Florida for families generally means two things: beaches and theme parks. When planning Florida theme park vacations, Orlando, known as the “Theme Park Capital of the World,” immediately comes to mind. There’s Walt Disney World of course, with its four theme parks. Then there’s Universal Studios and the popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
You’ll need at least two days to explore each theme park and if you’re planning to rent a car and drive, consider spending at least five days to make the most of your family trip. You may not end up having time for both, but here are some tidbits from each park to help you plan ahead.
Walt Disney World
I don’t think you can talk about theme parks without mentioning Walt Disney World. Opened in October 1971, the resort sits in Lake Buena Vista, approximately 20 miles from Orlando. To say it’s huge is an understatement! There are four theme parks spread over 25,000 acres. Disney World’s four theme parks are Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. For you Star Wars fans, the new theme park, Galaxy’s Edge, will be opening at the end of August.
The park offers a variety of packages that include accommodations; but if you want an experience unlike any other Florida theme park vacations, consider Disney’s campsite, Fort Wilderness. Here, not only can you spend your days enjoying the rides, you can also take advantage of its gorgeous outdoor spaces. Rent an RV and park your luxury rental for as little as $95 a night. This price includes reserved parking for the RV, an outdoor tent space and electric and sewage connections.
At each park you can enjoy different activities, from elaborate themed rides such as Small World to an around the world experience at Epcot. You can also share a meal with your favorite princess or other Disney or Pixar characters. At Disney, the choices are endless!
Universal Studios, Florida
The other popular theme park near Orlando, Universal Studios, targets slightly older kids. It opened its doors in June 1990 and the theme was focused on the entertainment industry, specifically movies and television. The challenge most parents have these days is pulling the kids away from television or portable devices, particularly in the summer. Bring them to Universal Studios and you’ll find that they may not want to come back to viewing the small screen!
Universal has three theme parks and features popular movie-themed rides and experiences, like the car ride inside Gringotts Bank at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It also has modern rides such as King Kong 360 3-D, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, and even a Walking Dead attraction. One-day passes for adults begin at $80. In true Hollywood fashion, purchase a VIP pass for $349. It’ll give you access to an actual soundstage and allow you to experience an exclusive VIP lounge. It also includes valet parking.
When planning Florida theme park vacations, there are hundreds of accommodation options. Staying at park resorts has its advantages (no unnecessary commute, no parking headache, rides literally by your doorstep); but if you’re looking for value, there are plenty of hotels outside the resorts. You can also opt to rent a camper van to take advantage of RV campground sites nearby.
Theme parks are an experience that everyone should have at least once in their life. They represent fun, fantasy, and nurture the childlike innocents in us all. The theme parks of Florida are the best of the best, so visit them this summer.