Which Water Park in Orlando is the Best? Here are Dadtography's Top Orlando Waterpark Rankings
Updated for Spring Break, 2019.
A lot has changed since this original post was written in 2017. The Orlando waterpark scene isn't the same as it used to be, and that's why we've completely overhauled this post of the best waterparks in Orlando.
It's almost spring break, 2019, and what's the biggest reason people come to Florida this time of year? To escape the still cold weather of the north!
You leave your home town one day bundled up in your winter clothes and the next day you're in a swimming suit enjoying 80-something degree weather.
Related: Best Free Splash Pads in Orlando
One of mine and my family's favorite spring break past times is to visit a water park. It feels a lot like summer almost 9 months out of the year here, so residents of Orlando know where to go and what to do when it's nice outside.
We put together Dadtography's complete Orlando waterpark rankings in Orlando, updated just in time for spring break of 2019. Waterparks, like all theme parks in Orlando, have entrance fees. If you're looking for something to do for free, be sure to check out our post on the best free splash pads in Orlando. They can be a great, inexpensive alternative to a water park.
What's new with the new 2019 list?
I came to a realization this past year of experiencing even more Orlando area water and theme parks. Not all waterparks are created equal.
Well, of course! That's why we have our "best of" list.
But what I mean is that there really are two different types of waterparks: traditional, stand-alone waterparks and waterparks that are part of a larger resort.
What's the difference? The biggest difference is whether the cost of the waterpark included in your hotel stay or if you have to pay extra.
The cost of traveling to, and staying in, Orlando is going up, so this can be an important distinction for many families. Therefore, this list of the best waterparks now includes the best stand-alone waterparks as well as the best resort water parks.
Best Resort vs. Stand-Alone Waterparks in Orlando - 2019
Orlando is a city that's definitely known for its theme parks, and waterparks are really just wet theme parks, right?
Yes, other cities have waterparks, too, but the parks we have are some of the best in the country, if not the best in the world. The map on the right shows the water parks in Orlando that made our "best of" list for 2019.
Best resort water parks in Orlando
- The Grove Resort Orlando
- Holiday Inn Orlando Suites Resort & Waterpark (Formerly Nickelodeon Resort)
- Gaylord Palms Resort & Water Park
- Omni Resort at Champion's Gate
- CoCo Key Hotel & Water Resort - Orlando
Best stand-alone water parks in Orlando
- Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park
- SeaWorld's Aquatica Water Park
- SeaWorld's Discovery Cove
- Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
- Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay Water Park
Best Resort Waterparks in Orlando
Winner: The Grove Resort Orlando
Located just west of Walt Disney World, this resort & waterpark has it all.
Let's start with the best and work our way through the list of water resorts, shall we?
First of all, what makes for a great waterpark & resort? Well, for me, it's:
- Resort Style
- Resort Size
- Waterpark Fun Factor
- Waterpark Size
- Cost / Value
You may have never heard of the Grove Resort Orlando, and that's okay. Part of me wants to keep it the "best-kept secret". But another part of me wants to share how awesome this place is!
The Grove truly has it all - it's a HUGE resort, with a HUGE pool (three separate pools, actually) and a GIANT waterpark. And guess what? They're free for guests staying at the resort.
I've yet to find another resort in Orlando that offers 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas (they're huge), with this many amenities, this level of waterpark and this awesome of a pool experience. There's just no better overall choice in Orlando.
To learn more about The Grove Resort Orlando, click here.
Holiday Inn Orlando Suites Resort & Waterpark
Formerly known as the Nickelodeon Resort
The Holiday Inn Orlando Suites is also a full resort with a water park right inside the grounds of the hotel. In fact, the water park is in the center of the Holiday Inn hotel.
It wasn't long ago that this resort was known as the Nickelodeon Resort. But in early 2016, the hotel was sold and renamed to the Holiday Inn. It also saw some additional investment and a refurbishment with the change in ownership as well, which was a good thing for the hotel overall.
An overnight stay will run you around $130 - $200 per night at the Holiday Inn Orlando Suites Resort, but again, that includes full use of the water park and your hotel costs as well.
The Nickelodeon Resort / Holiday Inn has traditionally been one of our favorite hotel + water park options in Orlando for a lot of reasons. You can read the full Dadtography review of the Holiday Inn (formerly Nickelodeon) Resort.
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
Come for the conference, stay for the pools & slides.
Continuing our path through the best resort water parks in Orlando, the Gaylord Palms Resort has to be included in this list. The Gaylord Palms is really an impressive and massive resort. It has huge indoor areas that feel like outdoor areas.
Just outside the resort near the conference center is a pretty decent water park. I'd say the Gaylord Hotel is as nice as the Omni, while the water park is as fun as the Holiday Inn Resort's water park. You get the best of both worlds with the Gaylord Palms. It's also closer than the Omni as well. The Gaylord Palms is a great option to get a great hotel and a fun water park all in a single, convenient location that won't break the bank.
A night at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando will run ya between $200 - $300 per night.
Not JUST known for golf.
