Everything You Need to Know about Aquatica Orlando, One of Florida’s Best Family Water Parks

Aquatica Orlando combines the marine life experiences of SeaWorld with the rides and slides of a water park.
daytime view of large slide at Aquatica Orlando water theme park
(Photo: Aquatica Orlando)

If you need to know one thing about Aquatica Orlando, it’s this: The water theme park takes the classic water park elements and dials it up–way up. So yeah, there are water slides, but they zip through a pool of sharks. And it has a lazy river, but as you float along it, you’ll see real live tropical fish. For anyone who loves a good water park, Aquatica is a bucket-list must. 

Owned by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the world-class Aquatica Orlando is an ocean-themed alternative to other Orlando water parks like Discovery Cove, Universal’s Volcano Bay, and the two Disney water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

Your One-Stop Guide to Aquatica Orlando

Here’s everything you need to know about Aquatica Orlando in order to have the best Florida water park experience on your Orlando vacation.

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The Basics

Aquatica Orlando has won both local and national awards (from USAToday’s 10 Best and Tripadvisor, among others) for a reason: it’s an unusual and exceptional mix of wild water rides (plus some tamer ones) and marine animal experiences. If you’re most interested in the animal experiences, you might want to check out SeaWorld SeaWorld’s third Orlando theme park, Discovery Cove, which is an all-inclusive theme park with a marine animal focus. 

Aquatica Orlando (there’s also Aquatica San Antonio in Texas, which is open seasonally) has about a dozen water rides. Some, like Taumata Racer and Reef Plunge, deliver high adrenaline thrills. There are also twists on classics like Roa’s Rapids, which is a fast-paced lazy river. For younger kids, Walkabout Waters is a favorite, and the new Turi’s Kid Cove is great for littles. 

Aquatica KareKare Curl
The KareKare Curl thrill slide has higher touch and sound stimulation scores, according to the park’s Sensory Guide (Photo: SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment)

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Aquatica Orlando is also the world’s first water park to become designated as a Certified Autism Center. On the website, you can look up a ride in advance to see the attraction’s Sensory Guide, which breaks down the level of stimulation by sense. So for instance, the KareKare Curl thrill slide has higher touch and sound stimulation scores. In addition to the ride-by-ride sensory guides, there are also low-sensory areas and quiet spaces, and staff is trained to help kids with sensory processing issues.

How to Get to Aquatica Orlando

Aquatica, SeaWorld, and Discovery Cove are all clustered together along International Drive in Orlando, with Aquatica on the east side of the road farthest north, SeaWorld on the west side of I-Drive in the middle, and Discovery Cove just south of SeaWorld. There’s signage but you won’t need it—just look for Aquatica’s colorful waterslides (as opposed to SeaWorld’s massive roller coasters). 

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Pro Tip: If you’ve been to Orlando before, you know that International Drive is a major thoroughfare, so it makes sense that traffic near the Aquatica turnoff can get backed up. To dodge the worst of the traffic and the long lines at the park gate, get there before the official opening time.

Which Age Groups Is Aquatica Orlando Best Suited for?

Aquatica is a family theme park with attractions and activities to appeal to all ages. There are plenty of fun options for kids under 10, but the best known rides are definitely geared to people taller than 48 inches (4 feet). 

Younger kids (10 and under) and adults on vacation with toddlers should head straight to Walkabout Waters, a massive kids play structure with stairs, tunnels, slides (36″ and 42″ height requirement), and lots of water spraying everywhere to maximize fun. There’s also the new Turi’s Kid Cove, which is packed with low-key splash pad fun including tipping buckets and spraying jets, plus a made-for-little-kids wave slide called Tamariki Twirl. There’s lots of seating around Turi’s Kid Cove, so adults can settle in and watch little ones play. Wave pools (one that’s always open, the other that’s seasonal) is good for smaller thrills.

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Kids and adults 48 inches (4 feet) and up can go to any of the other attractions. Something that’s great for kids who are curious but a little hesitant about the bigger water rides is that there are a bunch of family-friendly attractions that a group can go on together (some may require provided PPDs, aka lifejackets, for younger kids). 

Aquatica Orlando: What Are the Must-Do Attractions?

Aerial view of Aquatica Orlando (Photo: SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment)
Aquatica Orlando has a mix of chill and thrill water attractions, including a lazy river, a zero entry pool, and water slides (Photo: SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment)

In this section, I’m going to first talk through the water rides and then get to Aquatica Orlando’s animal attractions. 

