Few vacation destinations are as sure to delight children as Orlando. With its many attractions created to deliver fun for the whole family, Orlando is nicknamed The Theme Park Capital of the World for good reason. These theme parks have been the locale for happy memories for decades, yet they are consistently updated with new attractions to bring joy to modern kids.
Orlando also offers the natural beauty of white sand beaches, botanical gardens, and wildlife preserves. Now that you can get a quick, direct flight straight from Birmingham to Orlando, it’s never been easier to travel with kids of any age or temperament. There’s something for everyone at each of these theme parks.
The Walt Disney World Resort is the Southeast’s leading mecca for family fun. All four of its theme parks—Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom—offer guests new attractions in 2017 along with classic rides and shows. Its two water parks are primed to provide cool summer entertainment. Disney Springs offers a shopping and dining complex with a hearty helping of Disney magic. There’s so much to see at this sprawling resort that you could easily stay a week or longer without repeating attractions.
Let out your inner wildlife explorer at Gatorland, a 110-acre theme park that is known for its educational wildlife programs. An on-site wild bird nesting area, nature walk, splash park, and train ride all around the park can be enjoyed by all members of the family. The Screamin’ Gator Zip Line is a source of thrills with its 150-foot suspension bridge and five zip lines that can fly you at speeds up to around 30 miles per hour from heights as high at 56 feet. Gatorland refers to itself as the Alligator Capital of the World, and it is home to around 1,400 alligators.
Guests of the Universal Orlando Resort can immerse themselves in the worlds of some of the most beloved movies. Its immensely popular Harry Potter areas include Hogsmeade at its Islands of Adventure theme park and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. In addition to its two theme parks, the Universal Orlando Resort has four themed hotels and an entertainment complex. Children under 3 get into the parks for free.
Designed for kids between the age of 2 and 12, the LEGOLand Florida Resort is sure to bring out the inner kid in anyone. This 150-acre theme park has LEGO-themed rides, shows, and attractions. The brick-built characters come to life throughout the park. It has over 28,000 LEGO models, although you don’t have to be a LEGO lover to have fun here. New for 2017 is a ninja-themed land and high-tech, interactive ride.
You don’t have to go too far from Orlando to explore exotic locales; Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is only an hour away and offers 300 acres of unique attractions. Cobra’s Curse, the park’s newest coaster, takes you through a mysterious Egyptian archaeological excavation. It’s one of several thrill rides ideal for older kids, while little ones will delight in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun that includes a variety of kid-sized rides and a water play area. A large sign at the entrance at the entrance announces the shows available for the day, so you can plan your day of fun.
Pro Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Disney World Trip
There’s no doubt that Disney’s timeless appeal and carefully curated family fun is sure to bring a lot of joy to every member of your family. It’s even more fun if you plan ahead and use these smart tips.
- There’s no need to ever be thirsty in the parks! Servers at all Disney quick service restaurants will give you free ice water upon request.
- Let Disney know if you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, a first visit to the park, or another special occasion. Simply stop by the Town Hall on Main Street, and Disney cast members (as their employees are called) give out complimentary celebration buttons for you to wear.
- Consider staying at a Disney hotel if you enjoy getting to the parks early and/or late. Guests of Disney-owned hotels get access to the parks during “Extra Magic Hours” before and after the parks close to general ticket holders.