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At the Magic Kingdom , you can pillage the Caribbean with Jack Sparrow, spin through a tea party with the Mad Hatter, protect the galaxy with Buzz Lightyear, and visit the six themed lands of the world's most popular theme park.
This imaginative park, known as the "Most Magical Place on Earth", is the most iconic of the four parks at the Walt Disney World Resort, and the one best suited for younger kids.
- "Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney... and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney's dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place... a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn — together." — Roy O. Disney, October 25, 1971
The Magic Kingdom is the "main" park at Walt Disney World, based on the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and the one most people think of first when they think of Walt Disney World. It is organized around the central landmark of Cinderella Castle, with various "lands" arrayed around a central hub. The lands are, starting from the main entrance and going clockwise around Cinderella Castle: Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.
Of the four Walt Disney World theme parks, the Magic Kingdom is the oldest, most popular, and the most child-friendly, although many adults love the escapism as well. Adult visitors who do not enjoy rides such as "it's a small world" where you sit in vehicles that take you in a circle through a tunnel, and listen to childlike delight and screams, may want to visit Epcot or Hollywood Studios instead. If you want to stay in park instead, rides like Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain are suited less to younger kids.
When to visit
Large crowds are common during holidays and school breaks. Christmas, Spring Break, Thanksgiving Week and summertime are hot seasons for Walt Disney World. If you can plan to visit in late January-early April or in the end of October and early December. Definitely avoid weekends as in addition to tourists, locals also visit the park on weekends making attendance spike.
When visiting central Florida you must also take into account it's unpredictable weather. Dress appropriately for each season (e.g. don't come with shorts and t-shirts in the winter as it can get chilly at night more often than not). If you have a concern about hurricanes during summer and autumn, check the Walt Disney World website for any changes in park hours. If you want more information about the weather go to the Walt Disney World article.
Walt Disney was never one to rest on his laurels. Disneyland was a huge success, but the amount of space available there in California was too restrictive. Disney had bigger ideas, far bigger than would ever fit at Disneyland.
The solution was to buy up thousands of acres in Central Florida, southwest of Orlando, for a new "Disney World", big enough to hold all the ideas he and his Imagineers could dream up. The centerpiece was to be EPCOT, Walt's idea for an experimental "community of tomorrow" where real people would live, work, and play. Although a Disneyland-style park was part of the planning—a necessary concession to economic realities—Walt had very little interest in recreating what he'd done before, and his energies were focused on EPCOT.
Unfortunately, he passed away in 1966, not long after revealing his plans to the world. His dream of EPCOT died with him, but his brother and business partner, Roy O. Disney, was determined to go forward with the Florida project. The project would start with the Magic Kingdom.
Roy Disney worked tirelessly to ensure that the park would open, to preserve at least a part of his brother's last and greatest dream. On October 1, 1971, the Magic Kingdom did indeed open, with many similarities to Disneyland but many differences as well. It was a roaring success and along with its 3 resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary) and the Transportation and Ticket Center became the start of Walt Disney World.
The Magic Kingdom opened with many classic attractions copied from Disneyland, like the Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan's Flight and Jungle Cruise. The park though had one unique show called Hall of Presidents and also had the Skyway (a gondola lift attraction that transported guests from Fantasyland and Tomorrowland). Throughout the 1970s the park was stuffed with many new rides. In 1972 Tomorrowland added a new ride called If You Had Wings (an omnimover attraction through the evolution of airplanes) and in 1973 the park expanded westward with the opening of the classic Pirates of the Caribbean and Tom Sawyer Island. Due to the park having the reputation of being directed towards small children the long-awaited Space Mountain was built in 1975 and it immediately drew thousands of teenagers to the park. The popular Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster also came to Frontierland further asserting the park's status as a destination for all ages. In 1989 Mickey's Toontown Fair opened for the 50th birthday of Mickey Mouse but the land was so popular that it remained for the next 22 years.
The Magic Kingdom's next big attraction came in 1992 with the addition of Splash Mountain that instantly became a Disney classic. Despite its opening another huge Disney classic the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarines closed in 1995 with a lot of fun protesting. In 1998-1999 Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the place of If You Had Wings and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
The park didn't show any further expansions until 2012 with the opening of New Fantasyland that featured a Little Mermaid dark ride, a meet n' greet with Belle and Storybook Circus (in the place of the former Mickey's Toontown Fair). The last piece of New Fantasyland was completed with the opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and instantly became the most popular ride in the park.
By car or hotel shuttle
The Magic Kingdom is at the northernmost reaches of the Walt Disney World property. You'll take World Drive north to the massive parking lot, which is actually about a mile (1500 meters) south of the park. No problem, though—once you park your car, a tram will take you to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). That's also where hotel shuttles from non-Disney resorts will drop you. You're now looking across the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Magic Kingdom. From here, simply get on a big ferryboat or the express monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Either way you go, enjoy the scenery along the way—Goofy has been known to waterski around the ferry from time to time, and the monorail route passes directly through the lobby of Disney's Contemporary Resort.
Parking at the Magic Kingdom is $20.00 per car, although Disney resort guests can park for free—just show your Key to the World card at the toll gate.
By Disney transportation
Monorail Pink arrives at the Contemporary Resort.
From Magic Kingdom-area resorts
The monorail is the most obvious choice here. The resort monorail (inside track) travels clockwise around the Seven Seas Lagoon, stopping inside the Contemporary, and then at the TTC, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian, coming back around to the Magic Kingdom. Due to the direction of travel, Contemporary Resort guests might want to consider walking to the Magic Kingdom; it's the only resort from which that is possible.
Unfortunately, Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge are not on the monorail route, but they do have buses available. Also, all of the resorts except the Contemporary have water taxis that travel between their docks and the Magic Kingdom gates; they can be a fun, scenic way to start your visit.
Boat Flag Reference
Red Flag boats go to the Magic Kingdom from Wilderness Lodge; Green Flag boats from Fort Wilderness; and Gold Flag boats from the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts. Blue Flag boats connect Fort Wilderness, the Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary.
Shades of Green has its own shuttle buses that take guests to the various parks. Guests can also walk to the Polynesian to take the monorail or water taxi, but it's a five-minute walk with no sidewalk; use caution.
From other on-property resorts
From other areas of the property, simply go to your resort's bus stop and wait for the Magic Kingdom bus to arrive. You will be dropped off in front of the Magic Kingdom gates, not at the TTC.
Take the Epcot monorail to the TTC and then transfer to the monorail or ferryboat to the Magic Kingdom.
From Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom
Take the bus to the TTC and then transfer to the monorail or ferryboat to the Magic Kingdom.
From Disney Springs
There is no direct bus service to the Magic Kingdom from Disney Springs. Instead, you should first go to any resort (preferably Saratoga Springs or one of the monorail resorts) and then change modes of transportation.
Upon entering the park, you'll find yourself on Main Street U.S.A., and though there are plenty of shops here, your eye will no doubt be drawn right to the magnificent Cinderella Castle. The centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom sits at the end of Main Street, and the circular area in front of it serves as the hub of the park, from which you can get to all of the other lands.
From the hub, Adventureland can be reached via the leftmost path, followed by Liberty Square moving clockwise. Fantasyland is straight through the castle (the New Fantasyland area is depicted on the map), and Tomorrowland is off to the right. You can get to Frontierland via either Adventureland or Liberty Square. The lands, with the exception of Main Street, are also all connected around the perimeter of the park, away from the hub.
If you don't want to walk, you have a couple of options. At times, but less often these days, you'll find a horse-drawn trolley running up and down Main Street, which you can hop to get to and from the hub. More reliably, you'll find train stations at Main Street and Frontierland (near Splash Mountain), where you can board a train for a scenic narrated journey around the perimeter of the park.
See and Do
Here today, gone tomorrow
Over time, the Magic Kingdom has seen numerous changes, more than the other three parks at Walt Disney World. Too much of the time, however, very popular attractions have given way to less popular ones, or even worse, nothing. A look at the worst offenders:
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Fantasyland) — This submarine ride, based on Walt Disney's 1954 film adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, closed in 1994 and was replaced by a Winnie the Pooh children's play area.
- Skyway — An aerial tramway linking Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, it was dismantled in 1999, due to accessibility and safety concerns, not to mention the low number of guests per hour that could be put on the ride.
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (Fantasyland) — This was one of the original attractions back in 1971, and it appealed to both children and adults alike. In 1999, it was replaced by "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", and now has a fan base dominated almost entirely by children.
- If You Had Wings (Tomorrowland) — An aviation-themed dark ride sponsored by Eastern Airlines, later revamped and renamed Delta Dreamflight when sponsorship shifted to Delta Airlines, this ride eventually became "Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin".
The Magic Kingdom includes many attractions that are similar, or identical, to ones found in its sister parks around the world, but also has some that are original to the Florida park, and others that started elsewhere but remain only here.
Truly enjoying this park involves a willingness to set aside disbelief and embrace the fictional worlds Disney has designed. Kids can do this instinctively, and in many respects, the best way to experience the Magic Kingdom is through the eyes of a child. The rides here are largely designed for kids, many of them painfully so, but adults with open minds (or young hearts) can have plenty of fun even without a child in tow.
Plan your day
Planning ahead of time before visiting the Magic Kingdom is much more crucial than the other Walt Disney World theme parks, especially if you visit in the busier seasons. Having secured FastPass+, dining reservations and to know where you are heading can make the difference between an enjoyable and a stressful day.
