The World of Disney
Disneyland, Disney World… call it what you will, the very name conjures up images of wonder and excitement. It contin-ues to appear on countless bucket lists of kids and grownups alike. Thankfully, there are Disney playgrounds around the world to satisfy those who yearn tofulfil their childhood dream.
Words by Gloria Spittel
Disneyland Resort – Anaheim (California, USA)
Opened in 1955, the resort is home to the original Disneyland theme park (known as the Disneyland Park) and Disney California Adventure. Developed by Walt Disney himself, it was the first to open its doors to Disney’s adoring fans.
Consisting of two theme parks, three hotels, and the Downtown Disney shopping, dining, and entertainment district, the California Disneyland Resort has undergone many renovations over the years.
Inspired by popular films, Disney California Adventure currently includes a 12 acre immersive ‘Cars Land’ and a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!’ ride, which opened last year.
Planned attractions include ‘Pixar Pier,’ complete with new rides and neighbourhoods (this year) and ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,’ an immersive world offering fascinating experiences for all ages (in 2019).
Tokyo Disney Resort – Chiba Prefecture (Tokyo, Japan)
The Tokyo Disney Resort was the first Disney theme park to open outside the US. It consists of the Tokyo Disneyland Park and Tokyo DisneySea. When the park opened in 1983, it only had the Tokyo Disneyland Park, which was modelled on the original Disneyland Park in Anaheim.
In addition to the second theme park Tokyo DisneySea, which opened a new ride based on Finding Nemo, the amusement park houses four Disney branded hotels (amongst others), and the Ikspiari shopping, dining, and entertainment district.
Known as the Kingdom of Magic and Dreams to its Japanese visitors, its plans for the future include attractions based on the box office hits Big Hero 6, and Beauty and the Beast.
Walt Disney World Resort – Lake Buena Vista (Florida, USA)
The Walt Disney World Resort was the second Disney destination to open – and it is the largest. The resort has become the flagship Disney desti-nation since its opening in 1971.
It currently consists of four theme parks – Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom – each with its own rides and immersive attractions. The Walt Disney World Resort is also home to two water parks, five golf courses and 28 resorts, and of-fers numerous shopping and dining options.
According to the Theme Park Index, the Magic Kingdom Park was the most popular amusement park in 2016 with over 20 million visitors. Initial-ly, the Epcot theme park was a concept by Walt Disney himself, which was in its development phase and intended to house a real city in constant flux due to futuristic changes in urban living. However, following Walt Disney’s death in 1966, his philosophy for Epcot was converted into a theme park.
While popular theme parks such as ‘Pandora – The World of Avatar’ opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2016, the resort has expansion plans for attractions based on Ratatouille, Guardians of the Galaxy, Toy Story Land, Star Wars, Tron and the first ever Mickey themed ride through to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021.
Disneyland Paris – Marne-la-Vallée (Paris, France)
Opened in 1992, Disneyland in Paris is home to two theme parks – Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios Park. It boasts seven Disney re-sort hotels, a golf course, and shopping, dining, and entertainment venues.
The second Disney theme park to be launched outside the US, Disneyland Paris is in the midst of celebrating its 25th anniversary with special festivities and shows continuing until September.
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort – Lantau Island (Hong Kong)
Consisting of a theme park – Hong Kong Disney-land – three hotels, recreation facilities and a multilingual cast, the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort was the first to be opened in China.
Since its opening in 1992, the park has added new themed areas and rides such as the Toy Story Land in 2011 and the first Marvel themed ride in a Disney Park (Iron Man Experience) last year.
At present, the theme park is working on expansion plans that are set to commence this year, and expected to include new immersive areas based on Marvel and Frozen.
Shanghai Disney Resort – Pudong New District (Shanghai, China)
Opened in 2016, the Shanghai Disney Resort is the first Disney park to be located on mainland China. It consists of two large themed hotels, numerous shopping venues and an entertainment district with a Broadway style theatre amongst other recreational areas.
The resort also features classic Disney storytelling and characters, and will expand with the opening of Toy Story Land in 2018.
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa – Ko Olina (Oahu, Hawaii)
A Disney Resort & Spa situated on lush and pristine oceanfront, Aulani offers guests of all ages unique Disney magic in-duced adventures and experiences, and an 18,000 square foot spa and pool area.
The resort integrates and celebrates traditional Hawaiian customs and culture through its escapades. Hotel guests and Disney Vacation Club Members can experience a snorkel lagoon too.
More Disney to experience…
DISNEY CRUISE LINE
Launched in 1998, the Disney Cruise Line consists of a fleet of four ships – viz. Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Expansion plans include the addition of three new ships by 2023.
DISNEY VACATION CLUB
Established in 1991, the Disney Vacation Club offers a flexible points-based vacation system. At present, it has more than 220,000 member families. Members and their guests can stay at any of 14 Disney Vacation Club destinations, including Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and Vero Beach in Florida.