Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom & Fun Parks

For anyone familiar with Walt Disney cartoons, expect the same only on a scale way beyond comprehension!  Disney has taken all the best bits from a fun-packed holiday and turned them into a series of theme parks.  With each theme park offering rides and attractions aimed at both children and big kids, there will be something for everyone.  Considering the size of each park and how far you are likely to walk, comfy shoes and sun-cream are a must for a fun-filled day.

Theme parks aside, Walt Disney World Resort also offers Fun Parks, which are the lesser cousin to the main parks, yet still offer excellent ways to both relax, have fun and top-up the tan.  These are smaller, more compact and are more accessible - being located around the central Disney Springs area (previously Downtown Disney) .  Unlike the main theme parks which charge for car parking, the fun parks offer free car parking.

Magic Kingdom

Full list of Magic Kingdom attractions

Magic Kingdom is the park which personifies Disney and the Orlando area.  It is a must-do family park and has the 'Cinderella' castle that everyone knows (which is actually a restaurant).  As well as the daily shows and procession of Mickey and his friends (and the chance to be photographed with them), the park offers a number of 'lands' - some catering for young children, others for the more brave.

Popular thrill rides at Magic Kingdom are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (which are the only mountains you will see in Florida) and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Thrill rides aside, also visit the Haunted Mansion, Speedway, Stitch's Great Escape, Pirates of the Caribbean or casually travel around the park on the PeopleMover or Railroad .

Magic Kingdom Thunder Mountain Railroad

EPCOT

Full list of EPCOT attractions

EPCOT like Magic Kingdom has its own image - that being the big 'golf ball'.  This is in fact Spaceship Earth - one of the many family rides that is both fun and educational.  Based around a central lake, EPCOT has thirteen pavilions, with each themed to a specific country and offering their own selection of rides and restaurants.  With everything from Mexican food to the English 'Rose and Crown' pub, EPCOT is an excellent park for adults to visit in the evening and for everyone to watch the firework show.

Spaceship Earth geosphere at EPCOT EPCOT Lake Aimed at a more quizzical audience, the rides stem from the world of science and exploration.  Thrill seekers should try the excellent Test Track, Mission: Space or Soarin', whilst for the mild mannered - "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" or the Norwegian Maelstrom water ride.  For qualified SCUBA divers, visit Dive Quest, for a chance to dive in the world's largest indoor fish tank!

Hollywood Studios

Full list of Disney Hollywood Studios attractions

Hollywood Studios (previously known as MGM Studios) is a Disney park that is themed by the movies and entertainment - with the emphasis on fun.  For the thrill-seekers, there is the not-as-scary-as-it-looks Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the Rock 'N'Rollercoaster (starring Aerosmith!) and the simulated Star Wars ride.  Another "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" show (if you like the one from EPCOT) is also here.  Live entertainment is a must in the always popular Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Studio Backlot Tour and Beauty and the Beast.

With stage props galore, this park feels like you are are on a film set.  With this in mind, you would expect something similar to Universal Studios, but it is different and does offer something else.  As with the rest of the park, restaurants and eateries are themed in both decor and food.  If you get the chance, check out Fantasmic! - this is a night-time fireworks and lights Mickey spectacular. Tower of Terror Extreme Stunt Show at Disney Hollywood

Animal Kingdom

Full list of Animal Kingdom attractions

Animal Kingdom is the wild animal park where Disney goes back to nature - offering safaris and boat trips around the jungles of Africa and South America.  Size wise, this is the biggest park, which means comfy shoes are a pre-requisite for all that walking between the attractions.

Dino-Rama Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom Lions, tigers and elephants may originate from hot climates, but they also like to sleep a lot in the heat.  So, in the summer months aim to arrive early and head for the Kilimanjaro Safari.  As well as the safari, there is a great hands-on Conservation Station for petting less-wild.. goats and Dino-Rama land for the children.  Wild animals aside, thrill-seekers have the Expedition Everest rollercoaster and Dinosaur.

Disney Quest Fun Park

Full list of Disney Springs attractions

Disney Quest can be found at Disney Springs (previously Downtown Disney) and provides three floors of wall-to-wall interactive games from the early eighties through to today.  Sink pirate ships in the awesome Pirates of the Caribbean, design and ride your own rollercoaster in Cyperspace Mountain or shoot other dodgem car drivers in Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters.  If you feel all this sounds far too exhilarating, take time out with a huge piece of their excellent cheesecake and watch the world go by.

Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Full list of Typhoon Lagoon attractions

Typhoon Lagoon is one of Disney's two water parks and offers a sandy beach, slides and shoots centred around one of the largest wave pools in the world!  Thrill-seekers not only get the huge waves, but high-speed Humunga Kowabunga slides and Mayday Falls in the tubes.  If you want to relax, grab a tube for Castaway Creek - the lazy river.  One tip - find a sun bed - there are not that many and they can go quickly.

Blizzard Beach Water Park

Full list of Blizzard Beach attractions

Blizzard Beach is the second of Disney's two water parks, mimicking an Alpine ski resort!  Thrill-seekers get Summit Plummit which is a 55mph water slide down over 100m, as well as Downhill Double Dippers, Slush Gusher and Toboggan Racers.  All in all, a fantastic park for white (knuckle) water rides!  There are also a number of more sedate rides, but this park is all about fun whilst topping-up the tan.

Are you visiting Walt Disney World resort and staying in a villa this year? Do you want to know how close you are to the parks?  Find Disney on a map of the Orlando area and see the other theme parks and attractions near by.

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