Disneyworld: An Even Bigger Adventure

If you've already been to Disneyland in California, or just live closer to Disney World in Florida and want to plan a vacation there, here's information on what you can see and do while there. Located near Orlando, Florida, Walt Disney World (its official name) opened its gates on October 1, 1971 with just the Magic Kingdom theme park. Eleven years later, the Epcot center opened on October 1, 1982; followed by Disney's Hollywood Studio in May, 1989; and Disney's Animal Kingdom in April, 1998. Taking up some 25,000 acres, this is the world's largest theme park resort. In addition to the four theme parks, other attractions include Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Disney's Boardwalk, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, and Downtown Disney. There are also 32 onsite hotels in all price ranges from deluxe to value-priced, as well as a campground. Plenty of onsite restaurants to choose from, too. Since Disney World in Florida is much larger than Disneyland in California, there's plenty more to see and do. If you can swing it, consider a longer visit.

Planning Your Trip

As with any vacation, planning is the key to success. How you'll get there, how long you'll stay, what your budget can swing as far as eating and lodging, what you want to see and do while you're there. In the beginning stages, talk to your friends and co-workers who have been there and get their recommendations. Do some online searches to get hotel and restaurant prices. You should find affordable accomodations if you do a little looking. Probably one of the biggest expenses you'll have is your admission tickets to the park itself. We notice that the longer the stay, the cheaper these ticket prices are. At the time this article was written, a 3-day ticket for an adult was about $209, or $67.67 per day; a 7-day pass would cost about $220, or $31.29 per day; and the ultimate savings bargain: a 10-day pass for about $225, or $22.50 per day.

Lodging accomodations range in price from deluxe, priced from $225 to $385 per night; moderate, which start at $150 per night; and value, starting about $82 per night. If you really want to save money and enjoy camping, there are campground accomodations ranging in price from $42 to $56 per night depending on hookups. These rates are based on two adult occupancy, before taxes, and if you are not booking a complete package. The Disney World site gives you all the information you need, including booking hotel rooms and park tickets.

The Park Itself

Okay, you've begun planning your trip: You have a pretty good idea how you'll travel, how long your visit will last, and where you'll stay. Now it's time to take a look around the park so you can plan what you'll do while you're here. As we mentioned before, there are four theme parks within Disney World: Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Hollywood Studio, and Animal Kingdom. There are also water parks and other attractions like the sports complex and Downtown Disney. What follows is a brief overview of just a few of the attractions at Disney World.

Magic Kingdom
This was the first theme park opened in Disney World in 1971. The well-known icon for this park is Cinderella's Castle. This park is also home to Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters Inc., Mickey's PhilharMagic, and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.

Epcot Center
This is park is almost two parks in one: Future World, and World Showcase. The best rides are in Future World, such as Mission: Space; Test Track; Soarin'; and Honey I Shrunk the Audience. World showcase features other countries, including miniaturized models from these countries, food and shopping from these countries. Featured countries include Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, America, and the United Kingdom, to name a few. The rides here are not as much fun as in Future World, but if you've an interest in other cultures and a desire for shorter wait times in the lines, you'll enjoy this part of the Epcot Center. You'll recognize this theme park by the large round silver ball.

MGM Studio
This is the smallest of the theme parks at Disney World. The icon for this park is the blue sorcer's hat. This park only has two real rides -- Rock-n-Roll Roller Coaster and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but there are other attractions for your enjoyment. These include simulators such as Star Tours, where you sit in a spaceship and watch a movie while your spaceship tilts and makes you think you're really moving; theater shows like Voyage of the Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast; and stunt shows like Indiana Jones or Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show. Not to be missed is Fantasmic, the nightly extravaganza which features fireworks, music, a laser lightshow, and a huge cast of characters.

Animal Kingdom

This is the newest theme park, which opened in 1998. You can say it's a combination theme park, nature conservatory and zoo. It's also a big park, lots to see and do. Favorites for kids include Dinoland, which has discovery playground for children to crawl around dinosaur bone excavations, playing in a giant sandbox, and climbing on nets and slides. Kids have as much (if not more) fun here than they do on the other park rides; Asia, with Expedition Everest -- a roller coaster ride with plenty of speed and thrills. There's animal exhibits, the Kali River Rapids ride (be prepared for a soaking); and Flights of Wonder -- a 15-minute outdoor bird show. Africa is another area worth exploring. You'll get a look at African elephants and other animals here, as well as the Lion King show.

Other Park Attractions
There are two water parks for your fun and enjoyment: Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon. Disney's Downtown features shopping, dining and entertainment, including the Cirque du Soleil. The Wide World of Sports complex is home to home to more than 170 amateur and professional sporting events each year. Feel the need for a little pampering? There are three spas where you can indulge in a bit of relaxation and be pampered. Enjoy walking, golfing, horseback riding, sailing or fishing? Enjoy them all at Disney World.

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