Walt Disney World Basics

All About the Theme Parks, Hotels, Restaurants, Shopping, Nightlife and More

Visitors consistantly marvel at the incredible size of the Walt Disney World Resort. The property is approximately 40 square miles -- the land features Disney's world-class entertainment and recreation center which incorporates four theme parks, two water adventure parks, 34 resort hotels, 81 holes of golf on five courses, Disney's Wedding Pavilion, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney) entertainment-shopping-dining complex.

Located just 20 miles southwest of Orlando, Walt Disney in Lake Buena Vista, FL, the majority of Disney property is located within Orange County Florida, with a portion in Osceola County.

Warm temperatures and sunny skies have made the Walt Disney Theme Parks and the Orlando area one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

The opening of Disney in October of 1971 and in the years since has stimulated the Orlando economy creating over 60,000 jobs just within the Walt Disney World Resorts sparking the demand for other tourist related venues including restaurants, hotels and other minor attractions.

There are perks for non-tourists, too -- check for Florida resident specials and annual passes for Florida residents at Walt Disney World.

Disney World Theme Parks

There are four main theme parks that comprise Disney World:

    Disney World Hotels

    Over the years, Walt Disney Resorts has grown to include a large selection of hotels that have a price to fit most budgets. To compete with the barrage of modestly priced hotel rooms that can be found on International Drive and in Kissimmee, Disney has created a whole selection of value and moderate resorts.

    Following Disney's style, the resorts are uniquely constructed and consist of themed pools and play areas. As the prices increase, so do the amenities -- ranging from modest food courts to world class restaurants. Still available are the deluxe resorts such as the classic Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and the ever-popular Contemporary Resort.

    Check out more hotel options to fit every budget and preference.

    Parades and Light Shows

    Parades are ubiquitous with the wholesome family fun Disney World is known for. 

    More Family Fun

    Best Bets for Dining

    SHOPPING, SHOWS & NIGHTLIFE

    • Downtown Disney consists of Pleasure Island, Disney's West Side and Disney's Market Place.
    • Once Upon A Toy loaded with toy and games with Disney Themes.
    • La Nouba Disney West Side's permanent home for this Cirque du Soleil production.

    WHAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT WALT DISNEY WORLD

    Walt Disney World Marathon (January) -- This annual 26.2-mile adventure races through all four Disney theme parks -- Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom. A half marathon, two-day health expo and 5K round out the weekend's agenda.

    Romance at Walt Disney (February) -- Ten places to go and things to do at the Walt Disney World Resort with someone special.

    Atlanta Braves Spring Training (February-March) -- The Atlanta Braves return to Disney's Wide World of Sports complex for spring training.

    Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (April-June) -- Epcot is blooming with more than 30 million colorful blossoms, interactive garden activities for kids and workshops with national gardening experts during this annual spring festival at Epcot.

    July 4th Celebrations (July) -- Spectacular displays throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.

    Night of Joy (September) -- Top contemporary Christian music performers headline this annual celebration throughout Disney's Magic Kingdom. The long-running series has played to a combined audience in excess of 650,000.

    Walt Disney World Golf Classic (October) -- Annual PGA tournament held at Disney's Magnolia and Palm golf courses features top players.

    Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (October-November) -- A family-friendly fright-fest in the Magic Kingdom featuring a children’s parade, trick-or-treating throughout the park, face painting and more.

    Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (October-November) - Savor fine wines and delectable cuisine during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. This month-long festival features live entertainment, guest chefs, culinary demonstrations, seminars and winemaker dinners.

    ABC Super Soap Weekend (November) -- Favorite soap stars from "All my Children," "One Life to Live," "Port Charles" and "General Hospital" meet with fans during this popular weekend event at Disney-MGM Studios.

    Festival of the Masters (November) -- More than 150 award-winning artists from across the country showcase their wares throughout Downtown Disney. The free three-day festival features chalk artists, House of Blues folk artists, a jazz festival, culinary delights and family activities.

    Holiday Splendor (Thanksgiving-New Year's) -- Walt Disney World Resort is all aglitter during the holiday season with dazzling lights, spirited song and even snow flurries. Here's what's in store: Spectacle of Lights, a five-million twinkling light display at Disney-MGM Studios; Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom; Candlelight Processional at Epcot; plus caroling, tree lighting ceremonies and visits by Santa.