Florida Theme Park Overview

Florida Guide > Other Parks

If there is one single feature that tempts children and adults alike to Florida, it is the astounding quality and sheer number of its theme parks. Once these were all provided by Disney, but now three main players compete for the tourist dollar and the competition can only be good for us!

Disney has Walt Disney World, comprising Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. Separate to WDW are Animal Kingdom, plus the two themed water parks ofBlizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.

Universal Studios provides (you guessed it) operate Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure.

Anheuser-Busch (the brewery) gives us Seaworld (with Discovery Cove) and Busch Gardens.

Disney is the biggest, but the others are catching up in terms of what they provide with both Universal and Anheuser-Busch possibly having the edge in white-knuckle thrill rides – at least in terms of numbers. Disney and Universal are the best examples of theming (a joy in itself) and as for “magic” and make-believe, these two also are vying for pole position. A summary of the relative ratings and performances is given at the end.

Remember it is not necessary to queue for hours! With a little planning and a good dash of self-discipline, it is possible to enjoy almost all the rides and many of the shows with no more than a few minutes wait provided the advice in the following book is followed to the letter – Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.

It works. Try it. We found it the single most important “non-essential” purchase of the holiday.

So, there now follows a breakdown of park features and a list for each of absolutely unmissable experiences, based on our group of twelve ten to forty-odd year olds.

For those outside this range, the children really cannot lose with the attractions provided for them. The older age groups will know what they like from the descriptions given. Those disabled, injured/incapacitated or just not too nimble enjoy the privilege of free wheelchairs and fast-track (i.e. queue jumping) at many attractions.

Also, don’t forget the fast-track ticketing system works for all, so look out for the ticket machines.

Please note, the following are those scoring 5/5 on our opinion scale. There are very many other rides, simulations and shows rated good to excellent and very few that were poor. These last are probably good by any other yardstick of comparison, but in the face of such tough competition, well . . .

Un-missable Experiences

Rides and Simulations

  • Spiderman - simulation and ride. Islands of Adventure.
  • Incredible Hulk - rollercoaster. Islands of Adventure.
  • “Fire” in Duelling Dragons - twin rollercoasters. Islands of Adventure.
  • Back to the Future - simulation. Universal Studios.
  • Dinosaur - ride. Animal Kingdom.
  • Popeye and Bluto - water rapid ride. Islands of Adventure
  • Bilge Rat Barges
  • Safari - live safari tour. Animal Kingdom.
  • Kraken - rollercoaster. Seaworld.
  • Splash Mountain - water ride. Magic Kingdom.
  • Big Thunder Mountain - roller coaster. Magic Kingdom.
  • Space Mountain - roller coaster. Magic Kingdom.
  • Earthquake - ride. Universal Studios.
  • Kumba - rollercoaster. Busch Gardens.
  • Tower of Terror - simulation and ride. Hollywood Studios.


  • Tarzan Rocks - musical show. Animal Kingdom.
  • Lion King - musical show. Animal Kingdom.
  • Terminator 3D - 3D cinema and live action. Universal Studios.
  • Poseidon - adventure show. Islands of Adventure.
  • Magic of Animation - demonstration show. Hollywood Studios.
  • Muppetvision - 3D show. Hollywood Studios.
  • Indiana Jones Stunt Show - stunt adventure show. Hollywood Studios.
  • Beauty and the Beast - musical show. Hollywood Studios.
  • Honey I Shrunk the Audience - 3D show. EPCOT.
  • Day and evening parades - Magic Kingdom.

Top Theming

  • Animal Kingdom.
  • Islands of Adventure.

Best Parks

  • Animal Kingdom.
  • Islands of Adventure.
  • Hollywood Studios.

A final note. If you have time, try everything!

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