Magic Kingdom in recent years has had a reputation of getting really overcrowded. That's unfortunately true. The park gets a huge influx of people during the busy seasons and it wasn't built for such crowds (like Disneyland). Anyone who doesn't like being close to too many other people should avoid the Magic Kingdom during peak times like 12-2pm or right after the fireworks.
Make sure you know the basic things about the park before you arrive. Check its layout and attraction list and save in your mind which ones the ones that you are interested in riding. This differs greatly with each person and it depends on someone's likings. Also download the MyDisneyExperience app for the waiting times, show and parade times, along with the FP+ and dining reservations.
Tip: Arrive at least 30 minutes before the official park opening. This way, you can be in front of the crowd that will be rushing towards the most popular attractions. If you are eligible for Extra Magic Hours use them. Extra Magic Hours allows guest staying at the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels to enter the Magic Kingdom and experience specific rides before the general public. Make sure that you check, because they aren't available every day.
The Magic Kingdom opening prochedure changed in January 2017. Guests were previously held at the entrance and after the conclusion of the welcome show they were let into the park freely. Now cast members will open the tapstiles 20-25 minures before park opening and lets people through Main Street Usa and onto the Hub (the area directly in front of Cinderella's Castle). Then guests can wait in the Hub for the lands to open (ropes seperate the area and the lands). There are 5 paths to choose from: 1) Directly to the right in the entrance to Tomorrowland, 2) Northwest in Cosmic Rays Cafe (this is the path that everyone takes and must take to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train that's why it is very hard to escure a spot in the front), 3) Directly under Cinderella's Castle (the path that leads to Peter Pan's Flight, but it is less crowded than that of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train), 4) Northeast of the area (the path that leads to Liberty Sqaure) and 5) Directly to the left is the path that leads to Adventureland.
After the 5-minute Welcoming Show concludes guests are let loose into the lands and are free to enjoy the park.
Fastpass+ is more important in the Magic Kingdom than any other park. Use your selections wisely. Target the most popular attractions according to your interests in your first 3 selections and focus on the ones that you don't have a fastpass first thing in the morning. You can find more information about how the FastPass+ system works in the Walt Disney World article or the Walt Disney World website. Guests staying on WDW-owned hotels can make FastPass reservations 60 days in advance while those who are either staying off-site or are just visiting the park can make 30 days in advance. The Magic Kingdom currently offers FP+ for 25 rides. More information about which ones you should target on the attractions list.
The denotes rides with safety restrictions. See Stay safe in the main Walt Disney World article for more information.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Modeled after a stereotypical early 20th-century small town, Main Street, U.S.A. is the gateway into the Magic Kingdom; the view straight down the street to Cinderella Castle serves to draw you inward upon arrival. It is also, of course, the exit, which means shopping galore, the better to entice you with souvenirs on the way out. You'll find most of the basic services, like Guest Relations, here, but not much in the way of attractions.
Do stop in at the Crystal Arts glass shop, though, as they often have glass blowers working in the shop and watching them is fascinating. And keep an eye out for some of the colorful characters who make appearances from time to time, especially the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet.
- Harmony Barber Shop. Daily 9AM-5PM. This may not seem like much of an attraction, but for many guests an old-fashioned barber shop is indeed a novelty. Everything is done the way they did it a century ago—except the prices. The Harmony Barber Shop specializes in first haircuts; bring your never-shorn toddler in and the barbers will take extra-special care to make it an exciting and memorable experience. Adult haircut $19, children 12 and under $15, first haircuts $18, beard trim $10. edit
- Main Street Vehicles. Ride a horse car, omnibus, jitney, horseless carriage, or fire engine from the entrance to Cinderella Castle and back. edit
- Town Square Theater
- Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater — Meet your favorite mouse as it prepares for a show, but always has time to meet and greet guests. The attraction is a typical meet n' greet. Being a popular character and located in the front of the park means consistently long waits, usually above the 45 minute mark, all day. Unless you visit immediately after park opening or directly before closing, use Fastpass+ (same-day ones are hard to come buy).
- Meet Tinkerbell at Town Square Theater — Come face to face with the most magical ferry from Pixie Hollow. The one and only Tinkerbell. Typically less popular than the Mickey Mouse meet n' greet, rarely sees waits above 30-35 minutes and it isn't a good use for Fastpass+.
- Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, (start at Main Street Fire Station). Merlin needs help saving the shards of his crystal ball from the forces of evil. Kids and adults alike can battle up to twenty Disney Villains in this interactive park-wide adventure game. With seventy "spells" to collect, eight different adventures, and adventure portals located throughout the Magic Kingdom, replay value is high. edit
- Walt Disney World Railroad. A 19th-century steam train that circles the park, with stops at Frontierland and the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland. edit
A tale of two rides
In the Jungle Cruise, you'll find the tail section of a crashed Lockheed Electra 12. The forward section is in the Casablanca scene in The Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios.
Adventureland recalls the Victorian-era tales of exotic adventure in far-off locales. Near Main Street, the environment evokes the jungles of deepest Africa, of the type explored by David Livingstone and H.M. Stanley in the late 19th century. Walking westward, you'll pass through the Middle East and the South Pacific before arriving at the Spanish outposts on the Caribbean Sea during the Golden Age of Piracy. Just around the corner are the Spanish flavors of the American Southwest in Frontierland.
- Enchanted Tiki Room. The original Tropical Serenade show is back. Join this magnificent 10-minute show where tropical birds, tiki gods and flowers come to life in a swinging celebration of the South Seas. The birds aren't real ones. They are very well-made animatronics. The was previously known as a disaster but since its 2011 remake it has regained what made it special. The show is a good way to escape the crowds. edit
- Jungle Cruise. Board a small boat and take a scenic boat tour through the some of the world's most famous rivers, from Africa, Asia and South America. There are many beings awaiting you l like hippos, elephants and even a headhunter. The ride was one of the original ones in the Magic Kingdom, opening in 1971 and it is considered a fan-favorite. Due to its moderately low capacity, the ride sees relatively longer waits than nearby Pirates of the Caribbean, which usually pass the 60-minute mark on busy days. Experience it in the first or the last 2 hours that the park is open. It is also one of the best choices for same-day Fastpass+. edit
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Guide your carpet up and down as it spins around and around, but if you don't watch out for the spitting camels, you're going to get a little wet. Mainly a child-friendly attraction. It's position in the middle of Adventureland and low capacity can mean substantial waits around 25-30 minutes during midday. Better experienced during the morning or evening as the queue is outdoors and provides little shelter from both the heat and the sun. edit
- Pirates of the Caribbean. Step inside a Spanish fortress, a small barge and set sail on a swashbuckling voyage to an era where pirates ruled the high seas. One of the best attraction ever made, it also got an overlay in 2007 and now features Jack Sparrow, Davi Jones and other favorite characters. The start is quite spooky but things get fun afterwards. Despite its immense popularity, the ride was designed to handle lots of people and even on busy days rarely sees a wait above 1 hour. FP+ serves a better cause at Jungle Cruise `but it should be obtained if one is planning to ride from late morning to late afternoon. edit
- Swiss Family Treehouse. A walkthough attraction where guests get to explore the ultimate treehouse - and enjoy breathtaking views - inspired by the Disney classic film. The house was designed to hold a specific amount of people and, when demand is high, it does see a 5-10 minute wait. Be warned: lots of stairs. edit
- A Pirate's Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas. A an interactive where kids can join Captain Jack on an interactive adventure for a variety of missions. Keep in mind: Guests can enlist in this activity up until 30 minutes before Adventureland closes, and must use their MagicBand or card or pick up a magic talisman—a special card for this attraction—at The Crow’s Nest in Adventureland. Each of the 5 missions takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and all missions have no time limit. In addition, you can stop and restart each raid at your convenience throughout the day. edit
Together, Frontierland and Liberty Square form a continuum; as you move east to west through these lands, you're following the westward expansion of the United States. Take a look at the street numbers on the buildings; they represent dates, and you'll see them go up from the mid-1700s in Liberty Square through the late 1800s in western Frontierland.
Frontierland celebrates the United States west of the Mississippi in its 19th-century frontier years (with just a bit of rural Southern flavor). From Mark Twain's Missouri to the California Gold Rush, there's a lot of adventure packed into a small area.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (40" height requirement) Board a rollicking mine train and race through a haunted gold-mining town, abandoned by the Big Thunder Mining Company! The ride is a typical mine rollercoaster created for families, but some parts are bumpy. It opened first in 1980 as the second of its kind (the first was at Disneyland) and is now prominently featured in 4 out of 6 disney parks worldwide. Less popular than Splash Mountain nearby, the ride typically sees peak waits between 40-80 minutes. It is also one of the best choices for the initial 3 FP+ as same-day ones are hard to come buy. Keep in mind that traffic in the attraction depends greatly upon Splash Mountain. If Splash Mountain is closed, then the crowds flock to Big Thunder Mountain leading to higher than normal lines. edit
- Country Bear Jamboree. Live stage show with country music-singing Audio-Animatronic bears. Best enjoyed with lots of hand-clapping and foot-stomping from the audience. Refurbishment completed October 16, 2012. A walk-on all day, but check the schedule as it closes earlier than the rest of the park. edit
- Splash Mountain. (40" height requirement) Step into this iconic mountain for a rollicking log-flume ride featuring characters and songs from the Disney classic, Song of The South. Also prepare for a thrilling 5-story splashdown, down to Briar Patch! One of Disney's classic, it is beloved by guests. Riders will get wet on this ride (those in the front seat may get soaked). Lockers are available near the entrance. The popularity of Splash Mountain greatly depends on the weather. If it's cold, peak waits won't probably surpass 40-45 minutes, but if it's hot and busy, they can exceed 100 minutes. The ride doesn't get a big influx of guests until 1 hour after park opening (unlike other popular rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain). Waits also drop significantly during evenings. It is also one of the best choices for your first 3 Fastpasses. edit
- Tom Sawyer Island. Take a raft ride across the Rivers of America to a pair of heavily wooded islands perfect for imaginative and adventurous play. Winding paths, a spooky cavern, a barrel bridge, and even the rustic frontier Fort Langhorn are among the many places to explore. Go ahead and let the kids run around freely; the island are completely isolated from the rest of the park. One of the best ways to relax and escape the crowds. The island closes around 5-6pm depending on the season. edit
- Walt Disney World Railroad. A 19th-century steam train that circles the park, with stops at Main Street, U.S.A. and the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland. edit
The Liberty Square Riverboat sets off for another voyage.
Step back into colonial America in Liberty Square, where freedom and independence are buzzwords and powdered wigs are the height of fashion. Even the flower beds are red, white, and blue in this patriotic harbor town. A replica of the Liberty Bell sits in the central square, along with a majestic live oak serving as the local Liberty Tree, where patriots would gather to debate and plan.
- Hall of Presidents. This attraction starts with an inspirational ultra-widescreen film on the history of the U.S. presidency. At the climax, the screen rises to reveal all 45 presidents on the stage, presented in lifelike Audio-Animatronics, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama. The latest addition was in 2017, with President Donald Trump. A walk-on all day and one of the best ways to relax. The show shuts down earlier than the rest of the park so check the schedule. edit
- Haunted Mansion. A stately Dutch Gothic mansion sits on a hill to the north of Liberty Square, representing the Hudson River estates of the 19th century. Observant visitors will, however, note some decidedly eerie sounds coming from the mansion; those who venture inside will find themselves immersed in a creepy but occasionally wacky house of horrors. A mostly ride-through attraction featuring 999 happy haunts (which means there's room for one more—did you bring your death certificate?) and the only Disney cast members who never smile. The latest round of renovations in 2008 have done wonders in updating the innovative special effects. After the addition of Fastpass+, the ride has seen quite a spike in wait times (around 50-60 minutes on busy days) than it was previously observed. Still it shouldn't be one of the first 3 Fastpasses, but it's a good selection for your 5th or 6th. Try to experience it in the morning or evening. edit
- Liberty Square Riverboat. Ride a steam-powered stern-wheeler down the Rivers of America, all the way around Tom Sawyer Island. Gives some unique views of attractions like the Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain that you can't otherwise see, and there are also some dioramas scattered around that are only viewable from the riverboat. The boat stops running at around 5-6pm depending on the season. edit
With the feel of a medieval faire, Fantasyland is where Disney's classic animated fairy tales come to life. It is home to many of the most iconic Disney attractions, and is nearly always very crowded. In 2014, New Fantasyland was completed, the largest expansion of both Fantasyland and the entire park, since its opening in 1971.
This area of Fantasyland, closest to the castle, has most of the pre-2012 Fantasyland rides and will remain mostly unchanged during the land's expansion. Snow White's Scary Adventures, an opening-day attraction, closed at the end of May 2012, for eventual transformation into the Princess Fairy Tale Hall, but all of the other favorites will remain (with Dumbo moved to the Storybook Circus area).
- It's a Small World. Set sail on the happiest cruise around the world, to be serenaded by stylized Audio-Animatronics of children from every continent. If you have headphones, drop them! The cheerful theme song is known all over the world, both for its message of unity and peace is well-known for its relentlessly catchy tune.This was originally Pepsi and Bank of America's pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Waits are nowhere near those for Peter Pan's Flight, as waits above 30 minutes are only seen on busy days. Try to visit early or late during the day. It's a good choice for same-day FP+ (never 1 of your first 3 choices) only if one is focusing exclusively on Fantasyland, as it serves better purpose in other attractions. edit
- Mad Tea Party. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare invite you for a spin in a giant teacup. You can spin your teacup around its center axis at whatever speed you like, but that's not the only thing that'll be moving; each group of five cups also spins around a common axis, and then the whole shebang rotates around a giant teapot. Riders with plenty of arm strength can get their teacup spinning to ridiculous speeds; know your limits. Never, ever a good choice for Fastpass+ as even on the busiest days, lines never get above 30 minutes. edit
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Board an oversized Hunny Pot and travel through the Hundred Acre Wood and immense yourself to the stories of Winnie the Pooh, while meeting all of your favorite characters! The ride underwent a big refurbishment in 2010 that added the iconic tree from the movie, along with a completely interactive queue with playful spots based on Rabbit's Garden, Eeyore's house and more! Its location directly opposite the entrance/exit to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, means substantial waits from an early point in the day that can peak at 40-45 minutes on crowded ones. It's a good choice for FP+ if you're exclusively experiencing Fantasyland or you're in for a second day in the park. If it isn't available, ride it in the first or the last 2 hours that the park is open. edit
- Mickey's PhilharMagic. A computer-animated 3D movie. Guests are placed in for a magical concert conducted by Mickey Mouse, but Donald Duck swipes Mickey's sorcerer hat, and things go hilariously awry. The audience follows Donald into iconic scenes from Fantasia, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and more. 10min+ waits are only seen on busy days. Never a good choice for FP+. edit
- Peter Pan's Flight. Board your own magical pirate ship and sail high into the moonlight sky of London - always with the help of the boy who didn't want to grow - and set sail towards Neverland! There the vicious Captain Cook awaits and you, along with Peter Pan, have to save Wendy and the Lost Boys. The ride opened with the rest of the park in 1971 and is considered a disney classic. In 2014 it went under a large-scale refurbishment that added new effects and painting, along with an interactive queue featuring droppings of Pixie Dust, paintings and Wendy's room. Its evoking nostalgia makes the ride popular with adults and kids alike (in contrast to other Fantasyland attractions like the Journey of The Little Mermaid and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh) and regularly sees waits above 70 minutes. It is the second largest, early-morning crowd-puller after the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Experience it immediately after park opening (hopefully you have a FP+ for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train), with Fastpass+ or as late at night as practically possible. edit
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. This carousel was built in 1917, making it the oldest ride in the park. Found dilapidated and no longer operational in 1967 in Maplewood, New Jersey, it has been meticulously restored to its splendor. Non-riders can play a bit of name-that-tune as they listen to the creative band-organ arrangements of classic Disney music. Lines never above 20 minutes. edit
It occupies a previously unused area of the park (and the site of the legendary 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine ride). It was the center of the park's expansion between 2009-2014. Most of the attractions opened in 2012, the Princess Fiarytale Hall opened in 2013 (in the space where Snow White's Scary Adventures used to be) while the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train followed suit in 2014 as the highlight and the last attraction to open.
- Enchanted Tales with Belle. Belle invites kids and their parents into the Beast's library for a story; this will be much more than just a photo session. This is not a typical meet n' greet. It uses technology to enhance the overall experience, with animatronics, large screens hidden from guests and talented actors. It also takes far longer than a normal meet n' greet, around 40 minutes and closes 1 hour before official park closure. The attraction does see moderate lines between 35-50 minutes usually and it's a good use for FP+. Don't rush to it first thing in the morning. You'll be wasting much of the precious first hour that the park is open. Try to experience it around 8-9pm. edit
- Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid. Board your own pearl, and decent below the waves- without ever getting wet - for a whimsical adventure under the sea, in the world of Disney's animated classic, The Little Mermaid. The ride takes much of the former space occupied by the legendary 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and it is also featured in Disney's California Adventure. An omnimover dark ride, normally not very busy, but with the introduction of the Fastpass+ system and like the Haunted Mansion, it sees higher waits (30min+ on crowded days) than it used to have. Avoid it during midday. It can safely be experienced in the morning or evening. Not a good use for FP+. edit
- Meet Ariel at her Grotto. Your favorite mermaid now meets and greets guests in a grotto under the sea, next to Prince Eric's Castle. The meet n' greet was formerly housed across the path from the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh until it was closed in 2009 and reopened in 2012 with the expansion of Fantasyland. A good choice for same-day Fastpass+ as it can see waits up to 45 minutes. Closes half an hour earlier than the rest of the park. edit
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. (38" height requirement) The crown jewel of the Fantasyland expansion, this heavily-themed family rollercoaster lets you board a minecart and race through a diamond mine full of elements from the Disney animated classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and a fantastic show scene in the mountain, featuring all of the Dwarfs. Don't forget to see Snow White and the Evil Witch in the end! The ride opened in 2014, 2 years after the opening of the rest of New Fantasyland and its immediate success made Disney copy it to Shanghai Disneyland. The mine train is the largest crowd-puller right at park opening. It can open with a 50min+ wait and peak at above at 2 hours. It is the most recommended FP+ in the park. If FP+ isn't available experience it immediately after park opening or as late in the day as practical. The queue is also interactive. edit
In 1988, for Mickey Mouse's 60th birthday, he and his pals opened up Mickey's Birthdayland, so all their fans could come celebrate with them. Originally meant to be temporary, the idea was such a hit that they kept the place open long after the birthday party ended. The land that became known as Mickey's Toontown Fair closed forever on February 11, 2011, and was subsequently replaced by this new mini-land which opened in March 2012 as the first phase of the ambitious Fantasyland expansion effort.
