The Best International Drive Parks

Looking for the Best International Drive Parks?

International Drive, also called I-Drive, is a 10-mile stretch of road parallel to the Universal Boulevard brimming with theme parks, luxury hotels, restaurants, premium outlets, strip malls, and a wide range of attractions. However, it wasn’t always the captivating street that it is known for being today. The conception of the International Drive came after Disney announced that it was going to build the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. Not long after, the dirt road became home to world-class attractions such as Wet ‘n Wild, the Orange County Convention Center, Animal Kingdom, Disney World, Universal Studios Resort, and many more. [1]

Today, approximately 72 million tourists visit the famous International Drive every year. If you’re planning a trip to Orlando, we’ve accumulated below the top International Drive parks and attractions you need to visit to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun stuff.

Universal Orlando Resort

best International Drive Parks

Universal Orlando Resort consists of several theme parks and attractions all connected by a shopping and entertainment complex known as the Universal CityWalk. Guests can visit Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure for a taste of thrilling rides based on favorite television series and movies such as Harry Potter, Minions, The Fast and the Furious, and more. After reveling in what the two theme parks have to offer, you can head on to the water park called the Universal Volcano Bay. Inside the water park, you can choose from 20 different waterslides to play on and have the option of lounging in a cabana. [2]

Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove is a family-friendly hotel resort and waterpark in the middle of Orlando that allows its guests to do various activities and spend time with a variety of animals. You can choose to swim with bottlenose dolphins, interact with otters, feed tropical birds, or snorkel in a saltwater reef. The theme park has six main areas including the Dolphin Lagoon, the Grand Reef, Wind-Away River, Freshwater Oasis, Explorer’s Aviary, and the Dolphin Cover.

International Drive Parks

For walk-in guests, Discovery Cove opens from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm daily. Breakfast is available starting at 7:15 am for check-in guests of the hotel. Wet suits, life jackets, snorkel equipment, and animal-friendly sunscreen are all provided in the theme park fee. [3]

Coco Key Orlando

International Drive Parks

Coco Key Orlando is another water park conveniently located alongside other International Drive parks. Situated under a 54,000 square foot canopy, Coco Key is the only covered outdoor water park in Orlando. It also has four heated pools, 14 water slides and a 6,500 square foot arcade. To make your trip to the water park even more fun, you can rent out a guest room equipped with free Wi-Fi and other basic amenities with extra beds for you and your family. If you’re going without a car, be sure not to miss the shuttle service going to Coco Key Water Park. [4]

Fun Spot America

Fun Spot America is one of America’s family-owned theme parks. It is relatively quieter and cheaper than most theme parks in Orlando but does not come up short when it comes to thrilling attractions for the whole family to enjoy. In fact, it has been named the “Best Budget Attraction” by the Orlando Sentinel. The park boasts kiddie rides, an arcade with over 100 games, multi-level go-kart tracks, Gator Spot, and one of the world’s tallest and the only wooden roller coaster in Orlando.

International Drive Parks

Fun Spot America opens from 10:00 am until midnight during weekends and 2:00 pm until midnight during weekdays. As it is located along the International Drive, you can get here quickly from your hotel or the Artegon Marketplace using uber or lyft. [5]

ICON Park Orlando

ICON Park Orlando is a 20-acre, pedestrian-friendly entertainment complex filled with a wide range of fun rides, attractions, restaurants, valet parking, and more. Its most notable feature is its unique observation wheel that is 400-feet (about 40 stories) tall called The Wheel. Soar above the city for awesome panoramic views. You can also visit Madame Tussauds, as well as play games at the Arcade City Orlando, both located inside the park. From Orlando International Airport, guests can visit ICON Park Orlando through the Beachline Expressway and International Drive. [6]

SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium

International Drive Parks sea life

SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium is an interactive water park located inside the ICON Park Orlando complex. The park features aquariums constructed with kid-level viewing platforms, allowing children to come face-to-face with approximately 5,000 sea animals including sharks, barracudas, stingrays, sea horses, octopuses, and more. It also boasts a 360-degree tunnel where you can get the chance to touch starfishes and anemones.

SEA LIFE is open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm and can be reached via uber and lyft. [7]

Magical Midway

Magical Midway is a family-friendly thrill park located along International Drive and near Sand Lake Road that highlights the world’s largest reverse bungee called the Slingshot. Other attractions include go-kart tracks, bumper cars, the 230-foot tall swing ride called the Starflyer, the Alpine Jump, the drop tower ride called the Space Blast, the Avalanche, a carousel, and an arcade.

