Magic unlimited

Magic unlimited

"Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. Dreams are forever."

One of the ever-relevant quotes from Walt Disney, it seems apt while reflecting on your visit to one of the 'happiest' places in the world where you can indulge the child in you with gay abandon - The Walt Disney World in Orlando, USA.

Spread over a whopping 110 square kilometres, the entertainment complex houses several themed hotels, four theme parks and two water parks apart from golf courses.

It's an attraction that clocks tens of millions of visitors a year, so much so that the 'Lost and Found' department here gets about 200 pairs of sunglasses a day.

An ideal family outing with a plethora of themed rides, movie shows, live characters and parades, and umpteen options to eat and drink, it is a place where the fun is unlimited. Given the sheer size, the park is best explored by spending at least a day at each of the theme parks, namely Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

Sheer escape

Arguably the best attraction of Disney World, Magic Kingdom is sure to transport you into the delightful world of fantasy, fairies and fancy. With a capacity to hold almost 1,00,000 visitors a day, Magic Kingdom is entertainment personified across its sub-parks, namely Tomorrow Land, Fantasy Land, Adventure Land and Frontier Land.

Colour and cheer are in abundance as you come face-to-face with your childhood favourite, Mickey Mouse, on the 'Main street, USA', which seems so impeccably constructed. A chance to meet  Cinderella, Rapunzel, Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid  is the perfect setting to conjure up a canful of childhood memories and make many new ones.

Apart from stage shows and live street performances, there are several themed rides that you can choose from based on your interest, mood and 'thrill level'. An all-time favourite, 'It's a Small World' is a slow-moving ride that takes you around the world with world peace as the central theme.

If you are a lover of classic tales, then take 'The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' ride that transports you into the world of the anthropomorphic teddy bear, or even the 'Peter Pan's Flight' that takes you aboard a magical pirate ship.

If you are in a mood for adventure, get on to the 'Splash Mountain' or 'Big Thunder Mountain Railroad'. It's sure to keep you on the edge of your seat with its breakneck speed, sudden turns and deep plunges.

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress is an incredibly well-crafted audio-animatronics show detailing how technology has influenced and shaped lives over the last century.

Do not miss the fantasy parade that is a visual spectacle celebrating the spirit of Disney. With larger-than-life floats, props and Disney characters in splendid costumes, the display of dance and song creates an amazing atmosphere.

Equally spectacular is the display of fireworks at the  closing hour that is aptly named 'Happily Ever After'. Magic fills the air as hundreds patiently wait to see the night sky fill up with colours and patterns amid music that highlights the importance of imagination and the ability to dream, the first step to turn dreams into reality.

Peek into the future

Formerly called EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) Centre, this was a long-cherished dream of Walt Disney that opened in 1982, much after his death in 1966. It is a celebration of the advancement of science and technology and its impact on our lives. Spread over 300 acres, it has two broad zones, the Future World and the World Showcase.

The former focuses on areas like transportation, communication, space exploration... Based on these themes, there are attractions like 'Ellen's Energy Adventure' and 'Project Tomorrow' that help you traverse time and space. 'Living with the land' is a particularly interesting boat ride through the greenhouses, the living laboratories that give you an insight into the potential future of food production.

The 'World Showcase' is an ode to world culture, and has recreated 11 nations around a scenic artificial lagoon. Each 'country' carries details of its landscape, cuisines, cultures etc. So you can sample the exotic wines of France, savour the authentic English tea, shop in the bazaars of Morocco, enjoy the Niagara Falls of Canada, and soak in the energy of Japanese drum music.

Beyond the self

Opened in 1998, this (Animal Kingdom) theme park is dedicated to the cause of animal protection and the conservation of our environment. Spanning areas like 'Asia', 'Africa', 'Dino Land' and 'Discovery Land', the park is home to about 1,700 animals from over 250 species.

The park is centred around the 'Tree of Life', a signature Disney creation standing 145 feet tall with   300 images of animals carved on its trunk. Accessible by a wildlife-themed train, the Rafiki's Planet Watch is a favourite with kids. It is here that children can feed and pet animals. Enjoy a walking tour with the 'Maharaja Jungle Trek' that features several animals including Komodo dragons, bats, and a host of avian species. Get onto the jeep safari to catch a glimpse of the rare okapi and flamingoes.

Hollywood studios

If you are a fan of the movies, there is no better place than Hollywood Studios. Start your day with The Great Movie Ride  which takes you aboard a tram tour that relives the legacy of some of the greatest Hollywood movies ever. Scenes from Casablanca, Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz come alive amidst life-size sets. While the 'Toy Story Mania' is something kids would enjoy, the gallery at 'Walt Disney: One Man's Dream' is not to be missed. The latter has some rare sketches, models and never-seen-before memorabilia about the legendary Walt Disney. Live stage shows like The Beauty and the Beast and A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration add to the magic of the movies. The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! is  a live demonstration of stunts and special effects. The latest addition to the list is 'Pandora – The World of Avatar'.  

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