Walt Disney World
Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World © cd.harrison
Orlando's most familiar landmark is undoubtedly the turreted Cinderella Castle that stands in the centre of the original Disney Florida theme park, the Magic Kingdom, at Lake Buena Vista. Walt Disney World opened in 1971 and has been making childhood fantasies come true ever since. Today it is just one of four Disney parks that cover more than 28,000 acres of Orange and Osceola counties in central Florida, with accompanying resorts, shopping complexes, hotels and waterparks. Apart from the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Orlando now includes Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. The park complex also includes two water parks, Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon.
Magic Kingdom is where the most famous Disney attractions are located, from Cinderella's Castle to the Main Street USA parades. Little girls can visit the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to receive princess makeovers, while boys can become proper swashbucklers at the Pirates League. Rides at the Magic Kingdom include classic favourites like Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and It's a Small World.
Epcot is dominated by the iconic (and golf ball-like) Spaceship Earth, and is home to the World Showcase, with pavilions dedicated to food and culture from Morocco, Italy, Norway, Canada, China, Mexico, France, Japan and many other countries. Visitors can see the famous Captain EO 3D movie starring Michael Jackson, and travel to Mars in the Mission: Space simulator.
Disney's Hollywood Studios gives visitors a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the workings of the glitz and glamour of the movie industry, with rides and attractions dedicated to the Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, the Twilight Zone, Cars, and even American Idol. The popular Studio Backlot Tour demonstrates thrilling special effects, and multimedia galleries give insight into the history of Disney.
Animal Kingdom is a wildlife park home to more than 1,700 animals from 250 species. Visitors can go on an Expedition to Everest, or a Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition. The iconic Tree of Life towers over conservation exhibits and dinosaur boneyards, with bird shows, thrilling rides and live musicals as well.