For some, there’s no better representation of Florida than the famous Walt Disney World, complete with four theme parks and a whole host of magical and wonderful experiences to be had within. In this section, we’ll take you through each of the Walt Disney World theme parks in turn, highlighting our favourite hidden gems to ensure you get the most out of your visit.
Walt Disney World was originally built in 1971, and over the years it’s expanded into several different parks. The whole park was built with innovation in mind, particularly with EPCOT, the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”, which Disney hoped would be a futuristic city within the complex.
New parks were launched over the space of the next 30 years; EPCOT was finally opened to the public in 1982, followed by Disney’s Animal Kingdom 1998 and Disney Hollywood Studios in 1989. More recently, new resorts and spas have been built to offer even more exciting accommodation options, and Fantasyland underwent a huge renovation finishing in 2014 – look out for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!
Attractions: What Not To Miss
We’ve split each Walt Disney World park into its own page so you can get a good idea of which attractions you’ll find in each – take a look and see the huge difference between each area of the complex. Here, we’ve taken a look at the ones that are easy to skip, but should really be priority when exploring the parks.
The Carousel of Progress, Magic Kingdom
The Carousel of Progress is often overlooked by first-time guests at Walt Disney World, but for regular visitors it often proves to be a firm favourite. This was the last attraction Walt Disney himself worked on, while his plans were still focused on the promotion of science and innovation – essentially, it’s an old-school animatronics show about the development of technology in the traditional America home. Not to be missed!
Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Tomorrowland
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority is a slow-moving monorail-style ride that takes visitors over the park, past Space Mountain and over the Carousel of Progress. There are a huge number of hidden gems in this ride alone – look out for the model of EPCOT along the journey – and as it takes about ten minutes, you can rest your legs at the same time!
The Swiss Family Treehouse, Adventureland
This is definitely one for the older Disney fans – a giant treehouse based on the Disney film Swiss Family Robinson, complete with scenes and sounds from the movie. We love this because it’s usually quite quiet, surrounded as it is by the more exciting rollercoasters and rides of Adventureland, meaning you can enjoy a little peace and quiet in the centre of the park!
The Electrical Water Pageant, Magic Kingdom
Walt Disney World offers so many huge atractions and events at night that some often get missed, but the Electrical Water Pageant must be seen at least once during your visit. Settle yourself at the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake for a show of brightly-lit sea creatures moving across the lake, sing along with your favourite characters, and enjoy the display as all the floats switch to the patriotic red, white and blue for the national anthem!
Where to stay
Walt Disney World has accommodations to suit all budgets, and it’s really worth taking a look at some of the lesser-known option, as these are where you’ll get a real taste for the amount of detail and effort put into each part of the park. With that in mind, we’ve chosen something a bit different for each budget – which would you go for?
Deluxe: While most of the luxury resorts are rather similar in their offerings, Disney’s Polynesian Resort goes one step further with its dedication to it’s “South Seas” theme. The entire hotel is set on the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon, and is surrounded by white sandy man-made beaches, while inside an atrium boasts a large tropical rainforest with several waterfalls!
Standard: For something a little different you can’t beat Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. Designed to look and feel like the New Orleans French Quarter, you’ll find a number of recreational activities, including lake fishing and evening horse-and-carriage rides. Ideal if you’re looking for a laid-back retreat!
Value: The smallest of the value resorts is our favourite: Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, which boasts giant musical instruments and a huge pool shaped like a beautiful grand piano. It’s one of the older resorts, and while more modern themes in other value resorts have proven popular, this one still stands the test of time.
What’s in the area?
Walt Disney World is close to Orlando, so whether you’re taking a day trip into or out of the park, you’re guaranteed a whole host of new discoveries to make. To really get the most out of your trip though, take a day to visit the nearby Kennedy Space Centre, operated by NASA. It’s an amazing experience, from the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame to the thrilling shuttle launch simulation – you won’t see it in your Disney guidebook, but it’s as good as any attraction you’ll find on-site!