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Science, Photography, and Trip Reviews


Florida - Orlando: Disney World & Universal Orlando

Spectacular Theme Parks, Exciting Rides, and Wonderful Accommodations

Impressive Fireworks, Parades, Cartoon Characters, and Animations

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.


Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.


Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom.

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Disney World

If you want to have fun, more fun, and even more fun, go to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Once there you will soon discover why Disney World is the number one vacation destination in the world. In 47 square miles (122 square km) there are incredible theme parks, water parks, featured sports, resort hotels, restaurants, shops, entertainers, Disney characters, parades, and fireworks shows. Throughout the parks you encounter the impressive Disney animations. Even if you have been there recently it is time to go back. The Disney people keep adding new and exciting things. The theme parks are very big. So when you get to a park obtain a map before exploring. A number of the major attractions have long lines. These lines can be avoided by obtaining the FASTPASS which allows you to come back within a specified time interval to go right in. It is also wise to make reservations at many of the restaurants scattered throughout the parks to be assured of seating. Because of the enormous variety of things to do at Disney World you will get much more out of your Disney experience if you buy a book of Disney World before you go. There are a number of good books including those published by Fodor and Birnbaum.

Contemporary Resort.


Grand Floridian Resort.

Contemporary Resort at Disney World.


Grand Floridian Resort at Disney World.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom has seven enchanted lands, and its most famous sight is the Cinderella Castle. The seven enchanted lands are: Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Main Street, U.S.A., Mickey's Toontown Fair, and Tomorrowland. There are numerous attractions which include: The Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Walt Disney World Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain, and Skyway to Fantasyland. We especially enjoyed Splash Mountain and Space Mountain. The Disney Characters are seen in shows and parades, and it is possible to meet them. There are also restaurants, snack services, and many places to shop. Fireworks are shown nightly. The hotels in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area are listed in the table below.

Resort Hotel


Disney Rating

Disney's Contemporary Resort



Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground


Home Away From Home

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa



Disney's Polynesian Resort



Disney's Wilderness Lodge



Disney rates their resort properties according to price as follows: Value, Moderate, Home Away From Home, and Deluxe.

The Grand Floridian Resort is very beautiful and worth a visit if you do not stay there. Remember, that even if you do not stay at a resort you can go there for meals


Epcot has a number of attractions including: Test Track, Spaceship Earth, and The Living Seas. We especially enjoyed Spaceship Earth and thought that the Test Track was very exciting. There are restaurants and places to shop.

An outstanding attraction of Epcot is the World Showcase where eleven countries display their heritage and culture in buildings representative of their nations. The countries are: America (USA), Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, and United Kingdom. These countries have wonderful presentations, shops selling things that that the countries are known for, and restaurants offering native foods. Be sure and make reservations for the restaurants or you will probably not get in. You can spend hours visiting the World Showcase. The Disney Characters are scheduled to appear at some of the Nation Showcases.

World class entertainment appears at the America Gardens Theatre, and the Illuminations are shown nightly at the World Showcase Lagoon. The hotels in the Epcot Kingdom Resort Area are listed in the table below.

Resort Hotel


Disney Rating

Disney's Beach Club Resort



Disney's BoardWalk Inn



Disney's BoardWalk Villas



Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort



Disney's Yacht Club Resort



Walt Disney World Dolphin


Walt Disney World Swan


Parade at American Showcase Epcot.


China Showcase Epcot.

Parade at the American Showcase Epcot.


China Showcase at Epcot.

MGM Studios

The MGM Studios' attractions include: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Beauty and the Beast, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and the TwiLight Zone Tower of Terror. We found the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror thrilling, very thrilling. The Disney Characters will greet you at various places and times. There are restaurants, fast snack services, and many places to shop.

Animal Kingdom

At Animal Kingdom there is fascinating wildlife. While there you can enjoy: It's Tough to Be a Bug, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Tarzan Rocks!, Countdown to Extinction, Festival of the Lion King, Asia, Kali River Rapids, and many more attractions. There are a number of places to Dine, get quick bites, and to shop. You can meet the Disney Characters in Camp Minnie-Mickey. The hotels in the Animal Kingdom Resort Area are listed in the table below.

Resort Hotel


Disney Rating

Disney's All-Star Movies Resort



Disney's All-Star Music Resort



Disney's All-Star Sports Resort



Disney's Coronado Springs Resort



Tower of Terror at MGM Studios.


Pirates of the Caribbean animation.

Tower of Terror at MGM Studios.


Pirates of the Caribbean Animation.

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney has many shops, restaurants, and entertainment complexes spread over 120 acres in a waterfront setting. The shops include the World of Disney and the Virgin Megastore. When it is time to dine you can choose from Planet Hollywood, the House of Blues, and other choices. For entertainment there is the Mannequins Dance Palace, SoundStage, Wildhorse Saloon, and other fun places to spend your time. The Disney hotels in the Downtown Disney Resort area are shown in the table below.

