Family travel tips
Best Orlando Theme Parks for Children
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 excellent theme parks and attractions for children, but “children” is a pretty loose definition, so for this article, we’ll break down the best Orlando theme parks for children of all ages.
Article originally written on Sept 5, 2014. Updated on Oct 4, 2019.
When your child is two 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, a Day in the Park with Barney, and the Curious George Play area. LEGOLAND® Florida is also one of the most child-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 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 various animals. At SeaWorld, children can 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, make the ocean-themed park, in our opinion, one of the best Orlando theme parks for children 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 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, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster®.
Winner: Disney’s Magic Kingdom®
Along with your child’s first growth spurt comes the chance to take on some of Orlando’s most thrilling rides. Most children in this age range have an average height of around 42″ -48″, which limits them in terms of Orlando’s tallest roller coaster but still drastically expands their ride options. At Universal Studios® Florida, children (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 of the park’s most popular attractions.
Winner: Universal Studios® Florida
By the time your child turns tween, there are very few rides or attractions in Orlando that they won’t be able to participate in, so Orlando is your oyster. That said, some of the rides to check out now that your child is a little taller include The Incredible Hulk® at Islands of Adventure®, Manta®, and Kraken® 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. However, The usual consensus when teens are looking for serious thrills is Universal Studios Islands of Adventure®. With towering rides like The Incredible Hulk® and thrilling interactive attractions like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter® and the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, there is something at Islands of Adventure for any thrill seeker.
Winner: Universal’s Islands of Adventure®