Florida Theme Parks and Amusement Parks

Where to find coasters and fun in Orlando and throughout the state

Splash Mountain at Disney World
Garth Vaughan/Disney

After Disney established its East Coast home in the once-sleepy Orlando area, Florida evolved into the theme park capital of the world.

Disney World's original park, the Magic Kingdom, boasts the highest attendance of any park on the planet. But Universal Orlando, which has been growing by leaps and bounds both in attendance and in the quality of its parks and other experiences, is nipping at Disney's heels. While the two giants battle for supremacy, there are are many other noteworthy parks, including Busch Gardens Tampa, Legoland Florida, and SeaWorld Orlando. Let's explore these and other Florida parks, including some of the smaller, lesser-known ones.

Many of the state's theme parks have affiliated water parks. There are also many standalone water parks in Florida. With so many theme parks, you'd expect to find plenty of​ great roller coasters in the state. And you'd be right.

The following Florida theme parks and amusement parks are arranged alphabetically.

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Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa animals
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

It's a thrill ride park. It's a zoo. It's two parks in one! And it's worth the one-hour-or-so journey south from the Orlando area. Among Busch Gardens’ world-class coasters are the incredible inverted ride, Montu, the wild diving coaster, SheiKra, and the exhilarating launched coaster, Cheetah Hunt. The park’s latest attraction, Iron Gwazi, was supposed to open in 2020, but will open in March 2022 instead due to COVID. The wooden-steel hybrid coaster will be Florida’s fastest and tallest thrill machine and will almost surely vault onto the list as one of Florida's best roller coasters. Get the lowdown on the 10 best things to do at Busch Gardens Tampa.

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Discovery Cove (Orlando)

Discovery Cove at SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

SeaWorld Orlando's sister attraction lets guests get up close and personal with dolphins and other animals for a unique boutique theme park experience. ​Its somewhat hefty admission price includes all attractions, the swim-with-dolphins experience, meals, and a 14-day pass to either SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, or Aquatica water park.

03 of 24

Disney's Animal Kingdom (Lake Buena Vista)

Disney's Animal Kingdom Tree of Life at night

It's not quite a zoo, nor is it quite a ride-loaded theme park. But Walt Disney World takes a dash of both, mixes it with pixie dust, and creates a unique and engaging hybrid experience. Highlights include Pandora: The World of Avatar, the Kilimanjaro Safaris, the thrilling coaster, ​Expedition Everest, and Finding Nemo- The Musical.

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Disney's Hollywood Studios (Lake Buena Vista)

The Chinese Theatre, home of the Great Movie Ride, at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Sam Howzit/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The smallest of the four Walt Disney World parks, Disney's Hollywood Studios (which used to be known as Disney-MGM Studios) is a bustling paean to the Hollywood of your dreams. With the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, it is home to Disney World's most thrill-packed rides. Two of its more recent additions, Toy Story Land and, especially, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, have made Disney's Hollywood Studios much more popular. In 2020, the park introduced Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the first ride-through attraction starring Mickey Mouse.

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Epcot (Lake Buena Vista)

Disney. Used with permission.

Walt Disney World's world's fair-like park includes Future World, which focuses on emerging technologies, and World Showcase, which features pavilions devoted to a rainbow of nations. Among its highlights are Mission: Space, Soarin', and Test Track. It is also where you can find many of Disney World's best restaurants. In 2021, just in time for Disney World’s 50th anniversary, Epcot debuted the new dark ride, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, in the France pavilion. The park also introduced the new nighttime show, Harmonious.

06 of 24

FastTrax (Fort Myers)

FastTrax Florida park


Less an amusement park and more an indoor family entertainment center, FastTrax features go-karts. It offers three types of karts: Storm Duo for parents and children to ride together, Storm EFD for the highest speed and thrills, and Junior for younger drivers. The center also offers duckpin bowling (which uses small balls and short, squat pins), a large game room, and a pub.

