Walt Disney World – The Most Magical Place on Earth!


8 minutes

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Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL is by far one of the most popular tourist attractions in the U.S. It attracts millions of visitors each year to its many theme parks and resorts. Known as the "Most Magical Place on Earth," Walt Disney World is loved by children and adults worldwide.

History

After opening Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 1955, Walt Disney decided he wanted to build an even better amusement park. In 1965, Disney purchased over 27,000 acres of land near Orlando, Florida, where he planned to construct an elaborate park and city. In particular, Disney imagined creating an "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow," an idea that would later give birth to Epcot. Unfortunately, Walt died from lung cancer in 1966 before construction began. After his death, his brother Roy Disney took over the planning of the parks and resorts. On October 1st, 1971 Walt Disney World opened its doors for the first time. At the time, Magic Kingdom was the only park. Today, Walt Disney World consists of four theme parks, two water parks, and 24 themed resorts. Disney has also spread beyond just the U.S. There are international Disney theme parks such as Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris (formerly Euro Disney Resort), and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Currently construction is underway for Shanghai Disney Resort, expected to open in 2016.

Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom: As the original park in Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom remains the most popular among visitors. In 2011, Magic Kingdom hosted 17 million visitors making it the most visited theme park in the world.  Its theme is classic Disney and fairytales and it is divided into six "lands:" Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street, USA. Each section has it its own themed rides, stores, and restaurants. The most iconic image of Walt Disney World is here--the Cinderella Castle.

Popular rides and attractions

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: A lazy boat ride through pillaged towns and past pirate ships. Be prepared to sing along to "Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho, a Pirate's Life for Me."
  • Space Mountain: An indoor rollercoaster that will take you into the heart of space! Make sure to get here early; there is always a line.
  • Splash Mountain: A log flume through B'rer Rabbit's home, based on the 1946 Disney film "Song of the South."
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant: A classic Disney ride, recently relocated to the Fantasyland area of the park.
  • Haunted Mansion: A spooky tour through a "haunted" house with 999 ghosts and ghouls.
  • The Evening Parade: Every night Magic Kingdom holds a spectacular parade through Main Street. See amazing floats with lights and fiber optics, Disney characters, and other performers. Fireworks follow the parade.

 

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Epcot: The second theme park opened at Walt Disney World in 1982, Epcot is more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom. It is dedicated to international culture, technology and innovation. Epcot is divided into two distinct sections, the World Showcase and Future World. The World Showcase is a permanent world's fair which highlights the culture and food of 11 different countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Future World focuses on technological innovations.

Popular rides and attractions:

  • Spaceship Earth: Inside the 18-story geodesic sphere located at the entrance to the park sits this educational ride. Learn about the development of cultures and technologies.
  • Mission: Space: This is a motion simulator ride that transforms riders into astronauts on a trip to Mars.
  • Soarin' Over California: One of the parks newest rides, Soarin' simulates the experience of hang gliding while projecting images to make you feel as if you are flying over California.
  • Maelstrom: Located in the Norway pavilion, visitors take boat rides in Viking ships. Beware of trolls!
  • O Canada!: This Circle-Vision 360 degree film takes you on a tour through Canada's major cities and sights.
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth: Every night witness this fireworks, laser and water show over Epcot's lagoon.

Disney's Hollywood Studios: The third park to open in Walt Disney World, Hollywood Studios celebrates show business and the movies, specifically drawing inspiration from the golden age of Hollywood in the 1930's and 1940's.  The park opened in 1989 and was formerly called "Disney-MGM Studios." The icon of the park is the Sorcerer's Hat, a giant replica of the magical hat from the film Fantasia.

Popular rides and attractions:

  • Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular: Watch as stunt men and actors re-create famous scenes from the Indiana Jones movie series.
  • Rock 'n' Rollercoaster: Starring the rock band Aerosmith, this indoor rollercoaster accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds!
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Do you dare to take the elevator to the top of this spooky hotel? Be prepared for a long drop down!
  • Fantasmic!: Discover the power of dreams during this 30-minute water and fireworks show. Prepare for fire, lasers, floats, and dancing water.

Disney's Animal Kingdom: The newest theme park in Disney World, Animal Kingdom is also the largest single Disney theme park in the world. It is designed around animal conservation and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is home to more than 1,700 animals. The park is divided into seven themed sections: Oasis, Discovery Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki's Planet Watch, Asia and Dinoland, USA.

