Your Full Guide to the Disney World Parks

Photo of author
Updated:

The Disney World parks in Orlando, Florida, make up the largest theme park in the world. In fact, it’s so large that it has its own post office and zip code! 

In addition to more than 25 hotel resorts, Walt Disney World includes four theme parks, two water parks, a large shopping and dining area, and a complex dedicated to sports.

I’ve been lucky enough to take family vacations to Walt Disney World my whole life…to the point that I no longer even need a park map. (Although we always end up grabbing one anyway because my boys love having a good map!) And now I’m here to share the lay of the land with you as you plan your Disney World trip. Let’s break it down.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Cinderella's Castle
Image Credit: Those Johnson Boys

Magic Kingdom is the oldest and most iconic Disney World park. In this theme park, you’ll experience a mix of classic and new attractions as you’re surrounded by that Disney magic you always hear about. It’s a must-do for a first-time visit to Walt Disney World.

Magic Kingdom Park Layout

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has six main areas, with Cinderella’s Castle as the centerpiece of the theme park. You’ll be able to access each area from walkways connected to the main hub where the castle is located. 

Main Street, U.S.A.

Main Street, U.S.A., is the very first thing you’ll come to as you enter the Magic Kingdom. This area was inspired by Walt Disney’s hometown. 

Here, you’ll find shopping and dining areas, the main train station for the Walt Disney World Railroad, and even a barber shop (where my oldest son got his first haircut!). 

Main Street, U.S.A., ends at Cinderella’s Castle. From there, you’ll be able to head to any of the following areas. 

Adventureland

Home to pirates, jungles, and magic carpets, this land is full of…well, adventure! Here, you’ll find the fan-favorite treat, Dole Whips, which are a perfect way to cool down on hot Florida days. 

Frontierland

The adventure continues over in Frontierland, where you’ll find yourself transported to the Wild West. Take a train ride on Big Thunder Mountain or catch the Country Bear Jamboree. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds in the Magic Kingdom, take the boat over to Tom Sawyer’s Island. 

Liberty Square

As you continue in the park in a clockwise direction, your next stop will be Liberty Square. This area is themed after colonial America. The attraction that sees the longest wait times in this area is the Haunted Mansion. Just watch out for hitchhiking ghosts!

Fantasyland

Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom in Disney World is full of attractions based on classic animated Disney films. This is a popular area in Disney World for families with young kids, as it’s filled with rides with no height restrictions that revolve around kid-favorite characters. 

Tomorrowland

Finally, we’ve come to Tomorrowland, my family’s favorite land! While the premise of this land is the future, it also pays homage to the past and the growth of our world. Two major attractions can be found here that add to the “skyline” of the Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain and TRON Lightcycle / Run. 

Popular Attractions at Magic Kingdom in Disney World

Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park at Walt Disney World for many reasons. But one of those reasons is the number of attractions that this park offers. 

There is no shortage of popular attractions at the Magic Kingdom. While every family will have different priorities when it comes to which attractions they want to visit, here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • TRON Lightcycle / Run

*In 2024, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open. This attraction takes the place of Splash Mountain and is sure to be a hit from day one. 

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is all about stepping into the movies (I mean, you literally get to walk into a cartoon on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway!). This park is known for its thrill rides and shows. 

Hollywood Studios Park Layout

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has five main areas, as well as some smaller areas and side streets. 

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood Studios park is the main walkway as you enter the park. This area is full of shops and sets the stage for that Hollywood feel. At the end of the street, you can’t miss the replica of the Chinese Theatre, which is home to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. 

Sunset Boulevard

Off to the right of Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard also has a very well-known centerpiece at the end of it: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Back here, you’ll also find the popular nighttime show Fantasmic. 

Animation Courtyard

If you have a little one in your party who’s a fan of Disney Jr., this is the area for you. Expect this area to grow over the years, as there is currently open space due to a couple of attractions that have closed down over the years.

Pixar Plaza

Pixar Plaza is a small side street you’ll come across as you walk from the Animation Courtyard to Toy Story Land. This is an area where you’ll find some character meet and greets. 

Toy Story Land

In Toy Story Land, you’re turned into the size of a toy as you walk into Andy’s backyard. Home to fan-favorite Toy Story-themed rides like Slinky Dog Dash, the whole family will enjoy this area. Make sure to look down to see if you can spot Andy’s footprints on the ground!

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you can’t miss this area of Hollywood Studios. In Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll get the chance to fly the Millennium Falcon and join the Resistance to take on the First Order. Even as someone who’s not a Star Wars fan, I still find this area really cool!

Grand Avenue

Grand Avenue is home to the Muppets. This area is usually a little quieter, as it’s tucked back out of the way a bit. It makes for a perfect spot to take a little break in your busy day.

Commissary Lane

Commissary Lane is a small walkway where you’ll find dining options and can meet characters. 

Echo Lake

In the Echo Lake area of Hollywood Studios, you’ll be able to catch a bunch of different shows, such as Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. And you can’t miss Gertie, the big dinosaur in the lake. 

Popular Attractions at Hollywood Studios in Disney World

Hollywood Studios has some of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World Resort. Here are some of the top ones:

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania!

Epcot

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Image Credit: Those Johnson Boys

The Disney World parks aren’t complete without Epcot. Walt Disney himself conceived this theme park. While it didn’t turn out exactly as he imagined (he wanted it to be a real city!), some of his original ideas still made it into the park. Epcot now celebrates the entire world instead of just being one small city.

