When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Welcome to the ultimate family destination!
With its many theme parks, water parks and shows, Orlando is sure to dazzle young and old alike.
Just like in Las Vegas, visitors often feel like they have arrived in an unreal, imaginary world...
Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World Resort, the city's biggest attraction, includes among others 4 theme parks and 2 water parks, each of which creates its own universe.
There is so much to do and see that special training sessions are even offered in some countries to ensure that future visitors don't miss out on anything! To make the most of your time and money, it is strongly recommended that you plan your stay before you go by carefully studying the maps of each park and having a good idea of the attractions, character visits and other activities that interest you.
Here is a summary of what to expect:
Magic Kingdom Park is divided into 6 themed "lands":
- Main Street USA: the look and feel of small-town America at the turn of the 20th century.
- Adventureland: welcome to the jungle and the world of Pirates of the Caribbean and Aladdin.
- Frontierland: find yourself in the heart of the Far West between 1790 and 1880.
- Liberty Square: this reproduction of a public square in the days of American independence pays tribute to the 13 American colonies, the Liberty Tree in Boston, and Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania.
- Fantasyland: home of the iconic Cinderella Castle. Step into a fairy tale world and immerse yourself in the magic of Disney.
- Tomorrowland: depicts a fantastical view of the future.
Must-see attractions include Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Big thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Mickey's PhilharMagic (3D movie), Space Mountain and much more.
When it comes to shows, be sure to catch the Festival of Fantasy Parade and Move It! Shake it! Street Party and the famous Happily Ever After fireworks in the evening.
1180 Seven Seas Drive, Orlando (Exit 64 on Interstate 4)
MagicBand, Fastpass+ and the mobile app
For several years now, Walt Disney World Resort has been using a very efficient, secure system that allows you to travel lighter throughout your stay. It is the MagicBand wristband, which you will receive if you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, or the plastic admission card that you receive when you purchase theme park tickets.
Once your MagicBand or card has been linked to your Disney account on My Disney Experience (disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/plan/my-disney-experience), you can use it to enter parks, unlock your hotel room door, check in at Fast Pass+ entrances (see below), charge food and merchandise purchases to your hotel room (with MagicBand only) and even add photos to your account. All family members have their own bracelet or card, which must be easily accessible. If you don't have a MagicBand and would like to get one, you can purchase one online before you go or at certain retail locations once you get there.
The Fast Pass+ service allows you to reserve access to up to 3 Disney experiences per day (character greetings, attractions and entertainment) and avoid long lineups. You will be given a one-hour time window for your three attractions, and each family member need only present his or her MagicBand or card at the FastPass+ entrance.
Once you have completed your 3 experiences, you can make another FastPass+ selection for the same day at an in-park kiosk or on your mobile device using the app.
You can make your FastPass+ selections up to 60 days prior to check-in If you are staying at a Disney Resort hotel, and up to 30 days in advance of your visit if you purchased your tickets online (disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/admission/tickets).
You can reserve your Fast Pass+ experiences online (disneyworld.disney.go.com/en-CA/fastpass-plus), on the mobile app (disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/plan/my-disney-experience/mobile-apps) or at a Fast Pass+ kiosk in the park.
Authentik tip: If you have a mobile phone, download the free app (disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/plan/my-disney-experience/mobile-apps), which you can use to see the wait times for popular attractions and parade and fireworks schedules, locate the different Disney characters, access interactive park maps, make restaurant reservations, and much more!
And be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before the doors open to avoid long lineups.
Epcot Theme Park is divided into two sections:
- Future World, where avant-garde technology meets Disney creativity to create an imaginary world of tomorrow.
- World Showcase, which features 11 pavilions representing different countries such as Canada, France, Norway, Germany, China, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Morocco, Italy, Japan and the U.S.
