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Walt Disney World
Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom are the 4 theme parks that make up Walt Disney World. Learn more about each park below.

MAGIC KINGDOM

Allyson's multi-generational family at Magic Kingdom theme park

Magic Kingdom is the theme park that comes to mind when most people think of Disney World. In fact, we have found it quite common to hear people use the names Magic Kingdom and Disney World interchangeably. This is not correct, however, as Disney World is comprised of 4 very different theme parks, but we understand how the misconception occurs. Cinderella Castle makes for powerful imagery and is the backdrop for many of the Disney World pictures you see. Have you even been to Disney World if you haven't take a family picture in front of Cinderella Castle?

Magic Kingdom is broken into 6 different lands:

  • Main Street USA

  • Adventureland

  • Frontierland

  • Liberty Square

  • Fantasyland

  • Tomorrowland

Each land is themed beautifully and can take considerable time to truly explore. If we are going to visit a park more than once during a vacation then it is typically Magic Kingdom. There is just so much to see and do. It is also the theme park with the most attractions and rides for the youngest Disney travelers. If you have a toddler or baby (or both) then Magic Kingdom is absolutely where you will want to spend most of your time. There are over 20 attractions your smallest children can experience with you, which is extra magical. People who say you need to wait until your child is a certain age to experience Disney World clearly have not been to Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom is not all tame and gentle rides however. There are plenty of rides with which you will want to utilize rider switch and experience with your older children or the other adults in your family. Combine all of this with the character calvacades/parades, meet and greet opportunities, and shows and you have quite the recipe for a magical park day.

Did you know Epcot stands for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow? Most people recognize this futuristic theme park as the one with the giant golf ball (it's actually Spaceship Earth), but Epcot is much more than it's most recognizable landmark. Here you can explore global cultures in the World Showcase where you will find 11 countries (Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Morocco, Italy, United States, Japan, France, United Kingdom, and Canada). You can also spend time in the various sections of Future World where community, human achievement, and new ideas are celebrated through hands on exhibits, attractions, and entertainment.

Epcot is also known for it's festivals that occur seasonally 4 times a year. To begin the year there is the International Festival of the Arts, followed by the Flower and Garden Festival in the spring, then mid-summer through the fall there is the International Food and Wine Festival, and rounding out the end of the year is the Festival of the Holidays. Each festival is unique and brings special entertainment, programming, and experiences.

EPCOT

Spaceship Earth at Disney's EPCOT theme park

We love Epcot! It may just be our favorite theme park (shh don't tell the others), which is why we find it incredibly shocking when anyone suggests skipping this theme park. We often hear parents with young children saying they think Epcot is an adult-only theme park. We wholeheartedly disagree!! Our kids are obsessed with Epcot. Rides like Soarin', Test Track, Frozen Ever After, and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure are all favorites for most youngsters. The Seas with Nemo and Friends is a perfect first ride for little ones still uncertain about the whole ride thing. Nemo also ends inside the aquarium where your children can enjoy exploring and even catch a live show of Turtle Talk with Crush. Over in The World Showcase, your kids can stop at the Kidcot activity stations at each country and/or participate in the scavenger hunts that occur during each festival season. Epcot has something for every age group, and we highly recommend including in your Walt Disney World vacation.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

The Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

In 2008, Disney's MGM Studios was renamed as Disney's Hollywood Studios. We loved it then and we love it now, the change signifying the park's celebration of more than just the "golden age" of movies and instead the entire entertainment industry of music, television, movies, and theater.

Hollywood Studios is broken into 9 different lands:

  • Sunset Boulevard

  • Hollywood Boulevard 

  • Animation Courtyard

  • Echo Lake

  • Commissary Lane

  • Grand Avenue

  • Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

  • Toy Story Land

  • Pixar Place

Hollywood Studios is another park you could spend a considerable amount of time exploring and still not get to everything in one day. Many families favorite this park because it appeals to the thrill seekers and the youngest travelers along with plenty of entertainment opportunities to appease those not as interested in rides. The iconic Tower of Terror and Rockin' Rollercoaster are big draws for the more adventurous. While Toy Story Land is a must-do for the younger crowd. Shows like Beauty and the Beast, the Frozen Singalong, and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular round out the park with excellent visual entertainment. The latest of addition of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge not only brings more ride options (Rise of Resistance and Smuggler's Run), but also more immersive theming, dining, and character opportunities for everyone to enjoy.

The Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park

Animal Kingdom is one of our favorite parks to eat and meet characters. Quick Service spots like Flame Tree Barbeque and Satu'li Canteen should not be missed. Tusker House requires advance dining reservations, but is one of the best in-park character dining experiences on property in our opinion (the characters are the highlight, food being secondary here). We also love meeting Mickey and Minnie in their safari gear, but meeting Daisy, Chip 'n' Dale, and Donald in their dino best is a special treat you can only find at Animal Kingdom. If your kids are animal fans then they will enjoy the meandering paths and animal encounters. We recommend visiting Animal Kingdom earlier in the day (AK typically both opens and closes the earliest of the parks) as the animals are more active first thing in the morning. There are also less rides to do here and we like to start at Animal Kingdom and hop to another park in the evening.

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Animal Kingdom is the newest addition to Disney World's theme parks opening in 1998. The park has undergone a few changes since it's opening date (cough cough Land of Pandora), but much of the vision and offerings have remained the same. The park opened on Earth Day, which was not a coincidence as the mission behind Animal Kingdom is to educate guests on environmental issues and sustainability practices. 

Animal Kingdom is broken into 6 lands:

  • The Oasis

  • Discovery Island

  • Africa

  • Asia

  • Dinoland U.S.A

  • Pandora- The World of Avatar

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