The Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World

Launch Map
Walt Disney World Resort is nothing short of massive. Its 35,000 acres house four theme parks, 30-some hotels, two water parks, and six golf courses. The point being: A little preparation and guidance go a long way toward making a visit to the Mouse successful. Use this map to find each park's most popular rides, quick cafes, and top shows, plus search for the best places to stay—at any budget. Mouse ears optional, but highly recommended.
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    ••• Be Our Guest Restaurant at the Beast's Castle in Disney World. © The Walt Disney Company
    MAGIC KINGDOM—Dine in a remarkable replica of the Beast's Castle in Disney's new Fantasyland area. By day, the "Beauty and the Beast"-themed restaurant serves up quick croque monsieurs; by night, the menu shifts to elegant table service—and is the only Magic Kingdom venue to serve beer and wine.
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    ••• Dine with Princesses at Cinderella's Royal Table. © The Walt Disney Company
    MAGIC KINGDOM—Princess fans will flip for this fairy tale dining experience at Cinderella's castle. The regal dining hall and its enchanting details provide a magical backdrop for little princesses to mingle with their favorite Disney royalty.
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    ••• Disney Parks Blog
    MAGIC KINGDOM—Massive waffle sandwiches are the highlight at this quick-service spot just behind Cinderella's Castle. Choose from three flavors: ham, prosciutto, and Swiss cheese; Nutella and fresh fruit; and sweet and spicy chicken.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    MAGIC KINGDOM—The decidedly American fare at this restaurant will please even the most finicky palates. Choose from hearty seafood dishes (lobster rolls, fried shrimp platters) and plenty of land-lubber fare (chicken nuggets, salads).
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    ••• Disney's Haunted Mansion. © The Walt Disneyu Company/Kent Phillips
    MAGIC KINGDOM—Casual and ardent Disney fans alike rank this iconic ride among their favorites. Fear not—it's more silly than scary, with a disorienting "stretching room," hitchhiking ghosts, and old-school illusions that still delight.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    MAGIC KINGDOM—A landmark achievement in theme park storytelling when it debuted in 1967, Pirates remains one of Disney's most beloved attractions. First-timers and park veterans alike adore its pitch-perfect presentation—now updated to include Captain Jack Sparrow.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    MAGIC KINGDOM—Let the fairy godmothers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique turn your little girl into a Disney princess. The makeover process takes about an hour, and includes a full makeover package, complete with dress, shoes and accessories.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    MAGIC KINGDOM—Your mission: Shoot lasers off to defeat the evil emperor Zerg in this slow-moving shooting gallery. Follow these pro tips to get closer to the game's ultimate score—999,999 points. Fast Pass recommended.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    MAGIC KINGDOM—One of Disney World's newest attractions, this "Snow White"-themed coaster is quick enough to satisfy ride warriors, but accessible enough for thrill-averse visitors. Fast pass recommended. Height requirement: 38 inches.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    MAGIC KINGDOM—Yes, Dumbo is similar to basic spinning rides at carnivals everywhere. But there is something affirming and timeless about boarding the famous flying elephant, arguably the park's most recognizable ride.
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    ••• The Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios. © The Walt Disney Company
    HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS—The food (hijiki-crusted ahi tuna, spice-rubbed black grouper) costars with old-Hollywood glamour at this re-imagining of LA's Brown Derby restaurant. Save room for the signature dessert: grapefruit cake with grapefruit cream cheese icing.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS—Set off with C-3PO on a simulated journey into the "Star Wars" universe. A computer generates more than 50-plus ride sequences—including a new one, based on the 2015 movie release—so repeat visits are every bit as fun as the first. Height requirement: 40 inches.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS—Randomly generated drop sequences make one of Disney's scariest thrill rides a perennial favorite. Fast Pass recommended. Height requirement: 40 inches.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—Wonderful salads, baguette sandwiches, and a selection of wines and champagnes make this bakery a relaxing lunch stop—just don't skip dessert. The delicate Napoleons are among the resort's best sweet treats.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—Traditional steakhouse fare gets a Canadian makeover (think: maple barbecue sauce with filet mignon, thick and hearty cheese soup) at this hushed, low-lit restaurant in Epcot's Canada pavilion. Reservations recommended.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—Experience weightlessness in this simulated mission to Mars. The attraction replicates space travel with an astonishing degree of reality (read: not for those prone to motion sickness). Height requirement: 44 inches.
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    ••• Dessert at Monsieur Paul. Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—Elegantly plated snapper, beef tenderloin, and (naturally) ratatouille make this French bistro one of Epcot's most memorable (and hard to get into) dining destinations. Reservations recommended.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—This bustling food court is loaded with adventurous and fresh choices—tofu and veggie noodle bowls, sushi, vegetable flatbreads—that are a flavorful departure from typical fast food grub.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—Chateau replicas, carefully manicured gardens, and waterfalls make up Disney's rendition of Canada. Save room for steak and hearty cheese soup at the renowned steakhouse, Le Cellier.
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    EPCOT—Treat yourself to fish and chips at Rose & Crown, a charming Tudor pub; sing along to live renditions of "Penny Lane" or "Nowhere Man" by resident band, the British Revolution; or tap your feet along with Quickstep, an acoustic group featuring fiddle, flute, and highland bagpipes.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—A one-tenth scale Eiffel Tower, built based on Gustav Eiffel's original blueprints, towers over the France Pavilion's lovely Belle Epoque-styled buildings. Sample some of the resort's top pastries at Les Halles Boulangerie, or shop for French accessories and makeup in the small boutiques.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—Morocco, arguably Epcot's most beautiful architectural showcase, is divided into two sections: the Ville Nouvelle (new city) and the Medina (old city). Pause to admire the swirling blue patches of Bab Boujouloud Gate, a replica of a gateway in Fez, and the ornate courtyard fountain—it's lined with thousands of multicolored tiles.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—This stately colonial structure—dubbed the "People's Mansion"—is based off of the Georgian-style architecture that dominated America in its early days. Step inside the acoustically pure rotunda to hear the Voices of Liberty perform, before settling in for the namesake attraction—a dramatic retelling of American history, via 35 animatronics.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—Architectural elements of Venice—the Doge's Palace, a scaled down version of the Campanile of St. Mark's Square—stand out at this colorful pavilion. Sip prosecco atop one of the lovely Venetian bridges, or chow down on wood oven-fired pizza at Via Napoli, the park's first authentic pizzeria.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    EPCOT—A statue of St. George and the Dragon anchors this fairy tale-like pavilion, complete with a biergarten modeled off of 16th-century Rothenberg; a castle-like backdrop inspired by the Eltz Castle; and a facade based on Frankfurt's 400-year-old town square.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    ANIMAL KINGDOM—Sing along to Lion King favorites ("Hakuna Matata," "The Circle of Life") during this 30-minute, Broadway-style show. Pro tip: The air conditioned theater offers welcome respite on hot days.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    ANIMAL KINGDOM—Relive Nemo's heartwarming journey home in this high-energy musical production. The lavish show hits all the right notes, with bravura performances, sophisticated puppetry, and catchy tunes.
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    ••• Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney Company
    ANIMAL KINGDOM—Traverse rutted dirt trails, shallow waterways and heavy vegetation on this spectacularly recreated safari. Zebras, rhinos, lions, and giraffes all call the environments home—though keep in mind sightings are not guaranteed. Fast Pass recommended.
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    ••• Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom. © The Walt Disney Company
    ANIMAL KINGDOM—Face the Yeti on this Himalayan-themed combination dark ride and roller coaster. Although it tops out at 50 mph, the thrill ride offers a worth-the-wait mix of compelling story-telling, intense G-forces and backwards motion. Fast Pass recommended. Height requirement: 44 inches.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    Adventurous eaters feast on Swahili curry shrimp and seared ostrich filet at this Animal Kingdom Lodge eatery, one of the resort's most upscale restaurants.
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    ••• 'Ohana restaurant at Disney's Polynesia Resort. © The Walt Disney Company
    Endless skewers of sirloin steak, pork loin, chicken, and shrimp are served family-style at this Hawaiian barbecue joint, located in the Polynesian Resort. Reservations recommended.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    This retro soda shop inside Disney's Beach Club dishes up diner staples—grilled cheese, onion rings, hot dogs—but the main attraction is dessert. Sip on malted milkshakes and flavored sodas, or put your sweet tooth to the test with the Kitchen Sink: eight scoops of ice cream covered in every single topping the parlor has.
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    ••• Crab cakes from the Flying Fish Cafe on Disney's Boardwalk. © The Walt Disney Company/
    Sample local Florida seafood and fresh produce (red snapper, heirloom radishes), at this sit-down restaurant on Disney's Boardwalk. Reservations recommended.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    Brick oven-baked flatbreads, oak-fired beef filets, and sweeping views of the resort make this California-focused restaurant one of the park's highlights. Reservations recommended.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    The food is remarkable, the décor is swanky (abetted by a harpist for an extra-special touch), and the service is impeccable at Disney's most formal restaurant. Dishes on the constantly changing menu tend toward the exotic (octopus a la plancha with black garlic aioli, Colorado bison with caraway seed vinaigrette). Dinner jackets required for men, cocktail attire for women. Reservations recommended.
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    Join Minnie, Donald, Goofy and the main mouse himself for a magical breakfast or dinner at Chef Mickeys. The restaurant's location in the Contemporary Resort makes it easy for a pre- or post-Magic Kingdom meal. Reservations recommended.
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    ••• Entertainment outside Disney's Boardwalk Resort. © The Walt Disney Company
    Take advantage of the entertainment, pools, and calming beaches at Disney's Beach and Yacht Club Resort. The resorts are conveniently located near Disney's Boardwalk, within walking distance to bars, restaurants, and both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
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    ••• The new villas at Disney's Polynesian Resort. Walt Disney Company
    One of the original three Disney World hotels, the Polynesian Resort holds a charm for both first-time visitors and nostalgic return guests. Enjoy lush tropical landscaping, white sandy beaches, and easy monorail connections to Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
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    ••• The Walt Disney Company
    This colorful budget property is inspired by Disney and Pixar favorites, with rooms themed around "Finding Nemo," "The Little Mermaid," and "Cars." Bonus: The hotel claims the largest pool of any Disney World resort.
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    ••• Pirate-themed rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort. © The Walt Disney Company
    A colorful Caribbean theme ties together this sprawling, moderately-priced resort. Enjoy an on-site food court, several swimming pools, sandy beaches, and a limited number of pirate- and Finding Nemo-themed rooms
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    ••• Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. Jason Pratt/Flickr/CC
    This equestrian-themed resort recalls upstate New York circa the 1800s—think Victorian-themed guestrooms, rolling green golf courses, and peaceful ferryboat connection to Disney Springs.

The Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World