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Fun Spot America (Two locations: Orlando and Kissimmee)

White Lightning Coaster at FunSpot Florida
Fun Spot America

The two small amusement parks offer two great wooden roller coasters: White Lightning and Mine Blower. They also feature lots of spinning rides, one of the world's tallest Skycoasters, go-karts, and other attractions. For 2021, the Orlando Fun Spot America is debuting Sky Hawk, a 90-foot-tall swing ride. Passengers have the option of sitting in two-passenger swing vehicles or laying prone in horizontal “flying” position.

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The Holy Land Experience (Orlando)

The Holy Land Experience
The Holy Land Experience

NOTE: The park is closed. In 2021, the park’s owners sold the property to AdventHealth, which plans to redevelop it and provide health care services at the site.

When it was open, The Holy Land Experience was not really a theme park in the more traditional sense of the term. You wouldn’t find the Holy Roller Coaster here (although, that may not have been a bad idea!) or any other typical park rides for that matter, but you would have find religious-themed exhibits, theatrical productions, and other attractions.

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Icon Park

Orlando Eye

Russ Sanderlin/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 

Just off the city's famed International Drive (or "I-Drive") tourist corridor, Icon Park features the The Wheel (formerly the Orlando Eye), one of the world's tallest observation wheels), Madame Tussauds Orlando, and Sea Life Orlando. Other attractions include the 450-foot-tall swing ride, the Orlando StarFlyer, a large arcade, a 7D Dark Ride Adventure, and a kiddie train. There is also shopping and dining available. Two new attractions, the world’s tallest drop tower ride and the world’s tallest Slingshot ride, are expected to open in late 2021 at the park.

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International Drive Rides and Attractions (Orlando)

Magical Midway Orlando
Magical Midway

In addition to Icon Park and its huge wheel (listed above), International Drive boasts a number of other rides and attractions, each operated by different vendors. They include I-Drive NASCAR Kart Racing, the small thrill park, Magical Midway, and the upside-down ​WonderWorks.

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Islands of Adventure (Orlando)

Spider Man

Arthur Levine.

The state-of-the-art theme and thrill ride park at Universal Orlando includes the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which features the mind-blowing Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter ride), Marvel Super Hero Island and its ​groundbreaking Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride, and other great attractions, such as Skull Island Reign of Kong. Coming on the heels of the wonderful themed roller coaster, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike, the park debuted the high-concept and high-thrill The Jurassic World VelociCoaster in 2021.

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Legoland Florida (Winter Haven)

Legoland Florida Driving School
Merlin Entertainments Group

The delightful Lego-themed park is designed for the 12-and-under set. Among the best things to do at Legoland Florida are Lego Ninjago the Ride, Miniland USA (which includes exhibits of famous destinations made out of Lego blocks), the uproarious Lego Movie 4D, and the lovely Cypress Gardens, which is an ode to the park that once stood on the site.

For 2021, the park introduced a new 4-D movie, “Journey to Mythica.” It plays in rotation with other films in Legoland’s theater. The park also debuted a Lego Mythica scavenger hunt that incorporates augmented reality.

In 2022, it will open a new, separately ticketed gate, Peppa Pig Theme Park (see below). 2022 will also bring Pirate River Quest, a boat ride attraction in search of buried treasure.

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Magic Kingdom (Lake Buena Vista)

Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom
Disney. Used with permission.

The focal point and by far the most popular, if not the most charming, of Walt Disney World's four parks, the Magic Kingdom is the east coast version of Walt Disney's prototype, Disneyland. It is loaded with highlights including such classics as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, and It's a Small World as well as more recent attractions like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. As part of Disney Word’s 50th anniversary, the Magic Kingdom debuted a new nighttime show, Disney Enchantment. It includes fireworks along with projections on Cinderella Castle as well as the buildings on Main Street U.S.A.

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Race City (Panama City Beach)

Race City Florida amusement park
Race City PCB

The small family fun center offers go-karts, mini-golf, a sea maze, a huge arcade, mini-golf, and a few rides, including the Hurricane steel roller coaster. It also features a 137-foot-tall Skycoaster.

