that there are differing Harry Potter attractions in both Universal’s Islands of Adventure and at Universal Studios Florida. Which you visit will depend on which Harry Potter attractions you’re most interested in. Islands of Adventure features Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle, notably. 

      Otherwise, there are nearly 20 individual rides and most are geared toward a wide array of visitors, not just thrill-seekers. 

      Pros: Lots to do and see, for every member of your traveling party, from kids to adults. 

      Cons: If you’re wanting bigger rides, or to enjoy experiences based on some of Universal’s older, more adult-geared movies, you may want to go to one of the other parks. Other parks also feature more shows and live entertainment than what you’ll find at Islands of Adventure. 

      Audience: Traveling groups — from the thrill-averse to the thrill-seeking — who have a range of needs and amusement park preferences. 

      Best Park Hotel: Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando provides you with easy access to Universal Orlando Resort as a whole, but is less than a half a mile from Islands of Adventure. Guests enjoy theme park benefits, including complimentary water taxi service to the parks. 

      Location: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando

      Click Here to Browse Universal’s Island of Adventure’s Ticket Options

      4. Universal Studios Florida 

      Universal Studios Florida


      Universal Studios Florida is the second primary park at Universal Orlando Resort. Geared toward slightly older guests than those who might visit Islands of Adventure, the focus is on some of Universal’s blockbuster movies, from Transformers to Men in Black, Fast & Furious to The Mummy. 

      In addition to focusing on themes that are a little more mature, the rides are also a little more adventurous and adrenaline-pumping. That isn’t to say kiddos will be completely left out. Shrek and the Despicable Me minions are also to be found, as well as Harry Potter-themed rides. 

      Pros: Lots of iconic characters and big rides that adults will appreciate. 

      Cons: Not a lot to do if you’re not into the big thrills. 

      Audience: Older travelers or those seeking big thrills. 

      Best Park Hotel: Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando is an island-themed property close to the park, putting you within easy reach of all the rides when you want them, but giving you a serene escape when you don’t. You’ll enjoy hanging by the pool, as well as checking out the on-site dining options. 

      Location: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando

      Click Here to Browse Universal Studios Florida’s Ticket Options

      5. Epcot 



      No, the big Epcot ball — more formally known as Spaceship Earth — is not technically a part of the Magic Kingdom. Instead, this iconic Disney World spot is part of Epcot, a park that easily caters to the adult crowd in a way that the Magic Kingdom just doesn’t. 

      Travel to 11 countries set across the park, explore their cultures, and taste-test their food. And don’t miss the special activities that happen here, such as flower fests, food fests, and firework shows. The second-biggest Disney World park, Epcot features four “neighborhoods” and 10 rides (the newest one based on the movie Ratatouille). Originally built as a futuristic experimental concept, the park is now all about celebrating international achievement and culture — with a few rides thrown in for good measure. 

      Pros: Dining, drinking, and sightseeing are all enjoyable here, in addition to the handful of rides, making Epcot attractive to visitors who aren’t there just for the roller coasters. 

      Cons: There aren’t many rides. 

      Audience: Visitors who want more than thrills and movie characters.

      Best Park Hotel: Disney’s Beach Club Resort. This charming property near Epcot overlooks Crescent Lake and provides a three-acre waterpark in addition to great on-site dining. When you’re ready to visit Epcot, though, you’re just a short walk away. (Click Here to Browse All Orlando’s Hotels Inside and Near Disney)

      Location: 200 Epcot Center Dr., Lake Buena Vista

      Click Here to Browse Epcot’s Ticket Options

      6. Disney’s Hollywood Studios 

      Disney Hollywood Studios


      Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the place to go for all things Star Wars. It also boasts more live entertainment and shows compared to Magic Kingdom. Set over 100 acres, beyond the Star Wars fun, the park also offers iconic spots and rides such as Toy Story Land and the Tower of Terror, along with several California-themed areas. There’s a nice mix of classic Disney characters and movie themes that the kids will love, alongside more adult-geared attractions based on, again, franchises such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. 

      Pros: You’ll find a mix of movie characters and themes at this Disney park, for something that appeals to most age groups. 

      Cons: The most common complaint at this park? The crowds. With hordes of people headed to the Star Wars-themed attractions, you can expect long lines and potentially-frustrating waits. 

