Orlando’s “other” Theme Parks!

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Baby Dolphin at Discovery Cove ©Discovery Cove/SeaWorld

Baby Dolphin at Discovery Cove ©Discovery Cove/SeaWorld

Florida Vacation Guide to Orlando’s “other” theme parks

We know you can never have enough of Disney World, but if you want to round out your experience, here are a number of theme parks well worth the visit:

SeaWorld

From shows and comedy acts to wildlife encounters and thrill rides, SeaWorld has experience to keep your family busy for days. Plus, it’s unique focus on conservation, educational and marine wildlife, sets it apart from other places. Climb 50 stories with the Kraken rollercoaster or take the Swishy Fishies teacup ride for a milder spin with your younger children or those less adventurous. There are a wide variety of wildlife encounters from penguins to sharks, but make sure you book interaction experiences well in advance: pull on a wetsuit and touch a beluga whale or work alongside a marine mammal expert.

Gatorland

If you want to see an alligator but stay at a safe distance, a close-up experience with an alligator or crocodile at the 110 acre wildlife preserve in Gatorland is the best place. Feed the lurking reptiles, watch a reptilian show or take a boardwalk hike through the breeding marsh. If you’re really daring, you can take a night walk through the breeding area with hundreds of red eyes shining at your flashlight, or work with a trainer for the day to get very close to a gator! The Adventure Hour gives you access for a behind-the-scenes look at the Breeding Marsh where you can get a gator photo opp.

Universal Studios

If you’re a movie or TV junkie, this is your theme park! From shows and rides, movie-themed dining and shopping to movie sets and attractions, there’s a number of activities to put you in the picture, including behind the scenes tours. If you want an adrenalin rush, catch an action-packed stunt shows or climb into the new Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and hold on as you cruise above the castle grounds. There’s lots for younger children too – watch princess-saving stunts in the Eighth Voyage of Sindbad show include a finale dive into a watery pit to douse fire flames or step into the wicker Flight of the Hippogriff and twirl around the pumpkin garden.

Kennedy Space Center

Start with a bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V Center where you can view two shuttle launch pads from the observation platform. Then have lunch with an astronaut or register for Get close to G-force flight in the astronaut training adventure that includes riding in a mission and training simulator. If that’s too much, the guided tours are one-of-a-kind as this is the only place on the planet where you can tour NASA’s launch and landing facilities, and even see a launch. Make sure you leave enough time for walking through the unique wildlife preserve that the facilities are located in.

Tell us…

What’s your favorite theme park in Orlando?