This is the mothership of Orlando tourism. Walt Disney World employs more than 50,000 “cast members” and encompasses four separate theme parks: Magic Kingdom (older Disney icons and rides), EPCOT with its world-fair style country pavilions, Animal Kingdom (African safari theme) and Disney Hollywood Studios (Tower of Terror, backlot and shows). The Disney parks consistently lead the lists of top things to do in Orlando. In addition to the parks, there are themed resorts (Grand Floridian, Beach Club, Contemporary, Polynesian, Ft. Wilderness), five golf courses including PGA regulars Magnolia and Palm, two water parks (Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon) and a real town (Celebration). If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World, take some time to study the Walt Disney World website along with some of the unofficial park guides and travel sites that offer specialized Disney information. The official Disney site has some excellent planning tools (itinerary builder, hotel guides, money saving options). Figure out what’s most appealing and take into account wait times (especially during peak visitation weeks), the ages of any children traveling with you, the distances between attractions and parks and the tiring effect of the heat, especially in the summer. The opening hours of the parks are staggered (not everything opens and closes at the same time) so factor that into your daily itinerary. Also check out the ticket prices: Magic isn’t cheap. Current pricing is $79 for a one-day ticket to one of the four parks for one adult, $68 for children ages 3-9. Buying a five-day pass lowers the per-day cost to $45.60/$39, and you can add the “park hopper” option allowing you admission to any of the four parks the same day for $52 per pass. At the end of the day, it’s Disney and there’s nothing else like it. Sitting outside wrapped in the cozy atmosphere of a tropical night eating an ice cream cone with your kids while fireworks go off overhead is a memory you’ll savor for years.
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