The 6 Best Orlando Theme Parks for Adults

September 5, 2018

Of course, there’s one main reason why families and adults alike travel to Orlando: the theme parks. Whether you’re in search of an adrenaline rush or exciting experiences, don’t pass up an opportunity to visit the 6 best Orlando theme parks for adults.

Millions of families travel to Orlando each year for a magical meeting with a certain mouse. While Orlando may have a reputation as a family destination, it’s a top vacation spot for adults, too. Between the nightlife, shows, and endless attractions, grown-ups have a world of fun at their fingertips in Orlando.

Table of Contents:

  1. Walt Disney World Theme Parks
  2. Universal Orlando Resort
  3. SeaWorld
  4. Gatorland
  5. Busch Gardens Tampa
  6. Discovery Cove

Couple on Rock N' Roller Coaster in Disney World - Orlando, FL USA

1. Walt Disney World Theme Parks

What would a list of the best Orlando theme parks for adults be without including the House of Mouse?

A Walt Disney World theme parks ticket gives you everything you could possibly want from a park:

  • Thrill Rides
  • Characters
  • Shows
  • Quick Service Restaurants
  • Sit Down Meals
  • Fireworks Displays
  • Parades

I could go on and on…

With four theme parks to experience, there’s something for every type of traveler—whether you’re a grown-up or a kid!

Magic Kingdom is full of your favorite childhood stories and characters, with nostalgia around every corner. Ride classic Disney rides such as “It’s a Small World,” Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and Peter Pan. And, you can’t miss the out-of-this-world fireworks display each night!

Epcot invites you to experience the cuisine and cultures of countries around the world. Eating and drinking around the world, anyone? Count me in! Don’t forget about the legendary rides like Test Track and Soarin’, too.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrates the worlds of Disney movies, television, music, and theater through immersive rides and experiences. For adults who love thrill rides, this is the Disney theme park for you. Check out the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster! Plus, the park just opened Toy Story Land and Star Wars: A Galaxy’s Edge is set to open in 2019.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom lets guests embark on thrilling safaris and learn more about our animal neighbors through engaging rides and exhibits. Don’t miss your chance to ride the towering roller coaster, Expedition Everest. Plus, the brand-new Pandora area of the park boasts radiant colors and jaw-dropping flora for an unbelievable experience.

Tips for Visiting Disney World

Visiting one of the most popular and best Orlando theme parks for adults can naturally present some challenges. Follow our advice for a magical visit.

Explore Disney Springs
There’s more to Walt Disney World than just the theme parks. Spend a night or two exploring Disney Springs. The area is filled with entertainment, restaurants, shops, and more. Plus, it’s one of the only places at the resort where you’ll find several types of bars.

Check Out the BoardWalk
For more after-hours fun, head to Disney’s BoardWalk where you’ll find bars such as AbracadaBar, Big River Grille & Brewing Works, and the ESPN Club. This area of the resort is also one of the best places to watch the fireworks shows!

Celebrating Something?
Are you going to Disney World for your honeymoon? Birthday? Anniversary? No matter the occasion, let a Disney cast member know! You can thank me later for the swag and surprises you’ll receive.

Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
Everyone knows how much work goes into planning the perfect trip to Disney. To help you get started, we’ve created an easy guide for organizing your dream Disney World vacation.

Pack Appropriately
Planning for your Disney trip includes packing properly. Use our handy Disney World Packing List to make sure you don’t forget anything.

2. Universal Orlando Resort

From the Walking Dead to Spiderman, Jurassic Park to Dr. Seuss, all your favorite TV and movie characters come to life at Universal Orlando Resort. You’ll go beyond the screens while riding epic coasters, watching mind-blowing shows, and interacting with iconic characters throughout the park. With two theme parks and CityWalk, the park’s 30-acre entertainment complex, you’re in for quite the adventure!

