In the mid-1960s, Walt Disney’s dream was to build a family resort destination like no other. The dream became a reality when Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971 featuring Magic Kingdom as the centerpiece. Today, Walt Disney World Resort and its Cast Members deliver one-of-a-kind experiences to millions of guests who come from around the world to enjoy visiting at the resort.
Spanning 40 square miles, Walt Disney World Resort is a world-class entertainment and recreation center featuring:
- Four theme parks
- Two water parks
- Twenty-five resort hotels, including seven Disney Vacation Club properties
- Five golf courses
- ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
- Downtown Disney
Just as Walt Disney once said, “Disneyland will never be completed,” Walt Disney World Resort “will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” New projects are always in development and on the horizon, including:
- Downtown Disney – Work is underway at Downtown Disney for Disney Springs. The multi-year transformation represents the largest expansion in Downtown Disney’s history. When complete in 2016, Disney Springs will double the number of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences available and feature an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands.
- Fantasyland – The largest expansion project in Magic Kingdom history began opening in 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort, featuring attractions and experiences in an area that doubles the size of Fantasyland. New elements include: Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern, Ariel’s Grotto, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Great Goofini and Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station. In 2013, Princess Fairytale Hall is expected to open, where Rapunzel, Cinderella and other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Aurora, will greet guests in an elegant royal court. And a 2014 opening is now scheduled for The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, taking guests on a musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.”
- Golden Oak at Walt Disney World Resort – Anchored by the prestigious Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the 900-acre luxury resort residential community of Golden Oak, is a one-of-a-kind residential community specially designed for family resort living, featuring whole ownership, single-family custom homes. The development, along the northeast border of the property, will include a luxury hotel, 18-hole championship golf course, single- and multi-family vacation homes and fractional ownership vacation homes.
- AVATAR - Walt Disney Imagineers are currently in the design stage for AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life creating themed lands that will give guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy.
Disney Parks offer new immersive experiences and updates to several guest favorites. Here’s what’s new:
- Splitsville - Located in Downtown Disney, Splitsville offers an upscale bowling and dining experience that’s perfect for families and guests of all ages. Spanning 50,000 square feet and two floors, Splitsville has 30 lanes and an impressive menu featuring fresh sushi rolls, gourmet burgers, hand-tossed pizzas and salads.
- Test Track Presented by Chevrolet - (Epcot) Puts guests in the driver’s seat for a thrilling experience and immersion into the world of auto design and performance. As part of an all-new interactive queue, guests can create their own virtual concept vehicles prior to buckling into their 6-person “SimCar” ride vehicle and putting their design through its paces on the exhilarating hills, switchbacks and straight-aways of the Test Track circuit.
- “Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection” (Epcot) – Guests can journey through 400 years of African-American achievement and contribution at this recently opened exhibit at the American Adventure pavilion. Exhibits draw from an extensive collection of rare art, artifacts, documents and books amassed by philanthropists Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, who share a passion for African-American history.
- Disney Phineas & Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure (Epcot) - Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure is based on the wily secret-agent alter-ego of Perry the Platypus – faithful pet to the title characters from Disney’ Channel’s animated series “Phineas & Ferb.” Transforming into secret agents, Epcot guests will use a “high-tech secret agent device” to scour World Showcase for clues, evil “Inators” and – with a little bit of luck – help Agent P defeat his nemesis Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
- The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow – The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow at Disney’s Hollywood Studios gives Walt Disney World Resort guests a chance to become immersed in the world of the four “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. Aspiring pirates experience the story of Jack Sparrow like never before to discover if they have what it takes to join Captain Jack’s crew.
- Disney Junior – Live on Stage! - (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) Guests get a real summer treat as Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First have been added to the onstage fun – joining the latest, most popular characters and stories from the Disney Junior line-up on television. Sofia the First as a series premiered earlier this year on Disney Channel and Disney Junior.
