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Did you know between Florida’s stunning coasts, world-famous theme parks are clustered in its central region? Cities like Tampa, Lake Buena Vista, and Orlando play host to some of the most adventurous places in the Sunshine State.
Set in Tampa Bay, Busch Gardens features some mean roller coasters while offering visitors a chance to travel the world.
Originally a brewery for Tampa Anheuser-Busch, this now African-themed amusement park is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums – and hosts exotic animals and unforgettable events.
Busch Gardens features several themed areas, including Morocco, Congo, Egypt, Nairobi, and Jungala. Each section has its own appropriately themed rides, eateries, shops, and of course, vibe.
And if you’re looking for a party, events throughout the year include Bands, Brew & BBQ, Howl-O-Scream, and Christmas Town.
For thrill seekers, BGT has some of the best coasters on the East Coast. Check out the 90-degree drops of SheiKra in Stanleyville, hang your feet from the Montu in Egypt, and the ultra-fast Cheetah Hunt in Crown Colony Plaza.
If you’re in it for the animals, check out stops like Cheetah Run, Kulu Canopy, Orangutan Outpost, and Tiger Lodge.
Many African native animals on found on the Serengeti Plain, while Australia’s fauna staples are located at Walkabout Way.
From the Tampa area, it’s about 50 miles east to Winter Haven – and the illustrious LEGOLAND. Legoland Florida is equipped with 50 rides, the Legoland Water Park, the Cypress Gardens Botanical Gardens, and plenty of shopping and dining.
As with other parks, Legoland is divided into sections, including Fun Town, Imagination, and Dupo Village. Check out the Dragon Coaster in Lego Kingdoms, the Lego Technic Test Track in Lego Technic, and Coastersaurus in the Land of Adventure.
Legoland also boasts Miniland USA, where you can head to New York City, Washington D.C., and Las Vegas without leaving the Sunshine State.
Kids can also grab their license at the Ford Driving School, build their own Lego car at Built & Test, or even go on the Factory Tour to see how some their favorite toys are made.
And if you need a break, grab a seat in the Wells Fargo Fun Town 4D Theater, or catch the Battle For Brickbeard's Bounty Water Ski Show, and enjoy lunch at Granny's Apple Fries. Just be sure to grab a souvenir at the Lego Studio Store.
From LEGOLAND, get back on I-4 and take it 30 northeast to the most magical place on Earth – Walt Disney World.
Set in Lake Buena Vista near Kissimmee, Disney World is a massive theme park covering nearly 30,000 acres, and featuring rides, attractions, food, shopping, and much more.
WDW is divided into four themed parks: Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Epcot.
This is in addition to two waterparks – Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Disney's Blizzard Beach – plus five golf courses, the Walt Disney World Speedway, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Visitors need see landmarks like Cinderella Castle and Spaceship Earth. WDW also features entertainment districts – packed shops, restaurants, and breweries – like Disney's BoardWalk and Downtown Disney. Disney-doers can also get hitched at Disney's Wedding Pavilion.
Huddle up, movie lovers – your haven is just seven miles northeast back on I-4. Universal Orlando is a film and entertainment-themed park – and is the largest theme park area in Orlando.
Universal Orlando consists of several sections, just like everyone else. Visitors can explore two theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure – plus Wet 'n Wild Orlando, and the Universal CityWalk Orlando entertainment district.
Universal Studios Florida is divided into eight areas: Hollywood, Production Central, New York, San Francisco, Diagon Alley/London, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone, and Springfield for you Simpsons fans.
The Islands of Adventure area consists of seven different islands themed for nerds of all kinds, including Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing, and of course, Jurassic Park.
For shopping, dining, and plenty of fun, set aside some time for Universal CityWalk Orlando. Enjoy lunch at Hard Rock Cafe Orlando or Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, or grab something quick at the BK Whopper Bar.
Visitors can even pick up a new deck at Element Skateboards, hit the karaoke bar at CityWalk's Rising Star, or enjoy a round of Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf. And if there’s time, go blue-yourself at Blue Man Group Sharp Aquos Theatre.
Get on I-4 one last time and head north for six miles to SeaWorld Orlando. A world-famous dry land and marine-themed park, SeaWorld Orlando is a diverse complex consisting of animal education, live entertainment, rides, shopping, and dining.
At first a zoological park, SeaWorld features exhibits throughout the complex. Feed the seals at Pacific Point Preserve, and be sure to stop by Stingray Lagoon, Flamingo Point, and Pelican Preserve. This is all leading up to the big-time exhibits – Dolphin Cove, Shamu Underwater Viewing, and the Shark Encounter.
SWO is also packed with thrilling rides. Get ready to get soaked thanks to Kraken, then dry off on Manta, Sky Tower, and Jazzy Jellies. Families love kid-friendly rides like Swishy Fishies, Turtle Trek, and the Wild Artic experience.
Check the calendar for some seasonal SeaWorld shows. Look forward to some Viva la Musica, Summer Nights, or SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration.
Now this is SeaWorld, so of course live shows are in order. Watch the dog and cats show at Seaport Theatre, catch a concert at Bayside Stadium, and don’t miss flips and dips at Whale & Dolphin Stadium. This of course all leads to the seven million gallon Shamu Stadium – where you’d be wise to grab a seat in the Soak Zone.