Show MoreDescriptive Essay: Disney World (The Magic Kingdom) When I walk through those magical gates I stumble upon Main Street, USA. This just happens to be the first of seven themed lands. The décor is early-20th century small-town America, which happens to be inspired by Walt Disney’s childhood and the movie Lady and the Tramp. As I stroll down Main Street I can see an old fashioned movie theatre, quaint little shops, and an antique barber shop. But the best part of all is at the end of Main Street USA stands Cinderella’s enchanting castle that marks the center of the park. At the center I find 6 other pathways that lead to six additional lands. When I travel through these lands I’ll see how fantasy becomes reality when I learn how to be a…show more content…
Also, I seize my courage and enter the Evil Queen’s shadowy world on Snow White’s Scary Adventures and see who is the fairest of them all. Plus, I embark on a jolly journey during a very blustery day in the Hundred Acre Wood aboard one of Pooh’s Hunny Pots on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Before I leave I can’t forget to stop and chat with some of my favorite friends such as Pooh and Tigger too. Now comes Tomorrowland filled with living blueprints of our future. Before I explore, I want to stop at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café to maybe grab a Blast-off burger or some Cosmic Chicken. To begin I climb aboard my own space cruiser to shoot targets and rack up points as I battle the robots in Zurg’s service on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Next, I launch past the flashing lights of my space station into the soaring darkness of space on Space Mountain. Lastly I experience the glory of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as I drive my own Indy 500-style race car on a guided track all the way to the Victory Circle on the Tomorrowland Speedway. At the end of the day, as I sit and think about my day’s journey, I wonder what my world would be like if I’d never gotten to experience Disney magic like I did today. Well, my life wouldn’t be the same without it. My memories as a little girl are filled with Disney magic. The feelings I got back then and still do now at eighteen don’t change. Memories of family vacations at Disney World will never
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At the Walt Disney World Resort, you can explore human innovation and cooperation; enjoy rides both thrilling and enchanting; relax and recuperate on the beach or the golf course; and discover an entire resort where children and adults can have fun—together. Even though families with small children are common in the park, Disney World is also a very common destination for newlyweds on their honeymoon and college students on Spring Break.
Walt Disney World, located in the towns of Bay Lake, Florida and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near Orlando, is the flagship of Disney's worldwide theme park empire. It is, by far, the most popular theme park resort in the world. Some visitors describe it as a place of magic, wonder, and fantasy; others speak of fun, excitement, and relaxation; and still others complain of crowds, artifice, and unrelenting tackiness. As with most things, the essence of Walt Disney World lies near the intersection of those three views.
The centerpieces of Walt Disney World are the four theme parks: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney World also has two of the world's three most popular water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, both heavily themed. Two shopping and entertainment districts, Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and Disney's Boardwalk, provide extensive shopping, dining, and entertainment options. If none of that strikes your fancy, check out some of the lesser-known activities: golf, tennis, boating, race car driving, spas and health clubs, backstage tours, sporting events, character dining, and much more.
Simply put, if you can't find something fun to do at Walt Disney World, you just aren't trying hard enough.
We're all in this together
Source: TEA/AECOM Theme Index 2011 
- "I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us, whether we be six or sixty. Call the child 'innocence'. The worst of us is not without innocence, although buried deeply it might be. In my work I try to reach and speak to that innocence, showing it the fun and joy of living; showing it that laughter is healthy; showing it that the human species, although happily ridiculous at times, is still reaching for the stars." — Walt Disney
The most important thing to understand about the Walt Disney World Resort is that it was designed to be fun for everyone. Don't make the mistake of staying away just because you don't have kids. Singles and couples without children who think a Walt Disney World vacation is just for kids ignore the many "adult" entertainments available throughout the resort. Gourmands, sun-worshippers, world travelers, thrill-seekers, comedy-lovers, film devotees, sports fans, club-hoppers, and history buffs will all find plenty of ways to have a great time. This is evident in the fact that Walt Disney World is one of the top destinations for newlyweds on their honeymoon and college students on Spring Break.
Of course, if you do have kids, the best part of your Walt Disney World vacation is in experiencing the parks through their eyes. That is when you really understand Walt Disney's vision of a place where kids and parents can have fun together.
Walt Disney World is enormous, a multi-day resort destination. Each of its four theme parks is big enough to occupy visitors for a full day (and often two, depending on crowds). Unless you live nearby, four days is considered the bare minimum length of visit to even begin to experience the resort; some people stay as long as two weeks and still bypass some attractions.
Traveling to Walt Disney World represents a major pilgrimage for many American families, as well as a common element of childhood for nearly every family that can afford it. The "typical" visit involves flying into Orlando International Airport, busing to an on-site Disney hotel, spending about a week without leaving Disney property, and returning home. There are infinite variations possible, but this remains what most people mean when they talk of "going to Disney World".
Everything at Walt Disney World is carefully constructed and choreographed to maintain your perceptions of visiting an idealized world. Company jargon frames every aspect of customer service as part of the "show": employees are "cast members", visitors are "guests", and every prop and costume must be completely "in-character" while "on-stage" (visible to guests).
Disney prides themselves on customer service and friendliness. You will never find garbage lying in the streets or bathrooms that are too dirty, and anything that is damaged is either removed or fixed immediately. The streets are almost sparkling and the buildings look brand new no matter what time of the day or year you are there.
