At over 20,000 acres, Walt Disney World is by far the largest of the six Disney Resort Parks around the globe. Made up of four theme parks, two water parks, one outdoor mall area (Disney Springs), a sports complex (ESPN), two mini golf areas, over thirty on-site hotels, and over 300 dining and beverage options, it has the most expansive offering of separate theme parks and lands and certainly lives up to it’s title of “World”.
While terminology is sometimes interchangeable and can often be confusing, the entirety of Walt Disney World is referred to as a Resort, Park, or Theme Park. Within Disney World, there are four main parks, and each of these parks have their own areas or “lands” within them. Disney hotels are also referred to as Resorts, and each have different theming and Disney-related benefits (Extra Magic Hours, free bus transportation to the parks, etc.).
The Walt Disney World Parks
There are currently four parks in Walt Disney World:
- Magic Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
- Animal Kingdom
Magic Kingdom was the first to open in 1971, followed by EPCOT in 1982, Hollywood Studios (originally know as “Disney–MGM Studios”) in 1989, and Animal Kingdom in 1998.
Though it is the smallest of the four parks in acreage, Magic Kingdom happens to be the biggest park in terms of the amount of “lands” it offers. Magic Kingdom is comprised of six main areas or lands, which are placed in a wheel spoke pattern around Cinderella Castle:
- Main Street USA
- Liberty Square
Visit the Magic Kingdom Overview page to learn more about this park.
The second largest park in Walt Disney World is Epcot, which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and is based off of an idea that Walt himself had for an ever-growing community. Epcot is currently divided into two main sections, which are Future World and World Showcase. Future World, which is located at the front of the park near the entrance, will soon be replaced by three new “neighborhoods” once Epcot’s reimagining is complete. These three new future sections will be:
- World Discovery
- World Nature
- World Celebration
Disney has not yet announced when this transformation of Future World to these three neighborhoods will be completed, but construction has already begun.
World Showcase circles the World Showcase Lagoon, and this entire area will more or less remain the same after the reimagining of the park is complete. This area features eleven specially themed pavilions that represent various countries from around the world and are located around the lagoon in a circular pattern:
- America (The American Adventure)
- United Kingdom
There are two entrances to World Showcase – one is located in Future World at the front of the park and the other is located at the International Gateway near the France Pavilion in World Showcase. The International Gateway is also the location of Epcot’s skyline station and is connected to Disney’s Boardwalk area.
Visit the Epcot Overview page to learn more about this park.
Disney’s MGM Studios opened in 1989, and in 2008 its name was officially changed to Hollywood Studios (not to be confused with Universal Studios, which is not a Disney Park or owned by Disney). Hollywood Studios is currently divided into nine main areas:
- Hollywood Boulevard
- Sunset Boulevard
- Animation Courtyard
- Echo Lake
- Commissary Lane
- Grand Avenue
- Pixar Place
- Toy Story Land
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
See our Guide to Hollywood Studios to learn more about this park.
Opened in 1998 at around 500 acres, Animal Kingdom is the largest of the all the Disney Parks and features the most unique design of all the theme parks. While it is not a traditional zoo, this park does feature numerous animal exhibits alongside rollercoasters and full musical productions.
Animal Kingdom is currently divided into seven main areas:
- Discovery Island
- DinoLand U.S.A.
- Rafiki’s Planet Watch
- Pandora – The World of Avatar
See our Guide to Animal Kingdom to learn more about this park.