One of the best parts about any Disney vacation is the smile on your children’s faces when they meet Cinderella or Mickey, ride their first roller coaster or come face to face with their favorite animal for the first time. Orlando has a wide array of great theme parks and attractions for kids, but “kid” is a pretty loose definition, so for this article, we’ll break down the best Orlando theme parks for kids of all ages.
When your child is 2 or younger, most rides are usually inaccessible without a parent coming along. That said, there is still plenty the little ones can participate in. Universal Studios Florida for example, has Fievel’s Playland and a Day in the Park with Barney as well as the Curious George Play area. LEGOLAND® Florida is also one of the most kid-friendly parks in the Orlando area with their all-new DUPLO® Valley complete with farm-themed rides perfect for little LEGO® lovers. LEGOLAND® also offers LEGO® pony rides on the Fun Town Carousel®, 4D movie presentations, and neat LEGO® themed shows.
Small children also tend to love animals, and if that’s the case with your little animals, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® and SeaWorld® Orlando would both be great choices. At the Animal Kingdom®, you can find the Wildlife Express Train, Oasis Exhibits and the Kilimanjaro Safari all of which allow guests to see a variety of different animals. At SeaWorld, children have the opportunity to directly interact with and feed their favorite aquatic animals at Dolphin Cove®, Stingray Lagoon® and Pacific Point Preserve®. These experiences coupled with SeaWorld’s famous live shows like Shamu® make the ocean-themed park, in our opinion, one of the best Orlando theme parks for kids under 2.
Winners: LEGOLAND® and SeaWorld® Orlando
At this age, ride options begin to open up for your children. Disney’s Magic Kingdom® is by far one of the most option-rich parks for kids of this age, with rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train® (38” height requirement), Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Dumbo, and the timeless It’s a Small World.
Universal Studios Florida also features Shrek 4D and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and for more daring youngsters, the Flight of the Hippogriff® and Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster®.
Winner: Disney’s Magic Kingdom®
Along with your kid’s first growth spurt comes the chance to take on some of Orlando’s most thrilling rides. Most kids in this age range have an average height of around 42”-48”, which limits them in terms of Orlando’s tallest roller coasters, but still drastically expands their ride options. At Universal Studios® Florida, kids (depending on their exact height) at this age will now be able to ride Revenge of the Mummy®, MEN IN BLACK® Alien Attack®, TRANSFORMERS®: The Ride-3D and the Simpsons Ride®.
At Universal’s Islands of Adventure®, your children’s options include the Jurassic Park River Adventure® and the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman®, both some of the parks most popular attractions.
Winner: Universal Studios® Florida
By the time your child becomes a tween, there are very view rides or attractions in Orlando which they won’t be able to take part in, so Orlando is really your oyster. That said, some of the rides to check out now that your kid is a little taller include The Incredible Hulk® at Islands of Adventure®, Manta® and Kraken® and SeaWorld® Orlando and the famous Space Mountain® and Disney’s Magic Kingdom®.
Winner: Take your pick!
Ages 13 and Up
Every major Orlando theme park has something to see and ride when your child reaches their teenage years. The usual consensus, however, when teens are looking for some serious thrills is Universal Studios Islands of Adventure®. With towering rides like The Incredible Hulk® and thrilling interactive attraction like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter® and the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, there is something at Islands of Adventure for any thrill seeker.