Grab your mouse ears, sunscreen and a pair of comfortable shoes, you're heading to Orlando!
Orlando is the most popular vacation destination in the world. Every year, tens of millions of people arrive by plane, car and train to visit the theme parks, restaurants and many other attractions in this rural Florida city. With so much to do and so many ways to do it, it can be easy for you and your wallet to feel overwhelmed. But do not worry! We are here to help.
This Disney World Savings article is the perfect way to minimize problems and maximize fun. Inside, you will find excellent advice on many of the major destinations, as well as useful information about the Orlando area. From theme parks to shopping, this is your source of holiday information for the whole family.
Disclaimer: Orlando is a dynamic and constantly changing destination. Attractions, restaurants, attractions and closer and open throughout the year, sometimes with little or no notice. This travel guide was accurate at the time of publication and may be subject to updates throughout the year. If you have any questions or concerns about any information in this guide, feel free to email us or call the theme parks directly.
The Walt Disney World® Resort
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, visited by millions every year. What was once a swampy area of Florida soil is now the Walt Disney World Resort (WDW), a vacation and entertainment wonderland with four major theme parks, two water parks, 23 hotels, seven golf courses ( five championships and two mini) a racecourse, sports complex, ten marinas, more than 140 places to eat and more.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the large number of things WDW offers. Let's take the complex one world at a time so you can plan your trip, in your own way.
The magic kingdom®
You go through the doors and there it is, like the opening scene of your own fairy tale: a beautiful castle at the end of a picturesque village street. Welcome to Main Street USA, the beginning of your Magic Kingdom (MK) experience.
Main Street USA is where it all begins, a perfect road full of shops and restaurants that takes you to the five worlds beyond. Along the street, you'll find lovely shops with all the Disney merchandise you can handle, plus some special items like hand-blown glass ornaments (with artisans you can see). Guest services is also on the main street; Remember to stop there to make reservations for dinner (always a good idea) and information about attractions that may be out of service for maintenance, parade schedules, special events and anything else you may need. This is also the place to rent strollers and wheelchairs.
While Main Street USA is considered primarily as the gateway to "real" attractions, there are also some great things to do here, especially for those times when you need a break from the crowds and the heat. Here are our main choices for Main Street:
Cut your hair! No, seriously: for just under $ 20, you can say that you cut your hair in a real and old-fashioned hair salon. It can even include some "magic" touches, as the highlight.
Send a postal letter! Go through the City Hall and send a postcard to the people back home. It will be sealed as coming from The Magic Kingdom; Send it to yourself to get a cheap souvenir.
Grab your ears! Le Chapeau's shop is the best place to get those iconic ears. Now you can customize the design and build your own hat, so everyone can have their own personal set.
Ride the rails! This is a great way to relax. Use the Walt Disney World railway to tour the park or take a trip to Frontierland. It is a particularly excellent way to end the day, especially if you can schedule it for sunset.
Main Street USA is also the place for parades. Check with the services for guests the schedules and types of parades; They can change throughout the year and for special events. Remember that the best places of observation are taken early, so make your specific claim and take the time to relax.
Beyond Main Street USA, five additional worlds await you: Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty Square and Tomorrowland. Each world has its own attractions, restaurants and shops; let's take one by one so you can plan your stops.
Adventureland: pirates and jungle adventures are the order of the day. Scouts and swordsmen of all ages come here for exotic entertainment, including street performers and the pirate training camp (ask a cast member where the next "class" will be). This is what you should not miss:
pirates of the Caribbean
Tiki's haunted room
Aladdin Magic Carpets
Frontierland: This land of the Old West is where you want to get your first FASTPASS tickets: send a member of your group as soon as you arrive and get your reservation for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Splash Mountain. If lunchtime is approaching, visit Peco Bill's for burgers at reasonable prices (for a theme park). Then get ready for these things you should do:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Country Bear Jamboree
Liberty Square: this is one of the smallest lands, but it is also one of the most beloved. There are only three attractions here, and each one is definitely:
The presidents room
Liberty Square Riverboat
Fantasyland: You are currently experiencing a massive expansion that will double in size, many Fantasyland are still open for fun and more will debut throughout the year. The whole place will be ready for 2014, so don't be surprised with all the walls and scaffolding you can see until then.
