• What is... Walt Disney World?

    What is... Walt Disney World?

    Luiz Alberto H.

    Created: Jan 10, 2024

    Last Updated: Feb 12, 2024

    What is... Walt Disney World?

    So, you want to go to Walt Disney World and have a bunch of questions, huh?

    That’s fine. We are here to help everyone that wants to understand a little bit more about the Happiest Place on Earth.

    This article will answer several questions about Disney World, and is especially designed for first time visitors and people that are just curious about this magical place. In this first part of our comprehensive guide, you will find questions and specific details related to:

    • What is Disney World?
    • The Four main Theme Parks
    • Weather in Disney World
    • The Best Dates to Visit

    These four little questions should give you an idea of where Disney is located, if you should pack an extra jacket for Winter, the most crowded weeks of the year and so on. Relax, this is just the first step of our adventure, and a good starting point for you to look at your calendar and start wondering about when you should go out on a vacation and meet Mickey.

    Later on, we will be talking about ticket prices, how to get to Disney World, where you should stay and much more than that!

    So, let’s start with a very simple question.

    Disney Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle statue - Copia.webp

    What is Disney World?

    Walt Disney World, or just Disney World, isn’t just one theme park. It’s much more than that! We are talking about a collection of four theme parks, two water parks and entertainment centers. It’s a huge resort full of options for you to have fun, relax and do some shopping. You won’t be able to see everything in one day and, in fact, you might need one week or more to check everything Disney World has to offer.

    Disney World is located in the United States, in the beautiful state of Florida. The main resort is located just outside the city of Orlando.

    The four main theme parks in Disney World are: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Each theme park has several attractions that range from roller coasters to motion simulators and live shows. Every theme park also has several restaurants that range from quick-service options to fancy places where you can sit down to have dinner with Mickey or the Disney princesses. Oh, yes, theme parks also have several stores selling everything from clothes to plush toys that will make your trip a truly memorable moment.

    For Disney World, you pay for your park ticket and then you can enjoy every ride that the park has to offer. Drinks and food are not included in this price! We will talk more about that in our next guide, but it's something to keep in mind. 

    You also have to be patient to go to most rides. You can wait in line from 5 to 20 minutes for some attractions, but most popular rides require you to wait from 40 minutes all the way to 2 hours in queue. That's a lot, yeah! There are ways to circumvent that problem by paying extra and cutting that time down by a fair amount, and we will talk more about this later on.

    Okay, we have told you what Disney World is. It’s amazing, pure and simple. A place full of entertainment, shopping options and landmarks for you to create memories that will last a lifetime. It may sound cliche, but it’s the truth. 

    So, what Disney World isn’t?

    • Disney World is not Disneyland. While Disney World is located in Florida, Disneyland is in California. Both resorts share similar rides and attractions, but offer different experiences as well.
    • Disney World is not Universal Studios. Think like Apple and Google. They are both entertainment resorts offering a wide range of theme parks, but they are not related. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is located in Disney World, while The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in Universal Studios. Universal Orlando is located around 40 minutes from Disney, so you should definitely go there as well when you are in Florida.
    • Disney World is not just for kids. In fact, several thrill rides have height requirements that kids simply won’t be allowed to experience. Some theme parks also offer alcoholic drinks like tequila and sake that certainly make adults happy.

    The Four main Disney World theme parks

    As we said above, visiting Disney World means much more than just going to one theme park. Disney is way more than that, and there is a good chance that during your first visit you will want to visit every single theme park that the resort has to offer. You can easily spend a whole day in each of them, and it’s not unusual at all to need two or more days to explore everything a single theme park has to offer.

    Each theme park has several thrill rides that go from roller coasters to motion simulators and 3D theaters, but they also have their own restaurants, live shows and stores. Yep, visiting a theme park doesn’t mean you will only be going from ride to ride for the whole day, there are way more options for you to have fun than that!

    Here are the four main theme parks in Walt Disney World:

    Magic Kingdom: This is the most classic theme park when you think about Disney World, and where you can find Cinderella’s Castle. Magic Kingdom is all about celebrating the legacy of Disney properties like Mickey Mouse, The Little Mermaid and more. That’s the best destination for families with toddlers and small children. It is also here that you can find Space Mountain, one of the most recognizable roller coasters ever.

    Epcot: Called by many as the “theme park of the future”, Epcot is where you can find that big, white ball that you have probably seen many times before on the internet. Epcot celebrates cultures from all over the world, and has an area called the World Showcase that features stores and merchandise from several countries like Norway, Mexico and Morocco. Epcot has one of the best indoor roller coasters ever and is the best theme park for shopping.

    Hollywood Studios: This theme park is all about movies, cartoons and the entertainment industry in general. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is located here, a huge area celebrating the biggest sci-fi IP of all time with multiple rides and shopping options. You can also find the Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios, which is one of the best drop tower rides ever made. This is probably the best theme park for people that just want to go on a great number of amazing rides.

    Animal Kingdom: Disney World’s most recent theme park, which opened in 1998. Animal Kingdom is all about celebrating nature. You can spot several different animal species here and even go on a real safari to take pictures of hippos, rhinos and lions. There is also the World of Pandora, a whole area based on the Avatar franchise which has one of the best motion simulators on the planet. Overall, Animal Kingdom is great for kids that want to learn more about nature and people that wish for something more unique in their theme parks.

    Phew, that’s a lot. But wait, there is more! As we said before, Disney World is more than just theme parks. It also features two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), a shopping district full of stores and restaurants called Disney Springs and dozens of hotels. Yeah, Disney is pretty big, and you probably need several days or weeks to see it all!

    All Disney theme parks are located inside the Walt Disney World Resort, so they are pretty close to each other. Still, you can’t walk from one theme park to another. Magic Kingdom and Epcot are probably the closest to each other and, even then, you need to hop on a monorail to traverse between both destination, which can easily take about 30 minutes.

    Our advice? Stick to one theme park per day, at least during your first time in Disney World. This way, you can experience each theme park to its fullest and won’t lose any precious time just moving between places. You will also save a bit of money on tickets, since you need what Disney calls a "Park Hopper" ticket if you want to go to more than one theme park in a single day.

    First steps if you want to visit Walt Disney World

    Setting up the perfect trip can be really challenging. You need to study prices, research where you should stay, how much you are going to spend on your whole trip and consider any extra prices so you are always one step ahead of unexpected surprises. We do wish that going to Disney World was as simple as paying for tickets and that’s it - we are good to meet Mickey Mouse!

    The reality isn’t as simple as that.

    Well, let’s take it slow with one step at a time. What should I know about Disney World before even booking a ticket to go there? We already know where Disney is located and we also know that it’s a huge entertainment resort. Now let’s dig in and explore the weather in Florida and the best dates for you to plan your next trip.

    Disney Epcot flower festival.jpg

    Weather

    Before anything else, it’s important to know about the weather in Florida so you can plan ahead and enjoy as many sunny days as possible. Here are a few facts that might help you out planning your perfect trip.

    From December to Mid January: Winter has come to Florida! Contrary to popular belief, it can get chilly in Disney World. We are talking about temperatures between 50°F and 59°F during the day, with the chance of getting as low as 41°F during the night. Bring a jacket or something to keep you warm, especially since you can stay up to 9-10pm in some theme parks.

    On the other hand, you won’t have to deal with a lot of rain or thunderstorms. Many members of Famvia have been going to Disney World in January, and it’s very, very hard to find anything else other than light rain on very specific days. Light showers usually only last for a few hours or a day until they are gone for the rest of the week.

    March-May: very good months when it comes to weather. It isn’t as chilly as the Winter season, and temperatures stick around 75-85 degrees. April also has the least amount of rain in Florida, so it’s a very good mix of sunny days and the perfect weather that won’t require you wearing a jacket at night. Do keep in mind that it gets warmer and warmer as we advance further into May, with highs of 88°F.

    June-August: it’s now Summer in Florida. You know what that means, right? It gets very, very hot in The Sunshine State. Temperatures range from 90-95 degrees, with some days easily reaching 105°F. So, yeah, prepare to sweat. The worst part is that it can feel hotter than that, since parks get very crowded and there will be people all around you walking and waiting in line for their favorite rides.

