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Disney World

Florida Theme Park

If you have never been to Disney World in Florida it will be very hard for you to imagine how vast these theme parks are.

I have spoken to many excited guests who are planning to visit our Florida home and they have told me of their plans to go to Magic Kingdom in the morning and then visit Epcot in the afternoon. I stop them right there! There is absolutely no way that you can possibly see what Magic Kingdom has to offer within a few hours.

I will do my best to explain the Four Major Theme Parks that Disney offers in Orlando, Florida. These are not listed in any particular order of favourites as we love them all and all of them have something different to offer both young and older visitors, who are ‘young at heart’, and indeed for everyone in-between! It may be that you are a big ride fanatic who loves the roller coasters and fast rides or perhaps you have very small children who would not be old enough or tall enough to participate in these rides, but be assured you will find plenty of things to do whatever your taste.

I am amazed at the design and attention to detail to which Disney goes in creating their rides, shows, side-stands and parades to provide us with entertainment. So go to Disney World with an open mind and the eyes of a child….…..a few days in “Neverland” can be a real tonic for anyone!


Magic Kingdom



The journey alone to Magic Kingdom is a wonderful adventure. Once you have parked your vehicle you will be taken to the main entrance on the Disney shuttle tram. You can then travel across the lake on the ferry or you can go around the lake on the monorail. We prefer the ferry for the arrival as the view of Disney’s centre-piece, Cinderella’s Castle, is just magical.

Once off the Disney transport system you enter Magic Kingdom, pick up a map and then gasp at the seemingly endless areas to visit. There is Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Liberty Square. Disney calls these ‘whimsical lands’ and you are sure to find all of them fascinating.

Each of these areas of Magic Kingdom has rides and attractions for everyone to enjoy. From the thrills of Splash Mountain and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad of Frontierland to the more gentle charms of Dumbo The Flying Elephant and It’s A Small World in Fantasyland, you will be pressed to see it all in one day.

If you want to experience a roller coaster in the dark, Space Mountain in Tomorrowland is the place for you, or if you fancy a challenge, take on your friends in the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. This ride is taken in a ‘space cruiser’, each equipped with a ‘lazer’ gun. You are in control of spinning your spacer cruiser around so that you can aim at targets and each person collects their own score – a great laugh for everyone in the family!

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is a monorail ride that lasts for ten minutes and gives you a great view of the Tomorrowland area.

Another great attraction is the Walt Disney World Railroad. This twenty minute ride goes right around Magic Kingdom and has stops at Main Street USA, Frontierland and Fantasyland, so if your feet are beginning to get tired, I suggest a ride on this steam powered train complete with very noisy whistle!

With Parades and Fireworks to take your breath away this is a truly magical place, so mark down Magic Kingdom as a definite must-see when you visit Orlando, Florida.


Animal Kingdom


From the very cute to the wildest of animals, Disney has created Animal Kingdom. This is the largest of the Disney World theme parks spreading out over 500 acres and like Magic Kingdom, it is split into several different areas.

There is Africa, Asia, Dinoland USA, Oasis, Discovery Island, Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Camp Minnie-Mickey.

You can go on safari with the Kilimanjaro Expedition in Africa and see the big cats, elephants, zebras, giraffes, etc. or you can get very wet on the Kali River Rapids in Asia.

In Camp Minnie-Mickey I recommend The Festival Of The Lion King……….this is a marvellous live show and is thoroughly enjoyable for the young, old and everyone in between – I actually cannot remember how many times I have seen it and I would definitely go again.

If you have anyone in the family who cannot last a day without the thrill of a fast roller coaster, no problem, take them to Expedition Everest in Asia. After being taken to the heights and plunged into darkness to suddenly find the tracks twisted and blocked…………where do you go from here! You will have to see for yourself – just watch out for the Yeti.

Young children love The Boneyard playground in Dinoland USA. They can dig in the sand, go running through the maze, climb on the jeep or explore the many tunnels, whilst you can just sit and rest a while.

