These Are The 10 Best Amusement Parks And Water Parks In Florida For 2018


We used science and data to determine which amusement parks and water parks in Florida are the best to spend a day or weekend with the family.

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Just imagine:

You get off your favorite ride, jazzed up by the excitement, and on your way to get a uniquely American snack at your favorite amusement park.

Alright, now, open your eyes and come back to me for a moment as we go into where best to have that same experience in Florida. These are the water parks and amusement parks in {state} that have everything you could hope for in a day out with the family.

Using data from The Park DB, we were able to take a look at over 250 amusement and water parks across America, which includes Florida of course. After pouring over reams of data, Legoland Florida emerged as the best park in the Sunshine State by a hefty margin.

Here’s a look at the best amusement parks and water parks in Florida for 2018:

  1. Legoland Florida
  2. Walt Disney World – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  3. Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
  4. Universal’s Volcano Bay
  5. Discovery Cove
  6. EPCOT at Walt Disney World
  7. Universal Studios Florida
  8. Walt Disney World – Magic Kingdom
  9. Walt Disney World – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  10. SeaWorld Orlando

There are a whole lot of smiles and good memories wrapped up in those parks. Not to mention corn dogs, popcorn, roller coasters, and water slides.

Before you go out and buy your ticket to {first}, let’s take a look at how we ranked the parks on this list and what each of the top dogs has to offer.

If you’re looking for other family friendly things to do, check out the best farmers markets in Florida or the best cities for families in Florida.

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How We Ranked The Best Amusement Parks And Water Parks In Florida

If you haven’t check out The Park DB, we recommend it. It has all kinds of data on amusement parks big and small throughout the world.

Fortunately for us, they opened up their data set and let us take a look. So how do you rank the best amusement park in Florida? We looked at the following criteria:

  1. Size (How big is the park and how many rides are there)
  2. Price (Perhaps counter-intuitively initially, we did the higher the price the better. More on that)
  3. Age of the park (The newer the better)

We know your probably thinking ‘why is more expensive better?!’

Well, we believe in supply and demand and a higher price means that people must really want to go to the amusement park. It normally also means there’s either a strong brand associated with the park and/or plenty of things to do.

We also recognize that many water parks and amusement parks get renovations and additions throughout the years, but we still think newer is generally better.

If you disagree with our criteria, no offense taken. We are just trying to get the ball rolling on great places to spend a day or weekend in the Sunshine State.

So, with that out of the way, we ranked each park from best to worst for each of these criteria with one being the best. (If a park was missing criteria, it got the lowest score for that criteria).

We then averaged the rankings of each criteria to create an amusement park score and normalized it to 100.

For Florida, Legoland Florida took the top spot with a score of 73.8.

Here’s a bit more on what the top parks have to offer.

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1. Legoland Florida

Legoland Florida

Score: 73.8

Legoland Florida Resort (stylized as LEGOLAND Florida Resort) is a vacation destination in Winter Haven, Florida featuring a theme park, water park and on-site accommodations. It opened as Legoland Florida on October 15, 2011, and later rebranded itself Legoland Florida Resort with the opening of Legoland Hotel in May 2015. The park encompasses 145 acres (0.59 km2), making it the second-largest Legoland park after Legoland Windsor in the UK. Built on the site of the former Cypress Gardens theme park, Legoland preserved the botanical gardens and re-themed the water park and select attractions and venues to reflect various Lego brands.

Designed for families with children ages 2 to 12, the resort has more than 50 rides, shows, attractions, restaurants and shops, plus a botanical garden and water park. The 152-room Legoland Hotel opened May 15, 2015, followed by Legoland Beach Retreat on April 7, 2017, which has 166 rooms in 83 freestanding bungalows designed to resemble giant Lego sets.

2. Walt Disney World – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Walt Disney World - Disney

Score: 73.0

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a zoological theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando. Owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks and Resorts division, it is the largest theme park in the world, covering 580 acres (230 ha). The park opened on Earth Day, April 22, 1998, and was the fourth theme park built at the resort. The park is dedicated and themed entirely around the natural environment and animal conservation, a philosophy once pioneered by Walt Disney himself.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which indicates they have met or exceeded the standards in education, conservation, and research.

The park’s icon is the Tree of Life, a 145-foot-tall (44 m), 50-foot-wide (15 m) artificial baob tree.

In 2015, it had 10.9 million visitors, ranking it the fourth-most visited amusement park in the United States, behind the other three Walt Disney World parks, and seventh-most visited in the world.

3. Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Score: 70.9

Universal’s Islands of Adventure (formally Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, and commonly known as Islands of Adventure) is a theme park in Orlando, Florida. It opened on May 28, 1999, along with CityWalk, as part of an expansion that converted Universal Studios Florida into the Universal Orlando Resort. The slogan for this theme park, along with Universal Studios Florida, is Vacation Like You Mean It, introduced in 2013 as Universal Orlando Resort.

The park’s overall theme is that of a journey of exploration, where guests depart from a main port to visit themed islands, all emphasizing adventure. Initially, the park had six islands. On June 18, 2010, the seventh island, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (themed to the popular Harry Potter franchise), officially opened at the park. This is Universal’s largest investment since opening. In 2013, Islands of Adventure hosted approximately 8.1 million guests, ranking it seventh among United States parks and eleventh worldwide. The eighth island, Skull Island, opened on July 13, 2016.

4. Universal’s Volcano Bay

Universal

Score: 68.8

Universal\’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park, or Volcano Bay, is a themed water park at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida. Owned and operated by Universal Parks and Resorts, Volcano Bay replaced Wet \’n Wild as Universal Orlando Resort\’s water park, and it was the first constructed by Universal itself. The park, themed around a 200-foot-tall (61 m) volcano named ‘Krakatau,’ opened on May 25, 2017.