- The Barnstormer. (35" height requirement) Aboard a wacky stunt plane and take a small flight above Storybook Circus in this small, kid-friendly rollercoaster. It closed in 2011 for the transformation of Mickey's Toontown to Storybook Circus and it is the only part of the land that remained virtually unchanged. The ride is described as a "kiddie coaster" and it isn't much fun for adults. It can see 30ish minute waits but and the queue is virtually unprotected by the sun and rain. Better experienced early or late in the day and it's rarely a good choice for Fastpass+. edit
- Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station. A water-playground that is based on the circus train from Disney's Dumbo. Kids will get very wet, and you probably will too, even if you just sit around the perimeter. Consider bringing a change of clothes. edit
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Dumbo spreads his giant ears and flies around and around above the sky of Storybook Circus, and lets riders control him by guiding him up and down as you spin!. This attraction based on Disney's animated classic Dumbo has been the very first "thrill ride" for countless kids over the years. The ride's relocation from the middle of Fantasyland and the additon of a second "dumbo" has slashed wait times. In addition the queueing area is now interactive and the big, yellow tent is air-conditioned and features a playground for kids, making it one of the best ones in the entire resort. Experience it early or late in the day as peak waits hover around the 40 minute mark. FP+ isn't a good choice here and Fastpass+ users will bypass the playground. edit
- Pete's Silly Sideshow. Opens late fall 2012. Mickey's pals have all been working hard at the Storybook Circus, and you can meet them here, in their circus personae: "Minnie Magnifique", "Daisy Fortuna", "The Great Goofini", and "The Amazing Donaldo". (Mickey himself still holds court down at the Town Square Theater.) One of the least popular meet n' greets in the park rarely sees a wait above 25 minutes and it isn't a good use for FP+. The meet n' greet closes much earlier than the rest of the park so check the schedule. edit
- Walt Disney World Railroad. A 19th-century steam train that circles the park, with stops at Main Street, U.S.A. and Frontierland. edit
The futuristic spires of Space Mountain
Take a glance into the future in Tomorrowland, Disney's homage to the the dreams and innovations that will keep humanity moving forward. Very different from the other lands of the Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland is all about smooth chrome architecture, strange and bizarre creatures, and thrilling spaceflight. Tron Lightcycle Power Run is scheduled to be the newest ride in the park when it opens in 2021 and will be built in an empty space left of Space Mountain.
- AstroOrbiter. Climb into a rocketship and control your altitude as you spin around a central pillar. Quite similar to Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland, but the AstroOrbiter is positioned much higher, above the Lunching Pad restaurant, allowing for some very nice views of Tomorrowland. The ride is only accessible by an elevator and the queue is in the ground. It's location in the center of Tomorrowland and low-capacity means, just like the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, 30min+ waits on busy days. Avoid the ride during midday. It is also one of three rides in Walt Disney World that don't offer Fastpass+. edit
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. An indoor dark ride with a laser gun game. Help Buzz Lightyear beat the evil Emperor Zurg by firing your laser at targets scattered throughout the ride. Some targets are worth more than others, but you won't know which are which. You'll want to ride multiple times to try to beat your scores. The second most popular attraction in Tomorrowland, Buzz Lightyear can get long lines (above 1 hour) on busy days. Try to experience it early in the day or during the evening. Fastpass+ is useful here, but not as one of your first 3 selections, rather a same-day one. edit
- Carousel of Progress. A four-part Audio-Animatronic production taking you through a century of technological progress. Housed in a unique rotating show building. This show originally debuted as General Electric's pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair and holds the record of being the longest-running and most performed stage show in history. It's a bit dated, but it was one of Walt Disney's favorites and very much embodies his approach to human progress. One of the best places to escape the crowds the show sees no lines. edit
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. This hilarious interactive, live-comedy show that features your favorite movie characters from Monsters.Inc, like Mike Wazowski! Lines for the show are usually below 20 minutes but they do occasionally surpass 30 minutes. edit
- Space Mountain. T (40" height requirement) This thrilling rollercoaster lets guests board a spaceship and blast off through the cosmos to the darkest, most hidden corners of outer space. One of Disney's most beloved attractions it is now prominently featured in 5 out of 6 Disney parks around the world and the Magic Kingdom was the first one to have it (in 1975). It also the only version of it that features 2 loading sides (same as Big Thunder Mountain). The ride isn't a big crowd-puller during the morning but waits can surpass those of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and get above 2 hours on some days of the year (although generally being around 70-80 minutes). Experience it with FP+ (one of the best choice for your first 3 selections) or within the first or last hour that the park is open. The biggest part of the queue is interactive and guests can play several space-inspired games in small screens. The rollercoaster isn't very intense but it takes place in complete darkness that adds to the thrill component and may scare some riders. edit
- Tomorrowland Speedway. (32" height requiirement) You don't need a driver's license to drive these real gas-powered cars; you just need to be able to reach the gas pedal. Drive around this scenic 0.4-mile (640 m) racetrack (safely secured to a guiderail) and try not to bump into the car in front of you. Unfortunately, the Speedway does accumulate quite a line as the day progresses (around 45 minutes) and the queue is one of the least pleasant places to be in the park, filled with the smell of petrol and gas-fusion. Try to ride it early or late in the day. Usually not a good choice for FP+. edit
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. Take a round-trip sightseeing tour on an elevated track around all of Tomorrowland. The nearly silent PeopleMover vehicles are an innovative prototype for an efficient and comfortable transport system. The ride goes inside several of the show buildings, giving you behind-the-scenes peeks at both Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear. One of the best ways to relax and escape the crowds, the line normally sees lines below 10 minutes. edit
The parades and shows at all of the parks garner big crowds, but the Magic Kingdom really takes the cake, perhaps due to its relatively narrow streets and the sheer popularity of the park. Unless the park is practically deserted, you'll need to stake out a viewing location well in advance of show time (check your Times Guide for the schedule). If you want to sit on the curb or grab a bench seat, you'll want to get there at least an hour ahead of time; if you're willing to deal with a lesser view, you may get lucky and find a decent spot as little as 15 minutes beforehand. (If you're running late for a parade, aim for the end of the route, as the parade takes up to 20 minutes to get there.)
Most importantly, though, if you aren't planning on watching the parade or the show, stay well away from the prime viewing locations. The rides and other attractions will have much shorter lines during these times, so pick a few well away from Main Street and enjoy.
The parades start in the entrance plaza and travel up Main Street, then through the hub to Liberty Square and west through Frontierland, ending near Splash Mountain. Fireworks are visible throughout the park, but they work best with Cinderella Castle as a backdrop, so most people view them from Main Street on their way out of the park for the night.
- Festival Of Fantasy Parade. Daytime parade of classic Disney moments. Spectacular floats and elaborate costumes. Definitely a must see during your trip and be prepared to be amazed by the beautiful floats that include a fire breathing dragon from Sleeping Beauty as well as a rotating rocking ship from Peter Pan. edit
- Main Street Electrical Parade. The classic nighttime parade that ran for many years here made an exciting return in Summer 2010, and Disney has not yet decided when its special engagement will end and SpectroMagic will return. Until that time arrives, enjoy this blast from the past. edit
- The Magic, The Memories, and You. Each night before the fireworks, enjoy a 10-minute show in which Cinderella Castle undergoes a series of spectacular transformations, with the details changing seasonally. The show is enhanced with pictures taken by Disney's PhotoPass photographers throughout the day, so watch carefully—you might just see yourself up on the castle walls. edit
- Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams. At park closing there is a fireworks show to send everyone home with a great memory. The best viewing areas generate very crowded conditions, not surprisingly. If you really want to avoid the crowds, try watching the fireworks from one of the Magic Kingdom resorts; the show's audio is piped into speakers in some of the prime viewing locations. edit
There's also a special annual parkwide event:
- Night of Joy, . 7-8 Sep 2012; 4PM-1AM. A Christian music festival, with contemporary Christian bands and soloists performing on stages throughout the park. This is a hard-ticket event, meaning the park closes at 7PM, with only Night of Joy ticket holders allowed to stay in the park. Several of the park's attractions will be open after 7PM, but not all of them; the main attraction is supposed to be the music. $53 per night ($63 at the door), or $95 for both nights. edit
In recent years, the Magic Kingdom has been host to two extremely popular "hard-ticket" holiday events. On selected days from September through December, the park closes early, but guests who pay extra get to stick around and see special shows and go on rides with shorter lines. These events are held three or four nights a week (although the exact schedule varies). Tickets are very limited, so plan well in advance for the night you want to go.
Not all attractions are open during these special events, but most of the most popular will be.
- Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, . mid-Sep - Nov 1; 7PM-midnight. A five-hour party with two special Halloween parades, the Happy HalloWishes fireworks show, costumed characters wearing costumes of their own, and trick-or-treating throughout the park. Feel free to wear your own costumes, too. Advance purchase: adults $54, ages 3-9 $48; $6 more day-of. edit
- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, . early Nov - mid-Dec; 7PM-midnight. A five-hour party with two special Christmas parades, the Holiday Wishes fireworks show, complimentary hot cocoa, and snow falling on Main Street U.S.A. Advance purchase: adults $54, ages 3-9 $48; $6 more day-of. edit
Note that after the last Christmas Party, about a week before Christmas, the holiday parade and fireworks show are run in place of the usual events, allowing guests to experience them without buying a ticket to a special event. Alternatively, you can listen to and watch the fireworks shows from the Contemporary, the Polynesian, or the Grand Floridian resorts without needing admission to the park.
