Walt Disney World Theme Parks

Kali River Rapids water ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Kali River Rapids water ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom

There are four Walt Disney World theme parks and two water parks plus the Downtown Disney complex including Pleasure Island.

If you are in a hurry you can do each of the four main theme parks in a day by picking and choosing your rides and shows but to do them justice your really need to allow longer

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Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is the original Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando and is pure entertainment and escapism in true Disney style. It appeals to all age groups, young and old with entertainment top of the menu. There are thrill rides for the more adventurous, gentler rides for the less adventurous plus lots of shows, parades and fireworks.

Epcot

Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) is very different from Magic Kingdom, it is much more educational than entertaining and suits a more "grown-up" audience. There are a couple of thrill rides but in general it caters for a more inquisitive audience.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios is in direct competition with Universal Studios and like the Magic Kingdom it combines rides, shows, parades and fireworks, all built around a television and film studio theme.

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is the newest Walt Disney World theme park and is Disney's interpretation of an animal safari park/zoo. Again there are lots of rides, shows and parades but no fireworks for obvious reasons.

Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach is a rather strange water park set in an alpine ski resort setting and is similar in many ways to Wet 'n' Wild, the original Orlando water park.

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon is also a water park but is themed around a tropical resort after a typhoon. Like SeaWorld's Discovery Cove, it allows its guests to snorkel with tropical fish and small sharks.

River Country

Disney's first water park, River Country closed some time ago following issues with some of the cement water slides and bacteria. In January 2005 Disney announced that it would not be re-opening and there is now speculation as to what might take its place.

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is an entertainment area with restaurants and shops. The adults-only Pleasure Island where you used to be able to dance and relax into the small hours with music and comedy clubs is currently closed.

Switching off

If you have small children with you, then on some rides you can do what is called a "Baby swap" or "Switching off" to allow both adults to go on the ride without having to queue in line twice. Tell the attendant you want to '"switch off" and they let the first adult on the ride. At the end of the ride, the parents swap the baby over and the second adult then goes on the ride.

Parking

If you arrive by car, then there are large car parks (parking lots) at all the Walt Disney World theme parks; some of them are free (like Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon and Downtown Disney) but you have to pay to park at the four main parks; Magic Kingdom (at the Ticket and Transportation Center), Epcot, MGM's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

At some parks you can walk if you are parked close to the entrance, otherwise you can catch one of the regular road-train trams that circulate around the car parks all day.

Do remember where you are parked as some of the car parks are unbelievably large; you will see row numbers painted at the end of each row by the tram stop; each row also has a character name associated with it that the tram driver will advise you of when you board the tram

Park hopping

If you park hop, remember to keep your parking ticket to avoid having to pay again (a parking ticket is valid for all the car parks on the day of purchase).

Riding the monorail

A monorail service connects the Ticket and Transportation Center with the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

If you take the monorail then if it is not busy, ask the attendant on the platform if you can travel up at the front of the train with the driver; you get a fantastic view from the cab.

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