While some people find this attention to detail cloying and artificial, the vast majority of visitors are happy to immerse themselves in this relaxing, carefree environment. Even so, the realities of Walt Disney World can be stark: long lines, sweltering heat, rude guests, and expensive merchandise are common. There are ways to avoid the worst elements (namely by carefully choosing when to visit) and customer service is almost universally impeccable, even (or perhaps especially) when things go wrong.
Many first-time visitors try to do too much during their stay. Unless crowds are unusually small, this is a sure-fire recipe for burnout and exhaustion. You need to have a basic schedule in mind, but you should remain flexible in order to account for closed rides, full restaurants, special events, and just changing your mind. If the crowds get too heavy or the weather gets too hot, smart guests staying on-site head back to their hotels to relax, grab a snack, or take a swim, then return later in the day. Trying to adhere to a rigid schedule will only frustrate you and your family, and you're not going to Walt Disney World to get frustrated, are you?
With some careful basic planning, an open mind, and a cheerful attitude, a visit to Walt Disney World can be whatever you want it to be: fulfilling, exciting, relaxing, enlightening, or just plain fun. Whatever you chose to do, your visit is guaranteed to be an experience, in every sense of the word—one you'll never forget.
Disneyland was an unprecedented success. Walt Disney had created not just an amusement park, where children could ride kiddie rides while their parents watched from a bench, but the world's first theme park, a place where children and grown-ups could both have fun, together.
But it was not long after Disneyland's 1955 opening that Walt realized that the available space in Anaheim was too small. Coming out of the lean war years, Walt Disney Productions had struggled to raise enough money to build Disneyland. Walt hadn't been able to secure enough of a buffer zone around the park, meaning that all the surrounding land was immediately snatched up by entrepreneurs who filled it with tacky motels and restaurants. They also drove Anaheim land values through the roof, making it very difficult for him to buy any more land. He had his park, but he and his Imagineers were constantly coming up with new ideas, ideas that just weren't going to fit inside Disneyland. Furthermore, transcontinental flights were still relatively expensive and a coast-to-coast journey for most people was still three days by train. Marketing surveys showed that nearly all of Disneyland's visitors came from west of the Mississippi River, even though the vast majority of the U.S. population at that time still lived on the Eastern Seaboard and quite a number of them were Disney fans.
Therefore, in the sixties, Walt began looking to the East Coast, for a place with enough space to hold all of the ideas his team could dream up and which would serve Disney's East Coast audience. He found such a place in Central Florida, southwest of the sleepy city of Orlando. Here, along the new Interstate 4, there was plenty of space, far more than would be needed for just a single theme park. Walt had grander ideas in mind for this "Florida Project" of his.
After buying up over 27,000 acres (11,000 ha) of land on the sly through various corporate entities, Walt announced his ambitious Disney World plans to the world. A theme park would be built, of course—a Magic Kingdom on the north end of the property. But to get there from I-4, guests would need to pass through the true centerpiece of the project: EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
EPCOT was Walt Disney's largest, most revolutionary idea yet—a real city, with 20,000 real people living and working within, making use of the most advanced technologies to grow food, provide transport, and enhance quality of life. Much of the technology was already in use at Disneyland—PeopleMovers and monorails, for instance—but these would not be amusement rides. EPCOT was to be a place where the Imagineers' ideas were put to practical use, for the betterment of all mankind.
Alas, it was not to be. Walt died in December 1966, just as the Florida Project was coming to fruition. Without Walt to drive the project, the company board refused to undertake the ambitious EPCOT plans. But Walt's brother Roy O. Disney insisted the project as a whole go forward, starting with the Magic Kingdom. Roy changed the project's name to Walt Disney World; this new resort would be a tribute to Walt's vision, but would never really be the fulfillment of it.
The Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971, with two hotels, a campground, and two golf courses nearby. It was an immediate success, single-handedly sparking the development of the Orlando area as one of the country's busiest vacation destinations. Though Roy died before the year ended, he had succeeded in getting his brother's final project off the ground.
Walt Disney World's first decade passed quickly, and by the time of its "Tencennial" celebration in 1981, a new theme park was being built in the space Walt had envisioned for EPCOT. The new park would be called EPCOT Center, though it bore little resemblance to Walt's original plans. Instead, EPCOT Center would be a sort of "permanent world's fair", combining Future World, made up of grand pavilions devoted to human progress, with a World Showcase of meticulously detailed recreations of foreign lands. EPCOT Center opened in 1982, and was followed by a combination theme park and movie studio called Disney-MGM Studios in 1989, and then by Disney's Animal Kingdom, a zoological theme park, in 1998.
Over the years, numerous resort hotels and recreational activities were added to support the increased attendance at the multi-park resort. Two large water parks were added in 1989 and in 1995. In addition, a remote area of the property that started as Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village evolved into the Disney Village Marketplace, and eventually expanded to become Downtown Disney, an adult-oriented shopping and entertainment district.
In a partial fulfillment of Walt Disney's original dream, a real planned town was eventually built by the company: Celebration. The problem with real towns is that they tend to be inhabited by real people who like to vote as they wish. To avoid that issue, Celebration was deliberately detached from Walt Disney World and built under the control of a separate entity, the Celebration Company.
Walt Disney never would have imagined what Walt Disney World has become, and it is far removed from his original vision. But one of his guiding principles was to "keep moving forward", and Disney World has done just that, becoming the largest and most popular theme park resort complex in the world.
Enough books have been written about Walt Disney World to fill a good-sized bookshelf. One very informative set of books are the Imagineering Field Guides; there's one for each of the four parks (plus one for Disneyland). They go through each park area-by-area and feature great concept images (some rarely seen), behind-the-scenes details, and tricks of the Imagineering trade. They're also small enough to carry in your pocket as you tour the parks.