You'd never notice by looking at it, but the Magic Kingdom is actually built up one story from ground level. An extensive "underground" complex of utility areas and corridors sits on ground level underneath the pathways of the park. These Utilidors ("utility corridors") allow cast members to get into costume, move between areas, and take breaks out of sight of the park guests... other than the occasional tour group, that is.
Guided tours of the Magic Kingdom are quite popular. All tours can be booked by calling +1 407 WDW-TOUR (939-8687). You will need to have admission to the park to take these tours.
- Family Magic Tour, . daily 10AM. If you've got kids, they can't go on the Keys to the Kingdom tour (and for good reason); this, then, is your next-best alternative. The two-hour tour works like a scavenger hunt, looking for themed clues in each of the Magic Kingdom's lands. Ends with a visit from a Disney character. $27. edit
- Keys to the Kingdom, . daily 8:30AM, 9AM, 9:30AM. This is the ultimate Disney tour, which goes over, under, and behind the scenes to illustrate Disney history, show you tricks of the trade, and reveal "secrets" of Disney operations. Includes a trip through the Utilidors and other backstage areas. Be warned, though: if this is your first visit to the Magic Kingdom, do not take this tour. Spend at least two days just enjoying yourself and experiencing the Magic. The tour will forever change the way that you look at the Magic Kingdom, like pulling apart a flower to see how it grows. You end up knowing more, but in your mind you will never look at a flower the same way. 4.5–5 hours, including a break for lunch at the Columbia Harbour House (order at beginning of tour). Must be 16 or older. $70. edit
- The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains, . M Tu Th-Sa 7:30AM. Walt Disney was a big fan of steam trains, and this tour lets you get an up-close view of the real trains in operation at the Magic Kingdom. You can also go behind the scenes to the roundhouse and maintenance facilities, while learning about the history behind each of the locomotives. Three hours. Must be 10 or older. $49. edit
At the resorts
Lounge on the beach by the Grand Floridian.
Like all Deluxe Resorts, the ones near the Magic Kingdom offer plenty of things for guests to do each day. But a few options stand out as worth a trip even if you're not staying nearby.
- Electrical Water Pageant. Dating back almost forty years to Walt Disney World's opening month, the Electrical Water Pageant remains a little-known treat for guests staying in Magic Kingdom-area resorts. The Pageant involves a convoy of barges that make stops on the water in front of each of the resorts, performing a 10-minute light-and-music show that ends with a red-white-and-blue tribute to the United States. Ask at the front desk what time the Pageant will be visible from your guest room. edit
- Franck's Bridal Studio, (between Grand Floridian & Polynesian), ☎ +1 321 939-4610, . Oh yes. You can get married at Walt Disney World. If you're willing to spend enough, you can get married just about anywhere in the resort, and add any number of special Disney touches. Franck's Bridal Studio is where you can plan it all out, and it's right next to Disney's Wedding Pavilion, a 300-seat non-denominational chapel on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon. $4,500+. edit
- Grand Floridian Spa & Health Club (Niki Bryan Spas), 4111 N Floridian Way (at the Grand Floridian), ☎ +1 407 824-2332, . Treatments: daily 8AM-7PM; fitness center: daily 6AM-9PM. The Grand Floridian's spa has an enormous array of indulgent ways to relax, from kid-friendly facials to multi-hour full-body experiences, including just about any type of massage or manicure you can imagine. Of special note are the Grand Romantic Couple's Massage and the Couple's Instructional Massage. Treatments last 25, 50, or 80 minutes. Ages 12+ for full treatments; ages 4-12 for kids' treatments; ages 14+ for fitness center. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Closed due to nearby construction until March 2013. $25-$500. edit
- Sammy Duvall's Watersports, (at the Contemporary Resort), ☎ +1 407 939-0754 (fax: +1 407 939-0756), . You can rent personal watercraft here, and go tooling around Bay Lake, or you can get a bit more adventurous. Try waterskiing or wakeboarding ($165/hour), or go for the highest "ride" at Walt Disney World: parasailing ($95-$130 single, $170-$195 tandem). The parasailing in particular is highly recommended; takeoff and landing are smooth as silk thanks to the special platform on the boat, and the line lets you sail 450–600 feet above Bay Lake, showing you views you simply can't get anywhere else on-property. $80+. edit
- There are also smaller boats like Sea Raycers and pontoon boats available at the Contemporary Resort's marina. Some of the other resorts also have small marinas. $20+.
- Tri-Circle-D Ranch, (at Fort Wilderness, near Pioneer Hall). This is where the horses who work at the Magic Kingdom stay in their off-hours, and it's open to the public. They have their own blacksmith shop, where you might see a blacksmith working, or you can visit the free petting zoo. Pony rides are $2.00. Guided horseback rides are available, too, but they start at the Livery near the campground's main entrance; for reservations, call +1 407 824-2832 up to 30 days in advance. edit
- Wilderness Back Trail Adventure (Segway tour), (at Fort Wilderness), . Tu-Sa 8:30AM, 11:30AM. This is a fantastic opportunity to try out a Segway Personal Transporter, and to explore the wilds around the campground. The tour starts at the Bike Barn with an hour of training on how to use the Segway, but then the fun begins. Your guides will take you out for an hour-long tour around the campground, where you can see the stables, scenery, and lots of wildlife. The guides are experts and very good teachers. Great fun. Must be 16 or older and weigh between 100 and 250 pounds (45–115 kg). $85. edit
There are two 18-hole championship golf courses in the Magic Kingdom area, as well as a nine-hole walking course. All three courses are located in the same area, west of the Polynesian near Shades of Green. See "Golf" in the overview for rules and regulations. Monday through Friday, 18 holes will cost $89 if you're staying at a Disney hotel, and $104 otherwise. On weekends, add $10. During the summer, 10AM-3PM tee times are discounted; ask for the "Summer Price Slice" when you call. Late afternoon tee times are $59 on weekdays and $69 on weekends for everyone. Call +1 407 WDW-GOLF (939-4653) to reserve a tee time.
Each fall, the Magnolia and Palm courses together host the Children's Miracle Network Classic , one of the tournaments on the PGA Tour. The stop is a favorite among the players because they can visit the parks with their kids when they're not on the course. Both courses are closed to the public starting a week before the tournament. The 2011 tournament will be October 17–23.
- Magnolia Golf Course, . This aptly-named course set amongst the magnolia trees features a Mickey-shaped bunker on the sixth hole. Speaking of bunkers, this course has a ton of them, including fourteen on the fourth hole alone. It's the longest and probably the most difficult of the four Walt Disney World courses. edit
- Palm Golf Course, . Palm is Magnolia's twin in many respects, although slightly less difficult and slightly shorter. Reportedly, water hazards are the primary obstacle on this course. Watch out in particular for the 18th hole; it's a doozy. edit
- Oak Trail Golf Course, . This course is a nine-hole walking course (at the 18-hole courses, carts are not just allowed, but required). It's perfect for families, or for duffers looking for a quick nine holes. One round of golf also counts as one of your "Fun Visits" if you've added the Water Park Fun & More option to your Magic Your Way tickets. Closing for refurbishment May 29 – September 28, 2012. Adults $38; under 18 $20. edit
Looking north from the Main Street train station
The Magic Kingdom practically invented the modern theme park merchandising plan: put the biggest store and most expensive stuff at the exit, so you have a place to shop when you're ready to leave the park.
Sure enough, Main Street, U.S.A., the Magic Kingdom's entrance and exit area, is anchored by The Emporium, which takes up most of the western side of the street and carries a large variety of generic Disney merchandise. The other side of the street, though, has more specialty shops, including the Main Street Confectionery, The Chapeau (hat shop), Crystal Arts (glass shop with live glass craft demonstrations), Uptown Jewelers, and more.
Other well-known shops include:
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, (inside Cinderella Castle). This is the place to go for a little girl who wants to get the full princess treatment. Her "fairy godmother" will do her up right with makeup, hairstyle, and other accouterments, although Mom and Dad will have to pay for the privilege. A Knight Package is available for boys, though it's considerably less involved. Very popular; appointments (call +1 407 WDW-STYLE (939-7895)) are strongly recommended. $50-$250. edit
- Castle Couture, (adjacent to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique). This is where newly minted Disney Princesses can buy all of their princessy accouterments. edit
- Mickey's Star Traders, (at the exit from Stitch's Great Escape). While it's not very heavily themed, this Tomorrowland store is widely regarded as one of the best souvenir shops in the park. edit
- Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, (in Liberty Square). Open year round, this store sells holiday-related goods reminiscent of 18th and 19th century Christmases. edit
- Pirates Bazaar, (at the exit from Pirates of the Caribbean). Rest assured Disney is aware of the current popularity of pirate-themed goodies. edit
- The Pirates League, (next to Pirates of the Caribbean), ☎ +1 407 WDW-CREW (), . daily 9AM-4PM. Not all kids are into the whole "princess" thing; some of them can only look askance into Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and wonder "why?" But those same kids (and some adults) might just be willing to be inducted into the Pirates League. Once you find the hidden entrance near the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, you'll choose the First Mate or the Empress package, and the Pirate Masters will dress you up right. Both packages include a choice of facial effects, accessories, and a personalized pirate name and oath. $30. edit
And of course, there are several other gift shops that serve as the exits from associated attractions, forcing you to navigate the aisles to get out. They can be a great place to get themed merchandise if you have a particular favorite.
Magic Kingdom-area resorts
The resorts have their share of shopping as well. The Grand Canyon Concourse on the fourth floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort, underneath the monorail platform, has several specialty shops including shops that sell jewelry, sundries, and housewares. Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa also has a number of shops, including fine chocolates and designer clothing, on the first and second floors of its main building. Both resorts' shopping areas are very convenient for anyone with access to the monorail.
- Wyland Galleries, (at the Polynesian Resort), ☎ +1 407 824-9635 (fax: +1 407 824-9638), . Underwater-themed prints and paintings, featuring the work of the artist Wyland. Very expensive, but very beautiful to browse. edit
If you're staying in a DVC villa or a Wilderness Cabin and you need to stock your kitchen, Fort Wilderness is a good place to go for groceries, although it can be very time-consuming to get over there and back if you're staying at one of the other resorts.
The Crystal Palace and its verdant surroundings.
See Eat in the main Walt Disney World article for information on the Disney restaurant pricing system, character dining, dietary restrictions, and advance dining reservations. The telephone numbers below are for extraordinary circumstances only; for reservations and most health or diet issues, call the main Disney Dining number at +1 407 WDW-DINE (939-3463).
Please note that exact opening and closing times may vary with the park hours; check your Times Guide for official restaurant hours. Breakfast is usually served until 10:30AM, and dinner usually starts between 3:30PM and 4:30PM.
The Magic Kingdom has an abundance of counter service restaurants; more than at any other park, dining here is dominated by the quick-service segment of the market.
- Casey's Corner, (Main Street, U.S.A.). 11AM-park close. A baseball-themed restaurant, inspired by Ernest L. Thayer's poem "Casey at the Bat" (also a segment from the 1946 Disney package film Make Mine Music). Don't expect much here, just hot dogs and a couple of sides. $4-$7. edit
- Columbia Harbour House, (Liberty Square). 10:30AM-varies. Seafood is the specialty at this eatery near the Hall of Presidents. If you're not in the mood, you can also get chicken, salad, or a hummus-and-slaw sandwich. $5-$10. edit
- Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, (Tomorrowland). 10:30AM-varies. The food is typical Disney counter-service (burgers, chicken, etc.), but with three separate ordering "bays" (each with its own menu), the variety is practically unbeatable. The burger topping bar is pretty good, too. As an added bonus, this is the only counter-service restaurant with entertainment—Sonny Eclipse is an animatronic alien lounge singer, bringing you the galaxy's best hits (and worst jokes) while you eat. Cosmic Ray's is usually very crowded but often worth the hassle. $7-$14. edit
- The Lunching Pad, (Tomorrowland). Three gourmet hot dog options, and not much else. Convenient location right in the middle of Tomorrowland, though. $7-$8. edit
- Golden Oak Outpost, (Frontierland). Open seasonally. A few chicken entrees, plus a vegetable flatbread. Not much seating—this is almost a snack stand rather than a true restaurant. $7-$9. edit
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, (Frontierland). 10:30AM-varies. Decent selection, often pretty busy as the west-side counterpart to Cosmic Ray's. BBQ Pork, burgers, corn on the cob, and taco salad are available—just enough western flavor to spice up your lunch. $7-$9. edit
- Pinocchio Village Haus, (Fantasyland). 10:30AM-varies. Lots of seating (some of it overlooking the 'it's a small world' loading area) but often not as crowded as Cosmic Ray's or Pecos Bill's. Pizza (cheese or pepperoni), flatbreads (caprese or BBQ chicken), salads, meatball subs, etc. $6-$9. edit
- Tomorrowland Terrace, (Tomorrowland). Open seasonally. Chicken, burgers, pasta, and seafood. The balcony is a great spot for watching the fireworks, but you've got to buy the $18 Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party to get in (it's reportedly well worth the cost, though). $7-$8. edit
- Tortuga Tavern (formerly El Pirata y el Perico), (Adventureland). Open seasonally. Have a burrito or a taco, if the place is open. $6-$8. edit
There are a plethora of snack stands with generic pre-packaged snacks throughout the park, but if you're in the mood for something special, head to Main Street U.S.A.:
- Main Street Bakery, (Main Street U.S.A.). Park open-park close. Grab a croissant or a cinnamon roll on your way into the park. $2-$6. edit
- Main Street Confectionery, (Main Street U.S.A.). Park open-park close. Freshly baked fudge is a treat difficult to resist, although the vast racks of other fine candies and chocolates may help. Much of it is created right in the shop, so take some time to peek at the process. $1-$5. edit
- Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, (Main Street U.S.A.). 11AM-varies. An old-fashioned soda fountain specializing in hand-dipped ice cream. $3-$4. edit
Compared to the other parks, table service at the Magic Kingdom is very limited. The choices are all very good, but most of them have characters and you're probably going to need Advance Dining Reservations for any of them.
Note: if two prices are separated by a slash, the second price is for children ages 3-9.
- Cinderella's Royal Table, (inside Cinderella Castle). 8:05AM-varies. Cindrella invites everyone to dine in her castle; young girls will love this experience the best. If you have to ask what the food is like, you're missing the point, but it's a fixed-price menu with a decent array of offerings. The price is steep, but it includes photos of you and your party in the lobby, a special gift for children ages 3-9, and the chance to meet Cinderella herself. Warning: This is probably the single most popular restaurant in Walt Disney World, so make sure to get a reservation early.—ADRs sell out within minutes each day. Prices (including gratuity): Once Upon a Time Breakfast $45/$29, Fairytale Lunch $48/$30, Dreams Come True Dinner $54/$33; Dining Plan requires two credits. edit
- Be Our Guest Restaurant, (in the northern side of New Fantasyland). 8:00AM-varies. Inside Beast's Castle sits a brand new elaborate restaurant; opened just in 2011. The restaurant offers a very wide array of food but it's table service for dinner and lunch only. Breakfast is quick service and that's why it's cheaper. Along with Cinderella's Royal Table the restaurant is very popular so make sure you make reservations early. $15 to $34.99 for breakfast per adult and $35 to $59.99 for lunch/dinner per adult. edit
- The Crystal Palace, (Main Street U.S.A., near Adventureland). 8:05AM-varies. A buffet housed in a building inspired by the legendary Crystal Palace in London. The food is a bit more upscale than your average buffet back home, but only a bit. Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood make appearances throughout the day for photos and fun. Breakfast $21/$12, lunch $23/$13, dinner $33/$16. edit
- Liberty Tree Tavern, (Liberty Square). 11:30AM-3PM, 4PM-varies. Dine like the Founding Fathers in a tavern inspired by 18th century New England. At lunch, choose from items such as roast beef, roast turkey, or even a cheeseburger if you must. Dinner, on the other hand, is served family-style, and the pork, turkey, beef, potatoes, veggies, stuffing, and mac & cheese will keep coming (and coming) until you're full. The dinner isn't cheap but it's well worth the price (especially if you use the Dining Plan); everything is well made and you can't leave hungry. You will likely need ADRs to get a table here at dinner time. Lunch $12-$18, dinner $30/$15. edit
- The Plaza Restaurant, (Main Street U.S.A.). 11AM-varies. A restaurant specializing in sandwiches, inspired by the Victorian times of the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Grilled Ruebens, club sandwiches, cheeseburgers, and the like. $10-$12. edit
- Tony's Town Square Restaurant, (Main Street U.S.A., near the entrance). 11:30AM-varies. Order a huge plate of spaghetti and step into the most memorable scene from Lady and the Tramp. Several good Italian/American menu items. $17-$28. edit
- Diamond Horseshoe, (Frontierland). 1pm-2:55pm and 3pm-8pm. Inside an Old West music hall for an all-you-care-to-enjoy meal—featuring Frontier favorites your whole posse will love! The restaurant specializes to meals that include meat. $35 to $59.99 per adult. edit
A chocolate slipper at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian. Yes, it's edible!
With the number of Deluxe Resorts around the Magic Kingdom, it's no surprise that the resort dining options are numerous and high-quality. The Grand Floridian, in particular, boasts several upscale restaurants, including the fanciest restaurant in all of Central Florida, Victoria & Albert's.
Disney's Contemporary Resort
- California Grill, (top floor). 5:30PM-10PM. California cuisine served with the best view on Disney property on the side. The menu changes frequently, as the chefs vary the tastes according to season and their ingenuity. Priority seating is a must for this restaurant (especially at the time of the Wishes fireworks display), and window seats (some with a view of the Magic Kingdom) are not guaranteed. If all seats are taken, another option is the bar, which offers a great selection of wines and sushi. Closing for refurbishment from January 6, 2013, until late summer 2013. $12-$44; Dining Plan requires two credits. edit
- Chef Mickey's, (Grand Canyon Concourse). 7AM-11:20AM, 5PM-9:30PM. An all-you-care-to-eat character buffet hosted by Mickey Mouse himself. Features a separate buffet with items geared for more adult tastes. When they're not clamoring for Mickey's attention, kids will enjoy the setting in the hotel's Grand Canyon Concourse, watching the monorails pass through on their way to the Magic Kingdom. This is among the most popular character dining options, especially for breakfast, so be sure to get advance dining reservations. Breakfast $27/$14, dinner $34/$17. edit
- Contempo Cafe, (Grand Canyon Concourse). 6AM-midnight. A counter-service location with unique computerized ordering kiosks. Grilled flatbread pizzas are very good; also features an array of sandwiches and salads, adding pasta options for dinner (after 5PM). $4-$8. edit
- The Wave, (first floor, next to the reception desk). 7:30AM-10PM. Specializes in health-conscious selections. Even breakfast features items like multigrain waffles and pancakes. Lunch and dinner feature some very contemporary dishes; kids too old for the kids' menu might balk at most of the options. $18-$29. edit
Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground
Fort Wilderness is home to two fantastic dinner shows.
