When you're spending and saving for the vacation of your dreams, you want to know that every dime is going toward the best possible experience for your family. The wonderful thing about Orlando is that there are many incredible theme parks to enjoy. For the most part, all of the parks offer something for every age group, but some parks may be better suited for your frog squad's particular ages than others. If you're searching for the best Disney World park for your toddler or the overall best Orlando theme park for adults, we're hoppy to help!
Before we dive into the best theme parks in Orlando by age group, let's be clear: This isn't the definitive guide — there are always exceptions! The best Orlando theme park for your kids, parents and/or partner is the one that they want to visit. And the best way to help them decide is to get them involved in the process. For the tadpoles, see what looks fun. Show them videos of attractions from our YouTube channel. Also, consider what they're currently interested in or obsessed with. Do they like Star Wars? The best Disney World park for them might be Disney's Hollywood Studios, especially with Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Watched "Frozen 2" too many times on Disney+? Head to EPCOT to see Anna and Elsa in their "Frozen 2"-themed outfits! Can't get enough of "Despicable Me" and the minions? You're off to Universal Studios Florida. Penguins and dolphins? Sea ya at SeaWorld Orlando. Regardless of the age category your tadpoles fall into, give serious consideration to what they are interested in.
For the adults, consider their interests and what will bring them the most joy out of the vacation. Meeting characters and going for a spin on rides isn't for every grown-up — but watching the tadpoles or grand tadpoles (granpoles?) meet their favorite characters just might be the best thing ever. The best theme parks in Orlando cater to adults and seniors. And the atmosphere of a wonderfully themed land or park can be just enough "magic" for those who don't need thrills.
Best Theme Parks in Orlando by Age Group
If you can, our recommendation is to visit each of the parks at least once and then pick your favorites to revisit. That said, here are our choices for the best Orlando theme parks by age group.
Best Theme Parks in Orlando for Toddlers (Ages 4 and Under)
Best: Magic Kingdom
Hands down, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom offers the most magical experience of all of the Orlando theme parks. Guests of all ages, but especially the toddler set, will be able to enjoy a large number of attractions. They can also meet their favorite Disney characters and wonder at the sights and sounds in each of the different lands. For children who are easily scared, there are plenty of rides where they can sit with Mom or Dad. Start them off with Peter Pan's Flight and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Character meet-and-greets can be like a dream come true for the toddler age group. The variety of Disney characters hanging out in Magic Kingdom is great. Currently, individual character greetings are unavailable due to social distancing measures. However, you can still see your favorite characters marching through the park in cavalcades or occasionally popping up at random locations from a distance. Whether your tadpole is a Mickey Mouse admirer (Mickey's regular meet-and-greet is typically at Town Square Theater) or one of Buzz Lightyear's Junior Space Rangers, you're quite likely to find their favorite Disney character somewhere! All of this leads us to rank Magic Kingdom as the best Disney park for the little ones.
Other Good Orlando Theme Parks for Toddlers:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park — This park is ideal for anyone who loves animals. Toddlers especially will enjoy seeing them up close in a lush, jungle-like setting. Tortoises, lions, cotton-top tamarin monkeys, yellow-naped Amazon parrots and more are just some of the animals that you can see! Pint-sized shows such as "It's Tough to Be a Bug," the fan-favorite "Festival of the Lion King" and the temporarily unavailable "Finding Nemo - The Musical" are also perfect for the wee set. The fun AND educational environment makes this one of our best Disney parks for toddlers.
- SeaWorld Orlando — Like Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the animals truly are the focus of the park. The little ones will love feeding the sea lions and dolphins. The experience of a stingray gliding beneath their fingertips is a treasure they'll enjoy. Sesame Street Land made its debut in 2019, giving toddlers a chance to explore the beloved neighborhood with its interactive elements and family-friendly rides.
Best Theme Parks in Orlando for Elementary-Age Kids (Ages 5 to 10)
Best: SeaWorld Orlando
Who says learning isn't fun? Out of all the Orlando theme parks, SeaWorld Orlando is one of the most educational. Kids of all ages, but especially young children, can test their knowledge of aquatic life. They can also explore the exhibits and get up close and personal with baby dolphins, sea lions and stingrays. The younger end of this group will also love Sesame Street Land and its interactive elements! Be sure to also check out Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. Kids (and kids at heart) should not miss the penguin habitat, which mimics the icy conditions of the South Pole. Get up close with the penguins in temps of 30 degrees. You can see four species on land and underwater. (Currently, the ride is not operating, but the animal exhibit is open.)
Other Good Orlando Theme Parks for Elementary-Age Kids:
- LEGOLAND Florida — The whole park is geared toward 2 to 12-year-olds. For LEGO fanatics, the themed lands are second to none! Adventurous kids can experience the thrill of the Flying School roller coaster. Those who aren't quite ready have gentler ride options such as The Dragon. The water park within the park will keep everyone cool on the hottest summer days. It became even more "awesome" with the addition of LEGO MOVIE World in 2019.