Popular rides and attractions:

  • It's Tough to Be a Bug: Enter the life of a bug with this 4-D show! Based on the movie "A Bug's Life," this attraction is located inside the Tree of Life.
  • Expedition Everest: Journey to Mount Everest and hunt the legendary Yeti who lives there on this fast paced rollercoaster.
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek: Located in the Asia land of the park, this trek is a wildlife footpath. Visitors have the chance to spot tigers, bats, and tropical birds.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris: This is one of the main attractions of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Taking visitors on a real life safari through a replica of the African savannah. You will see plenty of animals such as lions, elephants, cheetahs, gazelles and rhinoceros.
  • Festival of the Lion King: Can't get tickets to see the Lion King on Broadway? Check out this stage show at Disney World!

Water Parks

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon:  The basis of this park's theme is the legend of a massive typhoon that destroyed a tropical paradise, sending surfboards into trees and shattering boats. It is home to North America's largest wave pool and as of 2008 was the most visited water park in the world.

Popular rides and attractions:

  • Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool: The signature attraction of the park, experience 6-foot swells every 90 minutes, and smaller waves in between.
  • Shark Reef: Want to swim with sharks and tropic fish? Then you do not want to miss Shark Reef, a manmade coral reef filled with 362,000 galloons of saltwater.
  • Crush 'n' Gusher: The first ride built at a Disney water park, the Crush 'n' Gusher is a water rollercoaster you can ride with a friend in a double-tube.
  • Humunga Kowabunga: Are you ready for a near vertical five-story drop? No tubes necessary in this ride, which plummets riders downhill at a 60-degree angle reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

Disney's Blizzard Beach: When it opened in 1995, Blizzard Beach was the third Disney Water Park (after Disney's River Country which closed in 2001). It is designed as if a former ski resort has melted into water park, complete with chair lifts and ski jumps. The park's mascot is the Ice Gator, a skiing red-scarf wearing alligator.

Popular rides and attractions:

  • Summit Plummet: As the flagship attraction of Blizzard Beach, this slide is the second tallest and fastest free fall slide in the world. Riders can reach a speed of 60 miles per hour as they drop from 120 feet in the air.
  • Snow Stormers: Ride on a mat toboggan-style down one of three winding slides. Children love this ride, as they can even race friends in the adjacent lanes!
  • Chair Lift: Riding a chair lift at a water park is definitely a unique experience. Visitors can take this lift to the top of Mount Rushmore at the center of the park.
  • Downhill Double Dipper: Race a single person down side-by-side waterslides.  Parts of the slides are enclosed, so you will be racing in the dark.

For full information on all Disney Theme and Water Parks, please visit: disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/

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Hotels and Resorts

There are twenty-four Disney owned and operated resorts and hotels on the Walt Disney World property.  Each property has a unique theme, from the Pacific Northwest to African Wildlife.  The properties are ranked into categories depending on their quality. No matter your budget, there is a Disney Resort to fit your needs.

Deluxe Resorts:

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Pictured above): Animal Kingdom Resort Area. Rooms starting from  $313 per night.
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort: Magic Kingdom Resort area. Rooms starting from $474 per night.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: Disney's flagship resort, located near the Magic Kingdom. Rooms starting from $540 per night.
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge: Magic Kingdom Resort area. Rooms starting from $319 per night.
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort: Epcot Resort Area. Rooms starting from $393 per night.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort: Magic Kingdom Resort Area. Rooms starting from $371 per night.
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort: Epcot Resort Area. Rooms starting from $393 per night
  • Disney's BoardWalk Inn: Epcot Resort Area. Rooms starting from $405 per night.

Moderate Resort Hotels:

  • Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort: Epcot Resort Area. Rooms starting from $191 per night.
  • Disney's Port Orleans Resort –Riverside: Downtown Disney Resort Area. Rooms starting from $191 per night.
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort: Animal Kingdom Resort Area. Rooms starting from $196 per night.
  • Disney's Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter: Downtown Disney Resort Area. Rooms starting from $191 per night.
  • The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort: Magic Kingdom Resort Area. Rooms starting from $325 per night.

Value Resort Hotels:

  • Disney's Pop Century Resort: Wide World of Sports Resort Area. Rooms starting from $112 per night.
  • Disney's All-Star Music Resort: Animal Kingdom Resort Area. Rooms starting from $101 per night.
  • Disney's All-Star Movies Resort: Animal Kingdom Resort Area. Rooms starting from $101 per night.
  • Disney's All-Star Sports Resort: Animal Kingdom Resort Area. Rooms starting from $101 per night.
  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort: Wide World of Sports Resort Area. Rooms starting from $118 per night.

Campgrounds:

  • The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort: For visitors who bring their own tents or recreational vehicles. Campsites starting at $54 per night.

For full information on all Walt Disney World Resorts and Hotels, please visit: disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/

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Ani Kington Ani Kington

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.

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