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, (Pioneer Hall). 4PM, 6:15PM, or 8:30PM. Western-themed dinner theater, with six high-energy performers singing, dancing, and joking throughout the evening. The show hasn't changed much in its 35 years, but it's still a rollicking good time with great food: fried chicken, spareribs, mashed potatoes, and baked beans, all you can eat. For the grand finale, grab a washboard and play along with the cast. For this show, ADRs can be booked up to 180 days in advance (instead of the normal 90 days). Prices (including tax and gratuity): Ages 10+ $53-$62, ages 3-9 $27-$32 (price varies depending on seating). Dining Plan requires two credits, but can't be used for Category 1 seating except at the 8:30PM show. edit
- Mickey's Backyard BBQ, (west of Tri-Circle-D Ranch). An all-you-can-eat outdoor picnic with Mickey and Company. The characters don't go table-to-table like they do at most restaurants; instead the kids all get up and dance/boogie/hoe-down with the characters. This is a great way to tire the little ones out; they might fall asleep before you get back to your room. The buffet includes chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, beans, corn on the cob, and all sorts of "fixins". $51/$21; Dining Plan requires two credits. edit
If you want some food without the entertainment, you have a couple of options:
- Meadow Snack Bar, (Meadow Recreation Area). Open seasonally, 11AM-5PM. Nothing special here, just a place to grab a quick bite if you happen to be at the campground for lunch or in the afternoon. Pulled pork, tuna salad, pizza, etc. $7-$9. edit
- Trail's End Restaurant, (Pioneer Hall). Breakfast 7:30AM-11:30AM; lunch 11:30AM-2PM; dinner Su-Th 4:30PM-9:30PM, F Sa 4:30PM-10PM. Not the biggest buffet at Walt Disney World, but it gets the job done, and it's all-you-can-eat. Pizza, pasta, chicken, etc. You can also buy a full meal to go (for a separate price) starting at noon. Crockett's Tavern, a small bar area, is attached. Note: Lunch is currently a-la-carte on a trial basis. Breakfast $14/$9, lunch $13-$18, dinner $23/$12. edit
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort
What's in a Name?
When the restaurant first opened, all of the servers at Victoria & Albert's were named either Victoria or Albert. All of them. That ended several years ago, but not before rumors spread that the strict naming rule had been relaxed behind-the-scenes.
The Grand Floridian is Disney's flagship resort, and it certainly fills that bill when it comes to dining. The menus crafted by the resort's expert chefs are actively sought-out by gourmands from across the country. All of the restaurants (except Narcoossee's) are located in the main building, just steps from the monorail platform.
- 1900 Park Fare. 8AM-11:30AM, 4:30PM-8:30PM. A casual buffet in an elegant Victorian atmosphere, where you can have breakfast with characters from Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland, or dinner with characters from Cinderella. Supercalifragilistic Breakfast $22/$13; Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner $36/$18. edit
- Citricos. 5:30PM-10PM. An elegant European restaurant. If you can't afford to dine at Victoria & Albert's, this is an ideal alternative. Don't miss their specialty tea selections. Closed July 23 – August 4, 2012. $23-$46; Dining Plan requires two credits. edit
- Gasparilla Grill and Games. 6:30AM-11:30PM. The only counter-service establishment at the Grand Floridian, the fare is pretty typical for resort cafeterias. The video games are completely anachronistic, and they make for a noisy meal, but sometimes you just want to grab something quick and familiar to eat. Closing for refurbishment August 24 – December 2012. $6-$9. edit
- Grand Floridian Cafe. 7AM-9PM. The Cafe is a step below Citricos and Narcoossee's, offering a somewhat less creative menu, but you'll still enjoy some good food along with the elegant Grand Floridian decor. It also has the added advantage of being open for breakfast and lunch. $17-$28. edit
- Narcoossee's, (near the boat launch). 5:30PM-10PM. An elegant seafood restaurant, Narcoossee's stands with Citricos as major destinations for foodies. The menu is a bit more innovative than you'll find at other Disney seafood restaurants, and the view is outstanding; the large windows open right onto the Seven Seas Lagoon, affording a view of the Magic Kingdom and (if your timing is good) the fireworks. $22-$58; Dining Plan requires two credits. edit
- Victoria & Albert's. 5PM-9:45PM. Undeniably the best restaurant on Disney property, and one of the finest in the southeastern U.S., Victoria & Albert's is the only AAA Five-Diamond rated restaurant in Central Florida. It's designed for a more intimate dining experience, which means wear a jacket or a nice dress, leave the children at one of the many popular child activity centers, and have a night out just for the adults. (No one under 10 years old is admitted.) You'll enjoy a seven-course menu designed specifically for your party, as well as completely impeccable service. Wine pairing is also an option. Reservations are required. $135 ($65 wine pairings); Chef's Table/Queen Victoria's Room $210 ($105 wine pairings); Dining Plan not accepted. edit
Disney's Polynesian Resort
All of the restaurants here are in the Great Ceremonial House, which is also the location of the monorail platform. The resort's renowned breakfast specialty (available at Captain Cook's, Kona Cafe, and in-room dining) is Tonga Toast: sourdough bread stuffed with banana, then battered, deep-fried, and topped with cinnamon and sugar.
- Captain Cook's Snack Company. 6:30AM-11PM. A good place to grab a quick bite to eat, although the menu includes only the barest nods to Polynesian flavors (and, of course, the delicious Tonga Toast). $7-$9. edit
- Kona Cafe. 7:30AM-9:45PM. Traditional American fare fused with Asian flavors. Think teriyaki-style strip steak, or coconut almond chicken. The Sticky Wings for Two appetizer gets good reviews, but then, so does pretty much everything on the menu. $17-$28. edit
- 'Ohana. 7:30AM-11AM, 5PM-10PM. The restaurant's name is the Hawaiian word for "family," introduced to Disney audiences in the movie Lilo & Stitch. Breakfast features characters from the film (and often Mickey and Pluto), though dinner does not. Both meals are, appropriately enough, served family-style, and feature Polynesian flavors without being too exotic. Lilo & Stitch Best Friends Character Breakfast $25/$14; dinner $31/$15. edit
And if you're in the mood for some entertainment with your meal, the Polynesian is home to one of the three dinner theater options.
- Disney's Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau, (Luau Cove, on the west side of the resort). Tu-Sa 5:15PM & 8PM (weather permitting). No Polynesian island vacation is complete without going to a luau, and Disney's version certainly fills the bill. Hula dancers, a fire thrower, plenty of pineapple, and music from Lilo & Stitch—you get the whole works. Prices (including tax and gratuity): Ages 10+ $53-$62, ages 3-9 $27-$32 (price varies depending on seating). Dining Plan requires two credits, but can't be used for Category 1 seating. edit
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
The restaurants at Wilderness Lodge all fit in well with the rustic forested decor, and they're all within steps of the main lobby.
- Artist Point. 5:30PM-10PM. This is a Signature Restaurant, on par with California Grill or Citricos, but with a much more rustic, outdoors-y feel to it. The menu changes frequently, but some choice cut of bison meat is usually considered the house specialty. Not a great place for vegetarians, but for everyone else it's a very popular restaurant. $25-$43; Dining Plan requires two credits. edit
- Roaring Fork. 6AM-midnight. Just a quick counter-service location to get you filled up and on your way. Not a lot of choices, but it gets the job done. $8-$10. edit
- Whispering Canyon Cafe. 7:30AM-10PM. Tuck your napkin under your collar, shout as loud as you want, and boo or blow raspberries when the waiter announces that someone is going to SeaWorld or Universal Studios. This is not the place for quiet, retiring types; it's a raucous, energy-filled, foot-stomping eatery with plenty of good home-style food. You can order off the menu, or just get a Canyon Skillet, which is filled (and refilled, as often as you like) with three kinds of meat (four at dinner) and several side dishes. Breakfast at the Cafe is somewhat more sedate, as befits the hour, but the servers are still ready to have some fun, and there's even a breakfast version of the Canyon Skillet. $19-$29. edit
Please don't throw me in that briar patch!
The Magic Kingdom is intended to be a carefree place, where children and adults can have fun together. The only Magic Kingdom restaurant that serves alcohol is "Be Our Guest" in Fantasyland. You may not carry alcohol outside of the restaurant. Don't even think about trying to sneak some in from outside, it will be confiscated.
That said, the table-service restaurants (and some of the counter-service locations) in the resorts do serve alcohol, and there are also bars and lounges at the hotels. California Grill in the Contemporary Resort and Victoria & Albert's in the Grand Floridian Resort have particularly extensive wine lists.