There are shows and parades and even a petting zoo in Rafiki’s Planet Watch were the children can get up close and personal with a wide variety of friendly domestic animals.

My advice for Animal Kingdom is to go early. The animals are more active in the mornings when it is cooler and then you can go on to enjoy the rest of the attractions as the heat of the day increases.




Hollywood Studios


Originally called MGM Studios, this Disney Theme Park offers a behind the scenes look at the world of film making.

There are rides, lives shows and parades all themed around film and television from the old movies of the 1930’s to the animations that are truly ‘Disney’.

The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster will blast you with the force of an F-14 and will be sure to take your breath away. It’s one of our favourite rides and never fails to thrill us – if we get the chance we ride it more than once!

The Great Movie ride is a gentle journey back through the heyday of Hollywood and the history of films. From Casablanca to Alien and The Wizard of Oz to Raider’s of the Lost Arc, there is bound to be plenty that you recognise, but also be prepared for a few surprises.

The Studio Backlot Tour is your chance to go behind the scenes, see the costumes, props and even take part in a very dramatic disaster scene in Catastrophe Canyon. Some of this attraction you walk around and then you board a tram. This experience is all good fun and a very exciting 35 minutes of your time at Hollywood Studios.

To end your day at Hollywood Studios there is a fabulous show called Fantasmic. Mickey Mouse presents a 25 minute breath-taking show of water and fireworks. You really don’t know which way to look so that you don’t miss a thing. There are floats with all of the favourite Disney Characters. With pyrotechnics and laser-lights mixed with the vast array of water that dances to the music and songs of the memorable Disney films everyone will be in awe of the spectacle before them.

Epcot


Last, but by no means least, there is Epcot. This Disney attraction is very different from the other parks – it’s still very Disney themed, is twice the size of Magic Kingdom but it only has two areas. These are Future World and World Showcase.

The entrance is dominated by the “Giant Golf Ball”, a majestic polyhedral icon. This houses a ride called Spaceship Earth, which is a 16 minute journey through time and space. As you ride you are sure to be awe-struck by the sight of planet earth.

Beyond this ride is the rest of Future World:

The thrills of cars and speed can be experienced on Test Track and Soarin’ is a simulated hang-gliding ride that swoops and soars over the “Golden State of California”.

Mission: SPACE Pavilion is another simulator ride with four riders in a team, each with a special task to perform during your blast off into space and the mission to Mars.

There is also Imagination Pavilion, The Land Pavilion, The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion and Universe of Energy.

World Showcase is set around the Lagoon and is a showcase of 11 Countries of the World: Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, United Kingdom and United States.

There are shops, attractions, cafes and restaurants each depicting the culture and cuisine of the Country it is in. Outdoor performance and parades make this whole area a very lively and entertaining place. I particularly like the Teppan-yaki style restaurant in Japan called Teppan Edo and the drum display by the Taiko drummers in that area really create an authentic Japanese atmosphere.


The younger children will love the "Frozen Ever After" ride in Norway as they set sail on a musical boat ride through the enchanted world of Arendelle, home to some friendly Frozen faces.

O Canada is a 360 degree film experience that takes you on a journey to enjoy this Country’s magnificent scenery – another breath-taking experience.

There is so much to see and enjoy throughout the World Showcase that you really do have to go there yourself to understand how vast it is.

You can spend the whole day exploring the wonders of Future World and World Showcase and then at 9.00 pm the firework display across the lagoon is literally “out of this world” – I have never seen a display quite like this one!


Summary


I hope this has given you a taster of what you will find at Walt Disney World in Florida and should you want to read more about it, may I suggest that you go straight to their web site at www.disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks

As well as the unbelievable vastness of Disney World you will need to take on board the heat of the Summer months in Florida. Disney do a very good job of providing shade, cooling mist sprays and water features which do help to keep everyone safe, but do wear suitable comfortable clothing and footwear, together with sunscreen, sunglasses and hats – sun-stroke is a very nasty experience!

ENJOY……….and keep safe!


Ref http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks