Walt Disney World Resort at nearly 40-square-miles, is a world-class entertainment and recreation destination featuring four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom); two water parks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon); 36 resort hotels (26 owned and operated by Walt Disney World, including nine Disney Vacation Club resort properties); 63 holes of golf on four courses; two full-service spas; Disney’s Wedding Pavilion; ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; and Disney Springs, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex. Walt Disney World Resort opened October 1, 1971 and is open daily, year-round.
There are nearly 70,000 Cast Members in Central Florida.
Magic Kingdom, the first Walt Disney World Resort theme park, debuted in 1971 – 16 years after Walt Disney’s first park, Disneyland, opened in Anaheim, California. Magic Kingdom’s blue- and gold-turreted, 18-tower icon, Cinderella Castle, rises 189 feet above the park’s 142 acres.
Following the success of Disneyland, which opened in 1955, entertainment pioneer Walt Disney (1901-1966) set his sights on what he called his company’s “most exciting and challenging assignment” — the creation of a vast vacation paradise known today as Walt Disney World Resort. Walt’s dream was realized when Magic Kingdom, the first of four theme parks at the sprawling Florida site, opened October. 1, 1971. Walt’s older brother and lifelong business partner, Roy O. Disney, inaugurated the park. And the magic began.
The Magic Kingdom sits on 142 acres with the 189-feet-tall Cinderella Castle at its center. Similar to Disneyland in California, Magic Kingdom is divided into six themed lands — Main Street, U.S.A.; Adventureland; Frontierland; Liberty Square; Fantasyland; and Tomorrowland. Popular attractions include Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, “Mickey’s PhilharMagic,” Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Jungle Cruise, The Hall of Presidents, Mad Tea Party, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Country Bear Jamboree, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid and Princess Fairytale Hall.
Walt Disney envisioned a showcase for innovation, a place to celebrate human achievement and where people could experience the cutting edge of technology. On Oct. 1, 1978, Card Walker — then president of Walt Disney Productions — revealed plans for Epcot, a theme park inspired by Walt’s philosophies. A groundbreaking ceremony was held one year later and Epcot opened in 1982. The debut of Innoventions in 1994 marked an exciting addition to the Epcot experience. This evolving technology exposition gives Epcot guests an opportunity to explore the latest inventions and innovations that may change the way they live their lives.
Epcot is an ever-changing international and discovery showplace covering 305 acres that opened October 1, 1982. Epcot has two entrances. The original entrance is convenient to the parking area and monorail station (the monorail runs between Epcot and Magic Kingdom Transportation and Ticket Center three miles to the north). The International Gateway entrance opened in 1990 between the United Kingdom and France pavilions in World Showcase, providing park access to guests staying in Epcot resort area hotels — Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk, Walt Disney World Swan and Walt Disney World Dolphin.
Future World – Themed areas focusing on discovery and scientific achievements: Spaceship Earth (Siemens), Universe of Energy, The Land, Soarin’, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Test Track, Mission: SPACE (HP).
World Showcase – Eleven nations surrounding World Showcase Lagoon: Canada, United Kingdom, France, Japan, The American Adventure, Italy, Germany, China, Mexico, Morocco, Norway.
DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
The idea for a park based on favorite movie themes originated with Walt Disney at a time when studio back lot tours were limited to a privileged few. He first considered a park on his own back lot. Land issues combined with potential traffic problems caused him to look elsewhere; namely, Anaheim. The result was Disneyland. In the mid 1980s, a greatly expanded production schedule for The Walt Disney Company demanded more facilities. Rather than buy expensive land in California, the company utilized its Florida property and combined production facilities with theme-park attractions to give Disney guests a behind-the-scenes Hollywood experience.
