By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll be packing your Mickey ears and booking your Orlando flight deals for Disney World to enjoy its theme parks. Every year, visitors from around the world travel to the whimsical, story-like streets of Disney to meet their favorite characters and partake in the hundreds of attractions and adventures the parks have to offer.
This guide will provide you with all the essential information you need in order to have the vacation of a lifetime. This includes an overview of the parks, top attractions, ticketing and transportation information, a rundown on Disney hotels, and of course, tips & tricks.
Disney World Parks
Disney is home to 27,000 acres of park that is bustling with attractions and entertainment for every age and personality. Its four theme parks include Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and two themed water parks. While known for its enchanting castle and real-life characters, Disney World also caters to older audiences with cutting-edge technology, thrilling roller coasters, and partnerships with Pixar, Marvel, Indiana Jones, and Avatar to provide more age-appropriate attractions. Your family is guaranteed a trip of a lifetime at Walt Disney World.
Experience the enchantment of the most “Magical Place on Earth” at Magic Kingdom. Aside from Cinderella’s Castle and encounters with your favorite Disney characters, Magic Kingdom is home to six lands with unique attractions, shops, and dining. For adults and teens, Magic Kingdom can induce a strong sense of nostalgia when immersed in the long-forgotten fantasy worlds of Disney. There are also a number of fast paced rides such as Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Astro Orbiter. For the tiny tots, there are more than ten toddler friendly rides to enjoy with mom and dad. Other top attractions include Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, and Peter Pan’s flight.
Disney World’s largest park (by far) is Animal Kingdom. The Park boasts about 2,000 animals and more than four million trees, grasses, and shrubs from every continent except Antarctica. Visitors are transported to the African Savana, spotting elephants, lions, and hippos that appear to be in the wild. Rather than use cages, Disney uses natural barriers such as moats, water features, or camouflaged fences, making it appear as though animals are roaming free. Animal Kingdom is also home to DinoLand, the Maharajah Jungle Trek, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, The World of Avatar, and more. In addition to amazingly real attractions and a huge array of animals, Animal Kingdom also has an entire attraction dedicated to conservation as well.
This futurist park is themed after space travel and imagination in one section of the park, and eleven country themed pavilions on the other.
The countries represented in Epcot’s World Showcase each have their own attractions, entertainment, and dining. Some of the most popular attractions at Epcot include Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind, Mission: Space, the Epcot Experience, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, and Test Track presented by Chevrolet.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Enjoy amazing rides and adventures at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Take a train trip with Mickey and Minnie or hurtle through hyperspace in the fastest ship in the galaxy. While many like to travel to this park for a scare on the Tower of Terror, others enjoy spending the day immersed in adventure attractions at the Star Wars Park or Toy Story Land.
Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit because these waterparks are filled with entertainment. Surf at the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool, take a plunge down Crush’n Gusher coaster like raft ride, plummet down Humunga Kowabunga ride, and let your toddlers splash about in Ketchakiddee Creek.
This winter-themed waterpark is home to the tallest, fastest free-fall body slide in the world, Mount Gushmore. If you don’t have the stomach for that kind of fall, race down Toboggan Racers, an 8-lane inner-tube waterslide. Other attractions include Runoff Rapids and Tike’s Peak.
There are a variety of ticket options for travelers of every budget. Once you book your tickets, make your park reservations. Every visitor needs a ticket and a reservation. In fact, park reservations are required for each day of entry, even if you have a multi-day ticket. Make your park reservation as soon as you complete your ticket purchase to ensure availability.
How Long to Stay
The length of your stay depends on how many parks you are interested in seeing. If you plan to visit all four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios), plan for at least four days (5+ for added waterparks).
Resort Guests: a perk of staying at the resorts includes avoiding the hassle of driving and parking. Guests at select Disney Resorts can travel to and from all four theme parks by bus, boat, or monorail. Stop by the pick-up points, and your ride will arrive, often within minutes.
Additionally, any guest residing within the parks can take the monorail. It should be noted that because the monorail is only three lanes, this mode of transport can be long and cumbersome. If you are staying in a hotel outside of Disney, there is parking, but it does come with a fee.
Where to Stay
Let us find you the best hotel accommodations to fit your family’s style and comfort. Disney World has an impressive number of resorts, hotels, and campgrounds to choose from. Each has a different theme and unique amenities to make your trip feel even more magical.
Make sure to pay special attention to the services your accommodation offers when you compare vacation packages. For example, many resorts provide exclusive perks such as early theme park entry with access to select attractions, shops, and dining before regular hours.
For guests staying at Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels or Disney Deluxe Villas (and other select hotels), you can enjoy extended evening hours with reduced crowds in your favorite attractions, shops, and restaurants.
To further elevate your trip, considering staying in room with as much “Disney” as the rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation. Each room and shared space are themed by a different movie with décor to match. Nowhere else in the country will you find swimming pools with Nemo and friends, or rooms decorated with Lightening McQueen.
There are many accommodations to choose from simply go to Orlando Hotels.
Tips & Tricks
1. Download the Disney App
• Fast track food lines with mobile ordering
• Book reservations up to 60 days in advance
• Lost? Get directions on the mobile app! Download My Disney Experience for routes, locations, and transportation
2. Consider purchasing Fast Pass or MaxPass. While this is an added expense, these passes allow you to skip the lines of your favorite rides and attractions.
3. Search for cheap flights to Florida and travel in the offseason.
4. Stay on the property, parking expenses add up.
5. Don’t go home early! Stay in the evening to enjoy fireworks at Magic Kingdom or IllumiNations at Epcot.
Disney World is more than a trip, it is a chance to take part in a magical, fantasy experience for visitors from all walks of life. As the saying goes, Walt Disney World is where dreams come true.