It’s no secret that Orlando is home to some of the most incredible attractions in the world with the likes of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens. However, many believe that the famous city in Florida state is only suitable for younger children.
Luckily, that isn’t the case. In fact, there’s plenty for tweens, teens and young adults to do in Orlando which make it the perfect vacation for the whole family.
While we have included a couple of things to do from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, we’ve also included some of the more hidden gems that the city of Orlando has to offer.
Table of Contents
- 1. Icon Park
- 2. Busch Gardens
- 3. Indoor Go-Karting
- 4. Go Wakeboarding & Paddleboarding
- 5. Go Skydiving… Indoors!
- 6. Visit Gatorland
- 7. Check Out The Malls!
- 8. Drink, Dine & Shop At Disney Springs
- 9. Head To The Rooftop Driving Range
- 10. Visit Pandora
- 11. Explore Epcot’s World Showcase
- 12. Step Inside The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
1. Icon Park
Icon Park is an 18-acre complex located four miles south of Universal Studios and eight miles north of Walt Disney World, just off the I4. In fact, even if you’ve never previously been to Icon Park you’ve likely seen the signature Icon Wheel when driving down the I4.
The 18-acre complex has a variety of different attractions including; a gaming arcade, a number of nightclubs, a skeleton museum, Madame Tussauds and an aquarium.
Entry into Icon Park is free, as is on-site parking. When here you’ll be able to dine in one of the various restaurants or shop in one of the five stores completely free. The attractions such as entry into the museum come at an additional cost.
For example tickets, for the Icon Park Ferris wheel retail $29.99 per person although there are often discounts online. I’ve previously found discounts of up to 50% on Groupon too.
There are various different ticket packages available so I suggest checking out the Icon Park website prior to purchasing to see which one might be right for you. Different ticket packages provide different benefits including entry to different museums, skip-the-queue offers and more.
2. Busch Gardens
Just a one-hour drive from central Orlando, you’ll find Busch Gardens. This theme park is one that’s often overlooked by Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, however, it’s one you should consider visiting especially if you’re visiting with teenagers.
Busch Gardens opened in 1959 and is an animal-based theme park in which you’ll be able to see over 200 different species of wildlife including Rhinos, Cheetas, Lions, Tigers and more.
Over the past decade, the theme park has received a large investment into its rollercoasters as a result it’s now home to the tallest drop ride in North America – Falcon’s Fury. This ride opened in 2014 at an estimated cost of $6 million and has a 335 free-fall drop.
Alongside this epic thrill ride, Busch Gardens has loads of other great activities for the rest of the family too including a wildlife Safari, live shows and family-friendly rides.
3. Indoor Go-Karting
Come rain or shine, indoor go-karting is one of the most awesome things to do in Orlando with teens. Better still, the popularity of indoor go-karting means there are multiple tracks across the city of Orlando.
My personal favourite is the Andretti Indoor Karting arena which is located on Universal Boulevard, just next to International Drive. The karts here are electrically powered via solar panels which are situated on the roof of the arena.
There are multiple different karts and tracks at Andretti Indoor Karting arena which allows for the Go Karting to be suitable for adults and younger kids as well as teenagers!
Alongside indoor go-karting, the complex also has bowling, arcade games and a laser tag arena.
4. Go Wakeboarding & Paddleboarding
Head to the Orlando Watersports Complex to experience wakeboarding, paddleboarding and other incredible watersports.
Situated just a 20-minute drive from Walt Disney World or Universal Studios next to the 528 Orlando Watersports Complex opened back in 2011 and continues to be a hit not just with tourists but with Orlando locals too.
For those not looking to head out onto the water you’ll find the Dockside Grill. Situated alongside the water it’s the perfect viewing platform to watch those on the water while relaxing, drinking and dining.
We recommend checking out the Orlando Watersports Complex website and booking online in advance to avoid any disappointment.
5. Go Skydiving… Indoors!
Traditional skydiving is risky, dangerous and expensive. However, you can experience all the thrills of skydiving without stepping off the edge of a plane thanks to Orlando’s indoor skydiving arena.
Much like the indoor go-karting experiences, this attraction has become so popular with locals and tourists alike that you can go indoor skydiving in multiple locations across Orlando.
You can sometimes find these attractions on offer on Groupon. However, if not check out iFly. They are the most popular indoor skydiving company and have an Orlando indoor skydiving arena offering two flights for as little as $64.99 per person.
6. Visit Gatorland
Gatorland is an incredible 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve located along the South Orange Bloom Trail in the south of Orlando. The park was founded back in 1949 by Owen Godwin on former cattle land and is still owned and operated by the Godwin family.
Gatorland allows you to get up close and personal with a wide variety of wildlife including; alligators, crocodiles, snakes, turtles, birds and wild cats.
For those looking for a unique and high-thrill experience check out the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. Standing over seven stories tall, and featuring multiple launch-pads with more than 1,200 feet worth of zip line those who dare will fly over some of the parks major attractions and animals at speeds of up to 30MPH.
7. Check Out The Malls!
Orlando is a mecca for those who love to shop. Whether it’s high-end luxury boutiques or mainstream stores, there’s something for everyone in one of the many malls in and around the city.
Our personal favourite shopping locations in Orlando include; The Mall of Millenia, Orlando Vineland Outlets and Orlando International Premium Outlets.
We particularly love visiting the outlets as we’re able to get clothing, beauty items, souvenirs and gifts at a significant discount when compared to retail prices.
Just be sure that if you are travelling to the US from abroad like we do that you only bring back what’s within your limits according to the rules for your specific country. More about this for UK residents is available on the gov website.
8. Drink, Dine & Shop At Disney Springs
Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney) is a fantastic area within the Walt Disney World, Resort.
The fusion of dining, shopping and entertainment makes Disney Springs a fantastic place to visit with teenagers when in Orlando. Better still you don’t need a ticket to Walt Disney World to enter Disney Springs. It’s completely free!
We have an entire article dedicated to things to do at Disney Springs that will no doubt fill you with ideas of what you can do on your visit.
9. Head To The Rooftop Driving Range
TopGolf is an incredible rooftop driving range in Orlando, that’s perfect for teens and families alike who are looking to practice golf.
This 65,000ft complex includes an incredible lounge area that serves food and drink as well as over 100 state-of-the-art driving bays. Each with personalised HDTV, audio and climate controls.
The technology at TopGolf is so advanced that you can even play with specially manufactured balls that have a microchip inside.
These are designed to help you play games with other members you might be visiting the range with or simply record, practice and improve upon your own stats.
10. Visit Pandora
The 2009 film Avatar broke multiple box office records upon it’s release. A decade later a dedicated area within Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom has been opened to imerse you in the world of Pandora.
Unlike many other Disney films, Avatar has an older target audience. As such the rides and the atmosphere here is different when compared to elsewhere within Walt Disney World Resort. This area has two of the most modern, high-tech rides in all of the resort; The Navi River Journey and most notably, Avatar Flight of Passage.
If you’re planning on visiting Animal Kingdom for the day then definitely check out the world of Pandora, and reserve your fast passes for the rides here as far in advance as possible.
11. Explore Epcot’s World Showcase
Another fantastic Walt Disney World park that’s great for teens is Epcot. Much like Animal Kingdom you’ll need a ticket for the park in order to enter and these can be expensive when compared to other attractions on this list.
However, if you have the budget available then Epcot is well worth visiting during a trip to Orlando. Families with teenagers fall in love with the park due to the mix of both fun and educational experiences.
One of our favourite areas in Epcot is the Japan Pavilion which has a large store selling Japanese merchandise, food and drink alongside a number of Japanese restaurants. Although you want to visit one of these restaurants it might be worth booking in advance as they are both small and incredibly popular.
12. Step Inside The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
Universal Studios Resort in Orlando is home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which is spread across both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
As the Harry Potter films appeal more to tweens, teens and adults the rides and experiences in this area of the Universal parks are different. For example the rides are thrill rides and as such have a higher height limit when compared to others in the park.
Meanwhile, Butterbeer is available in both soft drink and alcoholic form, again appealing to that older audience.
If you have the budget available definitely purchase a park-to-park ticket. Not only does this allow you to experience both Diagon Alley and Hogsmede but it also allows you to ride on the Hogwarts Express.