Walt Disney World is full of things to look at: amusing things, cute things, astounding things, iconic things . . . and beautiful things. I always like to stop and smell the roses on vacation, even at a “busy” place like Walt Disney World to really appreciate everything around me and to relax. And when you do this at Walt Disney World you will be amazed at how many beautiful sights you will encounter. Here are 10 of the most beautiful to be on the lookout for:
10. The Welcome Arches
It is hard to find a more welcoming sight than the “Walt Disney World” arch that stretches over the road as you enter the Disney “bubble.” I can guarantee you that almost everyone experiences some kind of emotion as they pass under the arch whether it is excitement, nostalgia, relaxation, or feeling at home. The entrance arch at Walt Disney World is one beautiful sight to behold as you start your vacation.
9. Pandora, World of Avatar at Night
The newest land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park absolutely glows at night. Pandora, World of Avatar is filled with “bioluminescent” creatures and the Disney Imagineers did a fantastic job creating an other-worldly atmosphere in the land, especially at night. Black Light paint & effects, plant life glowing from within, perfectly positioned spot lights all combine to create beautiful sights as you stroll through Pandora at night. Even if you have already experienced the attractions there in the day I would recommend paying a second visit at night to see it glow.
8. Wilderness Lodge at Christmas
The Wilderness Lodge is absolutely breathtaking at Christmas. This is probably true of most Disney resorts during the holidays, along with the parks with their decorations, but Wilderness Lodge just seems made for Christmas. The soaring lobby with its lodge pole construction, huge rock fireplace and woodsy accents just screams Christmas. During the holidays Disney’s crew fills the space with a gigantic (over 45 feet tall) Christmas tree that is decked out with ornaments that complement the Pacific Northwest theme of the resort. All along the railings of the open lobby you’ll find evergreen garland, there are lighted deer and other elements added to the lobby. And it just feels so cozy & homey & Christmas-y. This would be a perfect backdrop for a Hallmark movie . . . it is just so beautiful.
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7. Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Night
All of the parks are beautiful at night, but I want to highlight Disney’s Hollywood Studios. At night the lights come up on Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard and you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the classic Hollywood of the 1940s & 50s. Street lights glow, the architecture is featured with spot lights, but the most beautiful part is all of the neon. It adds motion and atmosphere and makes for a really beautiful night time scene at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And if you venture on back to Toy Story Land you’re in for another beautiful night scene with all of the lights strung up through Andy’s backyard and the lighting effects on Slinky Dog Coaster. You really need to visit all of the parks after dark, but Hollywood Studios may surprise you by how beautiful it looks.
6. Epcot during the International Flower & Garden Festival
I love Epcot year ‘round, but it is at its most beautiful in the Springtime during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. There are so many gorgeous sights here when the Festival is going on. The banks of the ponds between Future World and World Showcase are blanketed in a colorful quilt of flowers, and floating flowers fill several of the water features. As you stroll through the park you will find amazing topiaries featuring your favorite Disney Characters, all carefully crafted by Disney’s Horticulture department out of a variety of plants and flowers. It is hard to look in any direction at Epcot during the International Flower & Garden Festival without seeing something beautiful.
5. Kilimanjaro Safaris
Most of us are not going to have the opportunity to travel to Africa to go on a safari, but visiting Kilimanjaro Safaris in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park gives you the chance to venture out on the savanna to take in beautiful vistas and amazing animals. I like to go on safari first thing in the morning before the animals get too hot during the day, or just around sunset or dusk when they are becoming active again. The natural beauty of the safari from the elegant giraffes strolling across the plains to the majestic elephants and the regal lions –it really just takes your breath away to come so close to these animals in their “natural” habitats.
Sunsets in Florida are stunning! The myriad of colors that fill the sky when the sun goes down is just astounding. And at Walt Disney World there are a few really great spots to catch a beautiful view of the sunset. My first choice is from the top of the Contemporary Resort while enjoying dinner at the California Grill. The sweeping view across Disney property offers a great vantage point to watch a glorious sunset. The Aerophile Balloon at Disney Springs would give another great view. I think the sunsets are most beautiful over the water, so if you could time a boat transportation to one of the parks during sunset it would be very beautiful. And I am sure once the Skyliner Gondolas open they will also have gorgeous views. If you want to catch 2 of my most beautiful sights at once you could always make a FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris for sunset (just google the sunset time for your travel date in Orlando & schedule accordingly).
3. The Tree of Life
The artistry exhibited in the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is really extraordinary. As you enter the park and get past the Oasis you come to a clearing and right in front of you is the massive Tree of Life. As you get closer you can see the details of all of the animal carvings interwoven into its trunk, limbs and branches. And they are all made to look like the bark. I highly recommend that you take a walk around the paths that go around the base so that you can see the carving up close and from those paths you will be able to see so many more animals. The queue line to It’s Tough to be a Bug will also take you past many of the areas. Then, at night, don’t miss the Tree of Life Awakenings. This projection show on the Tree of Life combines beautiful imagery with great storytelling to bring the animals on the tree to life.
2. Cinderella Castle
I know, choosing Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom seems too easy. But I’m going to mention 2 specific times that it is an absolutely beautiful sight to behold. One is during the nightly Happily Ever After Fireworks Spectacular. During that time the projections on the castle are incredible—both in their artistry and the way they use the castle as a canvas. The other time, which I think is when the Castle is the very prettiest, is in the evenings during the holiday season with the icy lights. It starts with the Frozen Holiday Wish when Queen Elsa transforms the castle into a shimmering, icy wonder. Then the lights stay on the castle through the evening. I could sit and just look at it for hours.
1. The Look on Your Child’s Face
Honestly, the most beautiful sights at Walt Disney World are the faces of the people around us as they enjoy the wonder, joy and amazement that is a vacation at Walt Disney World. While you are taking in the beautiful sights that the Imagineers have created around the theme parks, don’t forget that element of taking time to smell the roses and be present in the moment unfolding around you. I’ve spent an entire fireworks show watching the reactions on my children’s faces. And as fabulous as I know the fireworks are . . . those looks are what are priceless and that I will remember from my vacation. So my vote for the most beautiful sight at Walt Disney World are the reactions on the faces of your loved ones.
What do you think is the most beautiful sight at Walt Disney World?