Most travelers who have not yet visited Walt Disney World may not know what’s in store for their family’s very first vacation. Upon hearing the phrase “Disney World” – you may instantly have a vision of Cinderella’s castle. While this no doubt is the staple landmark of Walt Disney World, it is actually located in one of its many parks. Families who have not yet traveled to Disney World will be thrilled to find that Disney World offers even so much more beyond the famed Magic Kingdom. But just how many parks are in Disney World? We will be going over all of Disney World’s theme parks to help give you an idea of what to expect…castle and beyond!
The Magic Kingdom
As we’ve mentioned, this park is most likely the vision you have in mind while you are daydreaming about your future visit to Disney World, and for good reason. This was the first park built on the Florida property and closely resembles Walt Disney’s first theme park, Disneyland, albeit much larger. This park no doubt feels the most “Disney”. It truly is a wonderful work of art packed with whimsical rides and experiences for the whole family to enjoy. Throughout the Magic Kingdom, you will journey through different themed lands, each with their own adventures to explore.
Main Street USA
Main Street USA is what all visitors of the Magic Kingdom will first experience upon entry to the park. You’ll be greeted by a small town of sorts. inspired by the era in which Walt Disney grew up in, Main Street, USA is full of joyful charm.
Fantasyland is designed with dreamers in mind. Here you’ll be able to meet some of your favorite princesses and characters and enjoy adventures and rides inspired by some of your favorite Disney films. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, PhilharMagic, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and It’s a Small World are just a few of the wonderful attractions that Fantasyland offers its guests.
Liberty Square is inspired by and celebrates colonial America. The most popular attraction in this land is the Haunted Mansion, but it’s also home to some other wonderful experiences. Be sure to grab a bite at Sleepy Hollow, the fruit and nutella waffle is one of our favorite snacks in all of Magic Kingdom!
Frontierland celebrates the old west and is simply a great time. With Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad located here, you will most likely spend a good amount of time in this section of the park! Frontierland is also home to Country Bear Jamboree and Tom Sawyer Island, an interactive walking trail of sorts.
Adventureland truly encompasses the wonders of exploring. I’d best describe its overall theme as jungle and tropical alike. There are many adventures to partake in such as Pirates of the Caribbean to the Jungle Cruise. Here you will also find the famed Dole Whip!
Tomorrowland is a fun, futuristic, and intergalactic land in the park. Tommorowland has many attractions with some favorites being the People Mover, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and Space Mountain! It is also home to fun dining experiences such as Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.
Now that we’ve learned a little bit about the Magic Kingdom, let’s talk EPCOT. You may be wondering what in the world “EPCOT” means? Well, EPCOT is an acronym for “Experimental prototype of tomorrow”. You see, when Walt Disney was working on Walt Disney World, he really longed to build a real futuristic and innovative community in which people could reside in. Unfortunately, when Walt passed away, the plans were mostly scrapped as no one quite felt they could achieve Walt’s vision in a way that would be satisfactory.
However, they did take the general idea and turn it into Walt Disney World’s second theme park. EPCOT is a park divided by two lands that celebrate the world; it’s varying cultures, innovations, and its future.
Futureworld, one of two sections in the park, celebrates innovation and is home to EPCOT’s signature landmark, Spaceship Earth, or you may know it as “The EPCOT ball”. You wouldn’t be too far off to call Futureworld educational, even. Here you will learn about marine biology through The Living Seas, design vehicles at Test Track, explore the wonders of using your imagination with Figment, and so much more.
It’s worth noting that Futureworld is going through major changes as of 2020. Within the next few years, Futureworld will contain newly themed lands such as World Nature, World Celebration, and World Discovery.
The World Showcase
The World Showcase is a wonderful celebration of cultures from around the globe. Travel through rich portrayals of Mexico, Japan, China, Germany, Italy, and more! You will have the opportunity to try different cuisine, shop, and more at these wonderful and lively pavilions. Fans of Frozen will not want to miss Frozen Ever After located in the Norway pavilion of the World Showcase.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios encompasses the wonderful feeling of old Hollywood and the magic of movies. And, if you are a fan of thrill rides, you’ll most likely be a fan of Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
A major icon of the park is its replica of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater. This building now hosts a new ride, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Around this Hollywood Boulevard section of the park, you may bear witness to some of the live street entertainment that often surrounds it. Another boulevard of the park, Sunset Boulevard, offers an ominous look at another icon of the park, The Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror. This path will also lead you to a rockin’ time at Aerosmith’s Rockin Roller Coaster.
Sunset Boulevard is also home to stunning entertainment such as Beauty and The Beast Live on Stage and Fantasmic! Not to mention it is also home to iconic rides like Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror.
The Echo Lake section of the park features exciting performances of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! You will also be able to journey through Star Tours and participate in a fun Frozen singalong. Over at Grand Avenue, be sure to pay a visit to the loveable Muppets, and head over to the animation courtyard to pay the Little Mermaid a visit at her enchanting show.
Toy Story Land
Disney Hollywood Studios is also home to two brand new lands; Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land. These two no doubt are the busiest sections of Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Land shrinks you down to the size of a toy in an immersive and whimsical environment and offers rides such as Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog Dash, and Alien Swirling Saucers.
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is a must see for any fan of the series. This area of the park will transport you right into the Star Wars universe. It’s interactive, detailed, and chock-full of places to explore. In fact, you can even pilot the Millenium Falcon or go face to face again Kylo Ren! Or perhaps, for a less thrilling experience, spend some time over at the cantina!
Animal Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s fourth park and encompasses the wonders of the environment, culture, conservation, and wildlife. Many first time vacation planners wonder if it will be merely a zoo experience. However, it will exceed those expectations.