Surprisingly, not much fiction has been written about the parks themselves. Ridley Pearson has an ongoing series of young-adult novels set inside the parks, called The Kingdom Keepers. There's also Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, a science-fiction novel by Cory Doctorow that takes place primarily in a future version of the Magic Kingdom.
The Walt Disney Company is a multinational media conglomerate, so video productions featuring Walt Disney World are ubiquitous.
Several television programs have filmed on-location at the resort. The revival of The Mickey Mouse Club (the one that gave Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake their starts) is filmed entirely at the production facilities inside Disney's Hollywood Studios. Full House, Roseanne, Family Matters, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch are among the sitcoms (mostly on Disney-owned ABC) with episodes showing the characters visiting Walt Disney World. Another fun option, if you can find it, is 1990's The Muppets at Walt Disney World, which is a precursor to Disney's purchase of the Muppets.
Those shows only used the park as a backdrop, though, so they have limited "tourist" value. For meatier fare, there's always the yearly Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade, which often includes segments showing the latest and greatest attractions around the World. If you're going to watch the parade just to get planning information, though, you might as well just call Disney at +1 407 W-DISNEY and ask for their free vacation planning video. As expected, you won't find much official material that addresses the problems you might encounter at Walt Disney World, but they do offer a good introduction to the resort for first-timers who are trying to get a feel for the place before they go. Another good source of information is the official YouTube channel of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts .
Disney has also made a few full-length features based on various rides in the parks—the four Pirates of the Caribbean films being by far the best—but don't expect the rides to have much of anything to do with the films. Okay, yes, Jack Sparrow can now be spotted inside the Pirates ride, but it's just a cameo appearance.
Last but not least, Walt Disney World is featured in three "Disney Sing Along Songs" titles. Campout at Walt Disney World is set at Fort Wilderness Campground, Beach Party at Walt Disney World covers a wide range of activities including the two water parks, and Flik's Musical Adventure is set at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Check the weather forecast for Lake Buena Vista, FL from NOAA.
Like all of Central Florida, the climate at Walt Disney World is humid and subtropical. Summer (May–October) is hot and sticky and winter (November–April) is mild and drier. Visitors from higher latitudes are often surprised by the sheer intensity of the summer sun in Florida, which can rise to within a few degrees of straight overhead in June and July. In June through September, late afternoon thundershowers are very common; plan accordingly.
That said, climate problems are well known at Walt Disney World and there are several means to cope (see "Weather" in the Stay Safe section).
Inclement weather can often lead to the temporary closure of outdoor rides and live performances. In the case of rides, they will re-open after the weather improves, and FastPass tickets will continue to be accepted, even if the printed time interval has expired. Live performances may be either delayed or canceled outright. On the other hand, inclement weather could work to your advantage, as it drives some visitors away from outdoor areas, or out of the parks entirely.
When to visit
There used to be some times of year when the parks were relatively deserted, but not so much anymore. Now they just vary from "moderately busy" to "completely insane". Still, deciding when to go remains a game of trade-offs: you must decide whether to favor lower crowds or longer park hours, and decide whether you prefer scorching days or chilly nights.
The peak periods for attendance are late December, mid-June to mid-August, and mid-February to mid-April. Why? That's when kids are on break from school. If you have kids, you may have no choice but to go during these peak times. The bad news is that you'll be packed like sardines next to 50,000 of your new closest friends, you'll wait two hours to go on rides like Splash Mountain and Soarin', and you'll be paying a premium for the privilege. In the summer, you also get to listen to the kids complain about the heat. On the bright side, though, you'll have plenty of company, the parks are guaranteed to be open late, and as many rides as possible will be up and running.
If your schedule allows any flexibility at all, you should avoid these peak periods. Attendance is lowest in October, November (pre-Thanksgiving), December (pre-Christmas), and January. These can be very good times to go; crowds are low and prices are too, but keep in mind that you may find that several rides are shut down for maintenance, and the parks have shorter operating hours. In the winter, it's often too cold to go to the water parks, and you'll need a jacket at night.
The weeks between Easter and Memorial Day are another slow period, as well as the months of August and September; both periods provide a good balance of price, crowds, temperature, and operating hours, but you may need to take the kids out of school if you're bringing them along.
Of course, you may want to coordinate your trip with a special event. (It's no coincidence that these events are scheduled during otherwise-slow periods for the parks.) Epcot has two months-long events: the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival runs from March to mid-May, and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival runs from October through mid-November. Hollywood Studios is the location for Star Wars Weekends in May and June.
The Magic Kingdom hosts two special hard-ticket holiday events, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in September and October, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in November and December. These events, which let you stay in the park past the normal closing time, cost more than $50 per person, but tickets are limited so the crowds stay small.
Speaking of Christmas, the month of December may just be the most magical time of year at Walt Disney World. The entire resort goes all-out to decorate everything, with huge themed Christmas trees in each of the parks and each of the resorts, and the spectacular Castle Dreamlights draped onto Cinderella Castle. There are also countless holiday events at the resorts, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios, the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, and much much more. And as long as you avoid Thanksgiving week and Christmas week, the crowds really aren't that bad.
If your vacation dates are flexible, plan to arrive to the Orlando area on Thursday. Both Friday and Saturday are transition days for park visitors, especially in the summer months. Saturdays do draw in more Annual Pass holders to the park, but that is the major day that people either arrive or leave the area. This causes attendance figures to be down, making it a perfect day to visit the parks.
