Experiencing the Magic

Filed in: About WDW

In the mid-1960s, Walt Disney’s dream was to build a family resort destination like no other. After more than seven years of preparation, including 52 months of construction, Walt Disney World Resort and Magic Kingdom Park opened in 1971. With a rich heritage of storytelling, Disney Parks combine creativity, innovation and technology to immerse guests in classic Disney tales and new kinds of family entertainment. Today, hundreds of millions of guests from around the globe visit this magical place to enjoy a Disney vacation — where the young at heart of all ages can laugh, play and learn together.

Walt Disney World Resort is a world-class entertainment and recreation center featuring:

  • Four theme parks
  • Two water adventure parks
  • Thirty-six resort hotels (26 owned and operated by Walt Disney World, including eight Disney Vacation Club properties)
  • 63 holes of golf on four golf courses
  • Two full-service spas
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney Springs, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex
  • Disney’s Wedding Pavilion

New Developments

As Walt Disney once said about Disneyland, Walt Disney World “will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

After Dark at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Pandora — The World of Avatar 
As part of the largest expansion in the park’s history, Disney’s Animal Kingdom immerses Guests into the world of Pandora, and the entire park transforms after dark with new nighttime entertainment experiences, offering Guests longer days than ever before to experience this one-of-a-kind theme park.

  • Pandora — The World of AVATAR — Disney teamed up with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Avatar Producer Jon Landau to bring Pandora–The World of Avatar to life.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests can hike under gigantic floating mountains, raft down a mystical river and explore a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants, as well as experience two new attractions: AVATAR Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey.
    • AVATAR Flight of Passage — This otherwordly e-ticket attraction, the centerpiece of Pandora, allows Guests to soar on a Banshee over a vast alien world. The spectacular flying experience will give guests a birds-eye view of the beauty and grandeur of the world of Pandora on an aerial rite of passage.
    • Na’vi River Journey —This family-friendly adventure begins as Guests set out in rafts and venture down a mysterious, sacred river hidden within the bioluminescent rainforest. The full beauty of Pandora reveals itself as the rafts pass by exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures. The journey culminates in an encounter with a Na’vi shaman, who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through her music.
  • “Rivers of Light” – Continuing the grand Disney tradition of innovative, after-dark entertainment, “Rivers of Light” combines live performance, floating set pieces, a soaring musical score, fountains and more in a celebration of animals and nature. The story magically unfolds on the broad natural stage of the Discovery River, conveying the uplifting spirit of an ancient lantern ceremony filled with symbolism, storytelling and plenty of heart.
  • Tree of Life — The park’s iconic Tree of Life undergoes an amazing awakening as the animal spirits of the tree are brought to “light” by magical fireflies, revealing moments of wonder and enchantment.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris — This popular attraction is now open into the nighttime, where guests travel through the African savanna amid the orange glow of the setting sun. Guests also discover two species that are new to the safari attraction: African wild dogs and hyenas.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Star Wars Launch Bay — Star Wars Launch Bay is the central locale for guests to celebrate all things Star Wars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Inside, guests may encounter beloved Star Wars characters, explore galleries full of treasured memorabilia and authentic replicas of large-scale Star Wars artifacts, including ones from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the highest grossing film of all time, and have access to Star Wars merchandise.
  • Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple— Younglings brave enough to sign up for Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple are guided to the site of a secret and ancient Jedi temple. There, they learn how to use special training lightsabers to face villains such as Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister Inquisitor from the popular Disney XD series “Star Wars Rebels,” and discover if they have the makings of a true Jedi.
  • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi — Guests looking to relive the stories from the Star Wars saga are able to watch an abridged, cinematic reel celebrating the Star Wars saga (episodes I- VII) in a theater setting near Echo Lake.
  • Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away  –  This new live, stage show celebrates iconic moments from the Star Wars saga with live vignettes featuring popular Star Wars characters, such as Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, Darth Vader and Darth Maul. The show takes place multiple times each day at the Center Stage area near The Great Movie Ride.
  • March of the First Order –  At various times each day, the menacing Captain Phasma leads a squad of First Order stormtroopers as they march in formation up Hollywood Boulevard to the Center Stage area at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in an intimidating demonstration of the First Order’s indomitable strength.
  • Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular  – The new Star Wars fireworks show, “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular,” combines fireworks, pyrotechnics, special effects and video projections that turn the nearby Chinese Theater and other buildings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios into the twin suns of Tatooine, a field of battle droids, the trench of the Death Star, Starkiller Base and other Star Wars destinations. The show also features a tower of fire and spotlight beams, creating a massive lightsaber in the sky.
  • Star Wars-themed land – Coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Fla., these lands will transport guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life. Inside these authentic lands, guests will be able to step aboard The Millennium Falcon and actually pilot the fastest ship in the galaxy, steering the vessel through space, firing the laser cannons, in complete control of the experience. And with the arrival of the First Order to the planet, guests will find themselves in the middle of a tense battle between stormtroopers and Resistance fighters.
  • Toy Story Land — The reimagining of Disney’s Hollywood Studios will take guests to infinity and beyond, allowing them to step into the worlds of their favorite films, starting with Toy Story Land. This new 11-acre  land will transport guests into the adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard. Guests will think they’ve been shrunk to the size of Woody and Buzz as they are surrounded by oversized toys that Andy has assembled using his vivid imagination. Using toys like building blocks, plastic buckets and shovels, and game board pieces, Andy has designed the perfect setting for this land, which will include two new attractions: a family-friendly coaster and an alien swirling saucers attraction, as well as the newly expanded Toy Story Mania!