    There is also the possibility of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Summer in Florida is well known not only for being hot, but also the humid conditions which bring showers almost every day of the week. So, when you consider that Summer in Florida is not comfortable at all, the frequent showers and theme parks getting (very) crowded, we would certainly say that these are the worst dates to visit Disney World.

    September-November: Fall in Florida is very similar to Spring, which are the months listed above from March-May. Weather is usually good and you won’t be scorching under the sun or freezing at night. The only problem? Historically, hurricane season takes place from the end of June all the way to the start of November. September is the most likely month for hurricanes.

    Does that mean you will encounter a hurricane when you travel to Disney World during these months? Nope, it’s certainly not guaranteed. In fact, the chances are pretty slim for you to actually face a serious thunderstorm. Just keep in mind that there is a chance this might happen, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared and know everything about a destination before we plan our magical trip.

    So, with all that information we gathered, what are the best months to visit Florida when it comes to good, sunny days?

    The gold medal goes to Spring, from March to May. Sunny days and temperatures are just right. It’s not hot and it doesn’t get cold at night. It also doesn’t rain a lot. Perfect.

    The silver medal goes to the end of January and February. It’s not as chilly as December and the start of the New Year, and stays like this for February as well.

    The bronze medal goes to Fall in Florida! September-November are very good, and could definitely fight for a spot at the top of the podium. Unfortunately, it’s also the season of hurricanes. Are they common? Nope. Still, the possibility is there. I wouldn’t let the possibility of a hurricane scare you if those are the best months in your schedule for a trip to Disney.

    And who wins the… uh… brass medal? This one goes for the months that you should try and avoid, and the “winner” is Summer in Florida! Congratulations. June-August is very hot in Disney World, and you also have to deal with afternoon showers. 

    Disney animal kingdom kali river rapids.jpg

    Best Dates to visit Walt Disney World

    We have already studied the weather in Disney World, but a perfect, well-planned vacation goes beyond looking at the sun and a cloudless sky. The best dates to visit a theme park aren’t just about you trying to avoid thunderstorms and hurricanes, but also dodging national holidays, Spring Break and so on.

    Here are the best weeks and months to visit Walt Disney World, based on park population and other factors.

    End of January: parks are not that crowded, since the Holiday Season is over and guests that stayed for New Year’s Eve are already going back home and returning to work. It’s also not as chilly as in December and early January, so there is a good chance you won’t need a jacket at night.

    October and early November: some of the best months if you can fit it in your schedule. Kids are still in school for the most part and you won’t face huge lines for most attractions. Heads up, though, since the days near Halloween do get crowded since theme parks also offer special shows and events to celebrate the spooky season. There is a chance of light showers in the afternoon, and hurricanes are always a possibility, but it doesn’t mean they will always be there to challenge your perfect vacation.

    Early days of December: you can enjoy the Christmas decorations and shows before parks get crowded mid-late December. The temperature starts to drop, but it’s still cozy. Highly recommended. 

    Worst Dates to visit Disney World

    Early to Mid-March: Mostly because of Spring Break. Theme parks get chaotic with so many families visiting, so expect an increase in waiting times for most attractions.

    June to July: Summer is incredibly hot in Florida, AND you have to face crowded theme parks with guests coming from all over the world. Not good. Probably the worst date to visit Disney World.

    Mid-December to early January: this one depends a lot on what you want, honestly. Parks will be very crowded, sure, but it’s also the only opportunity to spend Christmas and New Year in Disney World. If you don’t care that much about experiencing rides, then this might actually be a good time to come visit.

    Just remember that it’s very hard to actually know when a theme park will be crowded or not. There are many variables at play which can make it feel like you are alone enjoying your time in Magic Kingdom, and sometimes you can be in Disney World during early December and it feels like you’re in the middle of a Taylor Swift concert with so many people around you.

    The dates above, however, should balance things a little bit more in your favor. We should also pray to Lady Luck and hope that we won't stay in line for hours in most attractions. Do you know how else you can tip things in your favor? By contacting us! Send Famvia a message, and we will make sure to help you out and plan your perfect trip.

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