Families with younger children will spend a lot of time here, but older visitors can still find a lot to love. For many visitors, this land is the very essence of the Magic Kingdom; Here are some reasons why.
Crazy Tea Party
The many adventures of Winnie the Pooh
It is a small world
Prince Charming Royal Carousel
Under the sea: journey of the little mermaid
Enchanted tales with Belle
Tomorrowland: This is a nostalgic look at what we once thought the future would be, with great attractions and a fun atmosphere.
Stitch & # 39; s Great Escape!
Buzz Lightyear & # 39; s Space Ranger Spin
Throughout the WDW Resort there are many opportunities to meet and greet your favorite
Disney characters While there are places only for guaranteed reservations
meetings, like meals with characters, there are also places throughout
The complex where you can stand in line to shake hands or take a picture. For example, MK has
several specific areas configured for character greetings, including City Hall in
City square, Adventureland Congoasis and Ariel Grotto.
It is also known that the characters make appearances near the attractions associated with
them, as well as other places throughout the park. Check with Guest Services for
Find out when and where they will meet and greet your favorites.
Experimental prototype community of tomorrow: it was the dream city of Walt, but it opened as the theme park known as EPCOT. If you want your vacation to include attractions, technology, world cultures and street performers, you've come to the right place.
While MK is a paradise for the little ones, EPCOT is ideal for older children and adults, especially teenagers and pre-teens knowledgeable about technology. This park is also known for having some of the best food on Disney property, along with some of the most difficult reserves to catch, if you go during a high capacity period of the year, plan accordingly by calling 1-407 – WDW -DINE
EPCOT is divided into two areas: Future World and World Showcase.
World of the future: this is the place for most attractions, interactive exhibits and constantly changing technology. Here things are nice and organized, so it is easy to see everything in one day. But if you want to know what you should do, we have the list for you.
Soarin & # 39;
Journey to the imagination with figment
Living with the earth
World Showcase: this is the place for culture, shows, food and some walks. World Showcase is a way to see some of the most famous destinations in the world without a passport.
Each country, or flag, has food, goods and cast members from the country itself. Shows and movies complete the experience. The permanent pavilions of World Showcase are Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Mexico and Norway have boat rides: Grand Fiesta Tour with The Three Cabelleros and Maelstrom.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
It's time for the magic of the movies, Mouse style. Disney & # 39; s Hollywood Studios (DHS) is WDW's tribute to "Hollywood that never was, and always will be." This is the place for favorite movies, the big ones on television and three of the best exciting games anywhere. DHS is also where you'll find most of the new Disney characters, including monsters inc and new and classic muppets.
DHS is a compact and well organized park, which makes it easy to do it on a great day. However, if you have plenty of time, be sure to see as many shows as possible; DHS is known by some of the best. And make sure you're late for Fantasmic! It is considered the best of the nightly shows, and is the only regular event in the park that presents Disney's villains. Take an early seat, regardless of the time of year, or enjoy dinners and shows by making reservations for the Fantasmic! Package in The Hollywood Brown Derby, Mama Mellrose & # 39; s Ristorante Italiano or Hollywood & Vine.
Here is your list of absolute musts for DHS:
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Aerosmith Rock n roller coaster
The great ride of the movie
Toy Story Mania
Indiana Jones spectacular trick show
Muppet vision 3D
Disney Animal Kingdom Park
Animal Kingdom (AK) may be the youngest of the WDW parks, but its popularity lives up to its sibling attractions. This "Natazu" (say it out loud and you'll get it) features live animals, good food, great attractions and some really impressive architectural touches, even by Disney standards.