- Wilderness Explorers (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) – Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests are invited to become Wilderness Explorers and experience the park in engaging and challenging ways aimed at deepening their understanding of animals and the natural world we live in. Inspired by Russell, the wilderness explorer in the Disney-Pixar film “Up,” park guests can earn approximately 30 badges as they accomplish activities ranging from habitats and animal nutrition at Conservation Station to fossils and signaling in DinoLand U.S.A.
- New interactive queues (Magic Kingdom) – The all-new, innovative queue area at the reopened “Dumbo” completely redefines what it means to prepare for a Disney attraction as a “circus ticket” pager holds a guest’s place in line and notifies them when it’s their turn to fly with Dumbo. Our youngest guests can also play in the fully-immersive, transformed queue at the “Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh.” The entry to this classic Fantasyland attraction entertains youngsters with drum playing and gopher surprises in Rabbit’s Garden, tiny playhouses to climb through and amazing special effects at Pooh’s Hunny Hives. Guests who dare to enter “The Haunted Mansion” will find frightful fun in a new courtyard queue that brings them into an expanded, interactive graveyard. The area features a ghoulish organ, a wall of unusual musical instruments guests can “orchestrate,” a chance to complete a rhyme with the Decomposing Composer and photo opportunities with favorite spirits from the beloved attraction.
- A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas (Magic Kingdom) - “A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas” is a new interactive adventure inviting Magic Kingdom guests to set a course for swashbuckling fun with Captain Jack Sparrow. At the Enlistment Quarters near the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, adventurers sign on to join Captain Jack’s crew, choose one of five pirate “raids” (with accompanying treasure map) and set out on their journey to find the Treasures of the Seven Seas hidden around Adventureland in Magic Kingdom.
- Senses, A Disney Spa - Joining its sister spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, the new Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs is inspired by the healing properties of natural springs that have drawn people for centuries to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. A completely redesigned space, Senses, A Disney Spa At Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, features 10 treatment rooms offering an array of services including water therapy, massage and facials.
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – A new resort hotel inspired by Disney animation features 1,120 family suites themed after “The Lion King,” “Cars” and “Finding Nemo,” and 864 themed rooms in “The Little Mermaid” wings. Animation themes carry throughout building exteriors and room interiors and feature larger-than-life icons from the animated films in courtyard areas. Crowned by a 35-foot-tall model of King Triton, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is located next to Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
New Niche Rooms Add Magic at Disney Resorts
Over the next year, new Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms will enable guests to sleep like visiting Disney royalty during their vacation.
- When Walt Disney World Resort guests stay in the Royal Guest Rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside, they’ll discover special treasures left behind by the stars of favorite animated films such as “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Princess and the Frog.” In quarters befitting not only the young Princes and Princesses of the family but also their grown-up King and Queen parents, guests can unwind amid remarkable décor. They’ll be able to watch “fireworks” swirl as they recline in ornate beds, curl up in custom linens and more. It’s majesty and fun, all rolled into one. Each of the 512 Royal Guest Rooms sleeps up to four guests in two queen beds.
Customization and Personalization
Walt Disney World Resort guests can personalize and customize their vacations like never before:
- “Magic Your Way” ticketing and packages allow guests to create their own Walt Disney World Resort vacation. Ticket-holders can customize their Walt Disney World Resort theme park visits by adding components to the base ticket such as park-hopping, water parks or other vacation fun. The savings grow the longer a guest stays.
- Specialized vacation planning tools addressing topics such as “Traveling With Little Ones” and “Affordable Vacation Options” can be found on www.disneyworld.com. This resource has special offers and helps guests customize their vacation itinerary to suit interests as well as considerations such as age, height restrictions and medical needs.
Technology enables Walt Disney World Resort to continue to take storytelling and guest service to new heights:
- My Disney Experience is a free mobile application designed to help guests make the most of their experience while visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. The app offers a digital guide to the magic, including detailed maps with GPS and in-park navigation that provide a vivid, accurate representation of the theme parks, resorts and other on-property points of interest. My Disney Experience helps guests find Character locations and times, park hours, wait times and nearby attractions and services. Guests can book dining reservations with the app, share plans with family and friends and get detailed attraction information. Some features will require guests to create an account and sign in to activate functionality. The app is available free in the App Store and via Google Play.
