Are you treating your children to the ultimate family holiday – a holiday on which they’ll meet characters from their favourite fairy tales and Disney movies?
A visit to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is something most people dream of. But with so much on offer, making the most of your time at “the most magical place on Earth” can be challenging.
You have to be prepared and plan ahead. Decide what you absolutely cannot miss, what you’d like to do and what you can go without if you don’t have enough time. Also familiarise yourself with the locations of the theme parks within Disney World, opening hours, the different types of tickets and the FastPass+ service. To get you started, Flight Centre has put together this guide for your visit to Disney World…
Know your theme parks
Disney World consists of four theme parks – Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom – as well as two water parks, namely Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
Magic Kingdom Park
See fantasy become a reality at Magic Kingdom Park as you explore its six lands: Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street, USA.
Celebrating the human spirit, Epcot has two realms: Future World, which features technological innovations; and World Showcase, which shares the culture and cuisine of 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Movie magic comes to life here with attractions based on blockbuster movies and popular TV shows, including Star Wars. This park has seven sections: Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Muppet Courtyard, Sunset Boulevard, Commissary Lane, Pixar Place and Animation Courtyard.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Encounter exotic animals and exciting adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, one of the largest animal theme parks in the world and home to more than 2 000 animals across 300 species. This park features six areas: Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Rafiki's Planet Watch, Asia and DinoLand, USA.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
At this water park, you can snorkel with sharks, stingrays and tropical fish around a coral reef; plunge down rushing rapids; sunbathe on the sandy beach; and glide down the lazy river on a relaxing raft ride.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach
Here you can zip down the slopes of Mount Gushmore on one of the world’s tallest and fastest waterslides, float down a tranquil river, and sunbathe on a white sand beach.
Getting to and around Disney World
From Orlando International Airport
There are several bus, shuttle and taxi services available from the airport (prices range from $4 to $68 per person one way) as well as a free shuttle service, called Disney’s Magical Express, for guests of select Disney Resort hotels.
Travel time will be at least 30 minutes and will also depend on the location of the hotel you’re staying at. Disney’s Magical Express is located in the main terminal building on Side B, Level 1, in the ground transportation area. Take the train from your aircraft gate and you will arrive on Level 3 of the main terminal building. Proceed to Side B and take the elevator or escalator down to Level 1. If you need to pick up your luggage, stop at baggage claim on Level 2.
Within Disney World
All guests have complimentary access to the resort’s network of monorails, buses and boats. While there are many ways to get around the resort, here are several recommended routes that may be convenient for guests who are not staying at a Disney Resort hotel, but wish to visit multiple parks:
- Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot are connected via monorail
- Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are connected via boat
- Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are connected via bus
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom is connected to the three other theme parks via bus
Monorail The monorail system has three separate lines that travel throughout the resort. The first stops at Magic Kingdom, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and the transportation and ticket centre. The second and third offer express round-trip services to Epcot theme park and the Magic Kingdom that start from the transportation and ticket centre.
Buses Most areas throughout Walt Disney World Resort, including the theme parks, water parks, resort hotels and the Disney Springs Area, are accessible by bus.
Taking a stroll. #DisneysBoardwalk #TravelTuesday (Photo: @justinhuard) A photo posted by Walt Disney World (@waltdisneyworld) on
Water taxis and boats
- Magic Kingdom is accessible by water launch (also known as a water taxi) from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows·
- Ferries connect the Magic Kingdom to the transportation and ticket centre·
- Epcot theme park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park are accessible by boat from Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Walt Disney World Swan Hotel and Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel.
- The Disney Springs Area is accessible by ferry from Disney’s Port Orleans Resort (French Quarter), Disney’s Port Orleans Resort (Riverside), Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
Exploring on foot
Even if you’re making use of the transport options, you’ll still be doing a lot of walking, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes – flip-flops, shoes with very thin soles or high heels are not going to do the trick.
Strollers are available to rent throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs.
Places to stay
The resort has accommodation available in six categories, ranging in price: deluxe villas, deluxe resort hotels, moderate resort hotels, value resort hotels, other select deluxe hotels and campgrounds. There are also several places to stay outside but close to the resort.
Tickle the taste buds
You won’t struggle to keep the tummies full at Disney World. There are hundreds of different dining options – from hotel and fine dining to cafés, patisseries, quick-service restaurants and food vendors.
Make sure you have at least one character-dining experience, where you’ll meet your favourite characters. There are several options available for breakfast, lunch or dinner – ranging from Cinderella’s Royal Table, where you might also find Snow White, Jasmine and Ariel, to Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet, where you’ll meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck.
Activities and attractions not to miss out on
Peter Pan’s Flight
Fly over London with Peter Pan aboard a magical pirate ship to Neverland, home to volcanic peaks and sparkling waterfalls.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Board a small barge within a stone-wall fortress for a fascinating adventure. Sing along as pirates serenade you with, “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.” You’ll even come across Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean along the way.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Go under the sea – without getting wet – on this attraction based on Finding Nemo. Board a “clamobile” and descend below the waves into a big, blue world where Nemo and his friends flit through brightly coloured coral reefs and swaying sea anemones.
Soarin’ Around the World
Take flight on a breezy, airborne adventure as you experience hang-gliding above some of the most breathtaking wonders of the world, such as the Great Wall of China, the Iguazu Falls in South America and Australia’s Sydney Harbour.
Set sail for adventure in Asia, Africa and South America on a tour of the world's most exotic and dangerous rivers. You are in for a thrilling expedition in which hippos and elephants await your arrival.
Rising high in the sky at the end of Main Street, USA, this iconic fairy-tale palace is the symbol of Magic Kingdom park. Cinderella Castle provides a spectacular backdrop for the fireworks extravaganzas on select nights.
Your children will be in awe when meeting their favourite Disney characters. Choose from Frozen’s magnificent sisters, Anna and Elsa; Mickey and Minnie Mouse; Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Tea Party; Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story; Cinderella or Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall; Donald Duck; Peter Pan in Fantasyland; Pocahontas; Snow White; and many more.
The Disney FastPass+ service lets you reserve access to select attractions and entertainment as early as 30 days before you arrive, or up to 60 days before check-in when you have a Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservation, at no extra cost.
You can also conveniently access or modify your FastPass+ plans at several easy-to-find kiosks throughout the theme parks.
Disney Early Morning Magic
With the purchase of regular theme park admission and a reservation to Disney Early Morning Magic, you can be among the first to enter Magic Kingdom Park and experience the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight. In addition, you’ll get to enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at Pinocchio Village Haus.