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


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 Hollywood Studios

  • 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 a toy 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 and one expanded favorite.
    • Slinky Dog Dash is a family coaster themed as if Andy built it in his backyard using his Mega Coaster Play Kit and some of his other favorite toys. Riders will be sent dipping, dodging and dashing around turns and drops Andy has created to stretch Slinky’s coils to the max.
    • Alien Swirling Saucers is designed as a toy play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet, inspired by the first “Toy Story” film. Aliens are flying around in their toy flying saucers and trying to capture your rocket toy vehicle by “The Claw” overhead.
    • The popular attraction, Toy Story Mania!, has expanded to add a third track, with guests continuing to glide into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set and take aim at 3D objects in a variety of fast-paced games.
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway – Disney remains at the cutting edge of deeply immersive, creative storytelling that draws guests into new worlds, and it is a legacy that lives on in every new Disney Parks experience. The first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, will come to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With a new original story and lovable attraction theme song, this new state-of-the-art ride-through attraction will take guests on a journey inside the wacky and unpredictable world of Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will feature a new Imagineering-generated story and a new singable and lovable attraction theme song as well as a new experience we’re calling “2 1/2 D.” No glasses required.
  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif. and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Fla. in 2019, these lands will allow guests to visit Batuu, a remote trading port on the edge of wild space, where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life – and where guests will find themselves in the middle of the action. Inside these authentic lands, guests will be able to step aboard The Millennium Falcon, piloting the ship, shooting blasters or preparing for hyperdrive – all while completing a critical  mission.  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, like nothing we’ve ever built before. Each attraction- and even the land itself – will offer guests the chance tot immerse themselves in the Star Wars universe like never before.
  • Celebrate Star Wars: The Last JediExperience new touches inspired by the film at:
    • 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, get a peek behind the scenes of the new movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and have access to Star Wars merchandise.
    • 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- VIII) 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 Chinese Theater.
    • Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular – The 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.
  • New Adventures for Star Tours – Inspired by the latest film in the Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Guests on Star Tours – The Adventures Continue will be placed into the middle of an epic battle on the planet Crait. During this thrilling new journey to the farthest reaches of space, Guests will find themselves landing on a planet in the outer rim of the Star Wars galaxy – a planet knowing to C-3PO as Batuu. Featuring state-of-the-art technology—including a flight simulator, digital 3D video, Audio-Animatronics characters and “in cockpit” special effects and music—Star Tours – The Adventures Continue immerses guests in the Star Wars mythology for an unforgettable intergalactic adventure.
  • Walt Disney Presents – As part the reimagining of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we’ve recently transformed Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream to Walt Disney Presents. Originally created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Walt’s birth, Walt Disney Presents invites you to discover the man behind the mouse, his many achievements and ongoing legacy. In addition, the attraction highlights a special sneak peek of new lands and attractions coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad. Walt Disney Presents also continues to host greetings with characters like Star-Lord and baby Groot, plus special sneak previews of upcoming Disney films.
  • Grand Avenue / BaseLine Tap House – Inspired by present-day Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), Grand Avenue captures the spirit of revival and authenticity with facades of unique independent shops and food/drink venues including an artist loft building, a music store, a flower market, a food market, a tailor shop and an entrance to Grand Park. A corner pub is also available for guests to purchase food and drink offerings. Grand Avenue is home to several familiar favorites including PizzeRizzo, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, Stage 1 Company Store, It’s a Wonderful Shop, and Muppet*Vision 3D. New to the area is BaseLine Tap House, a cheerful corner bar specializing in beer and wine from California. BaseLine Tap House was once the Figueroa Printing Company, a mom-and-pop print house that enjoyed great success through the mid- and late-20th century.


  • “Guardians of the Galaxy” – Epcot will have a brand new E-ticket attraction within Future World based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy. This is the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at Walt Disney World Resort. The new attraction will open by the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.
  • Ratatouille – Patterned after the #1 family attraction at Disneyland Paris, Ratatouille is being added to the France pavilion in World Showcase at EPCOT. Similar to the 4-D attraction Ratatouille: The Adventure, which opened at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris in 2014, guests will be able to shrink to Remy’s size and scurry to safety in a dazzling chase across a kitchen with the sights, sounds, and smells of Gusteau’s legendary Parisian restaurant, as seen in the Disney•Pixar film Ratatouille.
  • China pavilion – To showcase the splendor and majesty of China, an updated film will be added using a next-generation digital camera system to film a brand new, seamless Circle-Vision show for the China pavilion.
  • New restaurant – Adjacent to Mission: SPACE, a new table-service restaurant will invite guests to travel high above the Earth for an unforgettable dining experience. The new restaurant will be managed by Patina Restaurant Group and an opening will be announced at a later date.
  • The SpectacuLAB – Guests visiting The SpectacuLAB are invited to step inside Inventions East and join a group of real scientists, along with their eager tech-savvy intern, for a series of engaging experiments demonstrating basic principles of science. Through the course of this funny and fascinating show, guests have the opportunity to take an active part in the demonstrations and discover how these basic scientific principles actually form the foundation of some of the amazing technologies we enjoy today.
  • Mission: SPACE – In addition to an updated Orange Mission, a brand new Green Mission takes guests on a stunning tour around the Earth, with younger cadets joining the adventure for the very first time.
  • 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’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.

Magic Kingdom Park 

  • “Tron”-themed attraction – The highest rated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Tomorrowland in a new area near Space Mountain. Opening will be announced at a later date.
  • 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.
  • 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.”

