The Disney World Guide for Your Family's First Visit

They’ve been begging. You’ve been saving. Now, the time is right, and you’re finally ready to hit the magical kingdom of Mouse: Disney World.

Visiting Walt Disney World Resorts gives your kids four theme parks and two water worlds to explore, making it truly a magical – and colossal – kingdom!

Where to begin? Right here.

Getting There

Arrival at Orlando International Airport puts you less than 20 miles from Disney Resorts, which is accessible by shuttle, public bus, taxi, or rental car. From the terminal, climb aboard a 60-second light rail train to baggage claim before finding your preferred path to Disney World. Servicing dozens of American and international airlines, the airport puts Orlando’s resorts, cruise ships, and theme parks on the world’s doorstep.

First Thing’s First

Making your Disney vacation all-inclusive doesn’t come cheap, but it can make the whole visit a lot simpler. Customizable family packages include airport transfers, park passes, on-site resort accommodations, daily meals, extended park hours, and themed experiences in pools and restaurants.

Not ready to commit to the price tag? Make your vacation special by focusing on the parks your kids will like the most

Enter the Magic Kingdom

Think Disney and you’re thinking of the Magic Kingdom. It’s that fairy tale Cinderella castle surrounded by walking, talking, living characters and musical parades. The park consists of six whimsical lands: Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Main St, USA. Each land consists of singing street performers, encounters with storybook heroes, and of course – rides!

Home to Space Mountain, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Thunder Mountain Railroad, there are rides for all the thrill-seeking members of your family. The Disney Resorts website makes it very easy to filter experiences by your kids’ ages and interests, so take a look to do some pre-planning. Daily special events, shows, and tours change frequently and make the experience fresh for even seasoned visitors.

Expect a lot of themed restaurants, based on places from the classic movies: Gaston’s Pub, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Cheshire Cafe, etc. Counter services and buffet style restaurants are both plentiful, but character-experiences are also common.

Exploring the Golf Ball at Epcot Center

Was it that iconic, diamond-faced orb you were dreaming about before your arrival? That’s Epcot Center, Disney’s home to international and technological attractions. Blast off to the moon, experiment in a lab, and invent tomorrow in Future World. Explore 11 distinct cultures and cuisines: Mexico, United States, Norway, Italy, France, Morocco, Canada, Japan, China, and the United Kingdom, in the World Showcase.

Young cultural intelligentsia will enjoy this park because of its emphasis on the arts and technology. Disney characters are still around, but in their own cultural contexts: Belle in France, Mary Poppins in England, Snow White in Germany. And believe it or not, you can meet up with Donald Duck in Mexico!

As you might imagine, this is the park for international cuisine. Try French cheese, Italian gelato, Japanese tea, and more. Of course, there are simple options for picky eaters, too.

Reaching for the Stars at Hollywood Studios

Cross Disney characters with movie stars and you’ll get Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a park made up of movie biz attractions that range from city landmarks to studio backlot areas: Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Sunset Boulevard, Streets of America, Commissary Lane, Pixar Place, Mickey Avenue, and Animation Courtyard.

Star-struck teens and tweens will love seeing the movie magic at a re-created set from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” going behind the scenes at a stunt show, learning mind tricks at the Jedi Academy, and screaming all the way down the infamous Tower of Terror.

Dining options range from cafeteria-style commissary grub and classic diner lunches to high-end meals at re-created landmarks like the Brown Derby, and character-driven dinner theaters.

Going Wild at the Animal Kingdom

Look no further for Simba, Bambi, and the rest of your talking animal friends. Animal Kingdom is the Disney version of a zoo: real creatures, cartoon characters, conservation efforts, and dinosaur bones. Yep, pretty much anything that a budding biologist or veterinarian could hope for!

Different zones in this park include Discovery Island, Africa, Oasis, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, and DinoLand, USA. There are probably more all-ages attractions and exhibits here than at other parks. Check out the petting zoo and play areas, too.

Themed dining with American, Asian, and African food is mostly what you’ll find here, with Rainforest Cafe being one of the most popular options.

Finish with a Splash

Head to one of Disney’s two water park destinations to cool off and chill out when that Floridian humidity hits.

Stand up on your first surfboard at Typhoon Lagoon’s surf lessons, slide down kiddie creeks and gargantuan waterfalls, and snorkel through a coral reef. This park is ideal for kids who want to get wet! Quick-service snack shacks throughout the park are great for a bite or an ice cream fix.

As the story goes, a once-great Florida ski resort melted into Blizzard Beach, where kids can zip down massive slides and climb back to the top via a real chair lift. Ice-themed water rides are sure to keep you cool, even if it’s only an illusion. Again, food here is limited to grab-and-go options.

Are you planning a vacation to Disney World? Which attractions are on the top of your list?

Tags : travel   disney world   orlando   florida   

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