Krakatau is a 200 feet (61 m) tall artificial volcano, and is the park\’s main representative, being displayed on the logo. The volcano houses three drop capsule slides, Ko\’okiri Body Plunge, the tallest body slide in America ranging at 125 feet tall, and also the first to travel through a pool full of guests. Krakatau also holds the Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides which travel throughout the midst of the volcano winding around the Krakatau Aqua Coaster.

The park utilizes the TapuTapu experience. TapuTapu is a wristband wearable distributed at the entrance at the park, which can be used to hold one\’s place in line instead of standing in long queues for attractions. TapuTapu comes with other features including TapTuPay, which links a credit card through the Universal Orlando app to the wearable, allowing users to pay throughout the park for merchandise, food, and drinks (alcoholic drinks require a government issued ID). The wristbands can be used to interact with environmental features, set off water springs, or illuminate lights.

5. Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove

Score: 67.4

Discovery Cove is an amusement park owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, located in Orlando, Florida. It is a sister park of SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica Orlando. Guests can interact with a range of marine animals including bottlenose dolphins.

6. EPCOT at Walt Disney World

EPCOT at Walt Disney World

Score: 62.4

Epcot (originally named EPCOT Center) is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida. It is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company through its Parks and Resorts division. Inspired by an unrealized concept developed by Walt Disney, the park opened on October 1, 1982 and was the second of four theme parks built at Walt Disney World, after the Magic Kingdom. Spanning 305 acres (123 ha), more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom park, Epcot is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, namely technological innovation and international culture, and is often referred to as a ‘permanent world\’s fair’. The park is divided into two sections: Future World, made up of eight pavilions, and World Showcase, themed to 11 world nations.

In 2015, the park hosted about 11.98 million guests, ranking it the third-most-visited theme park in North America and the sixth-most-visited theme park in the world. The park is represented by Spaceship Earth, a geodesic sphere that also serves as an attraction. Epcot was known as EPCOT Center until 1994 when it was renamed Epcot \’94, then Epcot \’95, now commonly known simply as Epcot.

7. Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida

Score: 62.4

Universal Studios Florida is a theme park located in Orlando, Florida, United States. Opened on June 7, 1990, the park\’s theme is the entertainment industry, in particular movies and television. Universal Studios Florida inspires its guests to ‘ride the movies’, and it features numerous attractions and live shows. The park is one component of the larger Universal Orlando Resort.

In 2016, the park hosted an estimated 9,998,000 visitors, ranking as the sixth most attended theme park in the United States, as well as the ninth most attended theme park worldwide.

8. Walt Disney World – Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom

Score: 57.4

Magic Kingdom is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando. Owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks and Resorts division, the park opened on October 1, 1971, as the first of four theme parks at the resort. Initialized by Walt Disney and designed by WED Enterprises, its layout and attractions are based on Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, and is dedicated to fairy tales and Disney characters.

The park is represented by Cinderella Castle, inspired by the fairy tale castle seen in the 1950 film. In 2016, the park hosted 20.395 million visitors, making it the most visited theme park in the world for the eleventh consecutive year and the most visited theme park in North America for at least the past seventeen years.

9. Walt Disney World – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Walt Disney World - Disney

Score: 57.4

Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS), also referred to as Disney Animation, headquartered at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, is an American animation studio that creates animated feature films, short films, and television specials for The Walt Disney Company. Founded on October 16, 1923, it is a division of The Walt Disney Studios. The studio has produced 56 feature films, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to Moana (2016).

It was founded as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio in 1923 and incorporated as Walt Disney Productions in 1929. The studio was exclusively dedicated to producing short films until it expanded into feature production in 1934. In 1983, Walt Disney Productions named its live-action film studio Walt Disney Pictures. During a corporate restructuring in 1986, Walt Disney Productions was renamed The Walt Disney Company and the animation division, renamed Walt Disney Feature Animation, became a subsidiary of its film division, The Walt Disney Studios. In 2007, Walt Disney Feature Animation took on its current name, Walt Disney Animation Studios after Pixar Animation Studios was acquired by Disney in the same year.

For much of its existence, the studio was recognized as the premier American animation studio; it developed many of the techniques, concepts, and principles that became standard practices of traditional animation. The studio also pioneered the art of storyboarding, which is now a standard technique used in both animated and live-action filmmaking. The studio’s catalog of animated features is among Disney’s most notable assets, with the stars of its animated shorts \xc2\x96 Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto \xc2\x96 becoming recognizable figures in popular culture and mascots for The Walt Disney Company as a whole.

Walt Disney Animation Studios continues to produce films using both traditional animation and computer-generated imagery (CGI). At the present, Andrew Millstein is the general manager of the studio for day-to-day business affairs, under the direction of Edwin Catmull and John Lasseter who also oversee Pixar.

10. SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando

Score: 53.9

SeaWorld Orlando is a theme park and marine zoological park, located in Orlando, Florida. It is owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. When combined with its neighbor Discovery Cove and Aquatica, it forms SeaWorld Parks and Resorts Orlando, an entertainment complex consisting of the three parks and many neighboring hotels. In 2016, SeaWorld Orlando hosted an estimated 4,402,000 guests, ranking it the tenth most visited amusement park in the United States and twenty-fifth worldwide.

Closing Out The Souvenir Shops In Florida

There you have it — a look at some of the best amusement parks and water parks that Florida has to offer. The Park DB constantly updates their data, so we’ll update the data as they update theirs.

Now go out there and have as much fun as humanly possible — your favorite ride is always waiting for you.

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