As one of the best Orlando theme parks for adults, Universal Orlando Resort does not disappoint. Thrill ride enthusiasts go crazy over roller coasters and rides such as:

  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon™

And, of course, Harry Potter fans will enter the wizarding world through Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley. If you’re a self-proclaimed Potterhead, you have to check out the top 10 must-sees at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hint: a hippogriff is involved!

Advice for Visiting Universal Orlando Resort

As with any theme park, a bit of up-front advice will come in handy when organizing your trip.

Decide Which Ticket Type You Need
Those searching for the best Orlando theme parks for adults commonly think Universal Orlando Resort is a single park. In fact, it is two different theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

To access both parks in a single day, you’ll need to purchase a Park to Park ticket. Otherwise, you will be limited to one park per day. Additionally, if you wish to ride the Hogwarts Express to the different Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter, you will need the Park to Park ticket, as well.

Also, understanding the new ticket pricing tiers will be useful when trying to find Universal Orlando discounts.

Take Time to Explore CityWalk
If you’re visiting Universal Orlando Resort with adults, find time to explore CityWalk. This world-class entertainment complex houses shows such as the Blue Man Group and bars including Pat O’Brien’s. Plus, throughout the night, the complex hosts live music sets with DJs, dance parties, and more.

Unreal Scares
Universal Orlando Resort is also home to the infamous Halloween Horror Nights event each fall. For a thrill that’s sure to make you scream, you’ll need to purchase an additional event ticket.

SeaWorld Manta Roller Coaster

3. SeaWorld

SeaWorld Orlando combines real and amazing through educational exhibits and shows, as well as exhilarating rides. In addition to the rides, guests can embark on exclusive guided tours, animal encounters, and aquarium explorations.

Plus, on top of all the fun you’ll have, you’ll also discover more about SeaWorld’s rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation efforts. Pay attention to the exhibits and signs throughout the park detailing their mission and work. To learn more about the park’s conservation efforts, check out these intriguing SeaWorld facts.

If you’re wondering which of the best Orlando theme parks for adults has the top thrill rides, you wouldn’t expect SeaWorld to be a contender. But, think again! Those who are into roller coasters and extreme thrills love SeaWorld rides such as:

  • Mako
  • Manta
  • Kraken Unleashed
  • Infinity Falls
  • Journey to Atlantis
  • Wild Arctic

SeaWorld: Know Before You Go

Before you visit SeaWorld, keep our tips in mind:

Go to the Rides First
As with any Orlando theme park, the lines at SeaWorld rides can be astronomical. Rather than visiting your favorite marine animal right when you enter the park, hop in line for a ride instead. This allows you to ride all the attractions and take advantage of the shortest wait times.

Don’t Skip the Animal Experiences
SeaWorld’s mission is to educate visitors about marine life and how we can help to conserve it for future generations. Take time out of your day to visit the various animals throughout the park and hear from the marine biologists and animal husbandry professionals, too.

Take in a Show
The shows at SeaWorld are fantastic! On top of being educational, these shows are designed to wow audiences with state-of-the-art effects, captivating aquatic knowledge, and more. Be sure to arrive at least 20 minutes early for a good seat. And, if you sit in the splash zone, you know what you’re in for!

Man Posing with an Alligator at Gatorland - Orlando, Florida, USA

4. Gatorland

Did you know one of the best Orlando theme parks for adults is themed around Florida alligators? Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve which lets guests see thousands of alligators and crocodiles. Also, guests can check out the free-flight aviary, a petting zoo, a zipline ride, rookie gator wrestling, and more.

Be sure to check out the live gator shows while visiting Gatorland. Visitors often express the shows were the highlight of their day!

Expert Tips for Visiting Gatorland

For a safe and enjoyable trip to Gatorland, follow these expert tips:

Wear Proper Attire
If you wish to go ziplining (which you should), you must wear proper clothing. Pants or shorts and closed-toed shoes are required for participation. If you have long hair, bring a hair tie to pull it back and out of your eyes.

Don’t Pay for Parking
Bringing a few extra bucks for parking? No need! The on-site parking is free for guests.