Epcot Park Layout

Epcot in Disney World is separated into four main “neighborhoods,” each showcasing and celebrating different themes in our world. 

World Celebration

World Celebration is the main hub in Epcot, where you can’t miss the park’s icon, Spaceship Earth. This is a highly anticipated area, as it is undergoing major renovations.

World Discovery

World Discovery explores science and technology. This area is home to some of the most popular attractions in the park, such as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

World Nature

You guessed it, World Nature is all about nature! Here, you’ll find two main pavilions, The Land and The Seas. It will also be the future home of Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana.

World Showcase

Epcot World Showcase
Image Credit: Those Johnson Boys

Likely the most well-known neighborhood, the Epcot World Showcase immerses you in different cultures. This area highlights 11 countries from around the world and is home to two popular attractions, Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. 

It also plays a main role in the many festivals that take place in Epcot each year, such as the International Food & Wine Festival. 

Popular Attractions at Epcot in Disney World

Whether you’re a fan of animated movies or you’re looking for thrill rides, this theme park has you covered. Here are some of the most popular attractions at Epcot:

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track

Animal Kingdom

While Disney’s Animal Kingdom has several attractions to keep everyone entertained, the overwhelming focus of this theme park is animal conservation. The park spans over 500 acres and is home to over 2000 animals. 

Animal Kingdom Park Layout

Animal Kingdom has four separate lands with a main hub and entry walkway. 

Oasis

This is the walkway you take to get to the main area of Animal Kingdom. Along the way, check out the small trails and animal exhibits.

Discovery Island

Discovery Island is the main hub in Animal Kingdom, and you can access any part of the park from this area. It’s also home to the iconic Tree of Life. This tree isn’t just any tree, though. Look closely, and you’ll see that it has over 300 animal carvings. 

Pandora – The World of Avatar

Pandora - The World of Avatar
Image Credit: Those Johnson Boys

In Pandora, the movie Avatar comes to life. It truly is one of the most magical areas in Walt Disney World, especially with all the bright colors at night. Pandora has the two most popular attractions in Animal Kingdom park, which are surrounded by a dramatic landscape, including floating mountains.

Africa

Here, you’ll walk right into an African village filled with sights, smells, and sounds of the continent. Head out on a safari, stroll along the paths to several animal habitats, or catch one of the best shows at Walt Disney World, Festival of the Lion King.

From this area, you can also hop on a train to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. There, you’ll find several interactive exhibits, and you’ll be able to see the areas where the Disney cast members care for the animals.

Asia

In Asia, you’ll stumble upon Asian ruins, find thrilling rides such as Expedition Everest, and have an opportunity to explore even more animal exhibits. 

DinoLand U.S.A.

Finally, in DinoLand U.S.A., you’ll find plenty of dinosaur-themed attractions, including a giant play area for kids. 

Popular Attractions at Animal Kingdom in Disney World

The focus of this Disney park is obviously the animals, but there’s no shortage of fun. Here are the most popular rides at Animal Kingdom in Disney:

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Naʻvi River Journey

Disney Water Parks

At the Walt Disney World Resort, you can enjoy two water parks. These Disney World parks are filled with water fun for the whole family, featuring attractions like huge wave pools, large and small water slides for all ages, and a lazy river. Plus, when packing for Disney, you won’t have to worry about bringing life jackets or towels because those are provided free of charge.

Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Typhoon Lagoon
Image Credit: Those Johnson Boys

Disney legend has it that this tropical paradise was hit by a huge typhoon, and now you get to enjoy all the fun that came from the aftermath. Popular attractions at Typhoon Lagoon include:

  • Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool (a large wave pool)
  • Crush n’ Gusher (a rollercoaster-type water slide)
  • Miss Adventure Falls (a water slide for the whole family)
  • Ketchakiddee Creek (a water play area for the youngest ones in your party) 

Blizzard Beach Water Park

This water park doesn’t have a tropical feel at all. In fact, you’re transported to a winter wonderland in the middle of Florida. Popular attractions at Blizzard Beach include:

  • Runoff Rapids (where you can choose between three water slides)
  • Summit Plummet (one of the tallest and fastest body slides in the world)
  • Toboggan Racers (where you can race your family members and friends down the slide)
  • Tike’s Peak (perfect for the little ones in your family)

Disney Springs

Disney Springs is a massive dining, shopping, and entertainment area. Here, you’ll find over 60 restaurants and 150 shops. 

There’s also plenty of entertainment. You can enjoy live music, take a ride on a hot air balloon (that’s attached to the ground!), go bowling, drive a car right into the water, watch a movie, catch a showing of Cirque du Soleil, and much more.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

ESPN Wide World of Sports is a 230-acre complex of multi-sports facilities. It hosts over 200 sporting events each year. If you’re not participating in the event, you’re welcome to be a spectator. 

Final Thoughts: Disney World Parks

You can find something for everyone at the Disney World parks. With four main theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom) plus a large shopping and dining area and a sports complex, there’s plenty of fun to be had. 

During your visit to the Walt Disney World theme parks, make sure to prioritize your day to keep from being overwhelmed with all the options. By doing so, you’re bound to have that magical Disney vacation you’ve been dreaming of.  

Website | + posts

Hi! I’m Jenn, the blogger behind Those Johnson Boys, a family travel blog on a mission to give parents the confidence to travel with their kids. I love sharing travel itineraries, trip inspiration, and all the tips you need to know to make your next family vacation stress-free.