First Time Planning

Break it Down: Walt Disney World’s Four Theme Parks


Let’s Break Down Walt Disney World’s Four Theme Parks

When we are planning a trip to Walt Disney World, the experience of knowing the key attractions and activities in each park is a valuable piece of information. This article is a basic overview of the four separate theme parks that make up the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

  • The Magic Kingdom
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

“The East Coast Version of Disneyland”

Highlights: Cinderella’s Castle, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train.

Must Eat: Dole Whip & Churros

Best Table Service Restaurants: Cinderella’s Royal Table & Be Our Guest Restaurant

Parades: Festival of Fantasy @ 3pm, Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party (Multiple Times Daily)

Fireworks: Happily Ever After @ 9pm* (check the times guide for exact time as schedule’s change)

Closest Hotels: Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Wilderness Lodge and the Polynesian Village Resort.

Characters to Meet: Winnie the Pooh and friends, Ariel, Aladdin & Jasmine, Cinderella & Elena, Fab 5, Tinkerbell, Gaston, Peter Pan, Rapunzel & Tiana, Dapper Dans

What’s gone? Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes and SpectroMagic


“Science Fair Meets the World’s Fair”

Highlights: Spaceship Earth (aka the Golf Ball), Test Track, Seas with Nemo, World Showcase, Frozen Ever After, and Soarin’.

Must Eat: Anything from the France Pavilion Bakery

Best Table Service Restaurants: Coral Reef, Le Ceiller Steak House and Biergarten Buffet

Parades: None

Fireworks: Illuminations @ 9pm

Closest Hotels: Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Swan and Dolphin Hotels and the Boardwalk.

Characters to Meet: Fab 5, Princesses around World Showcase (Jasmine, Belle, Snow White, Mulan)

What’s closed? Maelstrom, Off Kilter and Sum of All Thrills

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

“The Movies in Real Life”

Highlights: Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Star Tours, Toy Story Midway Mania and coming in 2019/2020…Star Wars Land & Toy Story Land!

Must Eat: Milkshakes at the Sci-Fi Dine-In

Parades: March of the First Order

Fireworks: Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular & Fantasmic

Best Table Service Restaurants: 50’s Prime Time Cafe & Sci-Fi Dine-In

Closest Hotels: Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Swan and Dolphin Hotels and the Boardwalk.

Characters to Meet: BB-8, Olaf, Fab 5, Buzz & Woody, Disney Junior, Chewbacca

What’s gone? American Idol Experience, Block Party Bash, Backlot Tour, Mulch Sweat and Shears, The Hat and an estimated half the park.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

“Lions, Tigers and Dinosaurs…and Avatar”

Highlights: Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, Pandora: The World of Avatar

Must Eat: Samosas at Mr Kamal’s Vegetarian Cart

Best Table Service Restaurants: Tiffins, Tusker House and Yak & Yeti

Closest Hotels: Animal Kingdom Lodge and All Star Resorts (Sports, Music and Movies)

Characters to Meet: Fab 5, Dug and Russell, Tarzan, King Louie and Baloo, Rafiki

What’s gone? Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade

Quick Notes

Harry Potter is a Universal Orlando, not at Disney World

Disney World is 40 square miles…or the size of San Francisco or double the size of Manhattan

Walt Disney World Resort is home to Disney Springs shopping district, Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach Water Parks, 28 Hotel Resorts and four theme parks.

Anything else we missed? Share it on Social Media @StepsToMagic

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