Walt Disney World Resort#1 in Best Things To Do in Orlando-Walt Disney World
Excessive, exhausting and expensive, Walt Disney World Resort is above all else enchanting. Composed of four theme parks (the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Disney's Blizzard Beach), more than two dozen hotels and the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex, this sprawling property features iconic sights and rides like Cinderella Castle, "it's a small world," Spaceship Earth, Toy Story Land and Pandora – The World of Avatar. Even Anaheim's Disneyland can't compete, according to some.
Of course, there is one major drawback. Walt Disney World park tickets are expensive, regardless of whether you're visiting for just a day (single-day tickets for kids and adults ages 10 and older start at $109). Meanwhile, one-day water park tickets start at $64 for adults 10 and older. Most suggest you visit this expansive property over the course of several days to justify the high entrance fees. If you have limited time, consider skipping the parks in favor of exploring Disney Springs, which is free to visit.
Another disappointment to some: the abundance of people. During school recesses, all of the parks are packed with tourists and locals, meaning pathways can feel congested and ride lines may be hours long. To avoid these issues, try visiting on a weekday when school is in session. Or, stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, where all guests have access to Extended Magic Hours (or extra attraction hours for one or two parks). Utilizing the park's FastPass+ service can also help you make the most of your time in Disney World. What's more, select Disney resorts also include dining plans in vacation packages. See more money-saving tips and tricks here.
Walt Disney World Resort is located in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, about 17 miles southwest of downtown Orlando. Each theme park has different hours, but all open by 9 a.m. and close between 7 and 11 p.m. Water park hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. If you're staying at one of Disney's accommodations, you'll have access to complimentary bus, ferry or monorail transfers. Parking lots and stops for LYNX's Nos. 50 and 56 routes are also available, but extra charges apply. Disney Springs and all parks offer shops, restaurants, restrooms, sitting areas and live entertainment like parades and fireworks shows. Check out Walt Disney World Resort's website for further details.
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#2 Universal Orlando Resort
Whether you're traveling with little ones, teenagers, friends or your significant other, odds are you'll find something to enjoy at Universal Orlando Resort. This sprawling entertainment area features two theme parks, as well as Universal CityWalk, a pedestrian thoroughfare with shops, restaurants, a movie theater and nightclubs. The original park – Universal Studios Florida – is home to the 3-D Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride and The Simpsons Ride, while Universal's Islands of Adventure has several rollercoasters and "Jurassic Park"-themed rides and experiences, among other highlights. A water park – Universal's Volcano Bay – is also available.
But the main draw of Universal Orlando's parks is its Harry Potter sections. In Universal Studios Florida, you'll find The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, where you can escape from Gringotts, eat at the Leaky Cauldron or get chosen by a wand at Ollivanders wand shop. And at Universal's Islands of Adventure, there's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, which houses the Three Broomsticks, Hogwarts and Hagrid's hut.
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