Being home to the Magic Kingdom®, SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Studios™, and plenty of other theme parks, there are tons of things to explore in Orlando, especially for first-time visitors. But while the city is known as the Theme Park Capital of the World, the destination has plenty more to offer, from museums and stage shows to the natural beauty of the Everglades. If you’re travelling to Orlando for the first time, these are the things you simply can’t miss.

    Of course, no trip to Orlando is complete without stepping inside the extraordinary realm of the Walt Disney World® Resort. With a pass for the 4 main parks that make up the resort, you have the freedom to move between these worlds however you choose. 

    Experience the timeless enchantment of fantasy and adventure at the Magic Kingdom® or discover the magnificent showcase of nations inside Epcot®. At Hollywood Studios®, you can see the magic of the movies come to life, then explore the wild side with exotic encounters at Animal Kingdom®. If you choose, your pass can also come complete with admission to other exciting attractions such as Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park or the Oak Trail Golf Course.

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    Turn yourself into the star of your very own story at Universal Studios Florida™ and Islands of Adventure™. Inside these movie and TV-based theme parks, go beyond the screen as you face a fire-breathing dragon, fly high above the city streets with your favourite superheroes, and explore a secret school of witchcraft and wizardry. With multi-day passes, you also have the chance to enjoy other activities and attractions like the live entertainment venues of Universal CityWalk™ and the wild waterslides at Volcano Bay™. 

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    Connect to the ocean like never before at SeaWorld® Orlando, the city’s premier aquatic theme park. With 1-day admission, share an epic voyage with sea turtles at Turtle Trek®, fly like a giant ray on the Manta® roller coaster, or get close to sharks in the underwater tunnel. You even have the chance to see animals that are not native to the southeast United States. Listen to the roaring sound of California sea lions as they bask in the sun or experience the icy world of Antarctica through the eyes of a penguin. And of course, no visit to SeaWorld is complete without getting to know the killer whales. With the One Ocean whale show, journey into the world of these majestic creatures while learning more about their incredible rescue.

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    Location: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821, USA

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +1 407-545-5550


    Immerse yourself in the playful and imaginative world of Lego with 1- or 2-day admission to Legoland Florida. Dedicated to entertaining families with children between the ages of 2 and 12, this interactive amusement park features more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions all geared toward the Lego builder within you. 

    Wander the park’s 11 themed areas to see pirates perform water acrobatics, take a ride on a roller coaster through a land of dinosaurs, and put your building skills to the test as you create cutting-edge, computerised robots. If you choose to purchase a combination ticket, you’ll also get access to the Legoland Water Park. Here, fun can be had by the whole family in play areas, on waterslides, and in wave pools.

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    Location: 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 888-690-5346

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    Discover the natural flora and fauna of the Florida marshland with admission into the 110-acre Gatorland. Nicknamed the Alligator Capital of the World, the park features everything from Florida panthers to diamondback rattlesnakes to, of course, more than 2,000 American alligators. 

    Within the park, guests can interact with the animals, watch a live gator wrestling show, or board an off-road vehicle for a rugged ride through the park. Take your visit up a notch by adding the Trainer-for-a-Day experience or the action-packed Screamin’ Gator Zipline. For those in search of spooky thrills, you can even visit after dark when the glowing eyes of the gators peek out above the murky waters of the swamp.

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    Location: 14501 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 407-855-5496


    photo by Bob Linsdell (CC BY 3.0) modified


    I-Ride Trolley Unlimited Hop-On Hop-Off Pass

    Enjoy convenient transportation between Orlando’s top attractions with the I-Ride Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley. With 2 lines and more than 100 stops along International Drive and Universal Boulevard, you can travel to sites like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, Magical Midway, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, the Orlando Eye, and many more. The trolley is also a great way to get to restaurants and shopping including the Orlando Premium Outlets, where you can find nearly 200 brand-name shops and eateries in a beautiful open-air mall.


    Orlando Explorer Pass

    Experience even more of the city when you pair the I-Ride Trolley with the Orlando Explorer Pass. With your choice of admission to 4 of 15 attractions, you can explore artefacts at the Titanic exhibition, enjoy a round of golf at the adventure-themed Congo River, or snap selfies with your favourite celebrities at Madame Tussauds. 

    The pass also grants deals for retailers, restaurants, and activities. Take advantage of discounts at Macy’s, the Florida Mall, and the Bayside Marketplace, plus dollar-off drinks and deals for the Butler Boat Rental and the Florida Aquarium dolphin cruise.


    Kennedy Space Center

    Learn all about the magic of space travel at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Following convenient pickup from your Orlando hotel, you’re given access to this state-of-the-art visitor centre featuring an array of exhibits highlighting the incredible achievements of NASA. Walk in the footsteps of America’s legendary space pioneers as you touch a piece of moon rock, get an up-close look at the Space Shuttle Atlantis, and walk under the huge Saturn V, the most powerful launch vehicle ever put into operation. 

    If you really want to know what it’s like to be an astronaut, experience the feeling of lift-off on the Shuttle Launch Experience. You can even check the Kennedy Space Center calendar to schedule your visit during a rocket launch and watch a shuttle roar to life in front of your very eyes.

    Location: Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 855-433-4210


    Guided Airboat Adventure on Lake Tohopekaliga

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    Go flying across the waters of Lake Tohopekaliga on a nature-spotting adventure aboard an airboat. With a knowledgeable captain behind the wheel, feel the spray of the mist as the fan-powered boat roars to life and blasts you across the water at high speeds. The lake offers plenty of opportunities to spot Floridan wildlife like toothy alligators, diving pelicans, nesting turtles, and endangered snail kites. As you cruise over the water, your guide shares fascinating facts about the region and its diverse ecosystems. Before ending your tour, snap a photo with one of the resident gators for a one-of-a-kind souvenir. Read more...


    Get ready to have your mind blown by the Blue Man Group, a trio of bald – you guessed it – blue men who’ll take viewers on a spectacular journey through music, comedy, and special effects to create one mind-blowing experience. For over 30 years, the Blue Man Group has been bringing their unique brand of performance art to stages across the globe. With tickets to see the show at the Universal Orlando Resort, you’ll be joining the millions of people around the world who have discovered what this weird, wacky, and wonderful group is all about.

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    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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