August 1, 2013
Nicknamed “the happiest place on earth,” Disney World offers an elaborate escape from reality for children and adults alike. The 30,000 acre amusement park, located in Orlando, Florida, is a destination for young families looking to make lasting memories, but is equally appreciated by more seasoned travelers seeking a bit of fun and a comfortable stay in one of the park’s luxurious hotels.
Visitors of any age enjoy the vast array of activities and unique experiences Disney World holds in its four unique parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Thrill-seekers can board any one of the roller coasters scattered throughout the parks, while a safari in Animal Kingdom or a surprisingly realistic action movie set in Hollywood Studios offers a different kind of adrenaline rush. With so many options and so many distinctive experiences, you are sure to find something in Disney World that excites your inner child.
Disney World offers a range of hotel options for travelers to enjoy their stay, regardless of their budget. There is a selection of Value Resort Hotels throughout the four parks that start from $90 a night. Value Hotel such as the All-Star Movies Resort and the Pop Century Resort are colorful and kid friendly. While seclusion and opulence may not be their focus, they provide a great option for families on a budget. Moderate resorts provide slightly more space and amenities and start at about $160 per night. However, if you are willing to splurge for an incredible hotel experience, go for one of Disney’s Deluxe Resort Hotels, such as the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Located in Animal Kingdom, this hotel features luxurious, African-themed décor and sits on the park’s safari course, allowing the exotic animals to venture impossibly close to the hotel and its guests. A stay at one of these deluxe hotels starts at $250 per night, but is sure to impress the most selective of Disney visitors.
There is no shortage of food within Disney World, and many visitors opt for the dining package, which gets visitors a “key to the world” card eligible at over 100 park restaurants. This is a great option if you will be frequenting the more casual, cafeteria-style restaurants that are scattered throughout the parks. Each has a different theme, but offers a wide variety of choices for kids and adults.
For a little more flexibility and a slightly more high-end dining experience, check out the fabulous restaurants within the Disney resort hotels. For a truly classic Disney experience, take the kids to Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, where visitors are treated to a grand buffet and a visit from characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse. To dine with the princesses, Cinderella’s Royal Table inside the Cinderella castle is the perfect way to enjoy a majestic meal in a dazzling setting. A meal at the Royal Table will cost you about $30-$60 per person, but is one of the park’s most highly acclaimed dining experiences.
Things to See and Do
Disney World holds a new and exhilarating experience around every corner, but there are few attractions that should make the top of the must-see list. Of course, the Cinderella castle should be a stop along the journey through Magic Kingdom, but visiting the castle at night is a whole different experience. Once the sun sets, the outside of the castle becomes encased in various colors, setting the tone for the fireworks display that follows. An incredible showcase of lights and color, the fireworks at Disney World are unlike any others and even feature an appearance by an airborne Tinkerbell.
Fantasmic! is another classic Disney attraction that incorporates pyrotechnics and animations to tell the story of sorcerer Mickey and his skills in wizardry. Fireworks and water are combined to create the amazing effects, and the grand stadium setting is the ultimate venue for the show. Make sure you arrive early to this popular performance, as good seats make the show even more enjoyable.
Mature visitors will surely appreciate EPCOT’s World Showcase, which features attractions, architecture and cuisine inspired by 11 different nations. Recognizable landmarks represent the various nations and accurately constructed street scenes makes visitor feel like they are strolling through a foreign city. The World Showcaseis enhanced by the enormous lagoon in its center — on which you can take a boat ride for a better view of the global sites — as well as by its beautiful gardens, which should be appreciated in full daylight.
Last, but not least, is Splash Mountain,located in Magic Kingdom. This is one of Disney’s most famous rides and is sure to satisfy roller coaster enthusiasts with its four intense drops. The ride also tells the entertaining story of Br’er Rabbit, which adds a humorous and unusual dimension to the normal roller coaster experience. With great views of Magic Kingdom and a fun Disney experience, this ride is also one of the most popular, so expect a line if you are visiting during peak season.
Disney World is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and as the park continuously evolves, new sites and attractions draw first-timers as well as Disney veterans to its enchanted home in Orlando. Whether you have experienced the magic of Disney World already, or are looking to take your first trip to the happiest place on earth, you are sure to discover new sights, sounds, and thrills unlike any other.