The central theme park is open from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am while the arcade can be accessed as early as 10:00 am. It is walking distance from the old Wet n’ Wild theme park and offers a free parking garage for guests. [8]

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf

The Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf is one of the International Drive parks that is located outdoors. It features an 18-hole golf course surrounded with mountain caves, waterfalls, footbridges, fantastic landscaping, and pirate attractions, making it a fun family affair that both adults and kids will enjoy. It also allows guests to hold birthday parties, group events, and more.

The theme park is open from 9:00 am to 11:30 pm and is located right beside the Convention Center and the ICON Park Orlando complex. [9]

Orange County Convention Center

The Orange County Convention Center boasts three large concourses that hold annual public events ranging from trade shows to home and gardening. Known as the second-largest convention facility in the United States, the convention center attracts not only Florida residents but also visitors from around the world. It is located along the International Drive and is near notable hotels in Orlando namely the Rosen Plaza Hotel, Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, Hyatt Regency Orlando, Hilton Orlando, and more. [10]

Tips for Visiting International Drive

Aside from making a solid plan and taking notes of must-see attractions along International Drive, it is also essential to take into consideration the weather in Florida. There is always a chance of rain even in the summer so make sure to bring an umbrella, a hat or a lightweight poncho when touring the famous boulevard. Florida sunshine can also cause painful sunburns when you’re not prepared so always make it a point to bring sunscreen. [11]

 

Most of the theme parks and escape rooms such as America’s Escape Game require a lot of walking around. Wearing comfortable socks and shoes can help you enjoy all the attractions without feeling fatigued of walking. You can also take advantage of International Drive’s affordable I-Ride Trolley system to shuttle you from one theme park to another. It runs from 8:00 am to 10:30 pm and has several stops along the International Drive and attractions near Sand Lake Road. [12]

References

  1. New International Drive attractions compete more with Disney, Universal for tourists’ time. Gabrielle Russon; Marco Santana. (2018, December 27). Retrieved from Orlando Sentinel:
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  3. 10 Universal Orlando Resort Attractions You Can’t-Miss. Valerie Marino. (2019, April 29). Retrieved from Conde Nast Traveler: https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/best-universal-orlando-resort-attractions
  4. Discover a One-of-a-Kind Experience at Discovery Cove Orlando. Jenn Mitchell. (2016, July 2). Retrieved from Traveling Mom: https://www.travelingmom.com/family-vacation-destinations/southeast-destinations/discovery-cove-orlando/
  5. International Drive Theme Parks and Attractions. Arthur Levine. (2019, April 15). Retrieved from Trip Savvy: https://www.tripsavvy.com/international-drive-theme-parks-and-attractions-3226239
  6. 20 Best Things To Do On International Drive Orlando. (2017, October 21). Retrieved from Creative Travel Guide: http://creativetravelguide.com/20-things-to-do-on-orlandos-international-drive/
  7. ICON Orlando celebrates the season with savings and light shows. Seth Kubersky. (2018, November 12). Retrieved from Attractions Magazine: https://attractionsmagazine.com/icon-orlando-celebrates-the-season-with-savings-and-light-shows/
  8. International Drive Attractions – Fun Things to Do on I-Drive & at ICON 360 Orlando. Amy Sherbert. (2018, June 29). Retrieved from Smart Destinations: https://www.smartdestinations.com/blog/orlando-international-drive-discounts/
  9. Spotlight: Magical Midway Thrill Park. Carla Sinclair-Wells. (2010, October 30). Retrieved from Al Capone’s: https://alcapones.com/blog/spotlight-magical-midway-thrill-park-1308
  10. Mini Golf Courses in Orlando. Kenneth Black. (n.d.). Retrieved from USA Today: https://traveltips.usatoday.com/mini-golf-courses-orlando-4334.html
  11. (n.d.). Retrieved from Orange County Convention Center: https://www.occc.net/
  12. Tips For The Perfect I-Drive Orlando Visit. (2016, April 29). Retrieved from Rosen Inn International: https://roseninn7600.com/tips-for-the-perfect-i-drive-orlando-visit/
  13. I Ride Trolley Orlando. (n.d.). Retrieved from the Travel Republic: https://www.travelrepublic.co.uk/attractions/florida/i-ride-trolley-orlando
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