For anyone familiar with Walt Disney cartoons, expect the same only on a scale way beyond comprehension! Disney has taken all the best bits from a fun-packed holiday and turned them into a series of theme parks. With each theme park offering rides and attractions aimed at both children and big kids, there will be something for everyone. Considering the size of each park and how far you are likely to walk, comfy shoes and sun-cream are a must for a fun-filled day.
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Magic Kingdom is the park which personifies Disney and the Orlando area. It is a must-do family park and has the 'Cinderella' castle that everyone knows (which is actually a restaurant). As well as the daily shows and procession of Mickey and his friends (and the chance to be photographed with them), the park offers a number of 'lands' - some catering for young children, others for the more brave. Popular thrill rides at Magic Kingdom are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (which are the only mountains you will see in Florida) and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Thrill rides aside, also visit the Haunted Mansion, Speedway, Stitch's Great Escape, Pirates of the Caribbean or casually travel around the park on the PeopleMover or Railroad.
EPCOT like Magic Kingdom has its own image - that being the big 'golf ball'. This is in fact Spaceship Earth - one of the many family rides that is both fun and educational. Based around a central lake, EPCOT has thirteen pavilions, with each themed to a specific country and offering their own selection of rides and restaurants. With everything from Mexican food to the English 'Rose and Crown' pub, EPCOT is an excellent park for adults to visit in the evening and for everyone to watch the firework show. Aimed at a more quizzical audience, the rides stem from the world of science and exploration. Thrill seekers should try the excellent Test Track, Mission: Space or Soarin', whilst for the mild mannered - ”Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” or the Norwegian Maelstrom water ride. For qualified SCUBA divers, visit Dive Quest, for a chance to dive in the world's largest indoor fish tank.
Hollywood Studios is a Disney park that is themed by the movies and entertainment - with the emphasis on fun. For the thrill-seekers, there is the not-as-scary-as-it-looks Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the Rock 'n' Rollercoaster (starring Aerosmith!) and the new Star Wars at Walt Disney World Resort attractions. This is a series of new Star Wars attractions based around the incredibly popular films and include 'Star Wars - The Tour Continues'.
With stage props galore, this park feels like you are are on a film set. With this in mind, you would expect something similar to Universal Studios, but it is different and does offer something else. As with the rest of the park, restaurants and eateries are themed in both decor and food. If you get the chance, check out Fantasmic! - this is a night-time fireworks and lights Mickey spectacular.
Animal Kingdom is the wild animal park where Disney goes back to nature - offering safaris and boat trips around the jungles of Africa and South America. Size wise, this is the biggest park, which means comfy shoes are a pre-requisite for all that walking between the attractions. Lions, tigers and elephants may originate from hot climates, but they also like to sleep a lot in the heat. So, in the summer months aim to arrive early and head for the Kilimanjaro Safari. As well as the safari, there is a great hands-on Conservation Station for petting less-wild. goats and Dino-Rama land for the children. Wild animals aside, thrill-seekers have the Expedition Everest roller-coaster and Dinosaur.
Walt Disney World Resort also offers Fun Parks, which are the lesser cousin to the main theme parks, yet still offer excellent ways to have fun, relax and top-up the tan. These are smaller, more compact water-parks and are located around the central Disney Springs area. Unlike the main theme parks which charge for car parking, fun parks offer free parking.
Typhoon Lagoon is one of Disney's two water parks and offers a sandy beach, slides and shoots centred around one of the largest wave pools in the world! Thrill-seekers not only get the huge waves, but high-speed Humunga Kowabunga slides and Mayday Falls in the tubes. If you want to relax, grab a tube for Castaway Creek - the lazy river. One tip - find a sun bed - there are not that many and they can go quickly.
Blizzard Beach is the second of Disney's two water parks, mimicking an Alpine ski resort! Thrill-seekers get Summit Plummit which is a 55mph water slide down over 100m, as well as Downhill Double Dippers, Slush Gusher and Toboggan Racers. All in all, a fantastic park for white (knuckle) water rides! There are also a number of more sedate rides, but this park is all about fun whilst topping-up the tan.Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach website »