What does Orlando offer other than Disney?

Known to many as the fun capital of the world, Orlando, Florida is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. Attracting over fifty million tourists every year, it is constantly moving forward in its quest to provide a magical holiday for all its visitors. The main attraction is of course the world-famous Walt Disney World, but in addition to the legendary Magic Kingdom, the domain of Mickey Mouse spreads to three other huge theme parks: Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Despite Mickey and friends being the dominant presence around here, Orlando has much more to offer every visitor. Whether your taste is for for death-defying theme park rides, the fascinating wonders of nature or simply relaxing in the sunshine, Florida’s number one holiday destination has something for everyone.

Jurassic Park at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure Photo by Marco Becerra on Flickr

Jurassic Park at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure

Next to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Orlando’s top draw is the visit to Universal Studios. With exciting rides based on classic films and TV series such as The Simpsons, Men in Black, Shrek and the latest addition, Transformers, Universal is a movie lover’s dream and as exciting for adults as Disney is for children. If you’re in any way concerned about the expenses of bringing the whole family to somewhere in Universal Studios, a good way control your budget is to use online comparison sites for Orlando flights. Universal’s sister park, Islands of Adventure, has also become massively popular in recent years thanks to the addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a lifelike recreation of Hogwarts and the town of Hogsmeade.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure, Orlando Photo by Scott Smith

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure, Orlando


Part of the Universal chain, SeaWorld is the most amazing marine park in the world. Home to killer whales, dolphins, manatees, turtles, penguins, alligators and more besides, SeaWorld offers a fascinating day out in beautiful surroundings. Daily shows featuring dolphins and the famous whale Shamu are simply breathtaking and not be missed. Even domestic animals get in on the fun as dogs, cats, mice, birds and pigs perform in the Pets Ahoy show.

Seaworld Orlando Photo by Limowreck666 on Flickr

Seaworld Orlando

Discovery Cove

Many people, adults and children alike, harbour a dream of swimming with dolphins and at Discovery Cove, that dream can come true. The romantic setting here adds to the magical experience of sharing the water with these fascinating creatures; additionally, you can also go snorkelling and discover many species of exotic fish and rays on your underwater journey. A particular attraction for children who are still caught in the Finding Nemo phase and see any sign of water as an opportunity to seek out clown fish! Tickets for swimming with the dolphins normally have to be purchased in advance, so make sure you do a little research in advance of going.

Grand Reef at Discovery Cove, Orlando Photo by insidethemagic on flickr

Grand Reef at Discovery Cove, Orlando

Wet ‘n Wild

Conveniently located on International Drive, the 11.5 tourist strip that includes the likes of Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and more themed restaurants than you can shake a stick at, Wet ‘n Wild is one the premier water parks in Orlando with an admission price that offers unbeatable value. Daredevils will love the huge water rides (not for the faint-hearted!), while those who just want to relax can float serenely down the Lazy River or chill out on one of the many sunbeds throughout the park and top up their tan. So there’s a full range of watery activities to keep everyone from hyperactive teens to disgruntled dads occupied.

Wet n wild Orlando Photo by insidethemagic on Flickr

Wet n wild Orlando

Superb Shopping

Shoppers are never disappointed in Orlando. At each end of International Drive is a Premium Outlet mall selling top-quality designer brands. In between are the Festival Bay Mall, Pointe Orlando and a number of bargain strip malls. Quite a way off International Drive is the Florida Mall, the largest shopping mall in Central Florida and home to world-famous names such as Macys and Saks. These Mall excursions can often spiral into day-trips in themselves, which you should either embrace or be aware of before you go!

Orlando is so much more than the home of Walt Disney World: the sheer number of attractions on offer there often means one holiday is simply not enough and this is probably the reason why some make it their yearly holiday destination. Whoever you are though, the chances are you’re going to be able to find something to occupy yourself whilst visiting Orlando.

For more American adventures:

9 Cool things we did in Austin, Texas
5 Best Kept Secrets for Train Lovers in San Diego!
Our Top 5 Florida Beaches

Photo credits: Jurassic Park by Marco Becerra, Hogwarts by Scott Smith, Seaworld by limowreck666,  Discovery cove by insidethemagic, Wet’n’wild by insidethemagic

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This guest article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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  • Reply
    Mark H
    July 21, 2013 at 3:49 am

    I’d also suggest NASA headquarters at Cape Kennedy. Superb museum and displays about all things space exploration oriented. A nice break from theme parks too.
    Mark H´s last blog post ..Photo of the Week: Gressoney Saint Jean (Italy)

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      July 21, 2013 at 9:28 am

      @Mark Thanks so much for that tip – we visited the Space Centre at Houston and found it fascinating

  • Reply
    David Hussy
    July 23, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Orlando is famous for beaches and it is one of the best visiting destination of Florida.

  • Reply
    Tiffany Brock
    July 26, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I didn’t know about some of these places. Thanks for the tips.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2013 at 4:10 am

    Wild Florida —- 45 minutes from Disney and 30 minutes from the Orlando Airport a park with wonderful landscape, flora and fauna and offers air boat tours to families and groups.

  • Reply
    Alison Meacham
    May 9, 2017 at 12:31 am

    Universal’s Volcano Bay is opening on May 25th. This looks as though it is going to be an amazing new water park which will be a popular alternative to the Disney water parks.

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