The Walt Disney World Resorts and Theme Parks are visited by millions of vacationers who make their way to the Central Florida area for some fun in the sun. The theme parks are some of the most visited places in Florida, mostly because it is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the world.
There are many reasons to visit Disney, including a chance to see Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom. However, there is so much more to see and do at Walt Disney World than just one park and one mouse. Nestled in a world all of its own, Disney is home to four parks, more than 25 themed resorts, plenty of shopping, loads of entertainment, unique dining experiences and plenty of recreation opportunities for families to enjoy.
Magic Kingdom – Disney is best known for its four theme parks. The first park, Magic Kingdom, offers a chance for families to experience a whole new world. The park is divided into four different lands – Adventureland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Each themed land offers unique rides, attractions, shows, shopping and dining experiences based on the theme of the land.
Epcot – Families will be transported into the future the moment they step into Epcot. This park is home to many futuristic attractions, including Innoventions, a place to get a hands-on opportunity to try technology of the future. After seeing the future, families can slow things down and travel around the world, sampling native cuisine and learning about the cultures of 11 different countries.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Step onto the set of a movie at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This Disney park has everything you would imagine right out of Hollywood’s Golden Age. This park features eight different sections filled with movies, shows, shops and restaurants, all themed around popular movies and the Hollywood lifestyle.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Explore one of the world’s largest theme parks and get a close look at more than 1,700 animals from around the world at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This park celebrates Mother Nature with six different lands focused on education, animal care, conservation and research.
Take a day, or two, away from the Disney theme parks by cooling off at one of the two water parks – Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Though each water park features its own unique theme, both water parks offer thrilling rides, relaxing lounge areas, pools and so much more.
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Disney offers various types of theme park tickets, including one-day, multi-day, park hoppers, annual passes, water parks and more. The different ticket options make it possible for families to customize their Disney vacation, based upon their budget and vacation needs. Keep in mind, the more days you add to a multi-day ticket, the cheaper it costs per day to visit the parks.
Disney also offers enhancements to park tickets, including the Memory Maker. This enhancement allows guests to have unlimited photos take by Disney PhotoPass photographers. Guests will have access to digital copies of their vacation ready to download and share with friends and family.
The Downtown Disney area of Walt Disney World offers a world of entertainment, shopping and dining all in a single location. You get everything in one place, without the need to purchase a theme park ticket. Downtown Disney is divided up into three different sections – Downtown Disney West Side, Downtown Disney Marketplace and Pleasure Island. Attractions at Downtown Disney include T-Rex Café and other themed dining venues, a 30-lane bowling alley and more than 40 stores to shop from.
The Walt Disney World Resorts offer more than 25 themed Disney hotels for guests to choose from. There are a variety of accommodations available, including those that are budget-friendly and those that are more luxurious. Each resort is placed in a specific Disney class, based on theme, style, amenities and cost. Here are all of the current Disney resorts, divided by resort type.
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Resort
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resorts and Theme Parks are able to enjoy the many different recreation options available. Disney Resort guests can enjoy the different options at their hotel, including themed pool areas, arcades, basketball courts, playgrounds, fitness centers and children’s playgrounds.
Some resorts, such as Disney’s Yacht Club, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort (just to name a few), have marinas where guests can rent boats to spend some time out on the lake. Bass fishing excursions, private cruises and firework cruises are also available from most of the Disney marinas. Guests can enjoy some more extreme water sports, including jet skiing and parasailing, which is available through Sammy Duvall’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Bike rentals are available at select Disney resort locations, including Disney’s Yacht Club, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. Some locations offer surrey bike rentals for families to take a ride all together.
Disney Deluxe resorts offer more recreational options for guests, including community centers, daily activities and children’s activity centers. Activities offered vary by resort and may include campfires, movies under the stars, sports, games and crafts. For an exciting campfire experience, head on over to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and take part in Chip ‘n Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long.
If you are looking for a resort you never have to leave because there is so much to do there, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is where you need to stay. Tri Circle D Ranch offers horseback riding excursions, pony rides and carriage rides. Archery is also available at the resort, in addition to all of the planned activities, recreation areas, dining and shopping.
There are many different opportunities for guests to go golfing during their Disney vacation. Golf courses at Disney include Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course and Disney’s Palm Golf Course. There are two miniature golf courses on the property too – Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Mini Golf Course and Winter-Summerland Mini Golf Course.
In addition to shopping at Downtown Disney, guests will have access to a variety of shops located throughout all of the resorts and theme parks. Each store will feature items based on its location, including some exclusive items.
There are many restaurants located throughout all of the Disney resorts and parks. Each restaurant offers it own menu and dining options for guests with different tastes, dietary needs and budget. Restaurants available at Disney include table service, buffets, family-style, quick service and character dining.
The theme parks are filled with plenty of entertainment opportunities, including shows, character interaction locations, tours and attractions. Other theme park and resort entertainment includes live bands, DJ dance parties, dinner shows and fireworks. The Electrical Water Pageant sets sail along the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon and can be seen from the shores of Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Downtown Disney offers a variety of entertainment options, including movies at AMC and five floors of interactive gaming excitement at DisneyQuest. The House of Blues location at Downtown Disney Westside hosts live concerts throughout the year.
Complimentary transportation is available to all guests staying at a Disney resort. Transportation is available to all of the theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney from each resort. Types of Disney transportation include bus, watercraft and monorail.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do at the Walt Disney World Resorts and Theme Parks. It is possible to check-in at your resort and never leave Disney property until you check-out. Because there is so much to do, it might be impossible to fit it all in during one trip. But it would be fun to try.
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.