Everyone has seen the iconic picture of the Cinderella castle at Walt Disney World, but if you’ve never been to the parks, you might not know where to find it!
In case you didn’t know, Walt Disney World Resort is the size of San Fransisco and comes in at a whooping 40 square miles. So if you don’t know where to go, you could miss some really amazing sights.
This is part of a series that covers all the basics about Walt Disney World. If you’re familiar with the resort, this information might seem basic, but to someone whose never been (and then trying to plan their vacation without knowing how everything works) it can seem overwhelming!
First up in our Disney World Vacation Overview, is the parks themselves. Whether you stay on site, off site, pack a lunch or eat at the resort- you NEED to know the basics about the parks!
Disney World has four Major Parks, two Water Parks and then Disney Springs. They also have an amazing amount of themed resorts and restaurants, but we’ll get to those next in the series.
The Iconic Cinderella Castle and Mainstream U.S.A. call Magic Kingdom home. This is the number one park and at full capacity can take a visitor almost 20 hours to complete it.
Woah! I’ve been there a few times when the park is full and waiting 45 minutes to use the restroom isn’t fun!
Magic Kingdom hosts lots of other amazing attractions like Space mountain, Fantasy Land and Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Not to mention, Magic Kingdom is also home to lots of character meet and greats and the amazing fire works display at the end of the night. Seeing the Castle lit up is a magical experience that the whole family can enjoy, and one of the highlights of any Disney trip.
Hollywood studios used to be considered among us Disney Natives as the ‘one day park’ because it was something that we could just hit up our favorite attractions and then catch dinner somewhere else on the resort. This is certainly not the case anymore though!
If you follow Disney news at all, you’ll see that Hollywood Studios has been revamped lately to include Star Wars, Toy Story Land, Beauty and the Beast and the Disney Junior Characters.
This is exciting news because it takes this park and gives it a much needed update. If you’ve never been (or its been a reallyyyyy long time) don’t bypass Hollywood Studios because of old reviews. This is definitely a park you want to visit for all your movie and Tv needs!
It is sure to be exciting in 2019 with the addition of the Gondola, Cars Attraction, Mickey themed ride and a Star Wars Resort!
Epcot is the infamous park that houses all the other countries. The park actually has two sections, Future World and World Showcase.
The World Showcase is where you’ll find many scenic views, easy going rides and of course, the eleven countries with authentic gifts and cuisine. I Love to go on Date nights to “Britain” Or “Japan”- its so amazing that we can step into another country without leaving Disney!
With few exceptions the World Showcase doesn’t open up till 11, but you can catch the fun rides at Future World at park open. Future world has the Soarin ride, Finding Nemo, Mission:Space and Test Track to name a few.
Epcot is also home to the Flower and Garden Festival in the Spring and the Food and Wine Festival in the Fall.
These two festivals are some of my favorites besides the holiday events that happen at Magic Kingdom for Halloween and Christmas. I love nothing more than to see all the topiaries and the newest foods they have available. They also do some amazing children’s set ups for each festival!
Animal Kingdom is where the animals are, Seriously. With more than 500 acres and 1700 animals, its considered to be the largest theme park in the world! This makes for quite the adventure when it comes to planning your day at the park! You won’t be able to see everything in one go.
There’s several sections to Animal Kingdom, the newest of which is the Pandora land based off the movie Avatar. Some of the other sections, which are called ‘lands’ include Asia, Africa, Dinoland, Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Discovery Island.
Since Animal Kingdom is so large, its good to plan for more than one day here, or if you only have one day, to pick your ‘must see’ items!
And don’t forget your fast passes, the Thrill rides here tend to fill up quickly, just like at the other parks.
Animal kingdom is also a hit or miss park- you either love it or you hate it.
I personally cant see how any one can hate Disney (because we certainly don’t!) but some people just aren’t a fan of animal kindom. Do yourself a favor, and go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and make your own opinions- chances are that you’ll love it!!
The Water Parks
Disney has two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Both of these have lots of fun water activity with their own unique themes.
Typhoon Lagoon is a tropical getaway filled with water rides the whole family can enjoy! It also features a kiddy play area and thrill rides for the older kids!
Blizzard Beach takes a different spin on theming, think ski resort that has melted into summer water fun! Blizzard beach also has several options for everyone in the family, from kid sized water slides to one of the world’s tallest and fastest water rides!
Both parks have Dining options and places to chill out in the shade! If you go during the summer months this is a must see! The parks are open about 9 months out of the year, and close at opposite times, so you should always have a water park to visit (check out the calendar here) because Florida can get hot (even on Christmas!!! We tend to wear shorts year round here)
Disney Springs was previously called Downtown Disney and if you look at old reviews or message boards its easy to get confused about where Downtown Disney went!
Newsflash!- It didn’t go anywhere.
It did get a major facelift and a new name. Most notably, it received lots of new parking, a slew of new stores (many of which are designer names) and several new restaurants.
Its a great place to explore if you have planned for a day off from the main parks and you want to check out some live entertainment. We personally love Disney Springs as Annual Passholders. It’s nice to pop in after a day in the parks for a nice dinner without too many crowds!
No matter which park you visit, you will have an absolute blast experiencing the Disney Magic!
From shopping and dining, to water fun, to character meals and thrill rides- Disney World has covered it all! Even though I’ve lived in central Florida all my life (my kids are 5th generation central floridians!!) I still find new magic to experience every time I visit my favorite mouse at Walt Disney World.
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