AK is divided into lands (like MK). Some are based on regions of the world, with theming and native animals of the region, and others are more imaginative. Here is the summary of what is where
Oasis: Many people make the mistake of crossing this entry point; Do not be one of them. Take your time and see miniature deer, sloths, macaws, iguanas and more.
Discovery Island: the center of the park is dominated by the artistic wonder The Tree of Life. The tree is 14 stories high, 50 feet wide and has a carved "bark" tapestry that features 325 similarities of different animals. Wildlife trails also surround the tree, with observation areas of lemurs, flamingos, red kangaroos and giant Galapagos turtles. Inside the tree there is a theater where you can experience It & # 39; s Tough To Be A Bug, a spooky interactive film that shows what a favorite park is like.
Camp Minnie Mickey: take the little ones here to have fun as a child and most of AK's characters meet and greet each other. This is also home to the Lion King Festival show, which inspired the award-winning Broadway musical.
Africa: Welcome to Harambe, a beautiful African town that is your way to Kilimanjaro Safari and a walk through the African animal territory. Once you descend from your safari vehicle, leave the Paganini Forest Exploration Trail to observe the lowland gorillas, including a magnificent 500-lb silverback male and his family. Take your time through these trails, this is one of the few places in the world where you can observe these amazing primates. Then, take the little ones to Rafiki & # 39; s Planet Watch later, as a reward for your patience: you will love the petting zoo of the Affection Section.
Asia: You have discovered the kingdom of Anandapur, which means "place of delight." The Imagineers did an amazing job creating the feeling of a crumbling archeological wonder, so be sure to keep an eye on intricate details. Of course, that could be difficult to do, since your entire party will run to get to Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, Disney's new and exciting journey. FASTPASS sure: this roller coaster is worth your full visit. On a hot day, head to the Kali River Rapids, where the rough waters guarantee a good time for everyone. You can see more closely the animals in Maharajah Jungle Trek, including the Bengal Tigers.
Dinoland, USA UU .: It may not be the best dinosaur attraction in the world, but it's still a good Disney fun. The Boneyard is a place for children to dig, climb and slide while parents have time to sit and watch. Then take the whole family to Dinosaur, a fun and accelerated race against time. Finally, take a seat for Finding Nemo-The Musical. This magnificent and visually impressive reinvention of the popular film is considered the must-see show of the entire Walt Disney World Resort.
Our tips for WDW parks
FASTPASS: It's like making a reservation for your favorite WDW attraction. Simply insert your admission ticket, annual pass or resort identification, and the machine prints a pass with the time you must return to the trip. You cannot choose your time, and you can only have one active FASTPASS at a time, but that doesn't matter: on a busy day, it can save you waiting hours on the lines.
A tip from FASTPASS: if you lose your scheduled time, don't worry. Your FASTPASS is valid for any time after the time on your ticket.
Drive while other guests are busy: meals, parades and fireworks often take people away from major attractions. Drive while everyone else is distracted and may experience much shorter wait times.
Do not refill! WDW has water sources throughout the park. Bring your own water bottles (the park allows them) and refill throughout the day.
Snack to save time: snack stalls offer quick and light options for meals along the way; Remember that a heavy meal will probably slow you down, especially in hot climates.
WDW water parks
Welcome to the 66-acre ski resort on Mount Gushmore! Blizzard Beach has a white sand beach and a tropical lagoon. This is the youngest of Disney's water parks, but it is also the most popular; In fact, it is the most popular water park in the country. It has excellent attractions for all ages, from emotions and speed to lazy and relaxing. Here are some highlights:
Cross country creek
Slightly smaller and a little more relaxed both in theme and emotion than Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon is the second WDW water park. Crowds tend to be a bit smaller here, as it is the oldest of the two parks, but you can still expect long waits and full pools during high attendance periods of the year. The waters of Typhoon Lagoon are kept at a warm, but still refreshing, temperature of 75-80 ° F throughout the year, which makes it a water park of choice even in Orlando's short winter.