Must-see attractions include Soarin' Over the World (a unique hang-gliding adventure over famous places around the world), Mission Space (mission to Mars), Test Track (buckle your seatbelt for a fast-paced car ride), The Seas with Nemo and Friends (an adventure to find Nemo) and Frozen Ever After (for fans of Frozen).
In the evening, don't miss the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show.
200 Epcot Center Drive, Orlando (Exit 67 on Interstate 4)
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Lights... Camera... Action!
Hollywood invites you on the red carpet for an unforgettable experience filled with excitement and entertainment with its different sections: Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Animation Courtyard, Commissary Lane, Pixar Place, Grand Avenue and the all-new Toy Story Land, which opened in 2018.
You won't want to miss Toy Story Mania (enter the Toy Story Midway Games play set to battle 3D objects), Slinky Dog Dash (new family roller coaster), Alien Swirling Saucers (take a trip into space on board a toy rocket with the aliens from Toy Story), Lights Motors Action (a stunt show), Indiana Jones (a live stage show about the film), Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (a high-speed roller coaster ride to classic Aerosmith tunes), The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (take an elevator to the 13th floor before plummeting to the ground), Star Tours: The Adventure Continue (make a jump to hyperspace to the world of Star Wars).
In the evening, you can choose between Fantasmic, a show that will take you into Mickey's imagination as he dreams that he is a sorcerer's apprentice, featuring an array of Disney villains, heroes and princesses, or the all-new Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks extravaganza and immersive light show combining the lights, sounds, music and special effects of Star Wars.
351 South Studio Drive, Orlando (Exit 65 on Interstate 4)
Disney's Animal Kingdom, the largest theme park in the world, will transport you to the heart of fascinating animal realms with its different themed areas: Oasis, Discovery Island (with the famous Tree of Life at the centre), Dinoland USA, Asia, Rafiki's Planet Watch (a wildlife conservation station and veterinary centre), Africa, and Pandora: The World of Avatar (based on the hit motion picture).
The park's main attractions include Kilimanjaro Safaris (a realistic safari in the heart of the African savanna), Expedition Everest (ride Disney's highest roller coaster to the top of Everest), Dinosaur (travel back in time in a Time Rover on a perilous prehistoric race to rescue a dinosaur), Avatar Flight of Passage (fly on the back of a mountain banshee over the unique landscapes of Pandora), Na'vi River Journey (navigate deep into Pandora's magnificent magical forest).
2901 Osceola Pkwy, Orlando (Exit 65 on Interstate 4)
If you stay at a Disney Resort hotel during your visit to Orlando, you won't need to pay any parking fees and you will have free access to the many transportation options between the various theme parks, water parks and Disney shops. You will have the choice of travelling by monorail, boat or bus, depending on your place of departure and destination.
If you are not staying at the Disney Resort, you can drive to one of the parks, pay for parking, and can then use the various free transportation services for the rest of the day if you want to change locations. These include:
As the Walt Disney World complex covers a vast area, travel times between the different areas of the resort can be quite long.
And there's more…
Other parks and services at Disney World include:
- Disney's Typhoon Lagoon:
This water park, which opened in 1989, offers a white sand beach, a large wave pool in which you can even take a surf lesson, several types of water slides, a 640-metre-long river that you can float down on an inner tube, and a saltwater lagoon where you can swim with the sharks, rays and tropical fish. Visit disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/destinations/typhoon-lagoon for more 'information.
1145 East Buena Vista Drive, Orlando (Exit 67 on Interstate 4)
- Disney's Blizzard Beach:
The theme of this water park, which first opened in 1995, is that it is a former ski resort that was transformed into a watery wonderland when the snow melted. The park features Mount Gushmore, with one of the world's tallest water slides, a white sand beach, a river you can float down on an inner tube like at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, several water slides, and a fun play area for the little ones. See disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/destinations/blizzard-beach for more details.