There are a lot of high speed water slides that deliver serious adrenaline. Among the faves:

  • Ihu’s Breakaway Falls: Orlando’s steepest multi-drop tower, Ihu’s is the ultimate for heart-pounding free falls. (48” height requirement);
  • Riptide Race: Touted as the “world’s tallest dueling racer,” this 68-foot tower has twin slides (each holds a two-person raft) with low enough walls that you can keep your opponent in sight as you zoom through high-speed turns and tunnels. (42” height requirement)
  • Taumata Racer: This ultra-steep, eight-lane competitive mat ride is a head-first race to the bottom. (42” height requirement)
  • Reef Plunge: On this 330-foot partial tunnel waterslide, you zoom through transparent slides past an underwater habitat of colorful marine life. (42” height requirement)
  • Roa’s Rapids: This high-speed, white-water river has geysers and tides for a twist on the traditional lazy river.
Sting Ray Falls at Aquatica
Stingray Falls at Aquatica Orlando (Photo: SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment)

Add-On Experiences at Aquatica Orlando

Aquatica goes big on upgrades and add-ons. Here’s a quick look at what’s on offer (note that some are seasonal or based on the day of the week): 

  • Cabanas and Seating: There are cabanas tucked around the property. All include towels and water, and prices vary by cabana type and date. Less expensive are the premium seating loungers, which have a smaller shade structure
  • Dining: The All-Day Dining Deal gets you sort-of-unlimited food and drink at outlets around the park. You can get a meal (an entree, a side or dessert, and a drink) every 90 minutes with the deal. There are discounted prices for kids. 
  • Skip the Line: The Quick Queue Unlimited Plus add-on gets you unlimited priority boarding on most water rides and one-time priority boarding on Walhalla Wave and Ray Rush. Prices and availability change day to day so check your dates in advance if you’re interested. 
  • Behind-the-Scenes Experiences: On Commerson’s Close-Up tour, a zoological expert takes you behind the scenes to interact with and learn about the majestic Commerson’s dolphins.
  • Parking:  In the no-brainer category of upgrades is a pre-paid parking pass, which you’ll need to pay for anyway if you’re driving so why not just pay for it in advance. 

There are also daily rentals available for scooters, wheelchairs, and strollers. 

What’s New for 2024 at Aquatica Orlando

New attraction alert: Tassie’s Underwater Twist, which Aquatica dubs “Florida’s most immersive waterslide,” will debut in Spring 2024. Here’s what I know so far: It’s tunnel based, has its own musical score, and seems to go heavy on projected underwater scenes. When it debuts I’ll update you here with more specifics.

How Do You Get Tickets for Aquatica Orlando?

When you get Aquatica Orlando tickets, you can get them for just the park or bundle them into combination tickets that allow you to visit Aquatica plus SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and/or Adventure Island (Busch Gardens’ water park).

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Aquatica Orlando guests need both an admission ticket and a date-based reservation to enter the park. To prevent disappointment, it’s a good idea to purchase Aquatica tickets and make a reservation ahead of time. Tickets are cheaper online than at the gate, and you can both buy your tickets and make reservations on Aquatica’s website. There are also annual passes, which cost a little more than three visits.

Aquatica is the best water park in Orlando for sea life lovers (Photo: Aquatica)
It’s a good idea to purchase Aquatica tickets and make a reservation ahead of your visit (Photo: SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment)

Tips and Tricks for Visiting Aquatica Orlando

Want to make the most of your day at Aquatica? Here are my top four tips:

  • Arrive early: There’s a ton of free seating around the park, but the shaded areas fill up fast. Get there early for the best chance at a well-placed and shaded lounge chair and umbrella. Check park hours and time your arrival for before the crowds arrive. 
  • What to bring: A towel or two per person, goggles, sunscreen, a refillable water bottle, swim diapers, swimsuits. The park has complimentary life vests, but you can also bring your own USCG – Type II, III or V life vests
  • What to leave at home: Snacks and coolers aren’t allowed inside the park. 
  • Pay with a wristband: To simplify paying for things in the park (and not have to worry about wet cash or a credit card slipping out of a pocket), stop by Guest Relations or the Information and Reservation Counter on your way into the park and get a Cashless Wristband. The band will be linked to your credit card so you can make purchases throughout the day.

Hotels Near Aquatica Orlando

SeaWorld and Aquatica have a number of official hotels and hotel partners that are nearby the Florida parks and offer theme park benefits. Official SeaWorld Hotels offer complimentary transportation to the parks and other in-park discounts. Some nearby hotels, like the Hilton Orlando and the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, even have their own water parks.

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Tarah Chieffi
Tarah Chieffi is a theme park and family travel journalist who discovered her words were best used to help travelers plan fun-filled family vacations. When she isn't eating theme park food and riding roller coasters, she can be found cycling wherever her bike will take her, tucked under the covers with a good book, or planning her next adventure with her husband and three sons.