Magic Kingdom Park 

  • Happily Ever After – Guests can discover the newest, most spectacular fireworks show in the history of Magic Kingdom Park with “Happily Ever After.” The stunning nighttime extravaganza features more lasers, lights and projections than any Magic Kingdom Park show before it. Characters and scenes from more than 25 Disney films are featured through state-of-the art projections, enchanted by more than 50 choreographed spotlights, brilliant lasers and plenty of awe-inspiring fireworks.
  • Once Upon a Time – “Once Upon a Time” is a new nighttime experience that transforms Cinderella Castle with state-of-the-art projections, taking Guests on a magical storytelling journey. Inspired by the Tokyo Disneyland show of the same name, “Once Upon a Time” features beloved characters and musical moments from tales such as “Cinderella,” “Peter Pan,” “Frozen,” “Beauty and the Beast” and more.
  • Jungle Skipper Canteen – Guests can explore the bold, flavorful cuisine of Asia, South America, and Africa at this new Adventureland eatery. With a storyline extending from the nearby Jungle Cruise attraction, this table service dining adventure is like no other as the crew serves up a side of signature jungle skipper humor with every meal in one of three curiously quirky dining rooms.
  • Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire – “Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire” brings to life beloved Disney stories both classic and contemporary in a spectacular performance featuring an original song, memorable music, lively dancing, delightful costumes and special effects magic. Mickey and his troupe of Merry Makers have invited friends from other lands to join them in a grand celebration. In addition to favorites like Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy, the show also brings together a wonderful cast of characters from some of Disney’s newest classics: “Frozen,” “Tangled” and “The Princess and the Frog.”

