Family Vacations to Walt Disney World

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Walt Disney World – Family Vacation Guide

Even the MVP of the Super Bowl goes to Walt Disney World after winning the big game. A family trip to the House of Mouse is almost a rite of passage, and every family should make at least one trek through the vaunted entrance gateway.

Why Go

  • This question hardly even needs to be asked—it’s Disney World!

  • Walt Disney World’s theme parks are four of the top five visited in North America (with Magic Kingdom at #1).

  • Walt Disney World has some of the most innovative theme park attractions in the world.

  • From the new and immersive world of Pandora – The World of Avatar –  to the abundance of characters from beloved films and television series like Mickey Mouse, the Disney Princesses, and Star Wars, there’s never a moment that isn’t packed with excitement here.

What to Do

With four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, a sports facility and entertainment/shopping/dining complex, there’s certainly no shortage of family-friendly entertainment options at the massive resort.  With so many options, what to tackle first can be a tough task. To help make it a little easier, here’s a quick overview of the four major theme parks:

Magic Kingdom

If you can only go to one Walt Disney World Park, this is the classic choice.  Anchored by the iconic Cinderella Castle, this is where you’ll find Princess filled Fantasyland, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain and more iconic sights.

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This could easily be two theme parks and includes Future World and World Showcase.  Future World is perfect for the budding scientist with a focus on technology and scientific achievement, featuring thrilling rides like Spaceship Earth, Soarin’ Around the World and Test Track.  Meanwhile, explore a different kind of world at World Showcase, which features eleven nations set around a picturesque lagoon.  Inside the nation pavilions you’ll find fun attractions like the boat ride Frozen Ever After (featuring kid favorites Anna, Elsa and Olaf), Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros, The American Adventure and other international attractions.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Kids can get in touch with their wild side by taking part in the adventures in the natural world including encounters with exotic animals from Africa and Asia. Major rides and attractions that are sure to delight include Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest roller coaster, Avatar Flight of Passage and the glowing night displays of Rivers of Light.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Fan of Star Wars? This is the park for you. Here you’ll find Star Tours, Meet & Greets with Star Wars characters and experience the fog and fire effects during Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. Other signature rides include Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and, for the bravest of the crew, the gripping 13-story drop offered at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

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Where to Stay

  • The entire Walt Disney World resort is twice the size of Manhattan occupying 40 square miles of Florida real estate, and the choices for where to stay can be a little daunting.  There are currently 36 different Walt Disney World hotels ranging from campsites to private over-water bungalows.
  • In addition to the Fort Wilderness Campground, there are different classes of hotels for every budget including: value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villa resorts.
  • If you plan on spending all of your time in the theme parks and only sleeping in the hotel, a value or moderate resort would work well for your family and save some money for meals and souvenirs.
  • If you plan on spending more time at the hotel, away from the theme parks, opt for one of the deluxe hotels with enhanced amenities (including well-themed pools) for a more pampered visit.

Getting Around

As large as Walt Disney World Resort is, it’s surprisingly easy to get around.  There’s a fleet of buses, boats, trams and even the iconic Monorail to get you from resort to theme park and beyond.  If you are a guest at one of the Walt Disney World properties, you can even arrange for the complimentary Disney’s Magical Express service to transfer you and your family from the airport and back so don’t have to worry about lugging bags and carting kids. While Disney transportation is free, it does take up valuable vacation time.  For the quickest way to get around Walt Disney World, rent a car. Parking at the theme parks is free for guests staying on Walt Disney World property.

Dave Parfitt is a reformed academic with a PhD in neuroscience, who began writing about his family travel adventures after surviving a trip to Walt Disney World with his two budding princesses, now ages 19 and 16. As owner and editor of Adventures By Daddy, Dave offers family travel advice and escapist fun from Dad’s point of view.

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