Resorts and Transportation

  • Immersive Star Wars-themed hotel – An immersive Star Wars-themed hotel will be the most experiential concept ever. Dedicated entirely to the galaxy of Star Wars, guests will have a one-of-a-kind experience where a luxury resort meets a multi-day adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Opening will be announced at a later date.
  • Disney Skyliner – This new transportation system will give guests a bird’s-eye view of Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Skyliner will connect Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to four resorts – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Opening date for Disney Skyliner will be announced at a later time.
  • Minnie Van service – the Minnie Van service is a whimsical, point-to-point transportation service that helps guests get around Walt Disney World Resort in a jiffy. Guests can arrange their own private Disney vehicle right from their smartphone, and a Disney Cast Member will drive them wherever they want to go around Walt Disney World.


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 is the premier site for professional and amateur athletes, coaches and fans. The complex hosts more than 100 entertainment and sports events a year and has accommodated more than 70 different sports and athletes from around the world. The 220-acre facility features multiple competition venues, including 16 baseball/softball fields, plus the 9,500-seat Champion Stadium, 18 multi-purpose outdoor fields for soccer, football and lacrosse, three field houses for basketball, volleyball, and other indoor sports, a track & field facility and cross-country course, and a tennis court complex with 10 courts. In January 2018, the Complex opened The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, a new facility designed for cheerleading and dance competitions and other indoor sports. The Complex also has hosted music festivals, multi-sport competitions and festivals including NFL Pro Bowl Week, 2016 Invictus Games and Night of Joy Christian Music Festival.


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. After completing their reservation, guests are able to provide check-in information, advise the resort of their arrival times and request room preferences. Guests can also 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, using their MagicBands, they now have the option to go directly to their room once it is ready. Online Check-In Service is available online and in the My Disney Experience mobile app.
  • 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 this complimentary service throughout the resort, many guests enjoy their Walt Disney World Resort vacation without a car.
  • Guests looking to get around Walt Disney World Resort in a jiffy can now use Minnie Van service to arrange their own private Disney vehicle right from their smartphone. Available to Guests at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels, Minnie Van service provides a fun way to travel in style. Guests at these participating resorts may learn more by visiting the front desk.
  • 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 the 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.


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.


Golden Oak is a one-of-a-kind residential community specially designed for family resort living, featuring whole ownership, single-family custom homes. To live at Golden Oak is to enjoy a year-round lifestyle that includes distinctive neighborhoods, expansive nature preserves, and an unsurpassed array of amenities and concierge-style resident services. The community’s recreation options include the Golden Oak Club, a community park and walking trails. Golden Oak features six neighborhoods, including the Four Seasons Private Residences Orlando. This 900-acre community also includes the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel and Tranquilo, an 18-hole championship golf course..

Enhancing and Customizing the Disney Vacation Experience

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

  • My Disney Experience is a digital guide to the magic that gives families a way to create the Disney experience that’s perfect for them. Available via the web and as a mobile app, My Disney Experience enables Guests to customize and plan their Walt Disney World experience, including choosing FastPass+ selections for attractions and entertainment experiences, booking dining reservations, getting turn-by-turn directions to points of interest, sharing plans with family and friends and more. Guests can now save even more time by using the recently launched mobile food ordering and online check-in features.
  • MagicBands are the all-in-one devices that connect guests to the choices they make through the My Disney Experience app and unlock the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Guests with stays at Disney Resort hotels may use their MagicBand as their room key and optional payment system for food, beverages and merchandise.
  • FastPass+ service enhances the vacation experience by allowing guests to reserve access among more than 60 attractions and entertainment experiences across the Walt Disney World Resort property. Valid theme park admission is required. FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences, the number of selections you can make and available arrival windows are limited.
  • Disney PhotoPass Service helps guests capture and keep their vacation memories forever. Photographers are located at some of the most iconic locations throughout each park – from Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park to the Tree of Life at Disney Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
  • “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 at 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.

Additional Technology

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

  • 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 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.


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. To allow more free time to enjoy their visit, the new and evolving Mobile Order service in the My Disney Experience app allows guests to order meals and snacks on demand, pay in advance and skip the line at select quick-service food and beverage locations. 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.


Walt Disney World Resort is a shopper’s paradise of more than 300 unique stores carrying unforgettable souvenirs and memorable gifts for loved ones. There is something for everyone with thousands of products inspired by beloved Disney characters, attractions, and experiences. Many of these tangible memories were created especially for Disney Parks, from stylish apparel and accessories to collectible pins and interactive toys to customized reminders of wonderful Disney vacations. Paired with excellent service, shopping becomes an adventure at immersive retail destinations, like Disney Springs or World Showcase in Epcot, to one-of-a-kind retail locations peppered throughout theme parks and resorts. Guests can make the most of their visit by using package pick-up or hotel delivery services, while the free Shop Disney Parks app helps guests identify product availability in stores or ship souvenirs directly home.

Beyond the shops, Disney Parks Merchandise offers magical retail experiences including Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a beauty salon in Magic Kingdom Park and at Disney Springs where young guests ages 3 to 12 are magically transformed into princesses and knights, or The Pirates League in Magic Kingdom Park where guests ages 3 and older can join Captain Jack Sparrow’s crew as a pirate, empress or mermaid.


Guests with disabilities are able to utilize many services and facilities available to them throughout Walt Disney World Resort. From Handheld Captioning for guests with hearing disabilities to unique wheelchair access and transfer access ride vehicles for guests with mobility disabilities, Walt Disney World Resort is focused on meeting the needs of all guests. For a full list of special services, visitwww.disney.com, under the guest services tab.

Updated Feb. 2018