With four major theme parks, two waterparks, 22 themed resorts, other attractions, and a total area the size of Boston, a Disney World vacation covers a vast destination. Start with this overview, below, and be sure to also check Top Tips for Visiting the Theme Parks.
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Magic Kingdom Theme Park
Part of Epcot is a sort of permanent world's fair, with international pavilions, and hands-on exhibits at Future World. Some call it educational; but it's also very entertaining to tour the 11 countries surrounding the lagoon at World Showcase. Every pavilion has some type of live show, movie, or interactive experience. The pavilions also have great eats: from the casual (French patisserie, anyone) to fine dining.
Epcot also has plain ol' fun like the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids", Test Track rides, Soarin', and Mission Space.
Not to be missed: at night, the beautiful IllumiNations fireworks show is staged over the lagoon.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Other highlights in this theme park are some great live shows: Indiana Jones, the Beauty and the Beast musical... Don't miss the night-time Fantasmic! show, a unique spectacle of fireworks, lights on water "hydrotechnics", and "real" pirate ships.
(Also fun: the gigantic desserts at the Prime Time Cafe, where everything, including the wait staff, is themed to the fifties. Expect wisecracks from your waitress.)
As for animals... Zoos, thankfully, have changed greatly and Mickey-- with his deep pockets-- has created some large habitats for animals. The gorillas, for example, have acres to play in. You can also see beautiful tigers who like to cool off in their moat.
Theme Parks - The Extras
Meanwhile, for an extra charge: CHARACTER MEALS give you much for your bucks-- for ex., a giant buffet with kids' section, at the Crystal Palace (left) Do a late breakfast and make it lunch. The characters sing, dance, and pose for pix.
Water Parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon
66-acre Blizzard Beach pretends to be a ski resort: the waterslides down snow-capped Mt. Gushmore have names like Toboggan Racer. A lazy river tube-float goes round the whole park.
56-acre Typhoon Lagoon has a lazy river float, raft rides, and mountain with waterslides, and 2-1/2 acre wave pool where you can body-surf. Kiddie water playground, too.
Both waterparks are beautifully landscaped, with many spots to lounge and have a picnic. These spots go fast; those in the know make a beeline when the park opens, to stake out a home-base. Arriving as early as possible will also net you some hours on the waterslides before line-ups get long.
Choose from 22 themed on-property resorts, with large grounds, fun pools, recreation, eateries. Nice perks include: Disney's Magical Express airport shuttle; Disney buses to the theme parks; Extra Magic Hours at the parks; assured entry on crowded days.
Deluxe resorts feature kids' club, spa, fine dining, special ambiance. At Moderate resorts, recreation includes playgrounds, kayaking, surrey bike rides, horseriding. Value resorts are a great deal; save even more by camping at Fort Wilderness.
Or choose a Disney Resort by LOCATION: several top resorts near Magic Kingdom have monorail and boat access to two theme parks; the resorts clustered near Epcot are prime, too.
Downtown Disney and More
- fun for kids - at the Lego store, in a pool and fountain, on a carousel or train ride (for a charge)
- lots of shops; nightlife; restaurants, including the Rainforest Cafe (make a reservation first)
- Cirque de Soleil's La Nouba show (suitable for big kids and teens)
- DisneyQuest a five-story, indoor interactive virtual adventureland. For ex., a Pirates of the Caribbean quest takes a crew of four into five action-packed minutes in a 3-D world.
Visitors can also do miniature golf, golf, biking, spas, horseback riding, boating-- see Disney World Vacations Without the Theme Parks.
October's now a full festive season, with costume parades, fright nights at theme parks, boos at zoos... All the Disney theme parks around the world get into the act. At Disney World, the main event is Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.