A-Foot at Walt Disney World Resort
By Chelle Koster Walton
Getting around the massive expanse of the Walt Disney World area is easier with this handy guide.
Footloose & Car-Free
It's like its own kingdom, it's own "small world," a country unto itself. Walt Disney World Resort's 47 square miles take you away from reality to a place where life is neat, orderly, constantly fun and totally car-free carefree. The only time you need enter a car is at Epcot's Test Track attraction or Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland Speedway.
Four main parks - Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom - plus shopping and entertainment districts and recreational scenes give your feet plenty of a workout. Many resorts have bicycles available. As an alternative, sit-back-and-relax modes include trains, monorails, horse-and-buggy, boats and shuttles. The monorail system whisks you between the parks and to some of the accommodations in the land. Buses provide transportation to Disney Springs, Disney's Boardwalk, golf courses, other sports venues and resorts in Walt Disney World. At the parks, pick up a map as you enter for show times, dining options and directions. Steep parking fees and long lines to get into the lots are just a couple of reasons to leave the car.
Walt Disney World encompasses some 29 themed resorts ranging from budget Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground to mid-range All-Star Movies Resorts (with movies, music, and sports themes) to luxurious Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The resorts cluster around each main theme park and Disney Springs. Most are within walking distance to that main attraction and its other resorts. They often encircle lakes, providing scenic walking loops and water taxis between properties. Disney resorts provide guests a handy guide booklet to the kingdom and its complex transportation system.
Several other non-Disney properties lie within Disney confines, including Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin and Sheraton Safari. Even if you're not staying at a Disney property, you can catch a shuttle bus from most hotels and resorts in the Orlando-Kissimmee area.
Walk This Way
Disney guests usually begin their path into dreams and imagination at Magic Kingdom, the first Disney World park and the most visited. Seven lands make up Magic Kingdom's 107 acres, each with its own theme attractions, shops and eateries. It could take a couple of days to see it all.
Epcot's two distinct lands - Future World and World Showcase - are arranged in circular patterns. You can conceivably see everything in one day, if lines are short and you stay from opening to close.
Hollywood Boulevard takes you through Disney's Hollywood Studios, where attractions, diners, entertainment and souvenir shops revolve around blockbuster films.
Although Animal Kingdom is Disney's largest park - 500 acres - its human-accessible aspect is smallest. One day suffices as long as you get early to the most popular attractions.
Two water parks - Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon - let you cool down with a splash, and the resorts have their own swimming pools, some with slides, playgrounds, and other kid-fun attractions. Many resorts offer water sports on their lakes, including kayaking, pedal boats, sailing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, and fishing. Fort Wilderness Resort even offers pony rides, horseback riding, carriage rides, and a petting zoo.
Kids programs and video arcades at many resorts keep the little ones happy while the adults sneak off to be pampered at one of two major spas on property (many of the resorts also have their own smaller day spas), or for adult recreation and sizzling nightlife.
Sports enthusiasts find their favorite form of play with Walt Disney World's 81 holes of golf, two miniature golf courses, jogging trails, tennis courts, and the Wide World of Sports Complex, where you can do everything from race in a NASCAR stock car to watch the Atlanta Braves in spring training.
Stroll Downtown Disney Marketplace by day for great shopping and restaurants. By night, its Pleasure Island really comes alive with comedy, dancing, live music and big screen entertainment. There's more shopping, dining and partying at Disney's Boardwalk. Fishing excursions depart from both Downtown Disney and the Boardwalk. DisneyQuest, billed as an indoor theme park, injects still more high-tech into the Disney cutting-edge entertainment scene.
For more information on getting around Walt Disney World, go to www.disneyworld.disney.go.com