Orlando, the theme park capital of the world is pretty much the funnest place on earth and I’ve been lucky to have been there quite a few times. What’s great about Orlando is that they are always reinventing the wheel and every year, there are new attractions, roller-coasters, rides and so much more added to its already impressive profile.
When most think of Orlando, they think of the theme parks and all that they offer but truthfully, there is so much outside of these that can really bring fun to you holiday. This is my list of the top 50 things to do in Orlando!
Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando Resort.
I couldn’t start a post on Orlando and not start with my favourite attraction! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a magical dream that will transport you into the world of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts and Diagaon Alley. Packed with rides, butter beer, wands and ahem, muggles, a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a MUST!
2. Ride Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller-coaster – MAKO
MAKO, Orlando’s newest and most daring rollercoaster has just opened and is now high on everyones rollercoaster bucket list! Located in SeaWorld, MAKO is now Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller-coaster! Check out a POV video of MAKO here.
3. See the Fireworks in Magic Kingdom
One of the most magical things you can do in Orlando is experience the magic of a Disney fireworks display. My personal favourite take place in Magic Kingdom and they run daily. Disney also run themed fireworks showed tailored around holidays, special movies like Frozen and more.
4. Go Zip-lining in Kisseemmee
If you’re the adventurous type, why not give zip-lining a go! Kisseemmee offers many opportunities for the adventurous and zip-lining is always a popular favourite.
5. Ride the new and improved Hulk Rollercoaster
The Hulk roller-coaster in Islands of Adventure in Universal Orlando is one of the parks most iconic rides. After a recent closure, the Hulk has reopened and is bigger and badder than ever!
6. Experience an earthquake in Wonderworks
If the weather is a little gloomy, which it can be in Orlando, why not visit the very fascinating and educational Wonderworks located on International Drive. While here, be sure to try the earthquake simulator and also the tornado one!
7. Meet your favourite Disney Characters in WDW
No trip to Walt Disney World is complete without getting a photo with your favourite Disney characters and princesses and throughout each park you will have many opportunities to do so. You can also get their autograph! One thing to note though is you may have to queue for quite some time to get that special moment.
8. Shop till you drop in the Orlando Premium Outlets
Orlando is a very popular spot for shopping, especially to the Irish Market and its home to not one, but two fantastic outlets. The Orlando Premium Outlets International Drive and the Orlando Premium Outlets at Vineland are both must visits for some incredible bargains!
9. Eat more cheesecake than you can handle at the Cheesecake Factory
Who doesn’t love the Cheesecake Factory while in the USA! If you’re a fan and need your fix, you can find one at the Mall of Millenia. My personal favourite cheesecake to get? The raspberry, white chocolate cheesecake – YUMMY!
10. Go on an air boat ride in Wild Florida or the Everglades!
Step outside of the commercial side of Orlando and head to Wild Florida for an exciting, and thrilling airboat ride! Get up close and personal with many of Florida’s residents including alligators! Wild Florida is about a one hours drive from Orlando and its worth every moment. A brilliant experience.
If you are happy to travel a little further, you can also enjoy a similar experience at the Everglades!
11. Visit Kennedy Space Centre
If you want to have a more educational twist to your holiday, a visit to Kennedy Space Centre is a must! Learn all about Space, the Centre’s history and even get up close and personal with Atlantis! Kennedy Space Centre often has rocket launches throughout the year so be sure to keep an eye on their website before you travel for information.
12. Earn a drivers licence in LEGOLAND
LEGOLAND is located just outside of Orlando but its hugely popular for families and is a lot of fun. While there, your little ones can get their own special LEGOLAND driving licence! How nice is that!
13. Collect pins in Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World
Collecting pins is a common occurrence in Orlando and its popular with both children and adults. Each theme park offers a unique collection on pins and on every visit, you can add to your collection. People build their collections over the years and if you want to bring home a keep-sake every year, why not join the pin collecting trend.
14. Get the Zinger chicken in Miller’s Ale House
Miller’s Ale House is one of my favourite restaurants / bars in Orlando and its brilliant location on International Drive makes it accessible to all. Its very reasonable priced and the food is fantastic. While there, be sure to try their famous zinger chicken, its delicious! Miller’s Ale House is located opposite the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando and The Avanti Resort.
15. Catch a concert in Disney Springs
Disney Springs, formally Downtown Disney is a brilliant hub for shopping, dining and even nightlife. One of my favourite things to do in Disney Springs is to catch a concert and the House of Blues is a brilliant venue that has year-round shows. I went to see Olly Murs on my last trip and it was a fantastic night!
16. Catch a gator show in Gatorland
Gatorland is a brilliant park located just outside of Orlando and its home to one fantastic gator show! Get up close and personal with Florida’s most famous residents and even catch one of the carer’s put their head into a gator’s mouth!