If you are planning to have a day of rest in your vacation, by arriving on Thursday you can enjoy two days of parks with reduced crowds and then use Sunday to rest. If during those first two days you are planning to visit the Magic Kingdom, plan to do it on Friday. Attendance figures pick up for that park on Saturday. You will be able to do more attractions in the first two days while you are revved up, and then it will allow you to relax and enjoy the park on the more crowded days.
As in most places in the United States, English is the default language throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. The cast members at World Showcase in Epcot are largely citizens of the featured countries, and so will be fluent in their native tongues as well as English. Other cast members throughout the property may also be bi- or tri-lingual; any such cast members can be identified by language signs on their name tags, representing the languages they speak . Spanish is also very common in Florida, and the US as a whole. Spanish speakers will not have any problems navigating the resort.
All four theme parks have an information center known as Guest Relations, near the main entrance. Cast members, who usually are multilingual, will be available here to answer any questions you may have.
Disney's Ears to the World is an audio headset that provides foreign-language translations of the dialogues of selected attractions in French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, or Spanish. It may be rented at Guest Relations, but there are a limited number of them available; a $25 deposit will be collected and refunded upon return.
For guests with visual disabilities, linguistic services are in the form of audiocassette tour guides and Braille guidebooks, also available for rent at Guest Relations.
For hearing-impaired guests, assistive listening devices and captioning (handheld, reflective, or video) are available for selected attractions. Cast Members with knowledge of American Sign Language can be identified by the appropriate symbol on their name tags, and interpreters are available by appointment.
- "A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive." — Walt Disney
Why is it MCO and not ORL?
Most visitors fly into Orlando International Airport (IATA: MCO) , +1 407-825-2001. It is served by nearly all major US airlines and a wide range of international carriers. From there, you can rent a car, take a taxi, order a limo or towncar, or take Disney's Magical Express: a free bus service from the airport to the Disney-owned resort hotels (prior reservations required, call 1-407-WDISNEY). Florida State Roads 528 (to the north) and 417 (to the south) link the airport with Interstate 4, which leads directly into Walt Disney World.
Orlando-Sanford International Airport (IATA: SFB)  is a bit farther away from Walt Disney World than Orlando International. Aside from domestic flights on Allegiant Air, the airport primarily handles flights from the United Kingdom and Iceland. Disney's Magical Express is not available here. Florida State Road 417 connects the airport to Interstate 4.
Interstate 4 is the most direct driving route into Walt Disney World. Depending on your point of origin, the Florida Turnpike can be quite useful. This is particularly true when you might be arriving from Miami or other points south. If you will be arriving from a cruise at Port Canaveral, Florida State Road 528 gets you to I-4, with Orlando International Airport and the Turnpike en route.
Amtrak'sSilver ServiceMiami–New York City routes serve Orlando and Kissimmee. Service is four times daily, with two trains in either direction. Northbound trains from Miami arrive at the Orlando station at 1:43 PM and 7:08 PM; southbound trains from NYC arrive at 10:17 AM and 12:55 PM. The Auto Train, which can carry both passengers and automobiles, serves nearby Sanford non-stop from Lorton, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.). If you're coming from Volusia or Seminole Counties or from Maitland or Winter Park on a weekday, you might find it easier to take the new SunRail service which runs between Debary, FL and Sand Lake Road in Orlando, where you could transfer at Lynx Central Station to Walt Disney World via the Link 50 Bus. Note that SunRail does not run on weekends or federal holidays and the trains operate every 30 minutes during rush hour periods (i.e. between 5:00 AM and 8:30 a.m and between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM) and every two hours during off-peak periods.
You will need a bicycle with the large, wide tires, designed to ride on dirt or grassy areas, to go to Walt Disney World. The roads within the resort are very narrow, shoulderless, and often unsafe, so your best bet would be to ride in the grass near the road if you wish to access the parks via bicycle, and the grassy shoulders are not friendly for regular city or even mountain bicycles.
Disney's Magical Express has proven to be a very popular option for guests staying at Disney resort hotels; it provides free transportation to and from the airport. Be sure to book service ahead of time, though!
The Disney Cruise Line provides a similar bus service for their passengers, between the Walt Disney World resort hotels and their terminal at Port Canaveral. The one-way fare is $35 per person, although it's included in the price if you book a land-and-sea vacation package.
If you're not staying at a Disney resort, or aren't coming in via Orlando International or Disney Cruise Line, you do have some other choices. Mears Transportation is the big dog in the area; in fact, Disney contracts with them to run the Magical Express and the Disney Cruise Line buses. But they also run their own shuttle buses and town cars that can take you to any of the local attractions or hotels.
Long-distance bus company Greyhound serves both Orlando and Kissimmee, with the latter being closer to Walt Disney World.
- Greyhound terminals:
- Orlando Terminal, 555 N John Young Pkwy, +1 407 292-3424.
- Kissimmee Terminal, 103 E Dakin Ave, +1 407 847-3911.
LYNX is a public bus service of the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority. Ten LYNX routes provide service between Walt Disney World and the surrounding area. All except 56 travel via I-4 and Downtown Disney and serve the Downtown Disney West Side Transfer Center.
- Regular routes:
- Route 50, from the Transportation and Ticket Center, adjacent to the Magic Kingdom parking lot, to SeaWorld and downtown Orlando. This route serves as WDW's primary public transit connection to International Drive, the main tourism corridor within the city of Orlando. This also provides connections to SunRail at Lynx Central Station.
