For a look into one of the most famous castles in the world, visit Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. Modeled after Cinderella’s palace, the castle is inspired by the fairy tale. The overall park contains six different ‘lands’, each of which is inspired by a different aspect of Disney. Whether it be the nostalgic beauty of Main Street U.S.A. or the amazing rides at Frontierland, Magic Kingdom is filled with memories that are just waiting to be made.
|Main Street U.S.A.
Main Street U.S.A. is the first area you’ll see when you enter Magic Kingdom, and because of this, the area has grown to be a staple of the entire facility. The street is home to Walt Disney World Railroad, which takes you to other parts of the park or, if you’d like, other parts of Main Street. The best attractions in this area include architectural styles from just about every state in America, not to mention fun shows in Town Square Theater as well as occasional street parties and parades outside.
Added to the park in the early 70’s, Frontierland is modeled after America’s wild west, featuring thrilling rides and a bit of history to boot. Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes allows guests to travel via free-floating canoes across the Rivers of America, an artificial river that’s so beautiful; anyone would be fooled into thinking they were actually traveling down the Mississippi River. If you’re in the mood for something less leisurely, you can experience a fun train/roller coaster ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
SeaWorld is a great place to experience the majesty of marine wildlife as well as jaw-dropping live entertainment. The Orlando location is particularly good at doing what they love, offering guests a variety of roller coasters, exclusive shows, and family-friendly exhibits.
|Rides & Attractions
There are several thrilling rides, whether it be the state-of-the-art hyper coaster, Mako, or the floorless ride named after the mythical monster of the sea, Kraken. If you get tired of screaming, there are also calming attractions like Shamu Express, a family roller coaster with cars shaped like Shamu, not to mention Turtle Trek, an outdoor/indoor exhibit that features rare sea turtles.
Known for their explosive shows, the Orlando branch of SeaWorld offers tons of exciting shows, whether it be the 7 killer whales dancing at Shamu Stadium or the beautiful California sea lions turned comedians in their daily show at The Sea Lion and Otter Theater. For a bit of dinner theatre, you can check out Seafire Inn, a venue that offers classy shows performed by actual humans.
For some international culture and a look into the distant future, step into the magical Epcot Center, which is home to a variety of attractions. Whether it be the dark and ominous mysteries that lie deep inside the glass pyramids of Future World or a quaint look at some authentic German or Japanese architecture at World Showcase, Epcot Center contains the cultures of just about every human civilization, all packed into one 300-acre park.
Future World offers innovative rides and follows the theme of technology and science, often straying into science fiction territory. It also serves as Epcot’s entrance, making it both eye-catching and otherworldly. Spaceship Earth, which is a ride that is structured like a geodesic sphere, is the most iconic landmark throughout Epcot and one of the most popular rides as well. Inside of the sphere are a variety of show scenes and attractions, which includes a time-machine vessel that ascends through a dark tunnel, showing you every moment of humanity, from the Neanderthals to the fall of Rome for you to enjoy.
If you’re a world traveler and want to see as much as possible, visit World Showcase to see a variety of cultures, which include China, Mexico, Germany, Italy, France, and many others. Each themed city has its own respective landscape, restaurants, and rides that reflect each country’s particular flavor or idea of a good time, making it seem like you’re truly globe hopping. The Imagineers of Epcot went for extra authenticity by staffing each area with the citizens of each represented country on work-visa agreements. This allows each country to not only be authentic, but make the American dreams of several immigrants come true.
|Universal Studios Hollywood
Orlando is host to a lot of fun things to do, and with the presence of Universal Studios, the city grew to an even larger entertainment source, especially with the always-entertaining Production Central, which is host to some of the most exciting family-friendly rides, all of which are filled with familiar faces. For a broader look at big-city culture, you can also visit New York, a fun area that offers a mock city model of the famous northeast metropolis. The area is littered with rides, shops, and restaurants that are sure to occupy your attention as much as they’ll wow you.
Production Central is home to several rides, all of which were opened after 2009, making each one as innovative as they are sparkling brand new. For a fun family ride, look no further – this area of the park is home to many rides hosted by child favorites, including Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Shrek 4-D, and Transformers: The Ride. For a larger-than-life perspective of the park, you can also hop onto Hollywood Rockit, an exhilarating roller coaster that’s sure to leave you shaken.
To get in touch with one of America’s most iconic cities, visit New York for a variety of restaurants, outlet stores, and unforgettable rides. Whether you’re with your family or are simply looking for a scare, this big apple is big enough for everyone to bite into.
|Shopping & Restaurants
There are several restaurants scattered around New York, all of which were inspired by authentic New York eateries. Whether it be a cold beer at Finnegan’s Bar and Grill or a tasty dish of pasta at Louie’s Italian Restaurant, there are plenty of unique delicacies to choose from, not to mention the abundance of familiar brands like Starbucks Coffee and Ben & Jerry’s.