Epcot

  • Frozen Ever After — The “Frozen Ever After” attraction is an adventure fit for the entire family that takes guests through the kingdom of Arendelle. Guests celebrate a “Summer Snow Day” on a journey through a frozen willow forest, past Troll Valley and up to Queen Elsa’s palace high up on the north mountain. “Frozen Ever After” is located in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs is a one-of-a-kind retail, dining and entertainment district located in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. With its namesake springs, beautiful open-air promenades and lakefront setting, Disney Springs evokes the charm of Florida waterfront towns at the turn of the 20th century. It’s also home to a collection of more than 150 shops and restaurants, including top-name retail brands, specialty boutiques and dining experiences created by celebrity and award-winning chefs. Located in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Disney Springs is open daily.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is the premier site for professional and amateur athletes, coaches and fans. The complex hosts more than 100 events a year and has accommodated more than 60 different sports and athletes from around the world. The 220-acre facility features multiple competition venues, including 16 baseball/softball fields, plus the 10,000 seat Champion Stadium, 18 multi-purpose outdoor fields for soccer, football and lacrosse, two field houses for basketball, volleyball, and other indoor sports, and the New Balance Track & Field facility and cross country course, and a tennis court complex with 10 courts. The Complex has also hosted music festivals, multi-sport competitions and festivals such as; 2017 Pro Bowl Week, 2016 Invictus Games and Night of Joy Christian Music Festival.

Golden Oak at Walt Disney World Resort

  • Anchored by the prestigious Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the 900-acre luxury resort residential community of Golden Oak, is a one-of-a-kind residential community specially designed for family resort living, featuring whole ownership, single-family custom homes. The development, along the northeast border of the property, includes a luxury hotel, 18-hole championship golf course, single- and multi-family vacation homes and fractional ownership vacation homes.

Customization and Personalization

Walt Disney World Resort guests can personalize and customize their vacations like never before:

  • MyMagic+ gives families a way to create the Disney experience that’s perfect for them. Connecting nearly all aspects of the Walt Disney World vacation experience, MyMagic+ enables guests to begin creating the magic right at home, choosing FastPass+ selections for their “must-do” experiences in advance and customizing their very own MagicBand. And once guests arrive, MagicBands serve as park admission, access to FastPass+ experiences and Disney PhotoPass photo association — all rolled into one. For Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests, MagicBands also serve as a room key and optional payment method.
  • MagicBand and MagicBand2 are the all-in-one devices that connect Guests to the choices they make through the My Disney Experience app and unlocks the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Walt Disney World Resort Guests may use their MagicBand as their room key and optional payment system for food, beverages and merchandise.
  • FastPass+ service makes the vacation experience better by allowing guests to reserve access to some of their favorite attractions and entertainment experiences before they leave home through MyDisneyExperience.com. Guests can reserve up to three FastPass+ experiences per park per day in advance and choose from FastPass+ attractions, Disney Character greetings and live shows. And spontaneous guests can make changes to their FastPass+ selections up to the time they’re redeemed with the My Disney Experience mobile app or at kiosks located in Walt Disney World parks.
  • “Magic Your Way” ticketing and packages allow guests to create their own Walt Disney World Resort vacation. Ticket-holders can customize their Walt Disney World Resort theme park visits by adding components to the base ticket such as park-hopping, water parks or other vacation fun. The savings grow the longer a guest stays.
  • Specialized vacation-planning tools addressing topics such as “Traveling With Little Ones” and “Affordable Vacation Options” can be found disneyworld.com. This resource has special offers and helps guests customize their vacation itinerary to suit interests as well as considerations such as age, height restrictions and medical needs.

Technology

Technology enables Walt Disney World Resort to continue to take storytelling and guest service to new heights:

  • My Disney Experience is a mobile application designed to help guests make the most of their experience while visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. The app offers a digital guide to the magic, including detailed maps with in-park navigation that provide a vivid, accurate representation of the theme parks, resorts and other on-property points of interest. My Disney Experience helps guests find Character locations and times, park hours, wait times and nearby attractions and services. Guests can book dining reservations with the app, share plans with family and friends and get detailed attraction information.  Some features will require guests to create an account and sign in to activate functionality. The app is available in the App Store and via Google Play.
  • Disney’s PhotoPass — Using the latest digital equipment and Disney-engineered technology, photographers take photos of guests throughout the theme parks. Guests can use MagicBands or receive a Disney’s PhotoPass card to link all their vacation photos taken by Disney photographers in one online account. Guests can go online to disneyphotopass.com to easily view, share and order their photos, order a CD of all their Disney’s PhotoPass images and more.
  • Disney’s Handheld Assistive Technology Device — This first-of-a-kind Disney-designed device for guests who have hearing and visual disabilities uses wireless technology to combine handheld captioning, video-captioning activation, amplified audio and detailed audio description into one small, easy-to-use resource that seamlessly works with show elements in select attractions. Newly enhanced with an interactive audio menu, the device fits in the palm of a guest’s hand.
  • Ears to the World, Disney’s Show Translator — International visitors to Walt Disney World Resort may take advantage of a personal translation device called Ears to the World, Disney’s Show Translator. These units are lightweight headsets that with cutting-edge wireless technology that provides synchronized narration in five languages at several popular theme park attractions. Wireless signals throughout key attractions trigger digital audio recordings in each unit – providing real-time translation in French, German, Japanese, Portuguese or Spanish.

