There are more to theme parks than rides and rollercoasters. Theme parks want you to have the time of your life, and that means providing way more to do than just rides. There are shows and exhibits of all types: dancing, parades, musicals, parties, circuses, and more on offer at theme parks today. Whether your next trip is taking you to Orlando or L.A., you can skip the lines and check out these awesome attractions that aren’t rides.
• Kilmanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: This safari takes visitors through a tour of the African savanna in an open-air vehicle. Here, Disney guests can see real animals in their natural habitats as they wind through the lush natural preserve. It’s important to stay in the vehicle because in the Kilmanjaro Safari, over 34 species of African wildlife roam free! This attraction gives guests the unique opportunity to encounter animals like antelopes, elephants, lions, and okapis.
• The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida: Although this is technically an entire mini-theme park, it can be counted as one huge attraction. There are several rides here, but the main draws are the shows, dining and shopping. The Triwizard Spirit Rally has demonstrations from three wizarding schools intended to excite the crowd and get them to root for various schools. At Ollivander’s Wand Shop, some lucky muggles are chosen to try out wands in demonstrations of these magical implements. And at Hog’s Head Pub, visitors can get their fill of butterbeer (the wizarding world’s non-alcoholic pub drink of choice).
• Mickey’s PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom: This attraction is a “4-D” film that features 3D effects, scents, and water as well as characters from Disney movies. PhilharMagic takes place on the largest purpose-built 3D screen ever made, at 150 feet wide. This show involves interplay between Disney characters and features lots of Disney musical hits.
• Cirque De La Mer at Sea World San Diego: This show is unlike anything else. Cirque De La Mer has circus performers from a variety of specialties performing above the water. Featuring acrobatics, trampoline, and aerial performances, Sea World visitors are sure to be wowed.
• Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: This is Disney’s nighttime spectacular at Hollywood Studios. More than just fireworks, Fantasmic tells a story using lights, special effects, and of course, Mickey. This show is set in a huge, 10,000-person amphitheater that encircles a lagoon. Mickey Mouse hosts the show, reprising his Fantasia character as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Be sure to get to this show early because even though there are lots of seats, they fill up fast.
• Universal Studios Hollywood Special Effects Stage: Since Universal Studios Hollywood is, essentially, an extension of Universal Studios, checking out the Special Effects Stage gives visitors a real glimpse into popular special effects techniques used today. Here, visitors can learn how CGI, stop motion, motion capture, and 3-D technology work to create some of today’s top grossing films.
• Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at Disney California Adventure: This show is a fan favorite at California Adventure, thanks in large part to the popularity of the Aladdin movie. However, the Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular puts a new spin on this Disney movie, making the Genie the star of the show. The jokes are fresh and reflect current events and the show incorporates puppets and other theatrical effects sure to entertain even the most reluctant of guests.
There are tons of things to do at theme parks even without the rides. So if you have a weak stomach, or just hate waiting in line, be sure to check out these awesome attractions next time you find yourself at a theme park.
John Gower is an analyst for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping you save money with tips on everything from theme parks to coupon websites.