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Walt Disney World

National Parks
Disney World - Cinderella Castle
© Gerry Leco /

Disney World's Cinderella Castle, a world-wide symbol of magic, fantasy and imagination.

Disney World Travel Guide

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is not just a theme park, but a huge resort complex covering 47 square miles. The resort contains four separate theme parks, two water parks and 99 holes of golf on several different courses. Miles of outdoor recreation are available including hiking, biking, boating and swimming. It has three separate areas containing shopping, dining and entertainment facilities as well as a fourth area with nightclubs. The resort’s state of the art sports complex, ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, hosts a wide variety of sporting events for professional and amateur athletes. Finally, there are about 18 Disney owned and operated hotels and several non-Disney hotels in the resort. All this combined with many other attractions in the Orlando and central Florida area can be quite overwhelming to travelers.  The information guide here should make planning your Disney vacation a little easier.

Disney World is the Biggest Theme Park in Florida

No other Disney resort comes close to the size and diversity of the one in Florida. If you have previously visited one of the other Disney resorts such as Disneyland California, Disneyland Paris or the new Disneyland Tokyo, you should still visit Disney World in Orlando, Florida. All other Disney resorts consist of a single theme park and are quite small compared to the massive resort complex in Florida. Each of the other parks are no larger than the Magic Kingdom theme park in Disney World, which is only one small part of the complex. Remember, that only the resort in Orlando, Florida is referred to as Disney World or Walt Disney World. The other parks are usually called Disneyland. The size and diversity of the Disney World resort ensures that it will probably remain the number one vacation destination in the world for years to come.

Disney World Has Four Theme Parks

The resort is comprised of multiple parks, each with a unique theme.  Here’s a brief description of each to guide you in planning your travels.

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Magic Kingdom, the first theme park built at the resort, has rides, shows and attractions divided among seven fantasy areas. This is the place to find all your favorite Disney characters and attractions. It’s where you’ll find the famous Cinderella’s Castle, which many consider to be the best place for viewing the spectacular fireworks display that takes place nightly. 

Epcot, the second theme park built at the resort, is divided into two areas: Future World and World Showcase. The attractions in Future World are based on modern and futuristic advances in communication, transportation, energy, agriculture and much more. World Showcase allows you to explore culture, cuisine, shopping and entertainment from many countries including Canada, UK, France, Japan, Morocco, US, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico.  At Epcot you can travel around the world without leaving the resort.

The Disney-MGM Studios offers behind-the-scenes looks at the making of movies and popular TV shows and provides live original shows. There are also a number of thrilling rides and attractions based on blockbuster movies, which provide exciting stunts and amazing special effects.

Animal Kingdom is the newest and largest theme park to open in the Disney World resort. This 500-acre park is divided into three areas: The Real, The Mythical and The Extinct. The Real area features live animals in exotic landscapes and provides a safari-like experience. In The Mythical area, guests come face-to-face with magical and make believe creatures. In the Extinct Area, dinosaurs come to life.

Disney’s water parks are a great way to cool off

The four theme parks are the heart of Disney World, but there are many other attractions including two full-sized water parks. Typhoon Lagoon is a tropically landscaped 56-acre water park based around a huge wave pool that covers 2.5 acres and holds 2.75 million gallons of water. At certain times the pool is even used for surfing. Blizzard Beach is Disney's largest water park and the most interesting. It is made to look like a snow-covered ski-resort and offers the most slides and the most thrilling attractions. Spending a day at one of the Disney World water parks can be a pleasant break from the theme parks as well as a great way to cool off from the hot Florida sun.

There are many recreational activities

Disney World offers lots of outdoor recreation. It has five challenging 18-hole golf courses as well as a 9-hole course for beginners and a 36-hole miniature golf course for family fun. If you prefer tennis there are many courts throughout the resort including Disney's Contemporary Resort Racquet Club. Water sports are plentiful including water-skiing, parasailing, fishing and many types of boat rental. For the extremely adventurous, there is the Richard Petty driving experience where you can drive an actual NASCAR racing car. The car has about 600 hp and can attain speeds of up to 160 mph.

Disney World bus transportation © Gerry Leco /
With buses, monorails and boats, Disney World's transportation system makes it easy to travel between theme parks and destinations.

Park Tickets

You can buy customized tickets to Walt Disney World.  The Magic Your Way ticket gives you entry to one theme park per day of your visit.  You can buy tickets for anywhere from one day up to 10 days.  The more days you stay, the lower the cost per day. You can add on park hopper option which allows you to travel between the different theme parks.  Another add on is the Water Park Fun and More option which gives you entry to a choice of water park, sports complex, or golf course.  In addition to entry tickets, you can buy travel packages that include park entry and hotel room.  You can customize your package to include dining, ground transportation and even flight (within North America).  The Disney website will guide you through the variety of options available to create your perfect vacation. 

Disney Hotels

There are a lot of lodging options in the Orlando area.  You can choose to stay within the resort at a Disney property or you may want to find a budget hotel off property.  A vacation rental home is a great choice if you are traveling with a larger group.  Many have private pools for relaxing after touring the theme parks.  And cooking dinner in the house is a great way to save money if you are traveling on a budget.

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Disney cruises

The Disney cruise line combines a Disney World resort vacation with a Caribbean cruise. You stay at the resort in Florida for several days, then board a cruise ship and travel to Disney's own private-island resort in the Bahamas. Many families enjoy going on a relatively peaceful cruise after the hustle and bustle of their Disney World vacation.

As you can see, there is plenty to do at Walt Disney World, and there are many other attractions in the Orlando area and the rest of Florida. Some planning is required to get the most out of your Disney vacation but don't worry, the planning can be half the fun.

For more tips and information about Disney World, visit our Disney Tips page.

Written by: Gerry Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Disney Corp. All Rights Reserved
Photo Description: Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida