Universal Orlando Resort
Kristin Harmel

Asking me to choose my favorite theme park attractions in Orlando is a bit like asking a mother to choose her favorite child: it’s impossible! After all, there are far too many rides, shows, and even parks in the greater Orlando area to make narrowing down the choices an easy job. Of course most people know that Central Florida is home to the four Walt Disney World theme park, the two Universal Studios parks and SeaWorld. But there’s also SeaWorld’s Aquatica and Discovery, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, Wet’n’Wild, Gatorland, Legoland, Kennedy Space Center, and even The Holy Land Experience, a religious theme park. You could spend months here, in fact, and still not have the chance to experience everything. So if your time is more limited than that, make sure you check out the following five rides, some of the best and most popular attractions in Orlando.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Words can’t begin to describe how very cool I think this ride is. Located in Universal Studios’ Diagon Alley (the newer section of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), this Harry Potter adventure begins innocently enough: with a visit to Gringotts bank. But before you know it, you’ll be on a high-speed 3D chase with the villainous Voldemort and Bellatrix on your heels. You’ll walk away feeling as if you’ve truly stepped into a Harry Potter movie.

Soarin’

This breathtaking, panoramic ride at Epcot takes guests on a hang-gliding style ride over the beauty of California. Feel the wind blow through your hair, smell the pine trees and oranges, and imagine your feet skimming the water as you fly over redwood forests, ski slopes, surf breaks, and the Golden Gate Bridge, ultimately ending in Disneyland. This is a Disney fan favorite.

Revenge of the Mummy Roller Coaster

This Universal Studios attraction is so much more than just a coaster. Sure, you’ll rocket through the darkness at speeds up to 45 miles per hour, but the real charm of this ride is in the immersive theming; you’ll feel the heat of fireballs, squirm as a fleet of beetles swarm toward you, and shudder as the Mummy—from the film series of the same name—tries to capture your soul. 

Toy Story Midway Mania

This enormously popular ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is essentially a four-dimensional shooting gallery filled with all your favorite characters from the popular Disney-Pixar film franchise. Don a pair of 3D glasses and zip through a bright, colorful world of carnival games. Completely unique, this ride even features a great queue area, where you’ll come face to face with a giant, talking Mr. Potato Head.

Discovery Cove

More than just an attraction, this is a theme park unto itself—but it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced. For one all-inclusive price, feed tropical birds, wade with rays, snorkel with fish, or kick back on the beach. But the best part of this experience is the 30-minute dolphin swim; accompanied by a trainer, you’ll be able to hug and pet the gentle creatures. Your ticket includes breakfast, lunch, and unlimited snacks, drinks and alcohol, plus fourteen consecutive days of unlimited SeaWorld and Aquatica admission. Pricey, but when you consider the value of the unique experience, it becomes one of the best deals in Orlando.

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