1534 Blizzard Beach Drive, Orlando (Exit 65 on Interstate 4)
- Disney Springs:
Formerly known as Downtown Disney, this shopping and entertainment complex offers a mix of shops, restaurants, bars and attractions such as a Star Wars virtual reality game, a flight over Disney Springs in the world’s largest hand-painted helium balloon, and a tour of Lake Buena Vista aboard a vintage amphicar or an Italian water taxi.
1486 Buena Vista Drive, Orlando (Exit 67 on Interstate 4)
Universal Studios Florida
Immerse yourself in the world of cinema at Universal Studios, which opened its doors in 1990 and was designed by none other than the great Steven Spielberg!
Covering an area of 180 hectares, the park is divided into several themed areas. Here are the different sections and their main attractions:
This area is filled with sets worthy of the greatest movie studios. Must-see attractions include:
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, an unforgettable adventure with the famous Minions.
- Shrek 4-D, a multi-sensory Shrek movie.
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, a high-speed roller coaster that lets you choose the music you want to listen to during the ride.
- Transformers The Ride-3D: join the Transformers to save Earth from des mains de Megatron and his Decepticons, who are out to annihilate the human race.
Take a trip back to the classic New York of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction invites you onto the set of the famous Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and a wild race across the city.
The Revenge of the Mummy ride will take you on one of the most unique and thrilling roller coaster experiences at Universal Orlando... if you dare!
After New York, take a trip to the lovely city of San Francisco. Fast & Furious - Supercharged is a don't-miss attraction for Fast & Furious fans. 15 authentic Fast & Furious cars can be seen throughout the queue and even during the ride.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley
Immerse yourself in the fantastic world of Harry Potter and hop aboard the Hogwarts Express, the train that transports Harry to Hogwarts school of witchcraft every year (note that you need a Park-to-Park admission ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express). Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts will take you inside Gringotts Bank and deep into the vaults below, where you will face villains, trolls and other creatures alongside Harry, Hermione and Ron.
World Expo was inspired by the great World's Fairs that took place around the world in the 1960s. Attractions include:
- Fear Factor Live: pit yourself against other competitors in extreme challenges or be part of the audience and encourage the brave volunteers who are selected for the job.
- Men in Black - Alien Attack: this attraction, based on the popular film series, will transport you to New York where, as a new MIB recruit, you must defeat a group of invading aliens.
Springfield: Home of the Simpsons
Yes, you are indeed in the land of the Simpsons! In The Simpsons Ride, grab a seat with the Simpsons on a virtual reality roller coaster in Krusty the Clown's theme park, Krustyland, which is about to be sabotaged.
Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
This area of the park is geared towards children. They will love the Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster, a roller coaster designed especially for them! E.T. Adventure allows guests to board bikes and take off to the Green Planet to help E.T. save his home.
While in the heart of Hollywood, take in the Universal Orlando's Horror Make-up Show, where you will learn how make-up and design is used to produce some of the scariest and realistic horror effects we see in movies and see props and memorabilia from some of the greatest horror films ever produced.
Universal Orlando Resort also has two other theme parks, namely Universal's Islands of Adventure, divided into six adventure-themed zones, and Universal Volcano Bay, a water park.
It is good to know that at Universal Orlando you can purchase a Universal Express Pass in addition to your theme park admission, which lets you skip the regular lines and use a special Express Pass line at most of the main rides and attractions.
Note that, like at Walt Disney World Resort, it is advisable to arrive early (30 minutes before opening) to make the most of your time and money. You can even purchase your tickets online (and take advantage of special offers) at www.universalorlando.com, which will also save you from having to wait in line when you get there.
6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando
Seaworld , Aquatica & Discovery Cove
Seaworld is without a doubt a favorite among marine animal parks! It features theme park attractions, different places to observe animals and a variety of shows featuring killer-whales, sea lions and dolphins.