17. Rock out on Rip Ride Rocket
Rip Ride Rocket is one of Universal Orlando’s most famous roller-coasters and if you’ve been on it, you’ll know why!! The ride was made even more famous in recent years when Jimmy Fallon brought Kevin Hart for a spin on it. The result? Probably my most favourite Youtube video ever!
18. Turn into a Minion in Universal Orlando
One of the best rides in Universal Studios is the Despicable Me ride and no matter your age, get in line and go experience it! Its a lot of fun and you will come off giggling and oh, you’ll be a minion so yeah, enjoy that!
19. Learn about the Titanic
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is located on International Drive. This dedicated artifact exhibition is really informative and offers guided tours as well as recreated ship displays. If you or your little ones are Titanic fans, its a must visit on a rainy day in Orlando.
20. Stay in a Universal hotel
Many who come to Orlando choose to stay on International Drive because the hotel standards are great and suit a low budget. But if you truly want to bring your trip to the next level, why not stay in a Universal hotel! Staying on-site at Universal will bring many perks including; early park entry, complimentary fast passes and so much more!
21. Take a selfie in Springfield
Who isn’t a fan of The Simpsons!? In Universal Orlando, you can actually stroll through Springfield, have a beer at Moe’s, grab a Krusty burger and so much more! Springfield is a really fun area of the park and while there, be sure to get a selfie! You’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so and you never know, you might even find Homer, Bart and the gang rambling around waiting for a photo opportunity!
22. Ride the new Orlando Eye
One of Orlando’s newest attractions, the Orlando Eye located on International Drive is a fantastic experience that will allow you to take in spectacular views of Central Florida! While up in the sky, why not spot your favourite theme parks, local swamp lands and so much more.
23. Meet your favourite celebrities in Madame Tussauds
Meet your favourite celebrities at Madame Tussauds located on International Drive. This brilliant attraction is always a hit, no matter the city and its an excellent addition to the city of Orlando.
24. Visit Sea Life on International Drive
Enter an under the sea world of adventure at Orlando’s newest Aquarium, Sea Life. Although this is only a new attraction to the Orlando area, its already very popular with families, especially on a rainy day.
25. Swim with dolphins in Discovery Cove
I know some will not agree with Discovery Cove, but aside of personal opinions, it is a very popular thing to do in Orlando and so needs to be listed. Discovery Cove is an all inclusive park and is part of the SeaWorld family. In the park you can snorkel, swim with stingrays, relax in the sunshine or take part in the main attraction – swimming with dolphins. Discovery Cove needs to be pre-booked.
26. Ride the I-Ride Trolley
I love love love the I-Ride Trolley! This is a brilliant shuttle bus that runs up and down International Drive all day every day and its very cheap to ride and easy to use. We never rent a car when we visit Orlando and we rely on the trolley daily. They bring you to the outlets, theme parks, restaurants, hotels and more. Its a fantastic service and one that you should use in Orlando.
27. Take a helicopter ride
For a really incredible view and a really incredible experience, why not take a helicopter ride and take in Orlando from the sky! For a more special experience, book yours for sunset!
28. Rent a car and head to the Gulf Coast
Many don’t realise this but Orlando is not on the coast. It is in fact located in Central Florida but its prime location means there are numerous beaches on hand, and just a short drive away. My personal favourite beach areas are those on the Gulf Coast, so when in Orlando, why not rent a car for a day or two and head for St Pete Beach / Clearwater! You can relax on the amazing beach, check out the Dali Museum or even visit Winter the Dolphin, from A Dolphin’s Tale in the Clearwater Marine Aquarium!
29. Catch a Disney Parade
No one does magic like Disney and no one does parades like Disney! Each day, there will be numerous parades in Walt Disney World so be sure to add some to your itinerary. Disney are also famous for running special holiday themed parades so be sure to catch one of those if visiting around thanksgiving, halloween or Christmas!
30. Go to a Orlando Water Park
Orlando is currently home to four great water parks. In Walt Disney World you will find Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. In the SeaWorld district you will find Aquatica and on International Drive you will find Wet N Wild. Wet N Wild is actually owned by Universal Orlando and they are closing the park for good at the end of 2016. In June 2017, they will be opening their brand new water park Volcano Bay in place of Wet N Wild and this park will be located on-site at Universal, instead of on International Drive. I for one, cannot wait for Volcano Bay!
31. Visit the world’s largest McDonalds
If you’re a McDonald’s fan, be sure to visit the world’s largest McDonald’s which is located on International Drive. The iTrolley that I mentioned above stops nearby and many hotels are located within walking distance as well.
