Disney also has not announced how or whether the Animal Kingdom will be included in its multi-day, multi-park passes, some of which allow admission at a single theme park each day while others allow unlimited park-hopping for periods ranging from four to seven days. The seven-day pass, currently priced by age group at $255 and $204, provides unlimited admission to theme parks, water parks and other "gated" attractions.
Lodging: Disney offers accommodations ranging from $35-per-day campground sites to hotel rooms starting at $74 and rising as high as $1,300 for a pricey BoardWalk "Grand Villa." Children under 18 stay free in rooms with parents. Reservations: 407-W-DISNEY.
Advantages of staying at Disney's hotels include free parking and use of its transportation system, and the convenience of heading to the room for a midday nap. But there's plenty of other hotels, motels and campgrounds within a few miles of the Disney property, and for the budget-minded it pays to shop around in search of discount offers.
The Full Disney
It has become possible to play, work and even live entirely within the Disney realm. And you might have to, if you want to experience the Full Disney.
Aside from the four major theme parks, consider this partial list of attractions:
The BoardWalk, Pleasure Island, Downtown Disney Marketplace and West Side shopping and entertainment complexes; River Country, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks; a half-dozen golf courses; and Walt Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, baseball spring training home of the Atlanta Braves and future site of numerous sporting events including the U.S. men's clay court tennis championships April 19-26.
While the BoardWalk is designed like a turn-of- the-century New England seaside resort, you can check out the latest in video games there (including interactive race cars at $4 a pop) or an ESPN sports bar where the cable TV network's "Baseball Tonight" show originates several nights each week.
Want to learn a new skill or craft? The Disney Institute combines vacation amenities with learning experiences as varied as topiary, wine tasting and rock climbing.
A place to stay? The complex at last count had 26 resort hotels (16 of them owned and operated by Disney), with 24,617 "accommodations." And a pocket-size guidebook given to hotel guests lists more than 100 places to eat, from cafeteria style to sit-down gourmet.
Walt Disney World enterprises support a work force of more than 40,000 people, and growing. A spokeswoman notes that a hiring boom is under way.
By the time you've played, slept and eaten your way through the empire in Central Florida, take a vacation break -- maybe a trip on Disney's soon-to-launch cruise ship to Disney's very own Caribbean island. (A second cruise ship is under construction.)
Heading home after the cruise? For some folks, that doesn't mean going very far.
Just off the Route 192 tourist jungle of motels and restaurants, a Disney subsidiary has built a new town called Celebration,where you can spend anywhere from the $160,000s to more than $1 million for a home. Apartment rentals range from $640 to $1,250.
Celebration at last count had a population of 1,300, with 420 occupied residences. Its master plan envisions as many as 8,000 homes, 3.1 million square feet of office space, 2.1 million square feet of retail, a 150-bed hospital, a kindergarten through 12th-grade Osceola County public school and three golf courses. And more is coming. Drive past Downtown Disney West Side and you'll see a huge building under construction -- the future home of a permanent branch of the popular Cirque du Soleil, scheduled to open Dec. 23.
Most amazing, perhaps, is that not everything comes at a price.
In the Downtown Disney area, window shopping is a pleasure, with stores specializing in such items as refrigerator magnets, custom and collector guitars, designer sunglasses, unusual art and nostalgia.
And then there's the Lego Imagination Center, which opened in October -- not only selling all types of the popular interlocking building sets, but offering a free playground for children to exercise their imaginations.
For inspiration, they can enjoy such giant Lego models as a 30-foot-long fire-breathing dragon rising out of the nearby Buena Vista lagoon.
Pub Date: 4/05/98