Resort Hotel Benefits

In all, there are 26 themed, Disney-owned-and-operated resorts, ranging from value to deluxe villas. While Walt Disney World Resort provides magical moments for everyone, guests staying at these Walt Disney World Resort hotels are able to take advantage of special perks:

  • An Online Check-In Service designed to simplify and streamline guest arrivals, is complimentary and available to guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club resorts. Within 10 days of their arrival, guests are able to provide check-in information, advise the resort of their arrival times and request room preferences. Guests can also register the names of all the people in their party and provide a credit card to cover charges. Upon arrival at their resorts, guests may visit a special welcome location where their registration materials are waiting for them or they now have the option to go directly to their room once it is ready.
  • The Walt Disney World Transportation System of buses, monorails and boat launches combines to connect virtually all areas of the Vacation Kingdom. With the convenience of “door-to-door” service throughout the resort, many guests enjoy their Walt Disney World Resort vacation without a car.
  • Guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can add fun to their day with the Extra Magic Hours benefit. Each day, one of Walt Disney World Resort theme parks opens one hour early or stays open up to three hours later for Walt Disney World Resort guests, providing extra time in the parks to experience select attractions.
  • Guests who prefer to include dining in their vacation packages can choose from several Walt Disney World Resort Magic Your Way vacation packages that include a Disney Dining Plan, Disney resort hotel accommodations and Magic Your Way tickets. The Disney Dining Plans feature a variety of meal and snack entitlements – both in terms of the type of restaurants guests can visit and the number of meals and snacks included with the plans.

New Disney Vacation Club Option

The newest property in the Disney Vacation Club portfolio, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, is inspired by the legendary mining and railroad history of the Pacific Northwest. Copper Creek Villas & Cabins is the 14th Disney Vacation Club development and the second at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – conveniently located just a water-taxi ride away from Magic Kingdom Park.

Dining

Food and beverage offerings at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts play an integral role in the memories Guests make with us. We apply the same principles of creativity and attention to detail that guide our theme park experiences to the development of our food and beverage offerings across our parks and resort hotels. Since 1955, Disney parks have been the place where Guests can connect with the stories and characters they cherish most. From fast casual to five-diamond, there are more than 540 places to dine across Walt Disney World Resort and more than 15,400 food items available for guests. The resort also is the largest single-site purveyor of wine in the world and has more sommeliers than any other company in the world. The variety of dining options across our parks and resorts blend cuisine with storytelling and provide our Guests with an experience only Disney can deliver.

Merchandise

Whether it’s an unforgettable souvenir or an extravagant gift for someone special, Walt Disney World Resort is a shopper’s paradise of more than 300 unique stores. Package pick-up located near the front entrance of each theme park and hotel delivery is available at no charge.

Services for Guests with Disabilities

Guests with disabilities are able to utilize many special services and facilities available to them throughout Walt Disney World Resort. From handheld captioning for the hearing impaired to unique ride vehicles at Toy Story Mania that provide access for guests using wheelchairs, Walt Disney World Resort is focused on meeting the needs of all guests. For a full list of special services, visit www.disney.com, under the guest services tab.


Updated November 2017