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Walt Disney World Resort Overview, Pictures

Overview Index Walt Disney World Index

Storms
Sometimes, the weather gets angry. (Southbound on SR-429(toll) toward the Walt Disney World Western Way entrance.)

Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a picture site. On this page are all the pictures of Walt Disney World that aren't a Theme Park. As a matter of fact, I'm going to start with pictures that aren't Walt Disney World at all.

The Orlando International Airport Cell Phone Lot

The Orlando International Airport (MCO) isn't Walt Disney World, but it's the airport it is today because of Walt Disney World. So that's where I'm going to start. Well, not the airport itself, where I'd probably get arrested by Homeland Security if I took pictures, but the Cell Phone lot.

(Orlando's airport has the FAA Location ID as MCO because at one time it was the McCoy Air Force Base. The Air Force used to base B-52's there in the 1950's, so when civilian jet aircraft such as the Boeing 707 started to arrive in Orlando, Florida made a deal with the Air Force to use one of their runways, twice the length of those at (what is now) the Orlando Executive airport. So the Air Base became a dual civilian/military airport in the early 1960's. After WDW opened, the number of flights increased to the point the AFB gave their permission to build expanded passenger facilities and parking lots. This relationship existed until 1975 when McCoy AFB was shut down and the land granted to the local Air Authority.)

Marty Sklar states that in 1967 (when he was first there to survey the land where Magic Kingdom was to be built), there were four airlines which provided seven commercial flights per day. Today, the airport's web site states there are over 40 airlines and over 800 flight per day. And a good portion of those flyers never even see the city of Orlando...

I don't remember the first time I used the cell lot. A long time ago. It was nothing more than an asphalt loop, and you parked on the dirt. Still it was better than having to pay to park in the parking garage to wait for someone's flight to arrive.

Since then, it's quadrupled in size, with real parking spaces, and they've even planted trees and put in porta-potties. Park, wait until your party arrives and calls you when they've picked up their luggage and are at the pick-up area and two or three minutes later, get to the terminal, throw the luggage in the trunk, a little pixie dust, and off you go! It works well for all involved, and there's no charge! An actual welcome innovation of everyone having a cell phone these days.

The MCO Cell phone lot
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Miscellaneous Disney World Pictures

Here are some pictures that really don't fit anywhere else. Angry weather, the different entrance arches (from I-4, the Greeneway and Western Way), examples of directional signage, and even the Electric Water Pageant, which makes its way around Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon every night.

The Electric Water Pageant (created in 1971 at Walt Disney World) was actually the inspiration for the first Main Street Electrical Parade in Disneyland, which opened in 1972.

Around The Resort
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If you're staying on-site, you can get just about anywhere in Disney World using Disney Transportation. If you're staying off-site, you have to find your own way on-site, but once there, can use Disney Transportation to get yourself around the World. Bus, boat or monorail, it's free. And remember, "free" is a relative term...

Transportation
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If you're leaving via I-4 toward Tampa, you'll see the Mouse Power Pole.

Leaving
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The Ticket and Transportation Center

Ticket and transportation center
The Ticket and Transportation Center, with monorail service to Magic Kingdom and Epcot; ferry service to Magic Kingdom; bus service to Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom; and tram service to your car in the vast TTC parking lots.
Had Walt and the Imagineers had foresight as good as our hindsight, I doubt there'd be a place called the Ticket and Transportation Center (aka the TTC.)

I'm sure the Imagineers of the day were sure that this would be a central parking location, with monorail and boat service to any of the parks they would build, including the city of EPCOT that Walt dreamed of. For instance, World Showcase was once supposed to be its own theme park, right next to the TTC, and there were supposed to be several more monorail hotels. (The Grand Floridian was not on that original list.)

However, when reality hit the highway, it turns out the monorail is prohibitively expensive to build, especially when some of the swampland has no bottom. Bus service is much more economical, they can share a paved road with the automobile traffic. There are some far reaching plans of some sort of PRT (Personal Rapid Transit), that can take you from one location to another (even resort to resort) without having to transfer vehicles. Maybe someday.

I'm also sure that if they could have dreamed of the attendance of this park, that they wouldn't have bottlenecked the trip to the guest's car twice. (One to wait for a tram to get to/from the parking lot, and the other the ferry or monorail between the TTC and Magic Kingdom. Reverse when going home.)

Today, it's still the parking area for Magic Kingdom, as each theme park has their own parking lot. It's still a ticket center, where you can purchase and upgrade Walt Disney World passes. It's also the transportation center, where trams from the parking lot load and unload guests, who then transfer to Magic Kingdom (or Epcot) via Monorail or via ferry boat over the Seven Seas Lagoon. Also available are buses to Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Of course you bypass all of this if you're staying on-site. Disney's resort busses bypass the Ticket and Transportation Center completely and has a bus area close to Magic Kingdom's entrance. But, when Walt Disney World first opened, it was the Magic that started your trip into The World of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy...

Ticket and Transportation Center
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Walt Disney World Theme Parks

This whole place lives under the name Walt Disney World, but in reality, the draw to this place are the Theme Parks. As different as they are, there are certain commonalities between all parks. For instance, each is represented by an icon, where even a silhouette or abstract of it will be instantly recognizable as a representation of a park.

Entrance Areas

The biggest overlap of common elements are in the Entrance Areas. This is due to common guest interactions with Disney more than anything else.

Outside the Entrance Areas are the Transportation stations. Resort bus stops (all parks), trams to parking lots (all except Magic Kingdom), monorail stations (Epcot and Magic Kingdom only) and boat docks (All except Animal Kingdom and the main entrance to Epcot).

Once you approach the parks, the first obstacle encountered is a Bag Check. Disney reserves the right to go through all bags brought into the park, including backpacks, purses and camera bags. If you have no bags, there's another entrance you can go through without having to wait in line.

A word on Bag Check. I once thought the bag check was an over-reaction to 9/11, only another choke-point into the parks -- A make-feel-good effort to show the guests there's some effort at security in the parks. (Though there are stories of the incredibly stupid people who try to bring contraband into the parks...)

However, over the years, I've come to the conclusion that Disney really doesn't do things for no reason, even if sometimes it seems they do. I've become convinced that there's more going on at the bag checks than meet the eye. Disney doesn't do things for no reason. Given that the bags have to be over the table as security inspects it makes me think there's more in the table than a table. I'm sure there are cameras someplace, and along with (supposedly world class) facial recognition that screens for the banned-for-life and other undesirables, and the bag check is a perfect place to do this. It is well before you actually enter the park, and it forces all the guests though a single-file line, unless bagless, and even then you are looked over security as you enter) . Given the nature of today's world, one can only imagine what security measures Disney has on their property. Those who know will probably never tell, but it'd be interesting to find out.

I once had a conversation with a Cast Member (while waiting in a line) that there seems to be an overwhelming number of places in Disney World where you wait in line, only to be able to wait in another line. So once past Bag Check, you have a choice of many other lines, such as the ticket booths, guest services (which deals mostly with ticket issues), rest rooms and usually someplace to buy something. Oh, you can also enter the park.

Once inside the park, you will find another Guest Services (which can do Airline seating, table service reservations, etc.), rest rooms, lockers, wheelchair/scooter rentals, park maps and attraction time guides, a First Aid office, package pick-up, and yeah, someplace to buy something. Usually a few places to buy something.

The Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom, The Most Magical Place on Earth, is Disney's second theme park, the park Walt wanted to do right. Or at least, themed more efficiently. Opening in 1971, substantially larger and less densely packed than the other Magic Kingdom, it's the number one visited park on the planet.

Epcot, once to be the "Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow", today is a theme park just known as Epcot. Opening in 1982 as Epcot Center, this park is half technology showcase and half sort of a World's Fair, and is unique in the world of Theme Parks. Epcot is also Disney's venue for their annual events, such as the Flower and Garden show and the Food and Wine festival.
Epcot
Epcot
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios (once known as Disney-MGM Studios) opened in 1989, just months before Universal Studios Florida. Coincidence? Not hardly. But contrary to popular belief, Disney had their 'studios' on the burner before Universal, but not as its own theme park. This park is a tribute to the movies and television, and those who make them. Mostly.

Disney's Animal Kingdom is Disney's newest theme park at Disney World, opening in 1998. It's Disney's first theme park that actually deals with animals. Real ones. And I don't mean the ones that pay to go there.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney

Not really a theme park (though some would argue differently), Downtown Disney is the non-park marketing outlet at Walt Disney World. Shops and restaurants populate this area, and it's free! Of course, the entire purpose of this place is to sell you something, so free sorta comes with a price.

Downtown Disney is undergoing a makeover, where the sprawling parking lots will be replaced a couple of multi-story parking structures, with the extra land and the former Pleasure Island to become what will be called, The Springs.

Disney's Water Parks are perfect way to spend a hot day at Disney World. It *is* a theme park, it's just a themed water park.

My Disney World water park virginity was broken in August 2011 at Typhoon Lagoon. Yeah, I know the title says Water Parks, I'm just assuming I'll visit Blizzard Beach one day.

Typhoon Lagoon
water parks
ESPN's Wide World of Sports
Wide World of Sports

Not really a theme park, ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex is Disney's area for Sports. The Atlanta Braves play their spring training games here. The area is also used for their Marathon registrations.

Jenny ran a 5K, and we went there to register and pick up her packet. I took pictures.

Ever since 2002, I've exclusively stayed at Disney Resorts when visiting Disney World. The Resorts section has been moved here.
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End Walt Disney World (overview) - Part 3 of 3.

Jump to: Part 1, History Part 2, Brain Dumps Part 3, Pictures and Theme Parks Overview

Revisions:
  • 06/10/2015 - Page split
  • 06/21/2015 - Rewrite and update