The park offers many opportunities for animal watching: you can see penguins in the Antarctic Habitat, watch dolphins both above and below the surface of the water at Dolphin Cove as well as mother dolphins and their calves at the Dolphin Nursery, discover the treasures of the sea through the various aquariums of Journey to Atlantis, visit the manatee rehabilitation area, see the Manta Aquarium and touch rays at Stingray Lagoon, get a close look at orcas, visit the sea lions at Pacific Point Preserve, observe rescued pelicans at Pelican Preserve, walk through one of the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnels at Shark Encounter, see sea turtles at Turtle Trek, and get up close to walruses and beluga whales at the Wild Arctic Habitat.
If you have time and opportunity, you can also visit Aquatica , Seaworld's water park, one of the best water parks in Orlando, and Discovery Cove , where you can enjoy a variety of unique experiences like swimming with dolphins or sharks, feeding the rays, and becoming a Trainer for a Day with a behind-the-scenes tour. All these experiences must be booked in advance, but you can also hand-feed exotic birds, swim and snorkel with tropical fish, swim with the otters, and swim and unwind in Serenity Bay.
SeaWorld: 7007 Sea World Drive / 407-545-5550
Aquatica: 5800 Water Play Way / 407-545-5550
Discovery Cove: 6000 Discovery Cove Way / 407-513-4600
Welcome to the world of LEGO! This interactive park has rides, attractions, shows and more, all inspired by LEGO brands and characters. There is also a water park and LEGO-themed hotels. A LEGO-lovers' paradise!
1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven / 1-877-350-5346
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
In Orlando, restaurants are legion and, depending on which parks you visit, there are many choices and categories to choose from. Here are just a few of the favorites with visitors:
Walt Disney World Resort
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater ($$) / Disney's Hollywood Studios
Diner-style restaurant with a 1950s retro kitsch atmosphere, where you sit in a car-shaped booth watching old science fiction movies like in a real drive-in theater! Diners come more for the experience than for the food itself!
San Angel Inn Restaurante ($$) / Epcot
You will almost feel like you are really in a Mexican hacienda, on a beautiful mild evening under the stars, enjoying a typical Mexican meal. A favorite in Epcot!
Be Our Guest Restaurant ($$-$$$) / Magic Kingdom
Sample French-inspired fare in the castle of Beauty and the Beast, nothing less!
Cinderella's Royal Table ($$$-$$$$) / Magic Kingdom
The magic of Disney at its best... Enjoy a meal in Cinderella's castle in the company of different Disney princesses for a one-of-a-kind fairyland experience! Note that reservations may be required several months in advance!
Yak & Yeti Restaurant ($) / Disney's Animal Kingdom
Welcome to Nepal! This beautiful little restaurant in the Asia section of the park serves good pan-Asian cuisine at reasonable prices.
Rainforest Cafe ($$) / Disney's Animal Kingdom or Disney Springs
A detour to the Rainforest Café is a must for families if you've never been there. You will feel like you're in the heart of the jungle and the decor alone is worth the trip, as the food is nothing exceptional.
T-Rex ($$) / Disney Springs
Another family restaurant that is worth the trip for the experience more than the food. Children love the prehistoric setting and the animatronic dinosaurs.
Mythos Restaurant ($$-$$$) / Islands of Adventure
Located in the Jurassic Park section of the park, Mythos transports you to a fantastic setting of rocky caverns and waterfalls. The menu offers a mix of Mediterranean, Asian and American cuisines.
Three Broomsticks ($$-$$$) / Islands of Adventure
A must for Harry Potter fans and the chance to sample the famous Butterbeer!
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. ($$) / Universal's City Walk
This popular restaurant chain, inspired by the film Forrest Gump, serves shrimp and seafood prepared in a variety of ways in addition to fish, meat, sandwiches, soups and salads.
Sharks Underwater Grill ($$-$$$)
This restaurant is worth the detour for its excellent cuisine, calm atmosphere, and its floor-to-ceiling windows offering direct and breathtaking views of the giant shark tank.
Where to sleep ?
- Very Favourable