The mouse-eared magic of Walt Disney World (WDW) is justifiably famous. Millions of families from around the world descend on Orlando, Florida every year in search of the perfect vacation.
Are they wasting their time?
Not to have a Tinkerbelle-ish view of hyped destinations, but if it’s planned properly and expectations are at the right level, a Disney family holiday can be quite enjoyable.
But….you need to have a plan.
WDW is not one theme park; it is a group of parks that are each massive in their own right.
The park that is basically a carbon capy of California’s Disneyland is the Magic Kingdom. Main Street USA, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Cinderella’s Castle, the spinning teacups — they’re all there, spread over a lot of acreage.
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It is also consistently the most crowded park in the Orlando Disney complex, so plan accordingly.
The least crowded and most accessible to young ones (because it is the smallest park) is Animal Kingdom. If your family is new to WDW, start with this park because it is a nice combination of wildlife, fun rides, Lion King and African themes and shorter distances for little legs to traverse.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) really appeals to all ages. Again, it is a smaller, more walkable park, and there is a very good spread of rides, themed restaurants and activities that appeal to all ages.
Those who aren’t into the Muppets in 3D might like Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
Epcot is often called “Disney for adults.”
Certainly there are kid-friendly attractions and great rides, but it is a much more learning-oriented, cerebral park. The World Showcase mini-nations give Epcot a relatively sophisticated vibe.
We’re not done yet, though.
But wait, there’s more….
There are two enormous water parks; Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. There are sprawling hotel/resort complexes at every price level (the Grand Floridian is a destination resort even without WDW all around it.) There are the teen-friendly gaming and adult nightlife areas in Downtown Disney, plus Cirque du Soleil and Disney’s Boardwalk. The Disney Wide World of Sports complex hosts every athletic event imaginable, including the popular Disney Marathon and 10K.
We haven’t even started talking about the golf courses.
So, for sanity’s sake, do some homework before you get there, to ensure that your budget and fun-seeking kids are equally satisfied. Hopefully we can help you with that, here on Family Travel.