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Route 7 Adrenaline Warehouse (Rockledge)

Route 7 Adrenaline Warehouse ride in Florida

Route 7 Entertainment

Located along the Space Coast, the family entertainment center features go-karts. a ropes course, a zip line, laser tag, bowling, an XD Dark Ride Theater, and an arcade. The Pitstop Grill offers food, beer, and wine.

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Sam's Fun City (Pensacola)

Sam's Fun City Florida amusement park
Sam's Fun City

The small amusement park is mostly geared to younger children. In addition to mild spinning rides, attractions include go-karts, an arcade, an indoor play structure, and the Surf City water park.

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SeaWorld Orlando

Mako coaster at SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Parks

The park has evolved and includes some ambitious rides such as Mako (which gets our nod as Florida's best roller coaster) and Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin to go along with its marine life shows. The SeaWorld chain has announced it will no longer breed orcas and will be phasing out its killer whale entertainment shows in favor of more educational presentations. It was supposed to debut in 2020, but Ice Breaker, a multi-launch roller coaster, is now scheduled open in February 2022 instead due to COVID.

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Silver Springs

Silver Springs Nature Theme Park: One of the glass-bottom boats

Ebyabe/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.5

The Glass Bottom Boats at the state park have been showing guests the underwater wonders of the Silver River since 1878. Other attractions at the nature park include a Jeep Safari and an alligator show. There is a separate admission waterpark nearby.

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Skyplex (Orlando)

skyplex at night
The Skyscraper at Skyplex.

The ambitious Skyplex has been delayed for many years. It’s probably safe at this point to declare that it will not be built. However, it is fascinating to consider the audacity of the proposed project. The entertainment/dining/retail district was to have included the Skyscraper, a "Polercoaster" which was designed to be the world's tallest roller coaster. Other crazy-tall thrill rides, as well as a surfing attraction, restaurants, an arcade, and places to shop, were also planned.

20 of 24

Universal Orlando

Hogwarts Express

Sam Howzit/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The growing resort boasts two theme parks Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure), the Volcano Bay water park, the CityWalk dining, shopping, and entertainment complex, and multiple hotels. When it opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, its popularity soared. It now offers two Potter-themed lands, one at each park, and the Hogwarts Express train to connect them. Between its two theme parks, Universal Orlando offers some incredible (and incredibly thrilling) roller coasters.

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Universal Studios Florida (Orlando)

The entrance gate to Universal Studios Florida taken during park opening

Alfred A. Si/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0 

The movie-themed park at Universal Orlando, Universal Studios features some incredible attractions, including Despicable Me Minion MayhemTransformers: The Ride 3D, and Men in Black Alien Attack. It also is the home of Diagon Alley, Harry Potter's London-based land.

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Walt Disney World (Lake Buena Vista)

People enjoying the Disney Springs shopping and restaurant area

sshepard/Getty Images 

This, of course, is the theme park resort that has evolved and grown to surpass the original Disneyland in popularity. It includes four theme parks, two water parks, the Disney Springs dining, shopping, and entertainment area, and thousands of hotel rooms. It's so huge, it can be overwhelming. If you've never been, or it's been awhile, you may want to get a handle on the best things to do at Disney World to help you plan your visit. In October of 2021, Disney World kicked off a 50th anniversary celebration that will span 18 months.

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Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee Springs
Guest Services, Inc.

The historic park has been featuring "live mermaids" since 1947. The state park also includes the Buccaneer Bay spring-fed water park, a boat cruise, and an animal show.

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Peppa Pig Theme Park

Peppa Pig Theme Park

Merlin Entertainments

When it opens in 2022, Peppa Pig Theme Park will be a separately gated park at Legoland Florida. It will appeal to young children who are fans of the long-running show. The park will be considerably smaller than Legoland and likely be a half-day, rather than a full-day experience. Among the rides and attractions will be the especially gentle Daddy Pig' s Roller Coaster, Grandad Dog' s Pirate Boat Ride, the toned down drop tower ride, Mr. Bull' s High Striker, Muddy Puddles Splash Pad, a number of interactive pay areas such as Peppa Pig' s Treehouse, and Mr. Potato's Showtime Arena.