Each of the resorts has a pool bar or two, each with a variety of alcoholic refreshments and light meals. In addition, you'll find the following lounges and coffee bars:
- Contemporary Grounds, (Contemporary, lobby level). Enjoy a selection of caffeinated drinks and assorted pastries. $3-$6. edit
- Garden View Lounge, (Grand Floridian). daily 2PM-4:30PM. The Garden View Lounge offers an afternoon tea each day, with a wide selection of specialty teas. You can stop at just the tea, or you can go for the full afternoon tea experience, with tea sandwiches and tarts and the like. There are also a number of a la carte items available, from cheese plates to beer and champagne. Tea $6; full afternoon tea service $11-$26; a la carte items $2-$13. edit
- My Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea. Su M W-F 10:30AM-noon. Five mornings a week, the Garden View Lounge hosts a special tea party for young girls. In addition to the tea, adults and children alike will enjoy a light luncheon with princess cake, a meet and greet with Sleeping Beauty (Princess Aurora), and special gifts for each attendee between ages 3 and 11. $250 for one adult and one child; add'l adults $100; add'l children $150. edit
- Kona Island Cafe Coffee Bar, (Polynesian). 6:30AM-8PM. Many people consider this the best place at Walt Disney World for coffee—and considering it's authentic Kona Coffee, straight from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, they may just be right. $2-$6. edit
- Tambu Lounge, (Polynesian). 1PM-midnight. This is a popular place for guests waiting to be seated at the Kona Cafe or at 'Ohana. Great Polynesian atmosphere, though watching ESPN on the big-screen TV detracts a bit. Well-known for their specialty drinks. Food $6-$13. edit
- Territory Lounge, (Wilderness Lodge). 4:30PM-midnight. Specializes in wines from the Pacific Northwest. Wood paneling, TV, very relaxed feel—and some excellent food items on the menu. Food $8-$13. edit
- Top of the World Lounge, (Bay Lake Tower, top floor). 5PM-midnight. This exclusive lounge is open only to Disney Vacation Club members staying at Bay Lake Tower (plus their guests)—and for good reason; the lounge's windows, high atop Bay Lake Tower, offer an outstanding view of the Magic Kingdom and its fireworks displays. If they didn't restrict who could get in, the place would be overflowing with people every single night. Food $8-$11. edit
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
You certainly have a variety of options for accommodations near the Magic Kingdom, but few of them are cheap. Home to the four oldest resorts at Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom area is known for its upscale Deluxe resorts and the vast Fort Wilderness campground.
Once Upon a Time
Shades of Green was one of the first hotels at Walt Disney World, opening in 1973 as the Golf Resort. It was renamed to The Disney Inn in 1986, but attendance continued to lag due to its out-of-the-way location and lack of amenities. The hotel was leased to the Department of Defense in 1994 and sold outright in 1996.
- Shades of Green, 1950 W Magnolia Palm Dr, ☎ +1 407 824-3400 (fax: +1 407 824-3665), . Owned by the United States Department of Defense, Shades of Green is open only to active and retired military or National Guard personnel, civilian employees of the Department of Defense, and their guests. Merchandise sold at Shades of Green is exempt from sales tax, and rooms are exempt from hotel tax. While the hotel is quite inexpensive, the only available Disney amenity is participation in Extra Magic Hours at the parks; Shades of Green guests don't get a Key to the World card, can't have merchandise sent to the hotel, and cannot participate in the Disney Dining Plan. On the other hand, it's a very short walk to the Palm, Magnolia, and Oak Trail golf courses. $90-$130, based on rank or pay grade. edit
Disney's expansive Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is really like two resorts in one—the campsites and the cabins. Both share all of the resort's amenities, including two great dinner shows, marshmallow roasts, hiking, biking, swimming, boating, horseback riding, and much more, all without ever leaving Disney property. It's the perfect place for people who want to get away from it all without getting too far away.
Fort Wilderness is the only pet-friendly resort on Disney property, though pets are allowed only in designated areas of the campground. Only a small proportion of sites are in pet-friendly areas, so make sure you mention that your pet will be coming with you when you make your reservation. Once you get there, your dog will have plenty of opportunity to get exercise, with plenty of trails for on-leash walking and the special Waggin' Trails Dog Park for off-leash fun.
- The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, 4510 N Fort Wilderness Tr, ☎ +1 407 824-2900, . These campsites are absolutely the cheapest way to stay at Walt Disney World, bar none—if you don't mind roughing it, that is. Bring your own tent and you can set up stakes for less than $50 a day; sites that can accommodate motorhomes are a bit more. Each site has a picnic table, grill, electricity, and city water; full hook-up sites add sewer and cable TV. Wireless Internet access is available for a fee. $44-$121. edit
- The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, 4510 N Fort Wilderness Tr, ☎ +1 407 824-2900, . The Wilderness Cabins make it easy and comfortable to "go camping" with the family. Each 500-square-foot cabin sleeps six people, with a double bed and two bunk beds in the bedroom, and a Murphy bed in the living room. The cabins also have full kitchens with dishwashers, air conditioning, and an outdoor deck. You'll also enjoy full maid service; they'll even fill and run the dishwasher for you while you're out. If you want the rustic atmosphere and activities of Fort Wilderness without the hassle of bringing your own shelter, the cabins certainly fill the bill. $270-$435. edit
Is this Florida, or Oregon?
Four upscale resorts are arrayed around the Seven Seas Lagoon, three of them on the monorail loop, providing easy and fun access to both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Each of the resorts also has water transportation to the Magic Kingdom.
The Contemporary and the Polynesian are the oldest resorts on the property, and though they've changed a bit over the years, age hasn't diminished their appeal. The Grand Floridian is WDW's flagship resort, with the utmost in style and service. The Wilderness Lodge sits back, away from the monorail but still a worthy companion to the other Deluxe resorts.
Each of these resorts provides the highest level of service and amenities available at Walt Disney World. You'll find dedicated concierge services, mini-bars and refrigerators, turn-down service, upscale restaurants and shopping, and everything else you'd expect from luxury hotels. Each hotel, especially the Grand Floridian, also has some high-end suites available, all the way up to "Presidential"-level.
- Disney's Contemporary Resort, 4600 N World Dr, ☎ +1 407 824-1000, . Architect Welton Becket hit a home run in the late sixties with the striking, iconic A-framed tower of the Contemporary Resort. Even today, the design looks modern and innovative, not dated. Add in the monorail, which runs right through the 10-story Grand Canyon Concourse, and staying at the Contemporary is unlike staying anywhere else. On the other hand, this is Disney's most hotel-like Deluxe Resort; there is no overarching theme, no sense of immersion into a different time and place. But the style and sophistication are unparalleled, and the view from the top is spectacular. $280-$2,900. edit
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, . This, the latest Disney Vacation Club Resort, opened in 2009. It's connected to the main Contemporary Resort tower by a covered but open-air fourth-floor walkway. The circular shape of the building provides a stark contrast with the main tower, but the two look more like siblings than competitors. Due to the circular tower, the rooms are wedge-shaped, which makes for some slightly different configurations than the other DVC resorts. Of particular note, the one-bedroom villas have two full baths, unlike the bath-and-a-half at the other DVC resorts; the extra shower means four people can get ready that much more quickly each morning. $385-$2,475. edit
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, 4401 Floridian Wy, ☎ +1 407 824-3000, . Undoubtedly the highest-end of the high-end Disney Resorts, with Victorian elegance that pays homage to the golden days of Palm Beach. Marble flooring and chamber music in the lobby, three world-class restaurants, intricate decor, and impeccable service are this resort's hallmarks. The basic rooms are very nice but may not seem quite worth the price; you're really paying for the amenities and services that surround the sleeping areas. The Grand Floridian Spa & Health Club is a short walk away, with Disney's Wedding Pavilion just a bit further. $400-$2,900. edit
- Plans are under way for the construction of DVC villas at the Grand Floridian, near the Spa and the Wedding Pavilion. They are scheduled to open in late 2013, and the construction has caused the Spa to be closed until around March 2013.
- Disney's Polynesian Resort, 1600 Seven Seas Dr, ☎ +1 407 824-2000 (fax: +1 407 824-3174), . A tropical paradise that celebrates the spirit and hospitality of the South Pacific. All of Disney's cast members are friendly and welcoming, but the Polynesian's cast members take it to a new level, reflecting the friendly spirit of the islands their resort represents. There's a reason that several current cast members have worked here since the day the resort opened in 1971. You'll receive leis at check-in and in many ways feel like you're staying on an island in the Pacific instead of at Walt Disney World. $360-$2,900. edit
- Disney's Wilderness Lodge, 901 Timberline Dr, ☎ +1 407 824-3200 (fax: +1 407 824-3232), . Appreciate the rustic charm of the grand lodges of the National Parks of the Old West. Although it's not on the monorail, the Wilderness Lodge makes up for it with all-encompassing theming, attention to detail, and an energetic spirit. Ask at check-in if your family can participate in the daily flag-raising ceremony, or join in the raucous fun at the Whispering Canyon Cafe. Christmas at the Wilderness Lodge is particularly fun, as a 60-foot Christmas tree and a gingerbread village fill the humongous lobby and the cast goes all out to decorate the entire lodge. Guests often come from other resorts just to see the Lodge's lobby, Christmastime or not. $240-$1,400. edit
- The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, . The villas offer all of the benefits of staying at the Wilderness Lodge, but with the comfortable home-like amenities of all the DVC resorts. The villas tend to be a bit far from the lobby, however, so you may find yourself having to walk quite a ways to get to the restaurants, bus stop, and docks. $230-$1,150. edit