Resort Hotel


Disney Rating

Disney's Dixie Landing Resort



Disney's Old Key West Resort


Home Away From Home

Disney's Port Orleans Resort



The Villas at the Disney Institute


Home Away From Home

The following hotels are also found in the Downtown Disney Area.


Best Western Lake Buena Vista

Courtyard by Marriott

DoubleTree Guest Suites Resort

Grosvenor Resort

Hilton Resort

Hotel Royal Plaza

Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa

Water Adventures

Disney offers three water parks. One is Blizzard Beach which has white water raft rides, flumes, and floats. There are some long and tall rides. Another Disney Park is River Country. This park is designed to remind you of the adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. There are slides and tube rides. This is a place for the whole family to relax. Across the lake is Discovery Island which is a nature park and bird sanctuary. The remaining water park is Disney's Typhoon Lagoon which has a tropical setting. This park has one of the world's largest inland surf pools. Here you can experience high speed thrills.

Donna & Rebecca with Goofy.


Donna & Rebecca with Goofy.


Dazzling Fireworks Shows.

Wide World of Sports Complex

Disney hosts both professional and amateur sports in their Wide World of Sports Complex. There are more than 200 acres of sports facilities. At the NFL Experience you can test your passing, receiving, and kicking skills. The Official All Star Cafe is the place to dine.

Disney Passes

Disney passes vary as to what they offer depending upon the number of nights in your package, and whether you stay at a Disney Resort Hotel, an official Walt Disney World Hotel, or a hotel off of the Disney property. There are more privileges when you stay on the Disney Resort Property.

The "Ultimate" or "Unlimited" passes give you unlimited admission to Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park, Disney-MGM Studios, Downtown Disney Pleasure Island, DisneyQuest, Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Disney's River Country Water Park, and Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. You can visit multiple parks on the same day. Note that some activities are priced separately and that DisneyQuest does not include prize play games. These passes can also include Flex Features like Character Breakfasts and meals.

Some "Park Hopper" passes give you unlimited admission to the four Disney Theme Parks: Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and Disney-MGM Studios. However, admission to one or more of the three Water Parks, Downtown Disney Pleasure Island, or Disney's Wide World of Sports depends upon the number of nights in your package. These are the kinds of passes you can get in a package when you stay in hotels that are not on the Disney Resort Property.

Disney World plus Disney Cruise

You can enjoy the best of two worlds with a combination package of Disney Orlando and the Disney Cruise Line. Spend four nights at a hotel on Disney Property with Disney Passes, and than experience sailing for three nights with Disney Cruise Line to the Bahamas and back. This package is a favorite of honeymooners.

Movie sets at Universal Studios.


Island of Adventure at Universal Studios.

Movie Sets at Universal Studios.


Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando.

Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando has become a prime vacation destination requiring more than two days to see it all. It has two theme parks. There is Universal Studios theme park where you can experience great movies, and there is the Islands of Adventure theme park which has advanced rides and attractions that have become very popular. In addition, there is fine dining, entertainment, dancing, and shopping at Universal CityWalk.

Universal Studios

At Universal Studios theme park you can experience Twister and feel like you are in a tornado. The ground will shake and disasters take place as you ride in Earthquake. You will be attacked by Jaws during a boat ride. You will run into King Kong as he climbs sky scrapers. In addition, there is the ride Men In Black, a 3-D Adventure Terminator 2, and much more.

Islands of Adventure

The Islands of Adventure theme park contains Seuss's Landing, The Lost Continent, Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon, and Marvel Super Hero Island. Attractions include The Cat in The Hat, Dueling Dragons, The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls, and the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. There is much more.


At CityWalk there is non-stop nightlife. The restaurants include Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, Emeril's Restaurant Orlando, and the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando. It is best to make reservations to be assured of seating. The Nightclubs include the Hard Rock Live Orlando and Pat O'Briens Orlando. You can go to the movies at the Universal Cineplex which is a high-tech theater with twenty screens. There are also many places to shop.

Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

Universal Orlando has three on-site hotels. The Portofino Bay Hotel is a Loews Hotel. This is a luxury hotel. There is also the Hard Rock Hotel. The newest hotel is the Royal Pacific Resort, which is a Loews Hotel. On-site hotel guests get special privileges including front-of-the-line access to some popular attractions during select park hours and admission to theme parks one hour before the general public on select days.

Universal Orlando Admission Tickets

Length of Stay Ticket: With On-Site Hotel Packages there is unlimited admission to both theme parks for the duration of stay. Also included is a CityWalk Party Pass and a free Universal Cineplex movie ticket.

3-Day & 2-Day Tickets: These tickets are for those staying off Universal property in Orlando area hotels. There is unlimited admission of 2 or 3 days to both theme parks plus a CityWalk Party Pass.

1-Day Ticket: This ticket provides admission for one day to either the Universal Studios or the Islands of Adventure theme parks.

Beyond Disney & Universal

In addition to Disney World and Universal Orlando in Orlando there is also Sea World, Discovery Cove, and Wet 'n Wild. In nearby Tampa Bay is Busch Gardens. Nearby to Orlando on the East Coast is the Kennedy Space Center and beaches. Central Florida has much to offer.

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