Disney parks operate in four countries across three continents and provide entertainment to millions of visitors every year. Kissimmee in Florida houses Walt Disney World Resort, where the largest number of parks are located. Disney World features four theme parks and two water parks and remains the company’s most visited destination. Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 and in 2005, Disneyland Hong Kong opened its doors as an alternative to the existing Asian Disney destination in Tokyo. Despite increased competition from parks around the world, large numbers of guests flock to Disneyland in Anaheim, which Walt Disney himself designed over 50 years ago.
Disneyland, the original Disney theme park, opened in 1955 and houses the famous Sleeping Beauty Castle. Guests enter the park at Main Street, a good location for photos of the castle, dining and shopping. The castle towers above the Fantasyland area, where rides such as A Small World and the King Arthur Carousel cater to young children and families. Tomorrowland attracts older kids with the Space Mountain roller coaster and the Star Tours flight simulator. Four other areas, Frontierland, Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown and New Orleans Square, feature a mix of thrill rides, shows and restaurants. The Fantasmic stage show and Magical fireworks keep visitors entertained in the evening and usually occur just before closing.
Located at Disney World in Orlando, EPCOT contains two distinct areas, Future World and World Showcase. The former contains the iconic Spaceship Earth ride that resembles a giant golf-ball and towers over the park. Thrill seekers experience G-forces on Mission Space, a rocket simulation ride, and Test Track gives guests an inside look at crash-testing.
The World Showcase features buildings designed to resemble historic sites from around the world. The Norway Pavilion houses the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall where guests interact with Disney princesses and sample Norwegian cuisine. During the fall, EPCOT holds a food and wine festival with booths throughout the World Showcase that sell beverages and snacks from around the globe. The Illuminations water and firework show takes place over the lagoon in World Showcase every night, and several restaurants provide outdoor seating for guests to enjoy the spectacle.
Located about an hour from Tokyo International Airport, Tokyo DisneySea opened in 2001 and its Japanese owners, the Oriental Land Company, partner with Disney to create new rides and maintain existing attractions. The DisneySea features seven themed port areas that contain thrill rides, shows and family attractions. The Lost Delta River area features an Indiana Jones jeep ride, the Raging Spirits roller coaster and entertainment provided by Mexican musicians. Fans of “The Little Mermaid” enjoy the Mermaid Lagoon, which houses a stage show based on the Disney movie and family rides including the Blowfish Balloon Race. The other port themes are American Waterfront, Arabian Coast, Mysterious Island, Mediterranean Harbor and Port Discovery. The Restaurant Sakura located in the American Waterfront Port serves traditional Japanese dishes, and other restaurants offer guests a variety of Asian and Western menu items.
Kate Rivers writes travel content for MyCitiesGuide.com, where you can browse vacation ideas and plan custom vacation itineraries.