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A popular misconception is that the resort exists in Orlando. In fact, the entire Walt Disney World property is outside Orlando city limits; the majority sits within southwestern Orange County, with the remainder in adjacent Osceola County to the south. Most of Walt Disney World's Central Florida land and all of the public areas are located in the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, located southwest of Orlando and a few miles northwest of Kissimmee. The land within Walt Disney World Resort is part of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which allows the Disney corporation to exercise quasi-governmental powers over the area. Walt Disney World Resort features four theme parks, each represented by an iconic structure:
  • The Magic Kingdom (Cinderella Castle)
  • Epcot (Spaceship Earth, the geodesic sphere.)
  • Disney-MGM Studios (The Sorcerer's Hat; formerly the "Earful Tower". Note: The earful tower is not a water tower.)
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom (the Tree of Life) There are also two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach (a third, River Country, operated from 1976-2001)
  • Disney's Wide World of Sports athletic complex.
The Downtown Disney area, consisting of three sections (Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and West Side), contains many shopping, dining, and entertainment venues. This includes DisneyQuest (an indoor "interactive theme park"), the House of Blues, and a permanent Cirque du Soleil show (La Nouba).

Walt Disney World Resort covers a total of 47 square miles (122 square kilometers), about the size of San Francisco or twice the size of Manhattan. Less than half the property has been developed. A quarter has been set aside as a wilderness preserve.


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