If you’re looking for something interesting, yet scary, you have to check out Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, a steel roller coaster that takes place completely indoors, making for one of the most unique and thrilling journeys ever constructed. New York is also home to The Blues Brother Show as well as the upcoming adventure ride, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.
|Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens at Tampa is a theme park dedicated to Africa in the 19th century, showcasing the wildlife from particular environments as well as the culture of several African tribes. Whether it be one of the many themed locations that represent countries like Congo or Morocco or one of the dozen animal habitats, which include the incredible Cheetah Run and Walkabout Way, there’s something at Busch Gardens for everyone.
The park’s main entrance is a themed area modeled after the country of Morocco, featuring a massive wooden roller coaster named after the African mythological creature, Gwazi as well as Gwazi Gliders, a hang glider flat ride for kids. Another great themed area is Jungala, which is composed of close animal encounters and rope bridges. There are also rides here, including Jungle Fliers, a zip line ride, and The Wild Surge, a launch tower that can fit an entire family. To get around the themed areas location with ease, hop aboard the Serengeti Railway for a complimentary train car ride, which makes stops at the Nairobi, Congo, and Stanleyville areas.
For those looking for a break from thrilling rides, Busch Gardens is also known for its many relaxing animal habitats. For an unbelievably up-close look at rare birds you’d never be able to see in Florida’s everyday climate, visit Bird Gardens, which offers a free flight aviary that holds more than 500 tropical birds of various species, including parrots, flamingos, and others. If you don’t feel like risking the cleanliness of the tops of your heads or shoulders, you can also visit Cheetah Run, which holds daily presentations by the trainers. The most famous cheetahs on the property are Kasi and Mtani, a couple who have become strange local celebrities.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is only one of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort and is seen by many as the best park. Everyone has their favorite, of course, so saying ‘best’ is a matter of opinion but for many this park is a must see. Dedicated to the conservation of the natural environment as well as animals, the park was designed to ensure these ideals be executed to perfection. Additionally, the park is global, offering glimpses into every part of the world, from Africa to Asia.
Located in the heart of the Animal Kingdom’s Discovery Island, the ‘central hub’ of the park, connecting to every single other section with the exception of one area (Rafiki’s Planet Watch). Located here is the iconic Tree of Life, a man-made Baobab tree, which is covered with beautiful hand-carved animals. Inside, you’ll find several enclosures of exotic creatures, not to mention the comical 4D adventure-film “It’s Tough to Be a Bug!” – a fun animation that takes place in the universe of the Pixar hit, A Bug’s Life.
|Rafiki’s Planet Watch
If you’ve got children with you, prepare for a great adventure at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, a section of the park that’s made specifically for young children and families. To visit the area, families ride on the Wildlife Express Train for a fun ride through Habitat Habit, which is an educational presentation that teaches how to protect endangered primates. There is also a petting zoo that features goats, sheep, and other calm animals.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is another park located at Walt Disney Resort in Bay Lake, making it an excellent addition to an already amazing park. Hollywood Studios is fully dedicated to the magic of show business, pulling a lot of inspiration from California’s celeb-filled city, Hollywood. The studio-themed park is home to many attractions, some replicas and some completely original. Whether you want to check out the many attractions at Echo Lake or simply want to get a taste of some of your favorite Disney films at Pixar Place, Hollywood Studios is a great park to wind down after a long day (or days) of getting on breath-taking rides.
Modeled after the iconic Echo Park located in Los Angeles, Echo Lake is a custom-designed area of Hollywood Studios that offers guests a look into the ‘California Crazy’ style of architecture, which was prevalent in the Golden Age of Hollywood. There are three major attractions at Echo Lake, which include Star Tours, a ride set in the Star Wars universe, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, a reenactment of several stunts from the famous Steven Spielberg film, and a new addition to the Hyperion Theatre, which hosts For the First Time in Forever: A frozen Sing-Along Celebration, a grandiose show that celebrates the music of the 2013 Disney film, Frozen.
Pixar Place is solely dedicated to films and characters that are featured in Pixar Animation Studios, whether it is from the Toy Story series or Finding Nemo. The area takes direct architectural inspiration from the actual Pixar Studios in Emeryville, California, making it as authentic as it is magical – the sole attraction at Pixar Place is Toy Story Midway Mania, an interactive 4D attraction that’s fun for the entire family.
|Islands of Adventure
Universal’s Islands of Adventure is a great place to have fun, whether you’re a family looking for relaxing activities or a group of thrill-seekers on the hunt for your next fix. Since 2010, the park has seen a surge of popularity due to the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which officially became the main attraction on the seventh island.
Set in the same universe, but just after the plot line of the first Jurassic Park film, Jurassic Park is just one of the Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios, offering a discovery-based exhibit hosted by John Hammond himself. The actor delivers a unique message that was actually recorded during the filming of the first movie, and takes you on adventure throughout the island. The island’s main attraction is Jurassic Park River Adventure, a water ride that’s based on one of the most exciting scenes of the film.
|Hogsmeade (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter)
For J.K. Rowling fans, a magical village waits that contains several attractions, shops, and restaurants that replicate some of the locations mentioned in the Harry Potter series. Whether it be the Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade Village, or the iconic Hogwarts Castle, every Harry Potter fan can be assured that no stone is left unturned. One of the most popular roller coasters on the island is Dragon Challenge, which is essentially a pair of intertwining roller coasters.