Other Disney Resort Attractions
Of course, there’s a lot more to the 25,000-acre Walt Disney World Resort than just the four main kingdoms. Disney’s ideal guest is one who arrives on Disney property and doesn’t leave until it’s time to go home, and to that end, there are dining and shopping areas, hotels, movie theaters, spas, golf courses, and pretty much anything else you would need to occupy your every recreational need for a week or more.
The biggest attractions are the two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, and during the summer they often fill up quite early in the day, forcing staff to prohibit new entries until a requisite number of people have departed. Fear not, though; even if you don’t manage to make your way onto the water slides before lunch, there are plenty of other diversions around the resort to hold your attention.
The busier and more thrill-centric of Disney’s two water parks, Blizzard Beach ($40 adults, $34 children) is all about breathtakingly high water slides. Sure, the snow-capped theming is amusing, but the focus here is on adventures like Summit Plummet, a 120-foot-high beast that propels riders at speeds nearing 60 mph.
The Slush Gusher gets you going at “only” about 50 mph, and the competitive-minded can race each other on the inner tubes of the Downhill Double Dipper. Toboggan mat slides, tube slides, kid-friendly play areas, a lazy river, and a wave pool are also part of the park.
Typhoon Lagoon ($40 adults, $34 children) may not offer slides of the same heart-pounding intensity as Blizzard Beach’s, but with a water coaster like the impressive Crush ’n’ Gusher and the 36-foot drop that sliders experience on Storm Slides, it’s far from sedate. There’s also a coral reef environment where guests can snorkel among live sharks and tropical fish, and a surfing-ready wave pool.
ESPN Wide World of Sports
The 220-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports is likely to be of little interest to park visitors who don’t have a friend or relative participating in one of the many amateur athletic competitions that take place here. If your visit to Walt Disney World brings you here in March, you can catch the Atlanta Braves in spring training; August brings the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the complex for training camp.
Richard Petty Driving Experience
Located somewhat incongruously right next to the Magic Kingdom’s parking lots, the Richard Petty Driving Experience allows racing fans to get a shot at riding in—or, if they want to shell out the big bucks, driving—a stock car. There are four different programs, ranging from a one-lap ride-along ($116) that will find you reaching speeds of up to 145 mph to a 30-lap drive around the speedway ($1,385).
The driving “experiences” require reservations, and they include a half-hour training session before you get behind the wheel; the ride-along is first-come, first-served. There are no refunds, and weather-cancelled sessions must be rescheduled.
The Walt Disney World Resort is a prime golfing destination, with five courses, all of which are certified wildlife sanctuaries. All of the 18-hole courses offer GPS-equipped carts; lessons and club rentals are available at all five courses. Osprey Ridge ($154 resort guests, $174 day visitors) is the premier course and was named one of America’s Best Resort Courses by Golfweek in 2006, and the Magnolia course ($154 resort guests, $174 day visitors) is nearly as impressive; the Palm and Lake Buena Vista courses ($134 resort guests, $154 day visitors) are slightly less expensive (and less challenging), while Oak Trail is a nine-hole walking course ($38) for those who want to get a quick round in.
There are three full-service spas at Walt Disney World, all of which are located in resort hotels. The Grand Floridian Spa is as luxurious as its surroundings, while the spa at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa blends that property’s old-timey vibe with contemporary massage and spa treatments. The decadent Mandara is at the Dolphin Resort Hotel, and it is thick with Southeast Asian ambiance; of the three, this is the only one that offers hair and nail services.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition