Helen Ingham of Flight Centre Toombul worked at Disney World in a previous life! Well - previous career anyway. We wanted to bring you some insider tips about Disney World so who better to ask than an ex staffer!
In July last year I set out on what was to be the chance of a lifetime, six months living in Orlando, Florida working at the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World! During my time working for ‘the mouse' I learnt some tricks and tips for making the most out of your Walt Disney World holiday.
Disney World vs Disneyland
Before setting out on an adventure with Mickey it is best to do a little research into the ‘world' of Walt Disney. When you mention Disney World many people immediately think of Disneyland. The two are not the same. To clear things up, Disneyland is in Anaheim, California on the west coast of the U.S.A. and it is the original and first Disney theme park covering 400 acres. On the other hand, Walt Disney World is reached by traveling to Orlando, Florida on the east coast of America, and it encompasses 28,000 acres of land and is more than just an amusement park.
Walt Disney World
So what is Walt Disney World? It has four theme parks, two water parks, more than twenty resorts, golf courses, ESPN Wide World of Sports, an old-style boardwalk, Cirque du Soleil ‘La Nouba', and Downtown Disney with shops, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas.
I know it's a lot to take in. So where should you start?
There are four categories of resort; deluxe, moderate, value, and campground. Each has its own theme. After deciding which resort will fit best with your family, it's time to look at the parks. The four theme parks at Walt Disney World are; Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
Magic Kingdom is what many people think of as ‘Disney'; the park consists of six whimsical ‘lands' all surrounding Cinderella's castle. The six lands each have their own theme, all with rides, shows, and restaurants. Begin your day with breakfast with the princesses in Cinderella's Castle, afterwards your daughter can become a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and your son a pirate at the Pirate's League (reservations are a must at all three experiences). Must do things at Magic Kingdom are: It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the three ‘mountains' – Space, Thunder, and Splash. Don't forget to watch the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade, and the nightly fireworks that come out from behind and around Cinderella's castle complete with a soundtrack of classic Disney tunes and narrated by Jiminy Cricket.
EPCOT is twice the size of Magic Kingdom, and is divided into Future World and World Showcase. Future World is full of sensational attractions that test technological innovation and allow ideas to become a reality. Make sure you visit Spaceship Earth, go Soarin' over California, take a ride on Test Track, and go and visit the local Aussie Nemo, at the Seas with Nemo and Friends.
Surrounding the lagoon in the middle of EPCOT is the World Showcase; a collection of eleven pavilions each representing a different country; each pavilion includes restaurants, shops, and attractions and is staffed entirely by people from that particular country. Each pavilion is as unique as the country it represents, and is a great way to introduce the kids to the diversity of our world while parents can enjoy some great food, a few drinks and some great retail therapy (ladies make sure you visit France and pick up some Christian Dior fragrance and Guerlain make-up). Round out your day in the park at one of the world-class restaurants (make sure you make reservations in advance) and watch EPCOT's fireworks show, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.
Hollywood Studios offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Hollywood, with thrilling attractions, edge-of-your-seat stunt shows, and world-class stage shows. Visit this park to take a walk through Walt's life, learn to draw a Disney animation, and see the amazing show Fantasmic! which is a night-time spectacular with lights, dancing fountains, and special effects. A must do for your little princess is Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage, and for all of you thrill seekers take a ride on the Rock ‘n' Roller Coaster (staring Aerosmith) and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror!
The newest of the theme parks, Animal Kingdom is part theme park and part safari adventure with a dedication to nature and conservation. Must do's at Animal Kingdom are to join the Festival of the Lion King, a high-energy tribal celebration, scream your way to the top of Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, cool off at the Kali River Rapids, get up close to the animals on Kilimanjaro Safari's, and finally don't forget to take the train out to Rafiki's Planet Watch to learn what you can do for our planet.
• To avoid the crowds and the heat I suggest you visit during September – October.
• If you want to fit in as much Disney as possible, 8 days at the resort with a 6 day pass to the parks is ideal. If you don't think you can handle that much Disney you can try 5 days with a 4 day pass.
If you are visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays, there are plenty of extra events to experience, but that's a whole other blog!
Looking for more information about a vacation to Disney World? Contact Helen Ingham, an International Travel Consultant with Flight Centre based in Toombul, Queensland who can be reached at 1300 168 850.