- Route 56, from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Osceola Square Mall in Kissimmee.
- Routes 300–306 are commuter routes with very limited service (in some cases, a Cast Member ID may be required at a certain point):
- Route 300, from Downtown Disney to downtown Orlando.
- Route 301, from Animal Kingdom to Pine Hills.
- Route 302, from the Magic Kingdom resorts to Rosemont.
- Route 303, from Hollywood Studios to Washington Shores.
- Route 304, from Downtown Disney to Rio Grande.
- Route 305, from the All-Star Resorts to Kirkman/Raleigh.
- Route 306, from Downtown Disney to Poinciana.
Warning: Purchasing tickets online
Visiting Walt Disney World is a very expensive affair. Tickets are sold at several levels: the Magic Your Way base tickets cover the cost of visiting one of the four theme parks a day for each day of the ticket. On top of this, you can add the Park Hopper option, which allows you to enter multiple theme parks on the same day as many times as you like. You can also add the Water Park Fun & More option, which grants admission to the two Disney water parks as well as other attractions. Each of those add-on options costs $57 (or $79 for both) above the cost of your tickets, regardless of how many days are on your tickets. Neither one is likely worth it if you buy only a one-day ticket, but their value goes up sharply as you add more days.
The Park Hopper option in particular is often overlooked, but it's strongly recommended because of the flexibility it offers. Without it, you could be stuck with nowhere else to go after doing everything you want to do at one park; or you could run out of time to do one last attraction and be unable to come back another day to pick it up. If you have seven-day tickets, it only costs about $8 a day to add this option; the value of being able to visit one park in the morning and another in the evening should not be underestimated.
With the Water Park Fun & More option, you receive a number of admissions to attractions outside the four main parks. The number is equal to the number of days on your Magic Your Way ticket (or two admissions for one-day tickets), though they can be used anytime. You can use these admissions at Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, DisneyQuest, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the nine-hole Oak Trail golf course. You can also use an admission for a round of golf at the Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland miniature golf courses, but only before 4PM. Depending on which attractions you visit, the cost of the option may be covered by the money you save on admission after just two visits.
Multi-day tickets do not have to be used on consecutive days. However, these tickets will expire 14 days after they are first used, so be sure to use all the days purchased prior to that. A no-expiration option can be added to any multi-day ticket with at least one day remaining; with this option, the ticket expires when the last purchased day is used, which can be months or even years after the initial use. A side benefit of this option is locking in your admission price for your next visit(s). The price for this option is variable, based on the number of days purchased.
The best feature of a Disney admission ticket is its flexibility. Options can be added even if the ticket has already been used at least once. For example, a base ticket (no park-hopping) can be upgraded to include park-hopping by paying the $55 cost for the option. Or, if a change in travel plans will not allow the user to utilize all purchased days prior to the ticket's expiration date, the "no-expiration" option can be purchased for the remaining days. These changes may be made at any ticket window or at the Guest Relations office inside each theme park as well as the Concierge desk at Disney Resort Hotels. Any ticket upgrades must be made within 14 days of the first date of use, and you have to still have some remaining value on the ticket.
Too good to be true?
The prices below were accurate as of March 2014 (6.5% Florida sales tax not included):
|Days||ages 10+||ages 3-9|
|Total||Per Day||Total||Per Day|
Children under age three are admitted for free.
There are Magic Your Way Premium and Magic Your Way Platinum packages available as well; they add some interesting luxury options to your vacation package. They both include the Deluxe Dining Plan, preferred fireworks viewing, unlimited access to select recreational activities, tours, and a portrait session. The Platinum package adds to that a spa treatment, a fireworks cruise, and more. If you're sure you're going to use the benefits these packages provide, they may just be worth the extra cost. Purchasing these packages does require booking and staying at a Disney owned resort hotel.
Florida residents who provide proof of residence get discounts of varying degrees, but they can't purchase beyond a 7-day ticket (meaning that Florida residents who ask for the discount can't purchase 8-, 9-, or 10-day tickets). Annual passes are also available for frequent visitors or residents.
Disney resort guests (those staying on-site at Disney hotels) are usually best served by getting package deals that include both lodging and admission.
Getting around Walt Disney World is easy and often fun. You may walk, drive, or ride public transit (in this case, buses, monorails, or ferryboats). In most cases, the service is direct and non-stop. All Walt Disney World transit vehicles are wheelchair-accessible, and there is no additional fee to use any of them. If you are traveling with a stroller, you must take your child out of the stroller, then fold it and hand-carry it onto the vehicle.
A whole new world
In some places, walking is the most convenient way to travel from one area to another. Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and the five resorts in between (Swan & Dolphin, Yacht & Beach Clubs, and Boardwalk) are connected by walkways, as is Downtown Disney to Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. If you are staying at Disney's Contemporary Resort, you will find it quicker to walk to the Magic Kingdom than to take the ferry or monorail. From Shades of Green (a military-only resort) it's a five-minute walk to Disney's Polynesian Resort, to take the monorail or ferry to the Magic Kingdom; and from the Polynesian Resort it's another five-minute walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center, to take the monorail to Epcot.
Keep in mind, though, that you'll be doing a lot of walking within the parks, especially at Epcot and Animal Kingdom, so don't tire yourself out early!