      Audience: Disney fans and groups who are a mix of adults and kids. 

      Best Park Hotel: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. This property is just a short shuttle ride away from the park but is a great budget-friendly option if you don’t want to drop a lot of cash on one of the ritzier Disney hotels. Kids will especially enjoy the animated classics theme, featuring characters from Finding Nemo, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and other movies. (Click Here to Browse All Orlando’s Hotels Inside and Near Disney)

      Location: 351 S Studio Dr, Lake Buena Vista

      Click Here to Browse Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Ticket Options

      7. Disney’s Animal Kingdom 

      Disney Animal Kingdom


      Disney’s Animal Kingdom is half-zoo, half-theme park — and you might know it more so not for its rides, but for the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge, where you can hang out with giraffes and other safari animals just outside your window. But, if you can’t book a room here, the park (which is technically the largest theme park in the world, at 580 acres) offers lots to do and enjoy. Check out the iconic Tree of Life. Ride the Avatar-themed Flight of Passage 3-D flying simulator. See what’s up in the Asia, Africa, and dinosaur-themed sections of the park. 

      If you’ve visited other Disney parks in the past, you’ll notice a few key differences here. In Animal Kingdom, plastic and litter are kept to a minimum, to avoid any accidental trashing of the animals’ habitats, and doors are on all of the bathrooms, as they’re intended to act as safety zones in the event of an animal escape. 

      Pros: Enjoy an immersive environment filled with animal attractions. 

      Cons: You won’t find many classic Disney characters or movie themes here, at least not compared to some of the other Disney parks.

      Audience: For those who can’t quite decide if they’d rather go to a zoo or an amusement park, this park delivers. 

      Best Park Hotel: Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge is by far the top pick here. Even if you’re not interested in the park itself, the lodge is a great hotel option. It offers an excellent, immersive theme and proximity to the animals. (Click Here to Browse All Orlando’s Hotels Inside and Near Disney)

      Location: 2901 Osceola Pkwy., Lake Buena Vista 

      Click Here to Browse Disney Animal Kingdom’s Ticket Options

      8. Legoland Florida



      Most Florida resorts belong to Disney, Universal, or SeaWorld. This makes Legoland Florida a bit of an outlier. It’s a great pick for families with young children who are also Lego enthusiasts. There’s a main theme park, with more than 50 kid-friendly rides, a water park, and a brand-new Peppa Pig-themed park. There are shows, Lego replicas, and more — and it’s all suitable for kids, down to the very last ride.

      Pros: This theme park is as kid-friendly as it gets. Nothing is too scary or too mature.

      Cons: If you don’t have kids, you’re not going to have a great time. 

      Audience: Can we say it again? Kids, kids, kids.

      Best Park Hotel: There are a few Legoland Florida properties. The OG Legoland Hotel has a lot to love, though. Amenities include free daily entertainment, free breakfast, free parking, a heated pool, and two on-site dining restaurants. 

      Location: One Legoland Way, Winter Haven

      Click Here to Browse Legoland Florida’s Ticket Options


      When is the best time to go to Walt Disney World?

      Visiting Walt Disney World, Universal, or any of the other amusement parks in or around Orlando, Florida? Then, you’ll want to visit in either spring or late fall, in November. This will give you the best weather, as well as the most affordable room rates and the fewest crowds.

      Are there all-inclusive hotels in Orlando?

      You could technically think of the hotels at Walt Disney World and Universal as all-inclusive — but there’s a catch. A traditional all-inclusive resort typically covers both your stay and dining (at least), automatically. However, you’ll need to purchase a dining plan and your resort stay at the theme parks separately. Luckily, there are packages available that bundle your theme park tickets, hotel stay, and food all together, for one price, with varying levels of inclusions.

      Further Reading: Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Florida

      How many theme parks are in Orlando?

      A lot! There are 12 primary theme parks in and around Orlando, all owned by Disney, Universal, or SeaWorld.

      Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. 

      Holly Riddle Headshot

      By Holly Riddle

      Holly Riddle is a freelance travel, food, and lifestyle journalist who also dabbles in ghostwriting and fiction. Her work appears in publications ranging from Global Traveler to Golf Magazine, Mashed to Forbes, and Bloomberg. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in the Adirondacks. Her favorite travel destinations include Chicago and New Orleans.