Disney World Resort: It's not such a small world after all



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All for all in one place – that sums up the extent of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, writes Chelsea Daniels.

Welcome to a world where elephants can fly, pirates roam the seven seas and you can visit 11 countries in one day. It is a place where animals not only speak but sing, where you can fight the forces of darkness and the distance between the princess and the princess will leave your heart troubled.

With four theme parks, two water parks, 36 resort hotels and an entertainment and shopping complex, the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is almost the size of Hamilton. But is it worth the long drive to get from New Zealand?

The short answer, yes. Although you are forgiven for thinking that Disneyland in Anaheim, California would suffice as a substitute, the reality is that the Walt Disney World Resort really is worth the extra effort. Flightwise from Auckland you are only looking at about five hours more in the air of San Francisco and about two hours from Houston. In comparison, Disneyland California is like the Magic Kingdom – which is just a park on offer in Florida. In fact, until Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge open in Anaheim in May of this year, the Magic Kingdom is bigger by about 10ha.

Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. Photo / Steven Diaz, Disney
Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. Photo / Steven Diaz, Disney

What you will experience at Walt Disney World Resort is like nothing you have ever encountered and for some, never again. Instead of a couple of day trips from Los Angeles, it allows you to become totally immersed in Walt's wonderful world and that's what really makes it look like a dream.

Walt Disney World is a place where fantasy comes true. Every hidden detail is there to make you feel like you've left your life and to another, where the dinosaurs roam, fairies are real and where thugs end up last.

Everywhere you look looks like something out of the movies and entertainment, follows you wherever you go, even in the form of a cleaner who stops and paints a picture of Mickey Mouse on the floor with water.

Here are the highlights and must-sees of each of the parks.

MAGIC KINGDOM
This must be their first stop, where even the most salty people can not help but smile sweetly and where their childhood dreams come true.

It's where you can find Peter Pan facing the evil Captain Hook, the Seven Dwarfs going out to work on their Mine Train and a mermaid named Ariel combing her long red hair with a kitchen utensil. Boys and girls wait patiently in line to find their idols and their eyes widen when it is time to give the big hug. Even adults find it hard not to be shocked by Mickey Mouse himself; his jovial charm and his great personality immediately conquer you and make you feel like an old friend.

DISNEY ANIMAL KINGDOM THEME PARK
Be transported to countries you've never been to and places you never imagined existed. Visit Africa and sing along with Simba and his friends at the Lion King Festival. The show is world class and the Broadway artists make an effort to involve everyone, young and old. Then check out some more animals on Safari Kilimanjaro. These are not going to play and dance because they are real. Watch the rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes and elephants that circulate freely on this open and guided tour of an African savannah, home to 34 species living on 45 ha.

When you enter Pandora – the world of avatars, you will not believe your eyes. "This is real?" you will wonder as you wander, with your eyes open, contemplating the magnificent plant life and the rocky forms.

You'll wonder even more when you're piloting Avatar Flight of Passage, a breathtaking 3D adventure that will make you feel like you're riding a banshee on the mountain. It is an experience like no other, where you see, hear, feel and even smell like you have entered another land and taken on a new life from a hunter Na? Vi.

Pandora - the world of the avatar. Photo / Steven Diaz, Disney
Pandora – the world of the avatar. Photo / Steven Diaz, Disney

DISNEY'S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

One for big kids and big fans of Star Wars. Your heart will run into exciting attractions such as the Tower of Terror and the Rock & # 39; n & # 39; Twilight Zone Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. Walk through Toy Story Land, where you've been reduced to the size of Andy's toys. Benches are made of used popsicle sticks, Christmas lights larger than life are hung on top by chewed pencils and the walls are made of giant decks. Walk into a galaxy far away and be intercepted by patrolling assault troops. Even if you are not a devoted fan, you know you should not admit that your loyalty is with anyone other than the First Order.

Jump on board a Starspeeder 1000 in Star Tours – The Adventures Continue with the C-3P0 or meet face-to-face with First Order's villain Kylo Ren, or exchange hints on piloting with the legendary warrior Wookie Chewbacca. End the day with Star Wars: The Galactic Spectacular – a fireworks display featuring highlights from the Star Wars universe.

EPCOT
This was Walt Disney's vision of the future. It was known as the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – a place to showcase innovation and urban life.

However, Disney died before its dream of a fully functioning city could become a reality and the concept be shelved. What emerged from the idea, however, was the Epcot – a theme park that could still promote modern technology with the addition of a world exhibition of nations. You can visit 11 countries in a day, each as authentic as the last. Drink wine in France, visit Anna and Elsa from Frozen in Norway or celebrate Oktoberfest all year round in Germany.

Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. Photo / James and Carol Lee
Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. Photo / James and Carol Lee

Hangglide above breathtaking wonders of the world in Soarin – Around the World – where you will sail above the great pyramids of Egypt to look at the Eiffel Tower which shines at night.

TIPS

● In Magic Kingdom, wait until one of the street parades to capture this in a famous shot in front of Cinderella's Magic Castle. Everyone will be seated and will be quiet – and you can even put the princess in the background!

● If you do not have children, why not plan your day to stay until the park closes? The queues are shorter at night, and each park has incredible dining options to explore.

● See some products that you like but are not sure? Give it time. Many of the merchandising stores have different products, and some even have specialty shops attached. And if you forgot to pick it up, do not worry, you'll find it at Disney Springs – the resort's own mall.

● Prepare some "line activities" for the kids (or for yourself). There's even an app, the Play Disney Parks, to download those dreaded hopes. It is full of curiosities and some specific games of attraction. Or, just go with a good old-fashioned Eye Spy game.

● Instead of queuing for food, you can book through the My Disney Experience mobile application. Not only can you use it to navigate the parks, book Fast Passes and check the wait times of the attraction, you can book your food and then let the restaurant know that you are there so they can start preparing your order. There are no waiting lines, just find a table and wait for a notification to catch your meal.

FUN FACTS

● Every day, about 210 pairs of sunglasses are lost and found.

● thirsty? Get yourself a bottle of water and it will be one of about 13 million bottles sold per year. (Or save the planet and bring your own rechargeable bottle with you – water fountains are found throughout the park, or you can order tap water at any fast service restaurant / counter service)

● With almost 400 buses, the Walt Disney World fleet is about one-third the size of that of Auckland.

● With more than 70,000 employees, called cast members, Walt Disney World Resort is the largest single-state employer in the United States.

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