Walt Disney World Orlando

Mickey Mouse. Tinker Bell. Cinderella. What would childhood be like without the magic of Disney? When kids and adults want to go to the theme park, they're heading to Disney. Here you're walking amid people from around the world and meeting characters like Snow White and Donald Duck while rides whirl nonstop and the irrepressibl
Mickey Mouse. Tinker Bell. Cinderella. What would childhood be like without the magic of Disney? When kids and adults want to go to the theme park, they're heading to Disney. Here you're walking amid people from around the world and meeting characters like Snow White an
Mickey Mouse. Tinker Bell. Cinderella. What would childhood be like without the magic of Disney? When kids and adults wa

Mickey Mouse. Tinker Bell. Cinderella. What would childhood be like without the magic of Disney? When kids and adults want to go to the theme park, they're heading to Disney. Here you're walking amid people from around the world and meeting characters like Snow White and Donald Duck while rides whirl nonstop and the irrepressible "it's a small world" tune and lyrics run through your head. You can't help but believe dreams really do come true here.

The Magic Kingdom is the heart and soul of the Walt Disney World empire. It was the first Disney outpost in Florida when it opened in 1971, and it's the park that launched Disney's presence in France, Japan, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. For a landmark that wields such worldwide influence, the 142-acre Magic Kingdom may seem small—indeed, Epcot is more than double the size of the Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom is almost triple the size when including the park's expansive animal habitats. But looks can be deceiving. Packed into six different "lands" are nearly 50 major crowd-pleasers, and that's not counting all the ancillary attractions: shops, eateries, live entertainment, character meet-and-greet spots, fireworks shows, and parades.

Nowhere but at Epcot can you explore and experience the native food, entertainment, culture, and arts and crafts of countries in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the Americas. What's more, employees at the World Showcase pavilions actually hail from the countries the pavilions represent.

Epcot, or "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow," was the original inspiration for Walt Disney World. Walt envisioned a future in which nations coexisted in peace and harmony, reaping the miraculous harvest of technological achievement. The Epcot of today is both more and less than his original dream. Less, because the World Showcase presents views of its countries that are, as an Epcot guide once put it, "as Americans perceive them"—highly idealized. But this is a minor quibble in the face of the major achievement: Epcot is that rare paradox—a successful educational theme park that excels at entertainment, too.

Disney's Hollywood Studios were designed to be a trip back to Tinseltown's golden age, when Hedda Hopper, not tabloids, spread celebrity gossip and when the girl off the bus from Ohio could be the next Judy Garland.

The result is a theme park that blends movie-themed shows and attractions and high-tech wonders with breathtaking rides and Hollywood nostalgia. The park's old-time Hollywood atmosphere begins with a rosy-hued view of the moviemaking business presented in a dreamy stage set from the 1930s and ’40s, amid sleek art-moderne buildings in pastel colors, funky diners, kitschy decorations, and sculptured gardens populated by roving actors playing, well, roving actors. There are also casting directors, gossip columnists, and other colorful characters.

Thanks to a rich library of film scores, the park is permeated with music, all familiar, all evoking the magic of the movies, and all constantly streaming from the camouflaged loudspeakers at a volume just right for humming along. The park icon for many years, a 122-foot-high Sorcerer Mickey Hat that served as a gift shop and Disney pin-trading station, towered over Hollywood Boulevard until it was removed in 2015.

Disney's Animal Kingdom explores the stories of all animals—real, imaginary, and extinct. Enter through the Oasis, where you hear exotic background music and find yourself surrounded by gentle waterfalls and gardens alive with exotic birds, reptiles, and mammals.

At 403 acres and several times the size of the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom is the largest in area of all Disney theme parks. Animal habitats take up much of that acreage. Creatures here thrive in careful re-creations of landscapes from Asia and Africa. Throughout the park, you'll also learn about conservation in a low-key way.

Amid all the nature are thrill rides, a 3-D show (housed in the "root system" of the iconic Tree of Life), two first-rate musicals, and character meet and greets. Cast members are as likely to hail from Kenya or South Africa as they are from Kentucky or South Carolina. It's all part of the charm. New park areas based on the movie Avatar are expected to open in 2017, a fitting addition, since the film’s theme of living in harmony with nature reflects the park’s eco-philosophy.

Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are two of the world's best water parks. What sets them apart? It's the same thing that differentiates all Disney parks—the detailed themes. Whether you're cast away on a balmy island at Typhoon Lagoon or washed up on a ski-resort-turned-seaside-playground at Blizzard Beach, the landscaping and clever architecture will add to the fun of flume and raft rides, wave pools, and splash areas. Another plus: the vegetation has matured enough to create shade. The Disney water parks give you that lost-in-paradise feeling on top of all those high-speed, wedgie-inducing waterslides. They're so popular that crowds often reach overflow capacity in summer. If you're going to Disney for four days or more between April and October, add the Water Park Fun & More option to your Magic Your Way ticket.

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  • Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

    1. Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    A fierce yeti guards the route to Mt. Everest. Of course, you're willing to risk running across the big guy in your roller-coaster quest to...Read More

    Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Festival of the Lion King

    2. Festival of the Lion King

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    If you think you've seen enough Lion King to last a lifetime, you're wrong, unless you've seen this show. Disney presents a delightful tribal...Read More

    Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo–The Musical

    3. Finding Nemo–The Musical

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    The performance of this fish tale is so creative and fun that many have likened it to a first-rate Broadway show. Indeed, Disney Imagineers...Read More

    Finding Nemo–The Musical
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris

    4. Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    A giant Imagineered baobab tree is the starting point for exploring this animal sanctuary. Although re-creating an African safari in the United...Read More

    Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • 5. Tree of Life—It's Tough to be a Bug!

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    A monument to all of Earth's creatures, the park's centerpiece is an imposing 14 stories high and 50 feet wide at its base. Its 100,000-plus...Read More

  • 6. Affection Section

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    In this petting zoo, children and adults can pet and even borrow brushes to groom goats, sheep, donkeys, and other domesticated creatures. For...Read More

  • 7. Conservation Station

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    This is a great place to meet some of the park's animal handlers and to gather round for a critter encounter. You'll learn about the park's...Read More

  • 8. DINOSAUR

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    This wild adventure through time puts you face-to-face with huge dinosaurs that move and breathe with uncanny realism. When a carload of guests...Read More

  • 9. Fossil Fun Games

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    A carnival-style midway in the middle of DinoLand U.S.A., this fun fair draws crowds with games like Whack a Packycephalosaur and the basketball...Read More

  • 10. Habitat Habit!

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    On this educational wildlife trail that focuses heavily on animal conservation efforts, you get a close-up look at cotton-top tamarins (small...Read More

  • 11. Kali River Rapids

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    Asia's thrilling water adventure ride mixes the fun of a rafting experience with a solemn message to save pristine lands and animal habitats...Read More

  • 12. Maharajah Jungle Trek

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    Get an up-close view of some unusual animals along this trail, including giant fruit bats that hang to munch fruit from wires and fly very close...Read More

  • 13. Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    Calling this a nature walk doesn't really do it justice. A path winds through dense foliage, alongside streams, and past waterfalls. En route...Read More

  • 14. Primeval Whirl

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    In a free-spinning, four-passenger vehicle, you head on a brief journey back in time on this outdoor open-air coaster, twisting, turning, and...Read More

  • 15. The Boneyard

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    Youngsters can slide, dig, bounce, slither, and stomp around this archaeological dig site–cum–playground, the finest play area in any of the...Read More

  • 16. TriceraTop Spin

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    TriceraTop Spin is designed for playful little dinophiles who ought to get a kick out of whirling around this ride's giant spinning toy top...Read More

  • 17. Flights of Wonder

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    This outdoor show area near the border with Africa has spectacular demonstrations of skill by falcons, hawks, owls, cranes, macaws, and other...Read More

  • 18. Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade

    Animal Kingdom | Amusement Park/Water Park

    The parade takes off between 3:45 and 5 pm daily (times may vary, so check Times Guide ) on a route beginning at the edge of Africa's Harambe...Read More

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