Is it Walt Disney World, or is it The Magic Kingdom?

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Florida Guide > Disney Parks

Is it Walt Disney World, or is it The Magic Kingdom?

The very first time I travelled to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World I was slightly confused. I had read some guide books and so I was aware that it was split up into different areas but I still mistakenly thought that the Magic Kingdom was just another name for Walt Disney World. So, for those who are planning their first trip, here is a brief rundown of the setup.

First of all ‘Walt Disney World’ itself covers 43 square miles and once you pass through the ‘gates’ and are on the Disney property you will find, amongst other things, 4 separate theme parks, several golf courses, two water parks, miniature golf, many hotels, a monorail and a downtown shopping area. The four theme parks are:

The Magic Kingdom

This is the original park built by Walt Disney, opening in 1971 and features the instantly recognisable Cinderella’s Castle in the centre from which paths lead to the different areas which are called ‘lands’. There is something for everyone in this park from gentle rides to roller coasters. To reach it from the car park you have to either take a ferry across the lagoon, or go on the monorail. The monorail also connects you to Epcot if you want to do a bit of park-hopping.

Epcot

Epcot, which opened in 1982, is twice the size of The Magic Kingdom. Just inside the entrance the huge white ‘golf ball’ is the iconic structure associated with this park and which houses the Spaceship Earth ride. Epcot is divided into two main areas – Future World and World Showcase with each area being distinctly different from the other. In Future World there are many hands-on exibits which showcase modern technology and futuristic ideas along with rides and shows. World Showcase is built around a lagoon and is similar to a World Fair with pavilions representing many countries where you can try their foods and learn about their cultures.

Hollywood Studios

This homage to the film industry was opened in 1989 and has as its centerpiece a huge Sorcerer’s Hat. It was originally named Disney-MGM Studios but was renamed in 2008. Visitors can immerse themselves in the world of the movies and enjoy stunt shows, a backlot tour and various movie based rides.

Animal Kingdom

This park opened in 1998 and has the magnificent Tree of Life as its central structure, visible from all around the park and from which paths fan out to different ‘lands’; Africa, Asia, Dino Land, USA and Camp Minnie Mickey. It is five times the size of The Magic Kingdom and is perfect for animal lovers who will enjoy the zoological exibits, the safari ride, live shows and rides with animal themes.

So, there you are, a brief run down of Walt Disney World and hopefully you will be less confused than I was on my first visit. Finding your way around is quite easy as once you enter Walt Disney World through the ‘arches’ you will find everything well signposted.

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