The story of Typhoon Lagoon focuses on Miss Tilly, a shrimp boat that ended up trapped in Mount Mayday volcano after "storm storms." In half an hour, Miss Tilly still blows the whistle, while Mount Mayday tries to evict the ship by sending a water geyser directly through it and into the air.
The best known attraction in Typhoon Lagoon is probably the Shark Reef. Here, you can dive and even dive with live sharks (leopards and hatheads), as well as rays and a variety of tropical fish. Those visitors are not brave enough to get into the water (sharks are not dangerous!) They can see the fish through the portholes of a "sunken tanker."
There are also nine slides, ranging from emotion to pure laziness. Here is the summary of some of the favorites:
Crush & # 39; n & # 39; Oil well
Gang Plank Falls
Sports, shopping and more
Disney & # 39; s Wide World of Sports® Complex
This is Disney's tribute to sports and to the people who practice and love them. It is a 220-acre mega complex with a baseball stadium, ten baseball and softball fields, six basketball courts, 12 tennis courts (fully lit), six volleyball courts (sand, of course), a track complex and field, driving range for golfers, and even two indoor roller hockey courts. The Josten Center multi-sport auxiliary center offers six other basketball courts, 12 more volleyball courts and two more roller hockey rinks.
Sports fans should know that big names often also appear here. The Atlanta Braves come for Spring Training every March, and the NBA, PGA, NCAA and Harlem Globetrotters are hosting events and games here. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also use the sports complex as their training ground in July and August.
Call 407-WDW-GAME for more information, including an event calendar and ticket information.
This interactive indoor theme park is the perfect choice for your group's technicians or for the whole family on a rainy day. It has five levels of avant-garde games, where virtual reality meets adventure, all with a touch of that special Disney elves dust. Teenagers will LOVE, but there is something for everyone. Don't miss the virtual versions of the popular MK games, including Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold, Virtual Jungle Cruise, CyberSpace Mountain and Aladdin & # 39; s Magic Carpets.
CyberSpace Mountain is a particular favorite, where Bill Nye the Science Guy helps you create the roller coaster and then lets you ride it, it's really a personalized travel experience. Guests with artistic inclinations should visit Animation Station to see an intensive course of Disney-style animation. Arrive here at the opening to get the most action with less waiting time and the nights here can be filled unbearably.
WDW has 99 total golf holes, spread across six courses. There are also two mini golf resorts, which compete with similar sites throughout Orlando. While great golfers in your group can plan great outings with their friends (departure times can be booked 60-90 days in advance), Oak Trail is the best place to arrive in nine holes. It is a lovely and quiet hiking course, suitable for beginners, expert links or even families. There are some great challenges, especially on holes 5, 6 and 7. Other courses and mini golf include:
Lake Buena Vista
Fantasia Gardens (mini)
Fairways Fantasia (mini)
Winter Summerland (two mini courses: winter and summer)
And remember, just golf shoes without spikes! Sneakers or similar sports shoes are also allowed.
If shopping, dining and a state-of-the-art multiplex are part of your dream vacation, this is where you'll want to spend some time. It is divided into three areas: West Side, Pleasure Island (which will soon be Hyperion Wharf) and The Marketplace.
West Side has DisneyQuest and incredible dining experiences, such as Bongos Cuban Café, House of Blues, Wolfgang Puck & # 39; s and Planet Hollywood. There is a 24-screen AMC movie theater, which presents all your first premiere needs in a beautiful art deco setting. West Side also presents Cirque du Solei La Nouba, an exclusive Disney show from the world-famous cutting-edge company. Buy tickets in advance if you want to see the show: its popularity is almost unmatched. And the new thing for 2013 is Splitsville, a two-story complex with 30 bowling lanes and entertainment with live music and excellent restaurants.
