Overview of Disney World
There may be no place in the world as magical as Walt Disney World. Originally consisting of only the Magic Kingdom, it now encompasses four theme parks plus two water parks. It’s the perfect place for a vacation, whether you’re bringing the family, traveling with your sweetie, or heading out for a solo trip.
The Magic Kingdom
The original park is the Magic Kingdom, which is home to the iconic Cinderella Caste and five unique lands, plus Main Street U.S.A.
Known best as the home of the in-the-dark roller coaster Space Mountain, Tomorrowland was once the land of the future, but has since morphed into a unique SciFi experience that depicts what those in the past thought the future would look like. In addition to Space Mountain, Tomorrowland is home to popular rides like the interactive Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, the throw-back-to-yesterday Carousel of Progress, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.
Part jungle, part Tropical Island, and part explorer’s paradise, Adventureland is home to two of the most popular rides in all of the Magic Kingdom: Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise. Here you’ll find lush landscaping, interesting tribal music, and some of the best shopping in Disney World.
You’ll find tons of rides in Fantasyland, including classics like it’s a small world and Peter Pan’s Flight, plus new rides like Journey of the Little Mermaid and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Though Disney recently unleashed their biggest addition to date in 2014, via new Fantasyland, they were wise to keep many of the classic rides and attractions as-is. The result is a wonderful comingling of the old and new.
Take a step into the old west via Frontierland, where the air smells like turkey legs and the sounds of banjos permeate the world. Take off on the exciting, rocking roller coaster Big Thunder Mountain, take a boat to Tom Sawyer’s Island, and take the plunge at Splash Mountain. There are also several old west themed shows, plus the famous County Bear Jamboree.
This is one of the lower key areas in the Magic Kingdom, though you will find the spookiest ride, too: the Haunted Mansion. Hop on the Liberty Square Riverboat for views of the entire park, and take a break in the air conditioned Hall of Presidents theatre.
Main Street U.S.A.
There are no rides here, and it’s not technically a land in itself, but when many people think of the Magic Kingdom the first thing that comes to mind is Main Street U.S.A. Modeled after the quintessential main street of the ’50s, there are shops, restaurants, and plenty of shows on this main drag.
The second park in Disney World is Epcot, which is split into two separate areas.
Built to serve as a permanent world fair, World Showcase features architecture, food, and cultural exhibits from numerous countries around the world. A few have rides, several have movies, and all have unique foods you’ve likely never tried before. There are also tons of shops with gifts from each country, plus unique wines, beers, and spirits for the adults to try.
A mix of innovations and thrill rides, Future World features popular rides like Soarin’ and Test Track, plus Innovations West and East, which showcase technologies that are still being developed.
Epcot tip: Be sure to closely check your times guide. World Showcase generally opens later than Future World, and Future World generally closes earlier, so plan your day accordingly!
Disney MGM Studios was built in 1989 as a working movie studio with a few rides attached. Over the years Disney has shifted gears and eventually a name change was in order: Hollywood Studios. Today you have an opportunity to see some behind-the-scenes animation and movie making magic, plus take on thrill rides like Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller-coaster.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Whatever you do, don’t call Animal Kingdom a zoo! It’s easily the largest park on grounds, and is technically a wildlife sanctuary. Once again, there’s a ton to do for guests of all ages and interests. Those seeking thrills should head straight to Expedition Everest, those looking to try some unique eats can visit Tusker House or the Yak and Yeti, and those who want to get up close and personal with their favorite animals should board the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
The Water Parks
There are also two water parks on Walt Disney World property: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Each has its own unique theming, though the concept is the same for both of them. If you’re planning to head to a water park, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, during off seasons, one of the water parks will be closed for refurbishment, so be sure to head to the one that’s open! Second, as you’re looking for tickets remember that you can add the Water Park and More option to your regular theme park ticket, which will likely save you money versus paying the full-priced admission.