Strollers, wheelchairs, and electric convenience vehicles (ECVs) are readily available to rent at the entrance to each park. If you have a problem standing too long, or if walking on the hot pavement makes your feet ache, renting a wheelchair or ECV can make a big difference. Wheelchairs can be brought up to the loading area of most rides, where you'll usually need to transfer to the ride vehicle. Both wheelchairs and ECVs are accommodated in most theater and stage attractions. Strollers will usually need to be left outside; most attractions have a designated stroller parking area.
A Single stroller rents for $15, or $13/day for multi-day rentals. Double strollers are $31, or $27/day. Wheelchairs are $12, or $10/day. ECVs are $50, with a $20 refundable deposit. Even if you park-hop, you only have to pay once per day; simply show a same-day receipt to avoid paying a second fee.
Learn to love the ubiquitous Walt Disney World bus system. You'll be using it a lot, especially if you didn't bring a car.
The bus routes are set up to facilitate travel from a resort to a park, but not from one resort to another or from one park to another. Most resorts have five bus routes originating from them, providing direct service to all four theme parks and Downtown Disney. Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are served by the Downtown Disney and Animal Kingdom routes respectively.
Disney's Boardwalk is actually part of a resort, so visitors from other resorts (except Swan/Dolphin or Yacht/Beach Clubs) will have to travel there via one of the parks. The most convenient option is Disney's Hollywood Studios, which has two connections to the Boardwalk: walking or ferry. (Although Epcot is the closest park to the Boardwalk, using it as an interchange is not recommended, as it would require entering through the main entrance and exiting out the back entrance, thereby costing the admission fee.)
Note that there is no bus service to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot from the Magic Kingdom-area resorts; they are served by the monorail system. Likewise, service to Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios from the Epcot-area resorts is by ferry or walking. There is also no direct bus service between the theme parks and Downtown Disney. To travel to Downtown Disney from a theme park, or vice versa, you must travel to any resort and change buses. The most convenient resort for this purpose is Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort, which is right next door to Downtown Disney; you can get there via a pedestrian bridge, bus, or ferry.
The buses are reliable, fairly efficient, and reasonably comfortable, but they can be slow and inconvenient if, for example, you are traveling with young children or strollers. Expect to wait up to fifteen minutes for a bus to your destination, and another ten to thirty minutes to get there—possibly longer during the busy season. Also keep in mind that guests in wheelchairs have first priority when boarding.
Walt Disney World's monorail system is one of its signature attractions, and it's not even inside one of the parks. They do a great job of getting large numbers of guests from place to place, but they're also quite comfortable and fun to ride.
The monorail service is limited and only goes to certain areas, all originating from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). There are three monorail lines:
- Express: This route travels from the Transportation and Ticket Center (adjacent to the Magic Kingdom parking lot) to the Magic Kingdom gates and back, without stopping at the resorts. This is primarily used by Magic Kingdom guests who parked in the lot or are coming from Epcot. This route runs on the outer rail, counter-clockwise around Seven Seas Lagoon.
- Resort: This route runs parallel to the Express route, clockwise on the inner rail, and stops at all the resorts it passes. The stops are, in order: Transportation and Ticket Center, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom, and Contemporary. This route is used by resort guests to get to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot, and by guests visiting one of the resorts.
- Epcot: This route travels between the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Epcot gates. When entering Epcot this way, the monorail makes a nice loop in the park before arriving at the station, giving a great aerial view of Future World and the World Showcase.
If you are going to Epcot from the Polynesian Resort, you may walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center to get to the Epcot monorail; it's usually faster than taking the Resort monorail completely through the loop. It is also possible to walk to the TTC from Disney's Wilderness Lodge, which is not connected to the monorail. The distance is about ½ mile (800 m), and takes around 10 minutes.
Walt Disney World also has several waterways which are used by ferryboats to transport guests.
- From the Magic Kingdom, large ferries transport guests to the Transportation and Ticket Center, adjacent to the parking lot. Smaller ferries travel to the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Fort Wilderness Campground, and Wilderness Lodge.
- From Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, service is to the Swan/Dolphin, Yacht/Beach Club, and Boardwalk.
- From Downtown Disney, service is to Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, and the two Port Orleans resorts.
If you are staying on-site, a car is not necessary, unless you wish to travel off-property during your stay. Some people purchase groceries to use during their stay; while there are a couple of places on the property to buy them, better selection and prices are found off property. Other people use a car to avoid the delays that can sometimes affect the public transportation options.
If you are staying at a hotel off Disney property, on the other hand, a car is strongly recommended. Many off-resort hotels offer shuttle service to the parks, but the schedules may not be convenient.
Getting around Walt Disney World by car is not much of a problem. All you need to do is follow the purple directional signs with black Mickey Mouse ears to your destination. Your WDW resort will also provide a map of the complex. If you run into problems, just drop by the Walt Disney World Car Care Center on World Drive, near the Magic Kingdom toll plaza.
The five golf courses (see below) are accessible only by car; however, complimentary taxi service is available for guests of Disney-owned hotels.