The staple icon of Animal Kingdom is its Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is an absolutely breathtaking and realistic work of art. Take a moment to really inspect it, and you’ll see hundreds of detailed carvings. Within the Tree of Life hosts an exciting 3-D experience, It’s Tough to be a Bug!
Africa & Asia
Two other integral sections of the park include it’s Africa and Asia settings. Both sections totally immerse you in its culture and allow you to truly feel as though you have traveled there. In the Asia section, thrill seekers will love coming face to face with the yeti at the Expedition Everest roller coaster. Over in the Africa section, enjoy an upbeat celebration at the Festival of The Lion King and go on a realistic safari and witness real animals in motion over at Kilimanjaro Safari.
Dinoland U.S.A is sure to please anyone with an affinity for dinos! Time travel over at the Dinosaur ride, or explore the wacky dino themed carnival by playing some games or riding on old school style carnival attractions. Another aspect that kids will certainly love is the Boneyard, a playground that allows even the little bit to become little paleontologists.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Rafiki’s Planet Watch is another unique land at Animal Kingdom as it is not directly connected to the rest of the park. To travel to this section, you must take a train over. From there, you will be able to explore spots such as the Affection Section, a petting zoo of sorts, and Conservation Station, an area designed to inform guests of conservation efforts and animal care within the park.
Pandora – The World of Avatar is the newest land within Animal Kingdom. This land is themed from James Cameron’s Avatar movie franchise. Interact with the land’s otherworldly wildlife, fly on a banshee on Flight of Passage, and explore the unique cuisine at Satu’li Canteen.
Don’t be completely distracted by restaurants, shops, and rides. Throughout the sections, be sure to look out for the animal exhibits, treks, and trails. Animal Kingdom is home to a vast range of wildlife including Sumatran tigers, Komodo dragons, gorillas, hippos, and so much more!
So, we’ve gone over the gist of the four main theme parks of Walt Disney World, but did you know that Disney also has two water parks? These aren’t your ordinary water parks either, in truly Disney fashion…these are extraordinarily themed!
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
Typhoon Lagoon is themed around an island that has blown through a tropical paradise. The water park’s main icon is “Miss Tilly”, a shipwrecked boat that the storm had blown atop of Mount Mayday. The tropical feeling that Typhoon Lagoon brings makes it one that you won’t want to miss!
One of Typhoon Lagoon’s major appeals is its gigantic wave pool, in fact, one of the largest and most extreme wave pools you’ll likely ever witness. These waves range to six feet in height! While maybe not an ideal wave pool for the littles, thrill seekers will likely want to spend a decent amount of time playing in these extreme and intimidating waves. In fact, Typhoon lagoon’s pool is capable of surfable waves, and separately ticketed surfing lessons are available to partake in during the park’s off hours.
Typhoon Lagoon is also home to water park staples such as a kiddie area, lazy river, classic style flume and raft slides, and dining and refreshments. One main attraction to note is Crush ‘n’ Gusher, Typhoon Lagoon’s water coaster!
One exciting way to experience Typhoon Lagoon is through its H20 Glow Nights. These are a fun (and oftentimes less crowded) nighttime experience available on select dates after the water park has finished its normal operational hours.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach
Another beloved water park at Disney is Blizzard Beach. This park comes with an adorable and creative premise: it is a melting ski resort! The theme at Blizzard Beach park is truly unique, which allows for a truly memorable water park experience!
A major icon at this park is it’s towering Mount Gushmore. This 90 ft mountain is home to some of the park’s slides. One unique way you are able to travel to these attractions is through a chair lift, which helps to really solidify the melted ski resort theme. Any major thrill seeker will want to attempt Summit Plummet located atop the mountain, one of the fastest and tallest slides in the world!
In true water park fashion, Blizzard Beach is home to a lazy river, wave pool, shops, dining, refreshments, and plenty of slides! Some slides that you won’t want to miss are Toboggan Racers and Downhill Double Dipper. The water park also offers some really well done areas for kids of all ages to enjoy.
But wait…there’s more!
In addition to the four theme parks, and two water parks…you may be surprised to find that Walt Disney World has even more to offer. The resorts at Walt Disney World are home to many unique experiences and wonderful dining options. Be sure to check out Trader Sam’s over at the Polynesian, enjoy breakfast with some of your favorite Disney Characters over at Chef Mickey’s at The Contemporary Resort, or visit the Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue over at the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds!
Walt Disney World is also home to Disney Springs, a shopping and dining district. However, don’t be fooled! Disney Springs is a place like no other. The restaurants are all unique and quite delicious, live music and the beautiful atmosphere elevates the mood, and the shops are full of character. Not to mention, Disney Springs is also home to a hot air balloon ride and Cirque du Soleil! During the holidays, Disney Springs comes to life with a Christmas tree trail and a visit with Santa, amongst other fun experiences! If you are headed to Disney Springs, be sure to check out Cookes of Dublin and Chicken Guy for a delicious quick service bite, or The Boathouse for a wonderful sit-down dining experience. Kid’s (and adults) will love T-rex and Rainforest Cafe, as well!
Disney’s Golf Courses
Walt Disney World is also home to miniature golf courses, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland. If you’re looking for something more serious, Disney World also has multiple golf courses on property, as well.
As you can see, there is so much more to Walt Disney World than meets the eye. With so many exciting parks and resorts, it feels as if there are endless experiences to partake in, which is what keeps guests returning back for more!
Have you ever wondered why there are so many theme parks in Orlando? Did you know that Universal Studios used scrapped ideas from Animal Kingdom for Islands of Adventure? Check out our article here, to get a brief history of the theme parks in Orlando.