Disney theme parks are the ultimate destinations for any kid. And these are places that bring out the kids in you too. The ‘imagineers’ of Disney are the ultimate dreamweavers and they know how to make ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyment’ the only dominating words on your visits to any Disney theme park. And till date there are six such locations – Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disney, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disney.
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However, the most visited one of all these locations is Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida and it has four iconic theme parks and two water parks within it. The theme parks are Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom.
1. Magic Kingdom
The most well known structure associated with Disney entertainment is the Cinderella’s Castle and it is also the icon of the first theme park opened at Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom opened its gates to the public in 1971 and since then it has been bringing to life all the imaginations that a kid can have. It attracted 17 million visitors in 2010 and was the undisputed leader in theme park attendance. The theme park opens out like a wheel on a hub in front of the Cinderella’s Castle and the pathways lead the visitors to the 6 dream locations, Main Street, USA; Adventureland; Frontierland; Liberty Square; Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
Entrance to the Park is through the Main Street which is lined with shops and leads to the Cinderella’s Castle. The interesting thing about this street is that it looks longer than it actually is and the whole thing is an illusion created to give the feel of a long road leading to a towering castle. Adventureland exposes one to the mystery of the distant lands of Asia, Africa, South America, South Pacific and Middle East. It is here that the Pirates of Caribbean originated before being turned into a movie series. The most attractive ride here is the Jungle Cruise. Frontierland takes one to the American Wild West and here the thrills are the Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Country Bear Jamboree. Liberty Square has the Haunted Mansion and the Hall of Presidents and is dedicated to the American War of independence.
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Then there is the Fantasyland, the land of everyone’s dream. Here you will find everyone from Peter Pan and Snow White to Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh and of course the most famous resident, Mickey and his friends. Every one of them has their own rides and adventures. Walt Disney’s dream of the world of the future has been given shape in Tomorrowland where one will find the Space Mountain, Astro Orbiter and rides with Buzz Lightyear and Stich.
In the Disney Theme Parks timeline, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow or EPCOT is next to the Magic kingdom. It was built to showcase the International community and also the technological advancement. Currently the main attractions of the park are categorized into 2 parts, the Future World and World Showcase. Future World attractions are Spaceship Earth, which includes Innovations, Mission Space, Test Track, Imaginations and The Land. The Seas with Nemo and Friends is one of the largest aquariums in the world and it has two attractions, an interactive show called Turtle Talk with Crush and The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
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Probably the most attractive show at EPCOT is the IllumiNations show at the World Showcase. It is a laser and fireworks show that tells the story from the creation of the Earth to celebrating the world community. This part of the part also has the areas dedicated to Mexico, China, Norway, France, Germany, Japan, Morocco, United Kingdom and Canada. There are various shows and rides that take people through the history and culture of these places.
3. Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney movies have mesmerized the world since the days of Steamboat Willie and after tie up with Pixar, it has revolutionized. At the Hollywood Studios, Disney shares this experience of movie making. One enters the park through the Hollywood Boulevard, similar to the Main Street in Magic Kingdom which houses the Great Movie Ride apart from the shops. The Echo Lake is an oval shaped lagoon and it has various attractions based on the Star Wars movies theme. On the Streets of America, designed after the streets of San Francisco and New York one can get to see and get the experience of actual movie sets and some great stunt shows.
A number of attractions greet the visitors at the Animation Courtyard. It is here that the visitors get an insight at the real time movie production side of Disney. There are various exhibitions that portray the development of the Disney cult and also two live shows, the Playhouse Disney Live on Stage and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Pixar Place has a 3D attraction based on Toy Story series while Sunset Boulevard has most of the popular attractions and rides.
4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is the last addition to the theme parks in Walt Disney World and the largest theme park in the world covering a huge 500 acres. It is a theme park dedicated only to the animals and the centerpiece of the park is the Tree of Life, a 14-storey sculpted construction resembling a tree. One enters the park through Oasis which leads one further into the deeper parts of the park. Here one can see the spoonbills and giant anteaters.
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One then moves on to the Discovery Island the central point of the park. Apart from some animal friends the Island hosts a 4D show, It’s Tough to be a Bug where Flik and Hopper actually jumps out of the screen. Minnie and Mickey have their own camp at Camp Minnie-Mickey and here one gets to see live show based on The Lion King.
Africa and Asia showcases the animal life from these two continents rich in flora and fauna. While in Africa one gets to have the Kilimanjaro Safari, in Asia one goes on the Maharaja Jungle Trek. Africa also hosts Rafiki’s Planet Watch, a section that emphasizes on conservation. DinoLand USA is a section dedicated to the dinosaurs and features the Dino Institute where one gets to ride a thrill ride after getting enlightened on various aspects of dinosaurs.