- Magic Kingdom — This is the place where fairytales come true, and princesses and pirates will love the opportunities to indulge in a little make-believe and maybe work up the nerve to try out Space Mountain or Splash Mountain. Great starter coaster options are Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or The Barnstormer.
Best Theme Parks in Orlando for Tweens (Ages 11 to 13)
Best: Universal Studios Florida
With more simulator rides than thrill rides, and many based on movie franchises, Universal Studios Florida offers a lot to do and see. Of course, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley should be at the top of the list, and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is not to be missed! The bravest of tweens can tackle Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster, which reaches speeds of up to 65 mph! Revenge of the Mummy is slightly tamer, but offers plenty of scream-worthy moments. TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D is thrilling 3D technology at its best as Autobots attempt to protect the AllSpark from Decepticons.
Other Good Orlando Theme Parks for Tweens:
- SeaWorld Orlando — Daredevil tweens will love the thrill rides, especially Mako, Journey to Atlantis, Kraken and Manta. Soon, they will be able to tackle Ice Breaker, the park's first multi-launch coaster. As frogs, we think the animal encounters are also pretty awesome ;)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios — Three of the park's biggest attractions — Slinky Dog Dash, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ’n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith — are perfect for the tween set. Calling all Padawans! Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge boasts two immersive rides, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, that will let young Star Wars fans live out their own space story. The bursts of thrills and pure fun of these attractions are a great combination that make this one of the best Disney parks for tweens!
Best Theme Parks in Orlando for Teens (Ages 14 to 18)
Best: Universal's Islands of Adventure
Teens will love the high number of true thrill rides, including the Incredible Hulk Coaster, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World VelociCoaster! Harry Potter fans will feel like they just stepped into the books at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade. Even those who aren't fans will be mesmerized by the incredible attention to detail! Journeying on the Hogwarts Express - Hogsmeade is an entertaining and awesome ride for park hoppers wanting to venture over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley! Of course, no visit here is complete without Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts Castle.
Other Good Orlando Theme Parks for Teens:
- EPCOT — Teens will love traveling the world in a single day, sampling the cultures — plus eating, shopping ... and eating! (Did we mention eating? There are plenty of options to satisfy your growing teen's hunger!) EPCOT offers some of the most diverse entertainment options out of the major Orlando theme parks. Test Track Presented by Chevrolet and Soarin’ Around the World remain perennial favorites and make this park a must-visit.
- Magic Kingdom — While parents and teens rarely agree, they seem to share the same nostalgia for visiting the Most Magical Place on Earth. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a roller coaster the whole family can enjoy together, and the Haunted Mansion is a supernatural adventure. While it may not have the major thrills of some of the other Orlando parks, you can't deny the joyful feelings it brings, which is why we rank it as the overall best Disney World theme park!
Best Theme Parks in Orlando for Adults
The most non-traditional park out of all the Orlando theme parks, EPCOT offers the chance to experience many of the world's cultures through sight, sound and taste. Shopaholics (raises hand) will love strolling through the World Showcase shops. EPCOT is the only place in the U.S. where some of these items can be found! There are plenty of diverse food and beverage options to be explored, as well.
Other Good Theme Parks for Adults:
- Universal's Islands of Adventure — This park is a thrill-seeker's paradise, with two fantastic coasters and tremendous theming on 3-D rides Skull Island: Reign of Kong and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Get ready to scream and splash on Jurassic Park River Adventure and Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls.
- Universal Studios Florida — This park offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Hollywood movie-making, a truly intimidating coaster in Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and 3-D fun for kids at heart in The Simpsons Ride and Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. Belly up to the bar at Moe's Tavern in Springfield U.S.A and order a Duff Beer or Flaming Moe. Enjoy waterfront dining at Lombard's Seafood Grille. Go for some more magical adventures on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley ... and maybe indulge in some specially brewed Wizarding ale too.
Best Theme Parks in Orlando for Seniors
Best: SeaWorld Orlando
This pristine park is known for its fantastic shows, particularly Orca Encounter, Sea Lion High: The New Class and Dolphin Days (which is temporarily closed). Seniors will enjoy the animal encounters, the 360-degree view of Orlando from Sky Tower (which is also temporarily closed), experiencing the life of a turtle at TurtleTrek and the numerous places to cool off.
Other Good Theme Parks for Seniors:
- EPCOT — World Showcase offers the chance to shop, eat and drink in the history and architecture of 11 countries. You can take your time hopping from pavilion to pavilion without having to walk far distances at a time.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios — This park provides a trip back in time through Hollywood's Golden Era. The 50s Prime Time Cafe is a nostalgic eating experience in a sitcom setting. Or, dine like a Hollywood icon at The Hollywood Brown Derby.
Whew! This was a long list, but now you've got the lowdown on what we think are the best Orlando parks by age group. Now, it's your turn. Tell us which are your favorites, for each age group or overall!