Quite possibly one of the most magical places on earth, Walt Disney World is the largest recreational resort comprised of four theme parks and two water parks. Located in Orlando, Florida, Walt Disney World first welcomed visitors in 1971 when it opened its doors to the Magic Kingdom. Over the next two decades, Walt Disney World expanded to include Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom–as well as its two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
At the heart of Walt Disney World is the Magic Kingdom, a 107-acre park that’s full of fun and fantasy. At the center of the Magic Kingdom is Cinderella’s Castle. Seven different lands branch out from it like spokes on a wheel. These lands include Main Street, USA; Adventureland; Frontierland; Liberty Square; Fantasy Land; Mickey’s Toontown Fair; and Tomorrowland. At the park, you will find all styles of entertainment that includes parades, shows and fireworks. Spend the day on rides, taking tours, eating at cafes and restaurants, shopping, and meeting your favorite Disney characters.
Located on over 300 acres of land is Epcot. This park is most notably recognized by the giant, golf ball-like Spaceship Earth that greets visitors upon their arrival. Epcot is divided into two different areas: Future World and World Showcase. Future World includes rides and attractions that focus on technology and imagination. World Showcase includes pavilions from 11 different countries, all located around World Showcase Lagoon. Inside the pavilions, you can shop, be entertained, ride attractions, and sample dishes native to each country.
If movies are your thing, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the place to visit. Constructed to resemble a giant move set, Hollywood Studios offers a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in Hollywood. Dedicated to all things entertainment, you can be entertained by live performers, ride move-related attractions and take backstage tours. Hollywood Studios encourages you to be a part of the entire movie experience.
If your kids love animals, you can’t miss Animal Kingdom, the world’s largest animal theme park. Dedicated to nature and conservation, Animal Kingdom is home to 250 different species of animals; that’s over 1,700 critters. Resting on over 500 acres, Animal Kingdom is divided into 7 areas called Oasis, Discover Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, and Dinoland, USA. Ride the attractions. Interact with the animals, or you can even be a part of the entertainment.
The story goes that, during a freak Florida snowstorm one year, a ski resort was quickly erected. True to Florida weather, the snow didn’t last for long, and residents were left wondering what to do with their abandoned lifts and toboggan courses. Then a clever and industrious alligator surveyed the vacant resort and decided it would make an excellent water park. So became Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Although there’s something for every member of the family, Blizzard Beach boasts one of the world’s tallest water slides. At almost 13 stories high, you’ll have to have your wits about you as you brave plummeting nearly 60 miles per hour down the darkened, 360-ft plume.
If you see a shrimp boat called “Miss Tilly” sticking out precariously from the peak of Mount Mayday, you must be on Typhoon Lagoon. During one of the worst storms in the lagoon’s history, boats and surfboards were tossed this way and that. Every half hour, the volcano erupts in an attempt to dislodge Miss Tilly, sending a geyser of water high into the air. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is a 56-acre park that offers relaxing pools, fast rides and even snorkeling with the sharks.
Hours of operation vary depending on which park you visit and the time of year you travel. To maximize your Disney experience and stretch your dollars, you can purchase vacation packages–as well as tickets and passes that can be customized to your family’s agenda. Please note that some attractions have restrictions regarding height and medical conditions. These restrictions are listed at the entrance of each attraction.