Theme parks and water parks, great dining and entertainment … This was the concept envisioned by the maestro of entertainment himself, Walter Elias Disney in what was once little more than swampland in central Florida. This ‘swampland’ is now home of the most visited vacation resort in the world with over 52 million visitors annually. In addition to the theme parks and water parks, great dining and entertainment, add brutal summer heat and cloying humidity, huge lines, wide-eyed children and frazzled parents and you’ve got what’s known as the ‘Disney Experience”. And while the Disney Experience lives fondly in the hearts and minds of children and adults alike, the experience that Disney offers comes at a premium. Quite frankly, the cheaper part of the Disney Experience is probably the cost of admission because you’ll be constantly reaching for your wallet from the moment you drive through Disney’s welcome arch to stop and pay for parking. From that point on, it’s an endless money exchange – your money for a small but memorable piece of the Disney Experience pie.
Today, the Walt Disney World Resort, known the world over as Disney World, is an entertainment complex in Bay Lake, Florida, near Kissimmee and Orlando, and is the flagship of Disney’s worldwide corporate empire.The resort opened on October 1, 1971 and covers over 27,000 impressive acres, housing at last count, over 27 themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, one nine-hole walking course for young golfers, two themed miniature golf courses, one camping resort as well as a shopping/entertainment complex called Downtown Disney.Magic Kingdom was the first theme park to open, followed by Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and then later, Animal Kingdom.
As mentioned earlier, the magical Disney Experience doesn’t come cheap – even if you’re trying to economize by staying at a hotel or rental outside of Disney World.Most hotels and resorts in close proximity to Disney World offer shuttle buses to the theme parks which will cut down on the price of parking (currently $17.00 USD per day for a car).Admission to the Magic Kingdom is currently $111.83 per adult (10 and up) while children ages 3 – 9 are $105.44.The other theme parks are $103.31 per adult and $96.92 per child.Once you’ve bought your tickets and you’ve arrived at the theme park of your choice, each member of your family/group with a ticket will be biometrically fingerprinted so that no one else can use your tickets should you lose them (neat touch but hardly a great selling feature on a partially-used hopper pass).If you were in a hurry and forgot your stroller, you can rent a single-size stroller for $17.00 USD or a double-wide for $31.00.There are no selfie-sticks allowed in the theme parks (those long arms which allow you to take selfies) since there are plenty of Disney photographers on site who are more than happy to take your cherished photos.Even if you’ve packed bottles of water, the intense heat and humidity in the summer will guarantee them gone in no time at all so that you’ll be shelling out for bottles of water and frozen lemonades as you stand in hour-to-90-minute lineups for most attractions.The average meal for an adult ranges between $8.99 to $13.00 USD with kids’ meals also available.And who can leave Disney World without a pair of mouse ears or a souvenir or two (or more) to mark such a memorable adventure? There are an endless array of gift and souvenir shops and kiosks selling Disney goods from which to choose.Of course, Disney World also offers park hopper passes as well as Disney meal plans for those staying at the Disney resorts as well as up to three fast-passes per person for most rides.
Disney World is most certainly not for the faint of heart or wallet.However, it nevertheless offers one of the most magical and memorable experiences of a lifetime – from its fast-moving monorails, its picture-perfect main street and its attractions, all of which tell a unique story, to the thrilling parades and fireworks displays that are the perfect ending to the perfect Disney Experience. Although he died on December 15, 1966, four years before the opening of his theme park in Florida, it’s expected that even old Walt would be suitably impressed by his legacy...