Walt Disney World
In 1955, Walt Disney built his first theme park called Disneyland at Anaheim in California but it soon became clear that there was not enough room to expand the park in the way that Disney wanted.
The Disney company therefore bought up 27,500 acres of swamp and rough bush land near Orlando as the home of the second Disney theme park, the Walt Disney World Resort.
Visitor numbers to the Walt Disney World Resort in 2006 were up
around 5% on average across the four main parks, compared to 2005
with a total of some 45.1 million visits.
The first Walt Disney World park in Orlando, Magic Kingdom opened in 1971 and building has been going on ever since.
Today there are other Disney parks at:
- Disneyland at Anaheim in California
- Tokyo Disney
- Disneyland Paris
- and a fifth park has now opened in Hong Kong
Some 50 years after that first park, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando is the largest tourist attraction in the world covering some 47 square miles (121 sq. km) and including:
- four theme parks - Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom
- two water parks - Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon
- the Downtown Disney village with shops and restaurants
- a sports complex - Disney's Wide World of Sport
- over 20 Walt Disney World Resort hotels
- a nightclub - Pleasure Island - CURRENTLY CLOSED
- golf courses and a campground - Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
- and even a cruise line
Following on from the success of Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth which commemorated the 50th anniversay of Disneyland in California, Disney announced the new Year of a Million Dreams celebrations which actually run from October 1, 2006 to December 31, 2008 (over two years) in both Walt Disney World Florida and Disneyland California. This was then superceded by the "What Will You Celebrate?" promotion in 2009.
According to TEA/ERA, in 2006 they estimate that the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando took 4 out of the top 5 spots for most visited attractions in the whole of the USA, namely:
- Magic Kingdom, 16.6 million (+3.0%, up from 16.1 million)
- Disneyland at Anaheim in California, 14.7 million (+1.2%, up from 14.5 million)
- Epcot, 10.5 million (+5.5%, up from 9.9 million)
- Disney's Hollywood Studios, 9.1 million, (+5.0%, up from 8.6 million)
- Disney's Animal Kingdom, 8.9 million (+8.6%, up from 8.2 million)
If you are staying in one of the onsite Disney resort hotels then you will be able to take a free Disney motorcoach shuttle bus to the various attractions. If you do take your car then parking is free for Disney resort residents.
Many offsite hotels also offer complimentary shuttle buses to the parks.
Do not underestimate how tiring it can be for small children. Strollers (push chairs/buggies) can be hired in all the parks but be aware that they are often 'borrowed' by other guests when you leave them in the special parking areas outside each attraction.
Try tying something distinctive to it to help identify it (the dirtier the better !!). If your stroller does disappear just ask a Disney cast member to help you (make sure you hang onto your receipt).
We recommend you read our Walt Disney World Resort general information page for all the background information on strollers, guests with special needs, FASTPASS etc.
You will also find useful tips on all Disney pages - just check these side panels.
From 2005, Walt Disney World introduced a new ticket package called "Magic Your Way" which gives you more flexibility in tailoring your theme park tickets to your own specific needs but can be quite confusing at first glance.