Omni Resort at Champions Gate
It's a ways out there, but you shouldn't rule out the Omni Resort at Champion's Gate when it comes to hotels with great pools and water features.
The hotel grounds are massive - one of the benefits of being a bit further outside of town. The pools at the Omni and big and offer something for everyone, no matter if you're looking to relax in a nice deck chair or if you're looking to be active and have some play time.
The Omni has a small, but fun lazy river at the resort as well. The Omni resort itself is nicer than both the Coco Key and the Holiday Inn as far as the hotel itself is concerned. There aren't nearly as many slides and features on the water side of things, though. Another downside is you'll have to drive a fairly significant distance to almost anywhere you want to go (except to golf).
CoCo Key Hotel & Water Resort
Because water resorts are kinda like pizza.
There's no such thing as a bad water resort, right? Okay, so maybe there is, but not really in Orlando!
Water resorts are great (no, seriously) for budget-minded families looking to come to Orlando and have a good time on a limited spring break budget. Water resorts combine a water park and a hotel or resort. You stay at the water park, essentially.
International Drive, or i-Drive for short, really saw its heyday in the 1980's and has since seen a bit of a revitalization in 2016 and 2017 with additions like the Coca Cola Orlando Eye attraction and many new restaurants and shops.
You won't get the same level of rides and attractions at a water resort, but you will get convenience and a pretty significant cost savings over some of the other water parks in Orlando. The CoCo Key will run you around $100 per night, but that includes your water park admission and hotel. You can expect to pay almost that much for just admission to some stand-alone parks, not including your hotel stay.
The CoCo Key is perfect for budget-minded families. You can learn about the CoCo Key by visiting the their website, here.
Best Stand-Alone Water Parks in Orlando
Winner: Disney's Blizzard Beach
You just can't beat the "magic".
Okay so I admit it, I'm an unabashed Disney dad and fan. I have some serious nostalgia at Disney parks and I really just love everything about the Disney experience.
My favorite water park in Orlando, without a doubt, is Disney's Blizzard Beach. Here's why I love it the most:
- It's the right size - not too big, not too small
- It has great slides and rides
- It has an awesome lazy river with a really cool tunnel
- It has the full Disney experience with H2O
Unlike Aquatica, I've also never had an issue with Blizzard Beach being too busy, either. In fact, we had Aquatica annual passes that we didn't use because we couldn't get into the park. We ended up getting Disney Water Park passes instead.
Blizzard Beach is the same price as Typhoon Lagoon, so a regular, one day admission to Blizzard Beach will cost ya just over $66 for an adult. That price also doesn't include hotel.
Seaworld knows a thing or two about water.
Sea World's water park, Aquatica, is still technically Orlando's newest water park. It's a great park, altho just a bit under-sized in some respects. It has all of the benefits of a new park - everything is still nice and in great shape.
However, the size of the park has proven to be an issue, especially in 2016. Sea World offered buy-one-get-one admissions for Florida residents. In a way, the tactic worked. The park filled up very quickly after the special was run. The down side was that the park was at capacity and had to run visitors away at the gate.
So far in 2017 Sea World hasn't had the same special, so the park hasn't been overly busy. If you want a new water park experience, with all the latest rides, slides and attractions then Aquatica is a great option. You definitely should check out the "not-so-lazy river" there. It's a lazy river with a pretty strong current.
A regular, one day admission to Aquatica will cost ya just over $70 for an adult. That price also doesn't include hotel.
Seaworld's Discovery Cove
Swimmin' with the fishes.
From hotel + water park budget options to the other end of the spectrum we go. Sea World's Discovery Cove isn't a typical "water park". Meaning, it doesn't have a lot slides and thrill rides the way some other parks do.
What Discovery Cove is known for is that you can swim with the fishes...er, actually the dolphins. It'll cost ya, though. Admission to Discovery Cove starts at just over $200, and that doesn't include your hotel stay. You can view all of the Discovery Cove packages and pricing options here.
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon was Orlando's first major water park competition for now defunct (see below) Wet n' Wild water park that dominated the 1980's.
Let's face it, when Disney does something they are usually the entertainment standard. You never really have a bad experience at a Disney park, and that includes Typhoon Lagoon. It may not be Orlando's newest water park, but it's definitely in my top 3 favorites in Orlando.
A regular, one day admission to Typhoon Lagoon will cost ya just over $66 for an adult. That doesn't include hotel.
Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay Water Park
Okay, peeps. I have to be honest with you - I still haven't been to Volcano Bay. I know, I know.
I didn't get a media invite for the grand opening and it's been SUPER busy pretty much since it opened. I have it on the top of my list for this spring or summer, though.
I won't let you down!
If you're lucky (or early) enough to get into Volcano Bay before me, drop me a line and let me know what you thought of it!
Closed in December, 2016: Wet n' Wild
It should also be mentioned that the Wet n' Wild water park closed in December of 2016 and is no longer open. Wet n' Wild is giving way to construction on the Volcano Bay park at Universal. I'm glad I got a chance to visit this iconic water park before it closed late last year.