The ultimate family holiday, Walt Disney World conjures up images of the enchanting Cinderella Castle, magical Main Street U.S.A and everyone’s favourite couple Mickey and Minnie, but with 6 amusement parks, 5 golf courses, a vast entertainment district, and 28 Disney owned and operated hotels, it can be hard to know where to start.
In our Disney Planner, you can find an introduction to each park, our favourite hotels and villas in the area, entertainment and dining, as well as helpful hints and tips to make your stay truly unforgettable.
Where to stay?
Along with a central location in the heart of the action, guests who choose to stay at one of the Disney Resort hotels will appreciate the wide range of benefits that come with it, including early access to FastPass+ planning, saving you a lot of queueing time, as well as extended park hours and complimentary transport into the park. A treasured stay for wildlife enthusiasts of all ages, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge welcomes guests with an authentic, African safari feel. Over 30 species live in the surrounding savannah, while inside is decorated with warm, wooden tones, vibrant flora and fauna and African antiques – perfect for a comfortable stay and an animal adventure. Alternatively, when you’re not in the parks, make the most of the Sunshine State at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, boasting a whopping 3 crystal pools, 7 spas, a beautiful white-sand beach and small waterpark.
Believe it or not, sometimes the excitement and enthusiasm of Disney can become a little overwhelming for some, so for those in search of a tranquil home away from the buzz but still within easy access, a private villa might be the right choice for you. Great for families and large groups, many of our villas offer their own private pool, spacious living and dining areas, up to 11 bedrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen so you can prepare your own meals. Hiring a car is an excellent choice should you choose to stay in a villa, as it is often the best way to get around, explore the parks, indulge in the all-you-can-eat American restaurants, and visit the iconic International Drive.
The first of the four Disney amusement parks to be built, Magic Kingdom is a fairy-tale land of elegant princesses, wicked villains, and a charmed fairy who flies through the air to light the castle each night. You’ll enter via ferry boat or monorail which will be the first of many rides in the Magic Kingdom’s six areas: Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Liberty Square and Main Street U.S.A. Main Street has a twentieth-century small-town American feel, and is where you can catch of your favourite characters in one of the musical parades, while Liberty Square is based on an American Revolutionary colonial town with the Hall of Presidents and Liberty Belle Riverboat. Glimpse into America’s Old West on Frontierland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, or peek into the future and battle aliens with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in Tomorrowland.
Explore the world and beyond in Epcot, a dedication to innovation, creativity, and international culture. The Future World consists of a variety of rides and attractions that represent education, technology, and science, including the iconic Spaceship Earth, which you can go inside and discover the wonders of the Universe and our knowledge of it so far. Not for the faint-hearted, Mission: Space allows you to board a simulated spaceship where you and your team become astronauts on a dangerous mission to mars, or stay on land with Test Track, a high-speed coaster which rigorously tests the car you designed on your way in! The World Showcase makes up the majority of the park, with 11 pavilions each designed, decorated and themed to represent a specific country. France even includes its own Eiffel Tower, and Morocco its own market place, where you may see Aladdin and Jasmine near Restaurant Marrakesh.
The Tree of Life marks the centre of Animal Kingdom, an impressive sculpted tree of intertwining animals, and symbolises animal conservation, an idea which echoes throughout the park. Here, you can get up close to the roaming animals on the Wild Africa Trek, delight with singing, dancing and kaleidoscopic costumes in the Broadway-style Lion King musical, or dodge the splash on the spinning Kali River Rapids.
Lights, camera, action! The glitz and glamour of the big screen comes to life at Hollywood Studios, previously MGM Studios, where the streets are lined with brass stars and buildings are designed with 1930’s Hollywood in mind. Take a journey through some of America’s most notable movies on The Great Movie Ride, or board the Tower of Terror to the Twilight Zone if you dare, the brief aerial views of the park plus the look on your friend’s face are worth the 13-storey plummet – we promise!
Thrilling water slides, family raft rides and giant wave pools are just the start at Disney’s two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Typhoon Lagoon offers surfing lessons, as well as the chance to dive deep and swim with stingrays, sharks and tropical fish, while Blizzard Beach challenges you to fly down the slopes of Mount Gushmore, one of the world’s fastest and tallest waterslides!
Where to eat?
Disney Springs, more commonly known as Downtown Disney until its recent renovation, is Disney’s vast outdoor complex for entertainment, dining and shopping, all with no admission or parking fees. Dining here is an eclectic combination of unique experiences, with Planet Hollywood encompassing classic American cuisine with star-studded surroundings and movie memorabilia, and the Rainforest Café bringing the vibrant jungle to life with singing birds, glistening waterfalls and an erupting volcano as you enjoy primal steaks, spicy quesadillas and tempting chocolate brownies.
In the parks themselves, food is just as much a part of the experience as collecting your character autographs and boarding your favourite spine-tingling coaster. We suggest making reservations for any of the in-park à la carte restaurants, especially those in the Magic Kingdom prior to the firework spectacular (which starts around 8:00pm each night), but snacks and drinks stands regularly pop up around the parks for quick bites and sweet funnel cakes. Adults won’t want to miss out on a pint and traditional fish and chips from the Rose and Crown pub in Epcot’s England, where you can find friendly, British bartenders and lively evening music, while children can have magical memories of their Dine with the Characters experience. Young princesses are encouraged to dress up for the occasion at Cinderella’s Royal Table, where the whole family can enjoy fine dining with Snow White, Cinderella, and Belle, but be warned – reservation is a must, with bookings being made up to 180 days prior to your visit.