There is so much to do in Orlando beyond the theme parks, including some terrific water parks and hotels with amazing pools, lazy rivers, and water slides on property. Since Orlando can be HOT for many months of the year, you will want to add a water park day to your vacation plan. We have scouted out the best water parks in Orlando to choose from. And don’t miss these other things to do in Orlando.
Best Water Parks in Orlando
The best water park we have ever been to — even better than the one at Atlantis — is Universal’s Volcano Bay. Water parks are only getting better with the infusion of technology and Volcano Bay is leading the pack with its TapuTapu wristbands and virtual queue. Riders can “tap in” to get a spot in the virtual queue and then the wristband will notify them when it is their turn on the slide.
Forget the concrete wave pools you find in places like Water Country USA or Perfect Day at CocoCay. Hanging out on Waturi Beach in front of the volcano feels more like a tropical island than Central Florida. You will also find a lazy river, rapids river, body slides, tube rides, and the cool Krakatau Aqua Coaster.
Island H2O Live!
Island H2O Live! at the Margaritaville Orlando Resort is one of the newest Orlando water parks. This is another park where technology enhances the water park experience. Instead of a virtual queue, Island H2O Live! offers visitors a mobile app that personalizes their experience.
First up, you can pick the music and special effects on the raft ride and tap in to link up the app with cameras on the slides to capture photos and videos. Visitors can connect with others in their party to track their location throughout the park and even set alerts if your kids move outside of designated play areas.
There is also a drop slide, toddler area, lazy river, tube slides, dumping buckets, and so much more at this theme park located just 10 minutes from Disney World.
Read my full review of Island H2O Live!
If you are looking for big thrills, Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark, delivers and then some. In 2020, Aquatica will introduce its first dueling racer ride, Riptide Race™. KareKare Curl™ also delivers a vertical wave wall for those weightless-feeling drops. And Dolphin Plunge™ transports riders along clear tubes through the dolphin habitat.
In addition to its 47 slides, Aquatica offers rivers, lagoons, and 84,000 square feet of sandy beach. For those that don’t want to wait in lines, you can pay extra for QuickQueue™ and get front-of-the-line access. And for families with members on the spectrum, SeaWorld Orlando is now a Certified Autism Center.
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Disney’s Blizzard Beach
With all there is to do at Walt Disney World — from Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios — many guests never even make it to Disney’s water parks. Blizzard Beach is the newer of the two Disney water parks, although it is still old compared to newcomers like Volcano Bay and Island H2O Live.
It is designed to look like a ski resort melting under the hot sun. The theming is what you would expect from Disney’s magic, complete with a ski gondola lifting visitors to the top of the taller slides. Blizzard Beach has something for all ages, with several areas designed specifically for the toddler set or younger kids. Those seeking thrills will want to ride the Summit Plummet, which drops a terrifying 12 stories straight down.
My friend Leslie has an excellent review of Blizzard Beach on her Disney Deciphered podcast. Also keep in mind that each of the Disney Water Parks closes for one to two months at the end of the year or beginning of the year and these times vary so check the website for when you are planning to visit.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
At Typhoon Lagoon, the theming is more beach-like compared to Blizzard Beach. The story behind the theme is that it was created by an epic storm that made the storm-soaked Mount Mayday and hurled surfboards and boats into palm trees. Some people like this theming better because it feels more “vacation like”.
Surrounding the mountain, a 56-acre topsy-turvy tropical paradise was formed—full of waterways, rivers, rapids and slides. While there are more areas for kids at Typhoon Lagoon, it is slightly lacking on the thrills, with the scariest being Humunga Kowabunga with a five-story drop in the dark.
Typhoon Lagoon does have one of the largest wave pools in the world (you can even take surfing lessons.) Altogether, many prefer Typhoon Lagoon between the two Disney water parks but it really depends on your family and their preferences.
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LEGOLAND Water Park
Just outside of Orlando Florida in Winter Haven, you will find LEGOLAND Florida, home to the theme park, water park, LEGOLAND Hotel, and LEGOLAND Beach Retreat. This water park is NOT open year round, so be sure to check if you are visiting in the winter.
