About Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World Resort is where it all began in 1971, with the creation of the Magic Kingdom - still the epicentre of Disney with the iconic Cinderella Castle. Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the waterpark Typhoon Lagoon were created in the 1980’s, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the second water park Blizzard Beach followed in the late 1990’s.
Top Tip: You might want to make a couple of trips to each of these parks, particularly the Magic Kingdom if you have young children, and if you vary the times that you visit the park, for example once early morning and once late afternoon, you will see the full range of shows, parades and fireworks.
If you want to be at the centre of the Disney experience, you can choose a hotel within the Walt Disney World Resort. Use the links to the left to browse these hotels, which range from Value Resorts such as Pop Century Resort and All Star Music Resort, and Deluxe Resorts such as Animal Kingdom Lodge and the classic Disney hotel - the Grand Floridian.
A favourite with the pre-teens who will be captivated by the magic and the fantasy created at this original Disney theme park. There are still attractions for teenagers and adults who are seeking a more rollercoaster-buzz, but remember - all roads from the six whimsical lands of the Magic Kingdom lead to the Cinderella Castle where Tinkerbell will sprinkle her magic dust over you.
Main Street USA – this is the main thoroughfare to the Castle, where you will find shows and parades featuring Disney characters such as Snow White, Captain Hook and Tinker Bell several times a day
Adventureland – is where you can cool off on a river cruise aboard a 1930’s steamer – through the untamed waters of the Mekong, the Amazon and the rivers of Africa.
Frontierland – features two classic rides - Splash Mountain, a popular flume ride for big kids, teens and adults; and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – a nice and tame coaster with just a small shot of exhilaration
Liberty Square – is where you’ll find The Haunted Mansion, suitable for all ages who are happy being mildly frightened
New Fantasyland – This is the central area for the youngsters with three fabulous central attractions. Guest of all ages can fly high with “Dumbo The Flying Elephant” – this newly improved attraction now offers pagers to let you know when it’s your turn to ride, while you wait inside the air conditioned big top tent with a play area and seating. The original attraction is “It’s a Small World” – a magical journey for any age gliding past 300 costumed dolls and animals singing “It’s a Small World” in five languages. Also for all ages this is Mickey’s PhilarMagic - a 12 minute 3-D movie starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck featuring scenes from classic Disney films projected on one of the largest seamless screens in the world.
Tomorrowland – here you will find the classic attraction Space Mountain, a thrilling ride through the dark, illuminated only by shooting stars and celestial satellites – you never know which way you’ll twist or drop as you speed through the dark. And for the little ones there is “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin”.
Wishes Nighttime Spectacular – described as the biggest, brightest fireworks extravaganza – this is the finale to each day. If you want a prime spot in front of the castle you’ll need to get there early, or you can avoid the crowds and watch it from a quieter part of the park like Frontierland. Times vary for this and all of the shows, so when you enter the park collect a “Times Guide” to help you plan your day.
This park is popular with older teens and adults, with rides, attractions and shows from around the world and outer space in two sections – Future World and World Showcase.
At the park’s main entrance is Spaceship Earth – the polyhedral Epcot icon – a slow-moving ride through time and space. In this zone you’ll also find rides such as “Soarin” simulating a peaceful hang-gliding flight over California and “Mission:SPACE” simulating blasting off into space. There is the innovative “Test Track Presented by Chevrolet” where you create your own custom-concept vehicle and then put your design through its paces on the test track circuit. More entertaining than it sounds is “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” – starring Ellen DeGeneres, this is multimedia attraction takes you around, between and under giant dinosaurs and through streams of molten lava to discover how fossil fuels were formed.
This part of Epcot takes you on a global adventure across a collection of international pavilions representing the culture and cuisine of 11 countries – including China, Italy, Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom. Take Mexico as an example, where there is a boat ride in a shady lagoon at the foot of a smoking volcano, you can enjoy live performances from a Mariachi band, you can shop for Mexican goods such as silver jewellery and tequila, and then enjoy nachos, tacos and margaritas at the “La Cantina De San Angel”
Experience the magic of the movies at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There are backstage tours, live shows and movie-themed thrilling attractions.
This park has its fair share of high-speed rides and high-octane stunt shows. The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith features stretch limos with an audio system blasting out a specially recorded soundtrack by the rock legends, which swoop into three inversions before flying over LA upside down. Next door is The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, where you will plunge down the dark freight elevator shaft of the haunted Hollywood Tower Hotel.
But there are rides for the youngsters and faint-hearted as well! Toy Story Mania is an interactive attraction designed for the entire family, where you climb aboard a tram with spring-action shooters to fire virtual missiles at virtual targets, cheered on by Woody, Buzz and friends.
There are spectacular shows with something to appeal to everyone, including “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular”, “The American Idol Experience” and the Broadway-style “Beauty and the Beast”. Or for the tots, there is “Disney Junior – Live on Stage” where pre-schoolers can sing, dance and play along with popular cartoon characters brought to life!
Finally, “Fantasmic” is the finale to a day in the Hollywood Studios - an astonishing firework and water show starring Mickey and featuring classic Disney music, which children and adults of all ages will enjoy. Top Tip: If you book a dinner package, you will enjoy prime seats and no queuing.
The largest of the four Disney theme parks, the Animal Kingdom is home to more than 1,700 animals from 250 species, plus exciting attractions and live-shows and appeals to all ages. The park is divided into seven sections, and here are some highlights.
Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition – ride in an open-sided safari vehicle though the savannah, with the chance to see giraffes, rhinos and lions.
Expedition Everest – a high-altitude, high-speed roller coaster, which twists and turns up to the summit where you will have amazing views across the Animal Kingdom, before the exhilarating descent.
Kali River Rapids – ride a raft down the churning river through an Asian rainforest, past lush jungle, dropping into gushing geysers and drifting under refreshing waterfalls.
Flights of Wonder – a live show seated under a canvas canopy, with 20 species of exotic birds
Finding Nemo – The Musical – this 30 minute Broadway-style show with innovative lighting, sound, special effects and stunning theatrical puppets is a treat for all ages.
One of the two water parks at Disney, Blizzard Beach is themed around a snowy ski resort and has slides and rides for all the family.
Summit Plummet is one of the world’s tallest and fastest free-falling waterslides, dropping 120 foot, with those who are brave enough to ride this reaching speeds of up to 50 or 60mph – a digital readout at the bottom displays each riders speed.
The rest of Blizzard Beach is more family friendly! With Teamboat Springs a family raft ride down a winding river, the waterslides of Runoff Rapids and Slush Gusher, and Tikes Peak a play area for the little ones.
The other water park at Disney, Typhoon Lagoon has fun for all the family from fast waterslides to a children’s area with pint-sized raft rides. And there are several attention-grabbing attractions such as the Surf Pool with its six foot waves and Shark Reef where you can swim with the sharks, stingrays and a variety of tropical fish.
Ketchakiddee Creek has ten different activity areas for t little ones who are less than 48 inches tall.
Crush n’ Gusher water coaster provides thrills for the teenagers and older, where up to three people ride on rafts down hairpin turns, sudden drops and gravity-defying uphill climbs.