Several car rental agencies have locations on Walt Disney World property:
- Alamo and National, which are both owned by the same company, have dual locations in three places:
- WDW Car Care Center (near the Magic Kingdom toll plaza), +1 407 824-3470
- Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, +1 407 934-4930
- Buena Vista Palace (in the Downtown Disney Hotel Plaza), +1 407 827-6363
- Avis at the Hilton in the Hotel Plaza. +1 407 827-2847
- Budget at the Doubletree in the Hotel Plaza. +1 407 827-6089
- Dollar at the Regal Sun Resort in the Hotel Plaza. +1 407 583-8000
- Hertz at Shades of Green. +1 407 938-0600
- U-Save at the Best Western in the Hotel Plaza. +1 407 938-9585
There are three Speedway gas stations (formerly Hess) within the resort: at the Car Care Center on World Drive, on Buena Vista Drive near the entrance to Hollywood Studios, and on Buena Vista Drive across from Downtown Disney. The Speedway stations on Disney property do charge market rate for their fuel, unlike a few Orlando gas stations where the cost of fuel is still outrageous despite the recent drop in gas prices. Gas stations along State Road 535 (Apopka-Vineland Road) near the Downtown Disney Hotel Plaza are notorious for pricing well above the market rate for fuel.
However, for sheer chutzpah, you gotta hand it to Suncoast Energys, located on State Road 436 (Semoran Boulevard), just outside the Orlando International Airport. Its location across the street from the Hertz and Thrifty rental-car lots makes it a tempting top-off-the-tank stop, but be sure you take note of the pump price, which is usually $1.50-$2 higher than the local average.
Visit Orlando Gas Prices to find the local average price and get addresses for other handy gas stations.
The parking fee at the four theme park lots is $20.00 for most vehicles (campers and trailers are $22.00; buses and tractor trailers are $25.00). Parking is free, though, for guests staying at any of the on-site Disney Resorts (your Key to the World card serves as your parking ticket), or who have a valid Annual Pass. The four theme park lots are huge, and are divided into subsections; this is to enable you to remember your car's location. To save you from having to walk the long distances, there are trams that will shuttle you from the parking lot to the park gates and back (except in the case of the Magic Kingdom, where the tram will take you to the Transportation and Ticket Center, from which you may take the ferry or the monorail to the park).
Parking at the two water parks or Downtown Disney is free. However, there are no parking lot trams available, so be prepared to walk.
Valet parking is available at Deluxe resorts (see the Sleep section) for $12/day.
- "Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland — the blessing of size. There's enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine." — Walt Disney
It's a small world, after all
For Verizon customers with Android phones or iPhones, Disney Mobile Magic is an interactive theme park map application complete with features such as games, messages from Disney characters, and finding wait times for rides. The application may be acquired at the Verizon Media Store , the iTunes App Store , or by texting "MAGIC" to 2777 from a Verizon phone.
For non-Verizon phones, a text-message interface  is available; ride wait times, character appearances, park hours, and exclusive offers can all be sent directly to your phone. Just register your phone at the website and you can get started; normal text-messaging rates apply.
Finally, the official Walt Disney World mobile website  may be accessed through a mobile phone browser. However, this site will only contain basic park information like park hours and entertainment schedules, and will only provide limited information about wait times and FastPass return times.
The four theme parks are Walt Disney World's bread and butter. These are not traditional amusement parks, where age is a hindrance to full enjoyment. The Disney parks have rides, sure, but many of them are quite sedate and can be enjoyed by everyone, not just those with a high tolerance for thrills. And even beyond the rides, there are stage shows to watch, shops to browse, characters to meet, and atmosphere to soak in.
Most importantly, though, none of these rides, shows, and stores just "sit there". Each one tells a story, in much the same way that Disney's animated films do, and each is crafted with the utmost care and attention to detail. There are also the bigger stories to be found in each themed land, and in the park as a whole. When you enter the Magic Kingdom, and the entrance tunnels give way to the vista of Main Street, with Cinderella Castle at the far end, you're raising the curtain on a new production—and you're the featured player.
You won't find dirt or peeling paint or run-down mechanics at a Disney Park, not even at the oldest attractions. Disney takes quality very seriously, and if anything intrudes on your perception of the "show", it gets fixed quickly. It's all about suspension of disbelief: total immersion into worlds of imagination, art, and history.
The sheer number of attractions—including rides, stage shows, parades, and fireworks displays—at Walt Disney World's four theme parks can be intimidating to guests. It's usually best to have a plan going in. Check the guide map for the park you plan to visit and decide which attractions will be your highest priorities before you leave for the park. Keep in mind that parades and some shows occur only at specific times, and plan your route to put you nearby in time to get a seat. Be flexible, though—once you've hit your priority attractions, you can go back and pick up more if you have time remaining.
The traditional amusement park advice of arriving early and heading to the back of the park first tends to work well, although more and more guests are starting to catch on, so the benefit may be reduced.
Be aware that during the busiest times of the year, lines can be up to two hours long for the most popular attractions. One option for avoiding these lines is the free service known as FastPass, available only at select attractions. Simply insert your park ticket into the machine, and you'll get a FastPass ticket with a time interval stamped on it. At any time during that interval, you may enter the attraction using a separate, shorter queue. You can only have one FastPass at a time, so you won't avoid every line, but it can still be a great time-saver. Note that the FastPass queues may bypass some or all of the scenery and theming found in the longer lines, which for some guests is a significant part of the Disney experience. Consider what you may be missing if you choose to get a FastPass.
The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is the main park, based on the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It is organized around the central landmark of Cinderella Castle, with various "lands" arrayed around a central hub. The lands are, starting from the main entrance and going clockwise around Cinderella Castle: Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.
The park is the oldest, most popular, and the most child-friendly, although many adults love it as well. Adult visitors who do not enjoy rides such as it's a small world, where you sit in vehicles that take you in a circle through a tunnel as animatronic figures sing children's songs to the riders, may want to visit Epcot or Hollywood Studios instead. On the other hand, roller coasters like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad provide plenty of thrills, and dark rides like the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are classics that only the most curmudgeonly would dismiss.