This theme park sits on 135 acres. Production facilities opened in the summer of 1988. Entertainment facilities opened in May of 1989. Attractions include: “Toy Story Midway Mania!, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, The Great Movie Ride, “Muppet*Vision 3D”, “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!”, “Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage,” “Voyage of the Little Mermaid,” The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror, “Fantasmic!”, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (Hanesbrands Inc.), “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!,” Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration. The park immerses guests in the glamour of show business 365 days a year with thrilling attractions, Broadway-style shows and world-class entertainment.
DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM
Adventures with real exotic animals, close encounters with prehistoric giants and warm, fuzzy moments with beloved Disney characters create unsurpassed fun. Walt Disney World Resort’s fourth major theme park sprawls across 403 acres. Jungles, forests and a vast savanna are divided into five themed lands: Africa, DinoLand U.S.A., Discovery Island, Asia and Pandora – The World of Avatar. Major attractions include: Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, DINOSAUR, Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Avatar Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, Primeval Whirl, “Festival of the Lion King,” “Finding Nemo-The Musical,” “It’s Tough to be a Bug!” and Tree of Life. The park opened April 22, 1998. Animal Kingdom celebrates one amazing adventure after another with wild animals, exciting attractions, lavish stage shows and lovable characters! Where else can you ride a runaway train, take an authentic African safari or a whirling white-water raft ride?
Disney Springs is home to signature dining, retail and premier entertainment experiences. A bustling metropolis of shopping, dining and entertainment locations, Disney Springs is the exciting reimagination of Downtown Disney. It consists of four neighborhoods: The Landing, Marketplace, West Side and Town Center.
- The 120-acre Disney Springs is in the east-central portion of Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Springs borders the south shore of Lake Buena Vista at the intersection of Buena Vista Drive and Hotel Plaza Boulevard.
- The location dates to its March 22, 1975 opening as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village. Since then, it has taken several names in its evolution including, most recently, Downtown Disney.
- Disney Springs was inspired by the welcoming, waterfront towns of the early 1900s; early Florida settlers were attracted by the springs and their natural beauty. “In Disney Springs, you enter more than a place to shop and dine,” said Keith Bradford, vice president of Disney Springs. “You enter a story–as only Disney can tell it.”
- The multi-year makeover from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs more than doubled the number of locations. Today, more than 150 venues call Disney Springs home.
- Entertainment ranges from street musicians to shows at Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues–in all, 25 different acts every night.
- Shopping ranges from unique boutiques to high-end brand name retailers to Disney locations to everything in between.
- Uniqueness stamps many shopping/dining/entertainment venues. In Town Center, UNIQLO’s Disney Springs location is the first in the southeast U.S. for the Japanese retailer. Dessert lovers can order from a cupcake-dispensing ATM at Sprinkles. Guests to the rooftop lounge of the Coca-Cola Store can pick from more than 100 drink choices. Vintage cars drive right onto the lake at The BOATHOUSE, among the waterfront restaurants and bars of The Landing. The Lego Store, Rainforest Café, World of Disney and Dockside Margaritas help anchor Marketplace. Or guests go for strikes, spares and sushi at Splitsville Luxury Lanes (West Side, home to House of Blues, Characters in Flight tethered balloon experience and the breathtaking performances of Cirque du Soleil).
- Admission to Disney Springs is free. Disney Springs may be reached by car, bus, boat or via pedestrian bridge. Drivers can access either the Orange or Lime parking decks, steps from the action. Each is a “smart” garage: available parking spaces are designated by an overhead green light, eliminating the need for jockeying up and down rows of cars. Parking is free. Valet parking is available for a fee. Complimentary motorcoach service to Disney Springs is available to guests of Disney resort hotels and all four theme parks. Complimentary water taxis are available from several nearby Disney resort hotels; arrival docks are located at the Marketplace and The Landing neighborhoods.
- Designated parking spaces for Guests with Disabilities are available in both the Orange and Lime garages. Wheelchair, ECV and stroller rentals are available in the nearby Sundries location at the Town Center bus loop.