The LEGOLAND Water Park includes a lazy river, wave pool, body slides and tube rides, and play areas, including one for toddlers. While this water park isn’t as good as some of the others as a stand alone park, it is a great way to beat the heat when you are spending a day or two at LEGOLAND with a combo ticket.
Read my thoughts on whether or not LEGOLAND is worth it.
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Bonus: Discovery Cove
So while Discovery Cove isn’t a water park with slides, there is plenty to do in the water at this all-inclusive day resort. Guests have the opportunity to swim with dolphins, snorkel among thousands of tropical fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds, and encounter playful otters.
Visitors can also relax and explore rocky lagoons surrounded by lush landscaping, tropical reefs, winding rivers and white, sandy beaches.
Purchase discount tickets to Discovery Cove from Undercover Tourist
Orlando hotels with great pools!
There are so many hotel choices in Orlando that properties need to offer great amenities and activities to stand out. Many have really stepped up when it comes to elaborate pools, lazy rivers, water slides, and even on-site water parks. These are some of our favorites:
Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort may be right next to Volcano Bay, but it offers plenty of fun in the water without leaving the hotel property. Guests can enjoy two pools, a zero-entry pool with a water slide, a kids’ play area, a lazy river, underwater music, a pool bar and cabanas to rent.
The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World
Eric from Travel Babbo likes the Four Seasons Orlando so much that his kids would rather hang out there than go to Disney World. The Four Seasons Orlando offers a five-acre water park, Explorer Island.
There are splash zones, interactive fountains, water slides, a lazy river, and pools, including a shallow infinity pool. The Four Seasons also has an area for pool volleyball and basketball.
Reunion Resort in Kissimmee offers one, two, and three-bedroom villas. This resort community offers guests access to its five-acre water park when booked direct through the resort. The water park includes water cannons, a lazy river, four waterfalls, water slides, rope bridges, a zero entry pool, water volleyball, water sprays and a giant water dumping bucket.
Adjacent to the pool area guests can also enjoy ladder ball, billiards, ping pong, foosball, hula hoop games, relay races, corn hole and giant chess.
Encore Resort at Reunion is also nearby and offers multi-bedroom vacation rental homes with private pools and also has its own water park.
Hilton Bonnet Creek
A few years ago we stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria Orlando, which is next door to its sister property the Hilton Bonnet Creek. While the pool at the Waldorf was fun and swanky — and we especially enjoyed our private cabana — we had more fun walking next door to enjoy the pool at the Hilton.
The Hilton Bonnet Creek offers a three-acre lazy river complex in a lush environment. Check rates and reviews on TripAdvisor.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort
My friend Monet from The Traveling Child loves the Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort and it is her favorite resort near Disney. The resort offers seven pools. The pool at North Village has a small water slide, splash pad and dedicated kiddie pool. Meanwhile, the pool at River Island has a larger water slide and a lazy river.
Westgate Town Center Resort
Westgate Town Center Resort in Kissimmee offers vacation rentals from studios to spacious four-bedroom villas. Guests and owners can enjoy the on-site Shipwreck Island water park for an added fee.
Shipwreck Island offers a pirate ship, lazy river, and water cannons. Even Shipwreck Island’s palm trees are equipped with jetted fountains that add to the fun.
The Grove Resort
The Grove Resort in Winter Garden is just six miles from Walt Disney World, offering everything from standard rooms to three-bedroom suites. The resort fee includes entrance to the resort’s water park, Surfari.
Surfari Water Park offers a FlowRider Double surf simulator, dual water slides, a 695 foot lazy river, kids’ activities pool and zero-entry pool.
Coco Key Hotel & Water Resort
CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort is a family-friendly hotel with a one-of-a-kind 54,000 sq. ft. canopy-covered/outdoor water park located on International Drive. The hotel also offers a large arcade, three restaurants, and shuttle service to Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando.
Guests receive four passes daily to the on-site water park, which offers 14 slides and rides including a special lagoon for toddlers and young children.