Walt Disney World, the world's biggest amusement park, is a self-contained city, covering an area twice the size of New York's Manhattan. Four main parks comprise the bulk of Walt Disney World—Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom—each with its own themed areas, shows, rides, and attractions. More than 50 million visitors pass through the gates each year into the self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth” and home of Mickey Mouse.
The sheer size of Walt Disney World can make the experience seem overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors, but options abound. Ticket options are varied, with everything from a base ticked that gets you into one park per day to a multi-day Park Hopper pass that allows you to enter one park in the morning and another in the afternoon. Add on a water park ticket for access to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. Park-goers who’d rather leave the logistics to the experts can book their own VIP tour with a private tour guide to help navigate the parks, snag Fast Passes (scheduled skip-the-line passes), and make meal arrangements. For additional fees, the park also offers an array of special experiences, including Disney’s Family Magic tour, the Backstage Magic tour, and the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Walt Disney World is a must-see for families with kids and theme park enthusiasts.
- Don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat.
- Choose single-day tickets, multi-day park admission, or Park Hopper tickets.
- Head to Cinderella Castle for a classic photo op.
- Wear comfortable shoes, and prepare to do a fair amount of walking.
- Rain is a common occurrence in Florida, so be sure to bring a rain poncho or small fold-up umbrella.
How to Get There
The nearest airport to Walt Disney World Resort is Orlando International (MCO) which is served by some four dozen airlines. A vast majority of visitors get to the parks by car, though it’s also possible to arrive by shuttle if you stay on Disney property during your trip. Transportation between Disney parks and hotels is free by bus, monorail, ferry, or water taxi.
When to Get There
The international popularity of Walt Disney World means there isn’t really an off season, though summer, spring break, and the winter holidays tend to be particularly crowded. To make the most of your time in the parks, plan your visit on a weekday. If visiting during a busy time, crowds tend to thin out later in the afternoon.
Tips for Beating the Lines at Walt Disney World
Lines are an inevitable part of the Disney experience, especially at popular rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean, but with a little planning, you can avoid the worst of them. Get to the park before it opens, and immediately head toward the big ticket rides near the back of the park, scheduling your three Fast Passes as you go. Lines tend to be shorter during parades and fireworks shows, and the slower-paced rides are often quieter in the evening after families with young kids have headed home for the day.