The lines at the Magic Kingdom can be endless, but they always keep moving. Though the FastPass system works well, it is not available for all attractions. Even just walking around, you will likely encounter bottlenecks where there are huge masses of people, and they all seem to be going to the same place you are. Then there's the food and the merchandise, which can be pricey, but not too bad considering where you are. Despite it all, most people would agree that the lines, the crowds, and the prices are worth it for the experience.
Epcot is an "educational park." It is divided into two distinct areas, Future World and World Showcase. Future World features eight indoor pavilions, each one focused on a specific area of human achievement or endeavor. World Showcase replicates, on a small scale but with great attention to detail, eleven of the world's nations, complete with authentic food and merchandise.
Don't miss the cheesy but fun Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros ride in the Mexico pavilion. In Future World, the Test Track, a recent addition in which visitors go through the motions of tests for new cars, is probably the most fun, and the most traditionally theme-parky, of the Epcot rides. Recent additions to the park include Soarin', a ride where visitors "hang-glide" through many landscapes, and Mission: SPACE, a centrifugal spaceflight simulator.
Epcot has a bit of a reputation as a more "grown-up" park. While some of the slower, more intellectual attractions may be over the heads of the youngest visitors, the park still has plenty to keep them entertained. Of course, there are character greetings, especially at World Showcase, but there are also Kidcot Fun Stops, which encourage children to work on a craft and interact with cast members who are representing their home countries. The Seas with Nemo & Friends is great fun for fans of Finding Nemo, too.
Epcot may also be considered a little bit of a "grown-up" park because of the "Food and Wine Festival". The Food and Wine Festival is a time where they celebrate food around the world and have samples of foods from around the world. Booths set up around the counties of Epcot feature great foods that you may have never experienced before. Not only are there booths of food, but celebrity chefs come down for the event, there are night time performances throughout the countries, wine tastings and the Party of the Senses, which is where famous chefs make one dish that is paired up with a fantastic wine. The Food and Wine Festival is only held in September, October, and November.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) opened in May 1989 as the third theme park of Walt Disney World. The park is themed around film and television and features a variety of live shows and attractions based on some of the most iconic productions in Hollywood history. Upon its opening it was described as, "the Hollywood that never was, and always will be."
Among the attractions is an exceptional thrill ride, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (which drops you 13 stories). The Star Wars-based simulator ride Star Tours also grabs big crowds.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom, a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, is a wildlife discovery park, a mix between a zoo and a theme park. Naturalistic animal exhibitions are interspersed, and sometimes integrated, with typical Disney rides. Among these are Kilimanjaro Safaris, a jeep safari past live animal enclosures; Kali River Rapids, a raft ride through the deforestation of a tropical rainforest; Dinosaur, a time travel ride which includes close encounters with dinosaurs; and the newest and most popular ride, Expedition Everest, a roller coaster that includes an encounter with the Yeti.
The park is organized in a Magic Kingdom-like format, with different continents revolving around the central Tree of Life. While light on rides, there are also shows and plenty of animals to view (though the variety of species seems a bit sparse when compared to many larger city zoos). Animal Kingdom is more of a kid-friendly theme park with many animals that would attract the attention of younger generations as well as Camp Minnie-Mickey, a special space for youngsters where they can meet all of their favorite characters. (Camp Minnie-Mickey is closed. They are building Avatar land there.)
Meet the characters
Especially for kids, character greetings are one of the most exciting reasons to visit Disney World. Kids and adults alike can give hugs to, take a photo with, or get autographs from many of their favorite Disney characters. Some kids like to bring or purchase a special autograph book in which the characters can inscribe their names.
Character appearances tend to be surprises (to avoid huge lines), so keep a close eye out. If there's a character your child really wants to see, you can ask at Guest Relations if they know of any upcoming appearances, but nothing is ever guaranteed. And remember that it's hot inside those character costumes; sometimes the character has to leave even if there are people still waiting to say hello. It's disappointing but necessary for safety.
Most often, character greetings will happen in the parks, in particular the Magic Kingdom, but they can happen just about anywhere! The Magic Kingdom does have the widest variety of characters, though; everyone from Mickey Mouse to Captain Jack Sparrow. Disney's "Big Six" (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto) might be found anywhere in the park—for example, you might see Donald Duck in a Davy Crockett-like outfit in Frontierland. Other characters stick to the themed land most appropriate for their genre: Jack Sparrow in Adventureland, Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland, and so on.
At the other parks, character appearances are somewhat rarer. At Epcot, for instance, you'll generally only find characters who hail from one of the themed foreign lands of World Showcase—Mulan in the China pavilion, for example. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom tend to have more structured greetings, where characters will make scheduled appearances at designated locations, but stay out of sight of most of the park. Kids looking for autographs won't want to miss Camp Minnie-Mickey at Animal Kingdom, though; there are always at least a few characters there happy to meet some young guests.
If you miss out on random encounters with the characters, be sure to look into character dining options. While restaurants that offer character dining are extremely popular, if you can get a table, you're virtually guaranteed a few minutes of face time with the characters. See Character Dining in the Eat section, below.
The trading of commemorative pins has been popular at Olympic Games for decades. At the turn of the millennium, Disney decided to get in on the act and began creating metallic lapel pins specifically for trading. The monster they created has endured for over a decade, and it has grown to mythic proportions. More than 60,000 different pin designs have been produced since the beginning.
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