32. Drink a DUFF Beer
Visiting Universal Orlando? Be sure to end into Moe’s Tavern and get yourself a DUFF beer. Yeah you read that right, a real life DUFF beer! 😀
33. Catch a Basketball game
If you’re a sports fan, why not head to a basketball game on your holiday! Basketball games are a lot of fun and Orlando’s team, the Orlando Magic are a lot of fun to go see play.
34. Catch a Universal Parade
I love the parades in Universal because I get to see some of my favourite movie characters up close and personal! Catch the Minions being mischievous and be sure to keep an eye out for the Transformers and Spongebob Square Pants as well!
35. Ride Space Mountain
No trip to Walt Disney World is complete without a go on Space Mountain! This iconic rollercoaster is based indoors and believe me, its incredible! You’ll shoot into space on a scary, epic journey and you just never know what way you’re going to go. This coaster is suitable for kids as well…I mean, I actually went on it so it must be ok lol! 😉
36. Be terrified at Halloween Horror Nights
My actual dream! Halloween Horror Nights is Universal Orlando’s Halloween attraction. Each year they built their attraction around scary movies and tv shows and they basically bring the horrors from them, to real life!! Its an experience that is not for the faint of heart.
37. Be amazed at Cirque Du Soleil
Many don’t know this but there is an opportunity to see a fantastic Cirque Du Soleil show in Orlando! And, if you’re looking for a special evening time activity, why not head to Walt Disney World and take a show in.
38. Ride Ihu Breakaway Falls
One of Orlando’s most iconic waterslides, Ihu Breakaway Falls which is located in Aquatica is a drop slide that will really test your limits! Step into a tall tube and wait patiently for the floor to drop! Yes, you literally fall vertical on this terrifying water slide!
39. Spend a day at the pool
Orlando is a tiring place to visit. Its a destination that requires a lot of energy all the time and believe me, you need some downtime from time to time. Every second or third day, why not spend a day at the pool or if you’re pressed for time, visit the parks in the morning and relax by the pool in the afternoon. Your body will be glad of the rest!
40. Spend a rainy day at the Orlando Science Center
Another fantastic rainy day activity, the Orlando Science Centre is a must on your trip. Focussed on learning from doing, this centre will give your family the opportunity to learn loads about both science and technology.
41. Be amazed at Ripley’s Believe it or Not
Ripley’s Believe it or Not, which is located on International Drive is always a popular attraction with families visiting Orlando. Discover and learn about many odd things in life throughout the attractions 600 exhibits and artifacts.
42. Hot Air Balloon Ride
A special experience, and one often embraced by those on honeymoon in Orlando, taking a hot air balloon ride is a really great way to take in the stunning scenery of Central Florida. Orlando hot air balloon rides go at sunrise and really are a fantastic experience.
43. Catch a Movie
Going to the movies in America is always a fun experience so when in Orlando, why not add a trip to the cinema to your bucket list! Check out a new release, have some popcorn and enjoy the air-con!
44. Visit the Florida Mall
Located near Orlando International Airport, the Florida Mall is one of the best shopping malls I’ve ever visited in the USA! The best way to reach the mall is by car and my advice? Bring plenty of spending money because you will need it!
45. Ride Manta
Manta is another favourite among roller-coaster fanatics and this brilliant coaster is located in SeaWorld. Fancy flying face down at lightening speed? Course you do! 😀 Go ride Manta!
46. Eat a Turkey Leg
Ok so personally, these gross me out but eating turkey legs, like giant turkey legs is an actual thing in the parks of Orlando! If you want to experience the parks like the American’s do, grab a turkey leg and eat on the move!
47. Visit the souvenir shops on I Drive
Confession! I love pound shops, souvenir shops and anywhere I can pick up cute knick knacks at a low cost! The souvenir stores on International Drive are heaven for people like me and they sell everything from keyring to magnets and mugs to sweatshirts! They also offer loads of Disney and Universal themed items for a fraction of the cost of those on offer in the parks, so if you’re on a budget, save your money for the souvenir shops and then let loose! 😀
48. Enjoy a Spa Day
I’m a sucker for a spa day. What can I say, I love to be pampered! If you fancy a day away from the madness of Orlando, book into your hotels spa and enjoy a lovely massage or mani / pedi. You deserve it!
49. Go Kayaking
Orlando is surrounded by hundreds of lakes and so there are hundreds of opportunities to rent a kayak and get active! Be sure to keep those limbs inside of your kayak though, you don’t want an alligator to find you…
50. Have Fun!
And lastly, the best thing to do in Orlando is to have fun! Test your limits at the parks, eat your way around the many incredible restaurants, shop till you drop in the outlets and experience as much as you possibly can in this amazing destination.
For the best deals to Orlando from Ireland, check out Tour America’s Orlando holidays deal page.
Have you been to Orlando? Share your favourite things to do in the comments below!