- Disney’s Handheld Assistive Technology Device – this first-of-a-kind Disney-designed device for guests who have hearing and visual disabilities uses wireless technology to combine handheld captioning, video-captioning activation, amplified audio and detailed audio description into one small, easy-to-use resource that seamlessly works with show elements in select attractions. Newly enhanced with an interactive audio menu, the device fits in the palm of a guest’s hand.
- Ears to the World, Disney’s Show Translator – International visitors to Walt Disney World Resort may take advantage of a personal translation device called Ears to the World, Disney’s Show Translator. These units are lightweight headsets that with cutting-edge wireless technology that provides synchronized narration in five languages at several popular theme park attractions. Wireless signals throughout key attractions trigger digital audio recordings in each unit – providing real-time translation in French, German, Japanese, Portuguese or Spanish.
- Disney’s PhotoPass – using the latest digital equipment and Disney-engineered technology, photographers take photos of guests throughout the theme parks. Instead of receiving a paper claim ticket, guests receive a Disney’s PhotoPass card that links all of their vacation photos taken by Disney photographers together into one online account. Guests can go online to www.disneyphotopass.com to easily view, share and order their photos, order a CD of all their Disney’s PhotoPass images, and more.
- Disney’s FASTPASS – Disney’s antidote to line-standing is offered at a selection of popular attractions in all four theme parks. Guests who choose to get a FASTPASS receive a ticket with a designated one-hour-long window of time when they can return and skip the regular line. Guests don’t have to choose FASTPASS: there’s a standby line at all attractions. Disney’s FASTPASS costs theme park guests nothing extra. Since its debut, more than 350 million FASTPASS tickets have been issued.
Resort Hotel Benefits
In all, there are 25 themed, Disney-owned-and-operated resorts, ranging from value to deluxe villas. While Walt Disney World Resort provides magical moments for everyone, guests staying at these Walt Disney World Resort hotels are able to take advantage of special perks:
- An Online Check-In Service, designed to simplify and streamline guest arrivals, is complimentary and available to guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club resorts. Within 10 days of their arrival, guests are able to provide check-in information, advise the resort of their arrival times and request room preferences. Guests can also register the names of all the people in their party and provide a credit card to cover charges. Upon arrival at their resorts, guests visit a special welcome location where their room keys and other registration materials are waiting for them.
- The Walt Disney World Transportation System of buses, monorails and boat launches combines to connect virtually all areas of the Vacation Kingdom. With the convenience of “door-to-door” service throughout the resort, many guests enjoy their Walt Disney World Resort vacation without a car.
- Guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can add fun to their day with the Extra Magic Hours benefit. Each day, one of Walt Disney World Resort theme parks opens one hour early or stays open up to three hours later for Walt Disney World Resort guests, providing extra time in the parks to experience select attractions.
- Guests who prefer to include dining in their vacation packages can choose from several Walt Disney World Resort Magic Your Way vacation packages that include a Disney Dining Plan, Disney resort hotel accommodations and Magic Your Way tickets. The Disney Dining Plans feature a variety of meal and snack entitlements – both in terms of the type of restaurants guests can visit and the number of meals and snacks included with the plans.
From fast casual to five-diamond, there are more than 300 places to dine across Walt Disney World Resort and more than 6,000 food items available for guests. The resort also is the largest single-site purveyor of wine in the world and has more sommeliers than any other company in the world.
Whether it’s an unforgettable souvenir or an extravagant gift for someone special, Walt Disney World Resort is a shopper’s paradise of more than 300 unique stores. Package pick-up located near the front entrance of each theme park and hotel delivery is available at no charge.
Services for Guests with Disabilities
Guests with disabilities are able to utilize many special services and facilities available to them throughout Walt Disney World Resort. From handheld captioning for the hearing impaired to unique ride vehicles at Toy Story Mania that provide access for guests using wheelchairs, Walt Disney World Resort is focused on meeting the needs of all guests.