Amusement parks: major amusement parks in Orlando, Florida, USA

Until well over the second half of the last century, the state of Florida was mainly a quiet place where rich people went on holiday. The ‘Sunshine State’ in the southern United States did not offer many exciting landscapes in itself. In 1971, Walt Disney opened the first Disney theme park here. Since then, Florida, and the city of Orlando in particular, has become a paradise for theme park enthusiasts in 2017.


  • Orlando, FL
  • Theme parks in Orlando
  • Walt Disney World
  • Universal Orlando
  • SeaWorld Orlando


Orlando, FL

Americans, and more and more foreign tourists, know where to find the American state of Florida for a holiday full of sun and theme parks. In the sunny state with an average annual temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, Florida is always good to visit. Florida has a subtropical climate with the sun shining 300 days a year. The nickname ‘Sunshine State’ is therefore appropriate. The state of Florida is located on the southeastern coast of North America. The capital Miami is located in the south of the state, also on the east coast of the continent, on the Atlantic Ocean. The city of Orlando, located in central Florida, grew in the last century from a simple farming town to a real amusement park paradise due to its favorable location.

Theme parks in the Orlando area

A . Magic Kingdom
B . Epcot
C . Disney’s Hollywood Studios
D . Disney’s Animal Kingdom
E . Universal’s Islands of Adventure
F . Universal Studios Florida
G . SeaWorld Orlando

Theme parks in Orlando

Orlando wasn’t exactly an exciting place to visit until the 1960s. The landscapes didn’t provide great views, but there were good roads connecting South and North Florida. The then wealthy entrepreneur Walt Disney was looking for a new place to expand his Disney empire and was immediately sold. In the year 1971, Walt Disney opened the Walt Disney World theme park. The park was immediately immensely popular with visitors. Many families moved to Florida to let the whole family enjoy Mickey Mouse and his friends. Other entrepreneurs saw Disney’s success growing and decided to build an amusement park near the park. From 1975 onwards, several ‘theme parks’ were established in the Orlando, Florida area. In 2017, new amusement parks are still being built in and around Orlando. In 2014, Walt Disney World alone attracted more than 52 million visitors (source: US City Travel, 2014). This makes Walt Disney World the most visited amusement park worldwide.
Entrance to Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World

Four amusement parks in different themes, twenty-four hotels, two water parks, four golf courses. Walt Disney World is incredibly impressive to visit. What started with the Magic Kingdom theme park grew into a mega empire full of enchantment. The park proudly carries the slogan used by Disney itself: ‘The most magical place on earth’. Entrance tickets are expensive and discounts are difficult to find. That doesn’t bother Disney. The visitors will come anyway. The four theme parks in Walt Disney World are:


The Magic Kingdom theme park, which opened in 1971, attracts the most visitors. More than 12 million per year. The park has the theme of the famous Disney characters. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, the Disney princesses. You encounter them all as figures in the park. Every evening they are the heroes of the parade that parades through the Main Street of the park. Most family-friendly attractions can be found in Magic Kingdom. Who doesn’t know the famous symbol of the park: Cinderella’s castle, which is located at the entrance to the park. Notable attractions include It’s A Small World, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain.


In 1982, Disney opened its second theme park. With Epcot, Disney wanted to honor the (technical) developments that humanity has made. There are also attractions with different countries in the world as themes and, in addition to being entertaining, the park also has an educational character. The park attracts approximately eleven million visitors per year. The park consists of two parts; Future World and World Showcase. Some attractions include: Test Track, Soarin’, Frozen Ever After and Mission: Space.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney opened the third theme park in the Walt Disney World area in 1989. Disney’s Hollywood Studios became the name. The theme of this park is of course film and television. Visitors can see how a cartoon is made at ‘The Magic of Disney Animation’ attraction and go behind the scenes of a movie at ‘The Backlot Tour’. Other well-known attractions include Rock ‘n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Then, in 1998, the fourth theme park opened on the grounds of Walt Disney World. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the seventh most visited theme park in the world with eleven million annual visitors. The theme of the park is ‘zoo’. However, the park cannot be called a zoo, but more of a real amusement park with a link to a zoo here and there. There are certainly real animals to admire. The theme park consists of five parts, each with their own attractions. Some attractions are: Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids.

Universal Orlando

The second major player in the Orlando area is Universal. With two theme parks, a boulevard with entertainment venues (City Walk) and three hotels, Universal Orlando attracts more than 17 million visitors annually (source: Orlando Sentinel ‘Big 2015 attendance gains at Disney World, Universal Orlando’, May 2016) . The Universal complex is located just north of the Disney property.

Universal Studios Orlando

In 1990, film and television giant Universal opened its first theme park in the southwest of the city of Orlando: Universal Studios Orlando. An important theme is film and television, as the name suggests. The park offers many thrill rides, roller coasters and (3D) shows in the six parts of the park. Favorite attractions in the park are T2 3D: Battle Across Time, Revenge of the Mummy, JAWS and Men in Black.

Universal Islands of Adventure

Islands of Adventure is one of the newer parks in Orlando and consists of five themed areas. Well-known attractions are Amazing Adventures of Spiderman (simulation ride), Incredible Hulk Coaster and Jurassic Park River Adventure. The latest addition is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter from the year 2010.

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando is part of a larger empire that also owns parks in other cities across the United States. The SeaWorld park in Orlando is a combination of an amusement park and a dolphinarium. The big crowd puller is Shamu Rocks; a show starring orca Shamu. The park is also worthwhile for roller coaster and thrill ride fans because of attractions such as Kraken, Mako: the Ride and Manta.