Pleasure Island was once the center for 18-year-olds at the center of Disney, with clubs and restaurants serving a multitude of adults. That ended in 2008, and the area has been partially unused since then. But things are changing! Disney announced plans at the end of 2010 to transform Pleasure Island into a new area of shops and restaurants, Hyperion Wharf. Construction is expected to take three years; some shops and restaurants will remain open during the long renovation, including the Raglan Road Irish pub and bar, Fuego by Sosa Cigars, Paradiso 37 and Orlando Harley-Davidson.
Disney Marketplace also has excellent restaurants, especially Frabon & # 39; s Crab House for succulent seafood in a beautiful riverboat. Captain Jack & # 39; s (no connection to Johnny Depp's character) is the place for oysters and cold beer, in an informal beachfront restaurant that also has an excellent children's menu. Children will also love the Rainforest Café, where there are often live animals (mostly parrots) on display outside. Marketplace is also home to World of Disney. No trip is complete without a visit here, although parents trying to fit a budget may want to corner the children once they cross the door!
How to move around the mouse: transportation at the Walt Disney World® Resort
Monorail: The Walt Disney Monorail system has been in operation since the park was opened in 1971. It originally ran around the circumference of the Seven Seas Lagoon, but was expanded in 1982 to offer monorail transport to EPCOT. If you stay at one of the Magic Kingdom hotels
– The Contemporary, The Polynesian, or The Grand Floridian: the monorail passes by your hotel. Everyone else picks up the monorail at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT or at the Transportation and Ticket Center, known as TTC.
The TTC is the central point for Disney's transportation. In addition to the monorails, the TTC is also where you can find Disney buses (and other hotels in the area), ferries, water taxis and a massive parking lot for cars, taxis and buses.
Buses: Disney resort buses go to all Disney hotels, main parks, water parks, downtown Disney and the Wide World of Sports. There are dozens of buses for each location, but the routes are not always the most direct. In addition, buses can be extremely crowded during peak periods, such as opening, closing and meals. Consider the weather: if you are in a hurry to get somewhere, buses may not be your best option.
Parking: While monorails, ferries, water taxis and Disney buses are free, if you prefer to use your own car, the daily parking fee is $ 14 for cars and motorcycles, and $ 15 for trailers and motorhomes. Your parking pass is good for the whole day, no matter how often you move your car. Disney Resort hotel guests and annual pass holders do not have to pay for parking anywhere in the Walt Disney complex. It is always courtesy.
Fun for all the ages.
WDW attracts guests of all ages, from families with young children to retirees and spring break. Everyone has their own favorites, but if you are looking for planning help, these are our options for the best options for the most common age groups: children, teenagers and adults.
Consider the following abbreviations for each park:
MK = Magic Kingdom® Park
EP = Epcot®
DHS = Disney & # 39; s Hollywood Studios ™
AP = Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park
The best for younger children
Attractions: Voyage of the Little Mermaid (DHS), Monsters Inc Laugh Floor (MK), Finding Nemo: The Musical (AK), Buzz Lightyear (MK)
Come: 50 Prime Time Café (DHS), Cosmic Ray & # 39; s (MK), Coral Reef Restaurant (EP), Toy Story Pizza Planet (DHS)
The best for teenagers
Attractions: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (DHS), Philharmagic (MK), Phantasmic (DHS), Rock n Roller Coaster (DHS), Haunted Mansion (MK), Space Mountain (MK), Splash Mountain (MK), Mission: Space (EP), Expedition Everest (AK)
Restaurants: Pecos Bills (MK), Via Napoli (EP), Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (DHS)
The best for adults
Attractions: Muppet Vision 3-D (DHS), Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (DHS), Test Track (EP), Soarin & # 39; (EP)
Restaurants: Victoria and Albert & # 39; s (Grand Floridian Resort), California Grill (Contemporary Resort), Narcoosees (Grand Floridian Resort), Chefs du France (EP), Jiko (AK Lodge), Rose and Crown (EP), Le Cellier (EP)
We sincerely hope you enjoyed reading our guide to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Have a good trip!