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Exploring Outstanding Theme Parks in Central Florida

Exploring Outstanding Theme Parks in Central Florida

Home to the “Theme Park Capital of the World,” Central Florida has no shortage of opportunities for student groups. High flying thrills combined with unique educational programs shoot these parks to the top of our list for student travel

It’s no secret that Central Florida loves their theme parks. While the most famous and well known among them is Walt Disney World, you may be surprised to learn just how many parks exist in this relatively small region. And with their location in a beautiful subtropical climate, a trip to the parks is possible at nearly any time of year. What’s even better? Each of these unique theme parks offers special programs for student groups to take learning to the next level as part of a field trip or school holiday.

Check out this spectacular collection of Central Florida theme parks that are perfect for integrating high-flying thrills with crucial subjects like STEM and biology.

Travel to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida

By far the most world-renowned of the Central Florida theme parks, this park is divided into four separate parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Each has its own unique attractions, shows and dining options that can help guide your itinerary. Magic Kingdom is known for its iconic castle, parades and classic rides like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Epcot is split into two areas: Future World and World Showcase. Each features pavilions representing different countries around the world. Hollywood Studios is home to attractions based on popular movies and TV shows, like Star Wars and Toy Story. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a wildlife-themed park with a focus on conservation and environmental education.

Special pricing is available for student groups of 10 or more. Be sure to check out Disney’s Imagination Campus for a unique learning environment that helps prepare students for real-world challenges in the areas of performing arts, humanities, STEM and leadership.

The Manta rollercoaster at SeaWorld Orlando.
The Manta rollercoaster at SeaWorld Orlando.

Students and SeaWorld Orlando

This marine-themed park is sure to wow animal lovers as students can get up close and personal with dolphins, sharks, sea lions and other marine animals through a mix of live shows and attractions. Though there’s no shortage of thrills in this park, either. SeaWorld is home to some of Central Florida’s biggest rides, including Manta – with its 200-foot drop and speeds of up to 73 miles per hour. And then there’s Kraken, the only floorless coaster in Orlando, which also features seven inversions.

SeaWorld is also home to Aquatica: the #1 Water Park in America as named by USA Today. Keeping with the marine theme, students can take the “Reef Plunge” – a new water slide experience where students will zoom past an underwater habitat full of dolphins, sharks and fish. There’s also an incredible array of thrilling aquatic rides like “Riptide Race” and “Ihu’s Breakaway Falls,” as well as more relaxing attractions like a lazy river and kid’s pool.

Another sister park within SeaWorld is the popular Discover Cove, where students can swim with dolphins (an experience they won’t soon forget), snorkel with fish and get up close with animals of all shapes and sizes. 

Special pricing is available for student groups of 15 or more. For Florida groups, check out the Instructional Field Trip Experience, where students will experience an unforgettable day of hands-on activities throughout the park.

Experience The Universal Orlando Theme Park

Another favorite among the Central Florida theme parks is Universal Orlando, which is comprised of three parks. Students will love the movie-themed attractions based around Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Marvel and many more. While Universal Orlando is known to house some of the more thrilling rides in Florida, it truly has something for everyone, from the leisurely to the extreme.

In the “Islands of Adventure” park you’ll find fan favorites like Velocicoaster and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, while in “Universal Studios” you can explore a recreation of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter or ride the zippy Rip Ride Rockit. And Volcano Bay water park with its popular Krakatau Aqua Coaster, is a great place to cool off from the Central Florida heat.

Universal Orlando has a host of special educational programs for student groups, including the “Storytelling: It Starts With a Hero” program, in which students learn the main components of character development, backstory, plot and much more. Or check out “Your Classroom in Motion”, in which students will use critical thinking and apply in-classroom principles to understand the goings-on of the park. Apply physics to Rip Ride Rockit or engineering to Transformers: The Ride for a whole new way to experience the park.

The Safari in Legoland Florida Resort
The Safari in Legoland Florida Resort

LEGOLAND® Florida Resort in Cypress Gardens, Florida

Based around the timeless toy that we all know and love, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is a 150-acre paradise perfect for the elementary school crowd. Inside the park you’ll find nearly 50 building-themed rides and attractions spread across a variety of themed areas like Pirates’ Cove or MINILAND USA, where students can walk among iconic landmarks from across the U.S., all made entirely out of LEGOs. Hop aboard “Flying School,” a suspended coasted with great views over the park or cool down aboard the AQUAZONE® Wave Racers for a fun and competitive adventure. And for a splashing good time be sure to head to the on-site water park, included in the price of admission.

Special pricing is available for student groups of 15 or more. Special shows are available throughout the park such as “Time to Learn,” where teachers guide students in fun activities centered around science, reading and writing (and LEGOs, of course).

The Kumba Coaster at Busch Gardens
The Kumba Coaster at Busch Gardens

Students Traveling to Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida 

About 90 minutes from Orlando on Central Florida’s gulf coast you’ll find one of the country’s most celebrated parks: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This animal-themed amusement park has it all from shows and live entertainment to some of the most exciting coasters and rides around.

Thrill-seeking students will be excited to jump on Montu, an inverted coaster with a zero-G roll, Iron Gwazi with its 206-foot drop, and SheiKra, a floorless dive coaster. Animal lovers won’t want to miss seeing some of Africa’s most exotic animals up close on the Serengeti Express. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities for animal encounters throughout the park along with live shows for all ages. Students can even go behind the scenes with the park’s “Keeper for a Day” tours to learn more about preservation efforts.

Special pricing is available for student groups of 15 or more. Be sure to check out Physics Day, taking place annually in April and December. On this fun-filled day there are special stations set up around the park for students, a guide provided to teachers and accelerometers are even mounted on select rides. Coming in 2024, Biology Day will bring biology concepts to life with the help of the park’s incredible wildlife experts.

By Courtney Lind

Top photo: Turtle Trek habitat at SeaWorld Orlando

There are still so many fun and exciting options for student travel. Whether looking for theme parks, museums, or anything in between, Student Travel Planning Guide has plenty of travel ideas for students and educators. Be sure to Subscribe for FREE and get even more travel information and ideas.