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Amusement Parks In Florida: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

Walt Disney World

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 08/03/11 04:33 PM ET Updated: 10/03/11 06:12 AM ET

Amusement parks in Florida are a key component of the state's thriving tourism industry. In fact, Orlando alone has so many parks that the city has become synonymous with the amusement park business. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on family-fun parks, here is our guide to all the key information visitors need to know about Florida amusement parks.


Walt Disney World


Walt Disney World is the granddaddy of all amusement parks. When Walt Disney first began building his "Magic Kingdom" on Orlando swampland, little did he know what the city would become. Today, Walt Disney World includes four separate parks: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios.


Iconic Disney

Perhaps the most iconic ride in the Magic Kingdom is the Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction. Adults and children ride as Dumbo flies up and down around a central axis. And, no visit would be complete today without hitting the Pirates of the Caribbean. Follow the adventures of Jack Sparrow as you ride through a raging sea, pillage a town and get caught in a pirate battle. Perfect for younger visitors is a requisite trip through It's a Small World, the happiest cruise that ever sailed.


Around the "World"

Epcot Center offers pavilions from all over the world that highlight different countries and cultures. Disney's Hollywood Studios offers guests a chance to scream as they fall in the Tower of Terror or play on sets from movies such as "Honey I Shrunk the Kids," "Toy Story" and "The Little Mermaid." Animal Kingdom gives visitors an up-close and personal view of the world of animals: See fossilized skeletons, watch lions as they bask in the Florida sun, and shrink to the size of a bug. Adrenaline junkies should try the Kali River Rapids or Expedition Everest.


Global Cuisine

Walt Disney World offers cuisines from all around the world, and Disney chefs pride themselves on offering food for every occasion and dietary need.


Safety Record

There have been a variety of well-documented accidents at Walt Disney World. According to "Theme Park Insider" and the "Orlando Sentinel", cast members have died and visitors have been injured during shows, parades and even while waiting in lines. In May of 2011, a woman was found unconscious at the end of the Space Mountain ride. Preliminary investigation indicated that the woman had a health condition that was exacerbated by the ride.


Address: 2187 Bear Island Road, Orlando, FL 32830
Phone: 407-WDW-STAY (407-939-7829)
Hours: Hours vary depending on the park and the holiday. Check with guest relations for the hours on specific days.
Price: Tickets for a single park are $85 for guests over 10, and $79 for children under 10. A park hopper ticket that gives you access to all four parks is $129 for adults and $114 for children.


Universal Orlando


Like Walt Disney World, the Universal Orlando resort is split into multiple theme parks, including Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure. As the name implies, most of the rides and attractions are based on popular movies.


Islands Of Adventure

In the Islands of Adventure area, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter includes the Dragon's Tail, an exciting, high-speed roller coaster, as well as the Flight of the Hippogriff, which is a more family-friendly coaster. If you're not in the mood for a roller coaster, wander through Hogsmeade and revisit favorite characters and scenes from the books and movies.


Family Fun

Rides such as E.T. Adventure and Men in Black Alien Attack are designed with the whole family in mind. If you're looking for a more thrill-packed experience, try Doctor Doom's Fearfall or the Incredible Hulk Coaster.


Dining Options

More than 50 restaurants offer everything from fast food to fine dining. The Universal Park system offers a meal ticket that allows visitors to eat at specific restaurants for one up-front charge.


Safety Record

The the "Orlando Sentinel" reported that in 2001 a woman suffered a stroke after riding the Back to the Future Ride. According to "Theme Park Insider", a park employee was struck during a test run of a roller coaster.


Address: 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: 407-363-8000
Hours: Hours vary depending on the park and the holiday. Check with guest relations for the hours on specific days.
Price: A single-day ticket to both parks is $112 for adults 11 and over and $104 for children. For a single park, adult tickets are $82 and children's tickets are $74.


Other Noteworthy Parks Near Florida

Sea World Orlando
Busch Gardens Tampa
Legoland Florida
Silver Springs
Weeki Wachee Springs


What's your favorite amusement park in Florida?

Check out more AMUSEMENT PARKS.

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