Magic Kingdom Park
Best for: Magic Kingdom Park is where Walt Disney World began and is still full of timeless fairy tale magic. Fireworks cascade over Cinderella’s Castle at the Happily Ever After night-time spectacular, The Haunted Mansion is ghoulishly good, and Main Street, U.S.A. swells with music, and even smells of fresh cookies.
The lowdown: In this pocket of childhood memories, you’ll float, rather than walk towards your first view of Cinderella’s Castle. Mickey’s PhilharMagic and “it’s a small world”, both beloved rides, are practically run on a mix of nostalgia and children’s smiles. Book into the Be Our Guest Restaurant and make sure you try their cupcake, topped with curiously-named ‘grey stuff’; just like they say in the Disney song, ‘it’s delicious’!
Tips for little visitors: The Bippity Boppity Boutique is no ordinary shop. Fairy Godmothers-in-training will give children a royal makeover in their magical salon – from painted nails to perfect up-dos. If your children love playing princess, this is the ultimate treat – and you can save money if you bring your own dress to complete the look.
Tips for bigger visitors: Plenty of adults flock to Magic Kingdom Park to relive cherished childhood memories. Embark on Disney’s version of the three-peak challenge: ride Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – one after the other. Oh, and don’t miss a chance to take a photo in front of the purple wall in Tomorrowland for your Instagram.
Live the fairy tale
Discover a world where Cinderella doesn’t vanish after midnight and – oh, boy! Is that Mickey Mouse? Stay at an on-site resort near the Magic Kingdom and discover the magic at Walt Disney World.Plan your trip
Best for: A world in miniature, Epcot is for explorers. There are 11 country ‘pavilions’ to explore – great for anyone who wants to channel Phineas Fogg and circumnavigate the world at pace – and in Future World you can experiment with space and speed on impressive rides.
The lowdown: The park fans out around a lake with the famous Spaceship Earth monument right in the middle. Split your time between 11 countries along the shore, meeting Mulan in China, Snow White in Germany and Aladdin in Morocco and then fast-forward to Future World, the other area of the park. Soarin’ Around The World is the ride everyone talks about here. With the help of a big screen and piped-in scents it takes you flying over the wonders of earth. Mission: Space is for more intrepid explorers – but do it before lunch, not after.
Tips for little visitors: Little tiddlers will love meeting their favourite Finding Nemo friends in Turtle Talk with Crush, where they can discuss current affairs with the wise turtle himself through an ocean window.
Tips for bigger visitors: Stay late and watch the evening show on Epcot’s lake: it’s possibly the best fireworks display at Disney.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Best for: Bringing film to life in a blaze of attractions, shows and state-of-the art sound, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is for movie lovers.
The lowdown: Despite exciting new openings at Hollywood Studios, classic favourites like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ and the Fantasmic! Evening show aren’t going anywhere. The riotous Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is always ready for an encore, whilst colourful Toy StoryLand will enchant little fans. If you want to stop for lunch, enjoy home-style cooking at the 50s Prime Time Café, where ‘Mom’ will make sure your children eat their greens.
Tips for little visitors: Whip your youngsters into shape with a dose of Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, where they’ll learn to channel their energy into forces for good instead of evil. Book them in as soon as you get to the park as the slots fill up quickly.
Tips for bigger visitors: It’s all about Star Wars. Even diehard fans will be impressed by the level of detail and love that’s gone into recreating the galaxy far, far away.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Best for: Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park has a yeti and a tribe of Avatar’s Na’Vi as well as white rhinos, tigers and cotton-top tamarins.
The lowdown: The amazing Pandora - The World of AVATAR area of the park is one of the most popular reasons to visit Animal Kingdom. This park is full of surprises for adventurous types; even the most intrepid might lose their cool when they discover the big-footed surprise hiding within Expedition Everest or the monstrous Banshee on Avatar’s Flight of Passage in Pandora - The World of AVATAR. Tiffins Restaurant is a popular stop for lunch to stop you feeling hungry as a horse. Our top tip? If you want to see a safari, go early, when the animals are at their most active, whilst you can leave Pandora for the end of the day – this biolumisescent world is even more spectacular after dark.
Tips for little visitors: Your family will love watching the uproarious celebrations at the Festival of the Lion King.
Tips for bigger visitors: The Kali River Rapids are the most pragmatic way to cool off in the middle of the day, but be warned: on this white water adventure the water isn’t just white, it’s also very, very wet – prepare to get soaked.