- Dining choices range from grab-and-go kiosks to food trucks to fast casual to table service to destination experiences. Disney Springs boasts five James Beard Award-winning chefs: Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto Asia), Art Smith (Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Kitchen and Southern Shine), Rick Bayless (Frontera Cocina), Tony Mantuano (Portobello), Wolfgang Puck (Wolfgang Puck Café). More than 50 food and beverage locations are open now, with more to come.
- More than 57,000 recycled bricks from nearby Rollins College were used in the hardscape of The Landing, one of the four Disney Springs neighborhoods.
- Featuring beautiful Spanish Revival architecture, the Town Center neighborhood utilized 15 shades of white paint.
- The springs coursing through Town Center contains 1.2 million gallons of water. The distance from one end to the other is the same as the walk down Main Street, U.S.A. to Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom.
- At the Marketplace, there are two “Hidden Mickeys” in the murals found inside World of Disney, the world’s largest Disney merchandise store.
ESPN WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS COMPLEX
A 230-acre complex designed to accommodate professional-caliber training and competition, festival and tournament events and vacation-fitness activities in more than 30 individual and team sports. The complex includes a 7,500-seat baseball stadium and 5,500-seat Hp Field House. Annual events include Atlanta Braves spring training. The first event was held on March 28, 1997.
36 resorts (including nine Disney Vacation Club properties) in a variety of price points featuring more than 30,000 hotel rooms; 3,293 DVC units; 799 campsites. 26 of the resort hotels are owned and operated by Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground (409 Wilderness Cabins/799 Campsites)
Disney’s Value Resorts
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (864 rooms /1,120 family suites), Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort (1,920 rooms), Disney’s All-Star Music Resort (1,704 rooms/215 family suites), Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort (1,920 rooms), Disney’s Pop Century Resort (2,880 rooms)
Disney’s Moderate Resorts
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside (2,048 rooms), Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter (1,008 rooms), Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (2,112 rooms), Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (1,917 rooms).
Disney’s Deluxe Resorts
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (972 rooms), Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (727 rooms), Disney’s Contemporary Resort (655 rooms), Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (484 rooms), Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (621 rooms), Disney’s Beach Club Resort (576 rooms), Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (867 rooms) and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn (372 rooms).
Disney’s Deluxe Villa Resorts
Disney’s Old Key West Resort (558 units), Disney’s BoardWalk Villas (282 units), The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (114 units), Disney’s Beach Club Villas (177 units), Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (924 units), The Villas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (449 units), The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (106 units), Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (295 units), Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows (20 over-the-water bungalows and 360 deluxe studio villas).
Official Hotels of Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World Swan (756 rooms), Walt Disney World Dolphin (1,509 rooms), Buena Vista Palace (1,013 rooms), Doubletree Guest Suites Resort (229 rooms), The Hilton (814 rooms), Holiday Inn (323 rooms), Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel (325 rooms), B Resort & Spa (394 rooms) and Wyndham Lake Buena Vista (626 rooms). Shades of Green on Walt Disney World Resort (586 rooms) is a U.S. Armed Forces Recreation Center for vacationing servicemen and women from all branches of the armed forces.
More than 600,000 square feet of modern meeting space located throughout the areas. Major function space is available at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Disney’s BoardWalk, Walt Disney World Dolphin, Walt Disney World Swan, Buena Vista Palace, The Hilton, Hotel Royal Plaza and Regal Sun Resort.
Three 18-hole championship golf courses and a nine-hole family-play walking course; Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water parks; Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland mini-golf courses; tennis courts; basketball courts; pools; lakes for swimming, boating, parasailing, water skiing and fishing; jogging paths; horseback riding; biking; Segway tours.
Monorail trains, ferryboats, launches or motor coach shuttle service between all areas.
Walt Disney World Resort is truly a one of a kind location with so much to do and see. There is something for every size family and every family budget. It will always be my favorite vacation spot!