Buy Tickets in Advance
As with any of the best Orlando theme parks for adults, the ticket lines at Gatorland can be long. Save your time and sanity by buying discount Gatorland tickets online instead.

5. Busch Gardens Tampa

Just a short drive from Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa is home to more than 12,000 animals, making it one of the largest zoos in North America. On top of endless animal experiences, the theme park also offers insane thrill rides including Cobra’s Curse, Montu, Sheikra, and Kumba. Add to your day with a behind-the-scenes tour, exclusive animal encounters, and top-notch shows throughout the park.

Adults also love Busch Gardens Tampa’s Brew Club. Membership to the Brew Club includes craft brews, light snacks, a personal 20 oz. stein, discounted refills, and more, all year long. With this perk, it’s not hard to see why Busch Gardens is among the best Orlando theme parks for adults.

Advice for Visiting Busch Gardens Tampa

A few helpful Busch Gardens tips will turn your trip from good to great:

Choose a Theme for Your Day
Between the animals and the rides, there’s so much to do at the park. While you’d ideally find time for both elements during your visit, deciding to focus on either the rides or the animals will help you prioritize which attractions to experience.

Visit the Animals in the Morning
For those who do not enjoy thrill rides, visiting the animals first thing in the morning is key. The animals are typically out and about during the early hours while the Florida heat is still relatively manageable.

Use the SkyRide
Whether you need a break from thrill rides or need to travel between the Egypt and Congo sections of the park, the SkyRide will come in handy. Plus, this cable-car style ride offers gorgeous panoramic views of the park.

6. Discovery Cove

While not a traditional theme park, adults love all that Discovery Cove has to offer. This immersive aquatic park lets you snorkel with tropical fish, come face-to-face with a dolphin, kick back and relax in paradise and more.

Even better, almost everything at Discovery Cove is included with admission. You don’t need to worry about purchasing food, packing snorkel equipment, or even bringing sunscreen. It’s all there waiting for you!

Some of the top interactive Discovery Cove experiences include:

  • SeaVenture
  • Hand-Feeding Exotic Birds
  • Snorkeling with Tropical Fish and Manta Rays
  • Dolphin Swim

Plus, you can upgrade your day by purchasing a drink package. An aquatic oasis, drinks, and ample sunshine? Sign me up!

Discovery Cove: Know Before You Go

Like the rest of the best Orlando theme parks for adults, knowing these Discovery Cove tips ahead of time will ensure you have a memorable trip.

Seriously, It’s All Included
Don’t worry about packing a huge bag for your Discovery Cove trip. Everything is included in your reservation price, including:

  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Towels
  • Beach Chair
  • Wetsuit
  • Life Jackets
  • Sunscreen
  • Food and Beverages
  • Lockers
  • Parking
  • Shower Amenities
  • Souvenir Snorkel
  • Prescription Masks
  • Access to the Explorer’s Aviary, The Grand Reef®, Freshwater Oasis®, Serenity Bay, and Wind-away River
  • Unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 14 consecutive days around your reservation.

Know What Not to Bring
The following items are prohibited from entering Discovery Cove:

  • Jewelry
  • Outside Food and Beverages
  • Diving, Swimming, or Flotation Equipment
  • Personal Sunscreen

These rules are in place for the safety of guests and marine life. Leave these items back at the hotel or in your car.

Visit the Conservation Cabana
Throughout the day, the Conservation Cabana has a variety of animal encounters. You might get to meet an exotic bird, a furry mammal, or another type of marine creature!

Plan Your Trip to the Best Orlando Theme Parks for Adults

Bonus Tip!

Everyone knows Orlando theme parks are expensive. Save money by bundling your Orlando theme park tickets with your choice of hotel with Tripster. No matter if you choose to stay at a Disney resort or budget hotel in Orlando, you’re guaranteed extra savings just by bundling!

Which Orlando theme park is your favorite? Share your thoughts with us below.

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