If you arrive in Orlando via the correct approach to Orlando International Airport and are lucky enough to have a window seat on the correct side of the plane, you will have a wonderful aerial view of Walt Disney. World Station.
From above, you can see where the iconic buildings are, how much space is available in the parks, and maybe spot some construction projects going on in the resort. We know that spotting the various landmarks is one of our favorite things to do when flying to or from MCO.
Last week, a blog friend had the opportunity to fly a plane over the station. Fortunately, one of their passengers took some wonderful aerial photos which we will share with you.
We begin our aerial tour of Walt Disney World above the Lagoon of the Seven Seas. Downstairs are the Transportation and Ticket Center, four Disney Resorts, and most of the Magic Kingdom. Clockwise, the resorts are The Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
We’ve highlighted a few points of interest with arrows. The blue area at the top points to the TRON Lightcycle/Run roller coaster, which is already in the testing phase.
The yellow arrow to the left is the channel that connects the Rivers of America to the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake where the boat maintenance facilities are located.
The yellow arrow in the upper left indicates where the Reflections Resort was to be built before the pandemic hit. Since then, Disney has remained silent about future plans for this plot. It used to house a water park and I heard various rumors about other potential projects.
Finally, the yellow arrow at the bottom of this photo points to the Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau building. The area between the current Polynesian Resort and Grand Floridian will house a new Disney Vacation Club resort, and work has already begun on dismantling the Luau building.
In our second stop, we take a closer look at the Magic Kingdom. The yellow arrow points to TRON Lightcycle/Run. The upper left corner of the photo is part of the operational heart of Walt Disney World. There are actor training buildings, various shops for building and repairing attraction vehicles, themed items, and more.
With this enlarged plan, we can see the reconfigured Magic Kingdom plaza/hub. The walkways and additional “lawns” provide many more viewing areas for nighttime shows while making it easier to navigate the crowds.
From Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, we head to Crescent Lake and World Showcase Lagoon. Surrounding Crescent Lake are the Yacht & Beach Clubs, Boardwalk Resort and the Swan and Dolphin Resort, including the new Swan Reserve.
In EPCOT, we have highlighted a few points of interest. The green arrow points to the show building for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. It’s tall, but the light blue building in the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (yellow arrow) is much taller.
The purple arrow is the former Wonders of Life pavilion which was previously announced to be the Play pavilion. However, landscape work for Cosmic Rewind cut off access to Future World’s Play Pavilion, I’m sorry… World Discovery.
The blue area marks the global celebration where the Moana Journey of Water attraction moves with rock work on some of the waterfalls that are already starting to appear.
The red arrow is where the new CommuniCore Plaza and Hall will be built. This will be the new festival center for EPCOT.
Our final stop on our tour of the EPCOT area is the orange arrow, which points to one of the weird features of the Disney Skyliner. This building turns cars at ninety degrees. If they went straight, the gondolas would go straight to Hollywood studios.
If you look closely at the bottom right, you can see the Hollywood Tower which houses the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. At the very top is the Fantasmic! arrange. Disney was hoping for Fantasmic! would reopen in time for Memorial Day weekend 2022, but it appears that date has been pushed back.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Our aerial tour now takes us to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As you can see there are a lot of trees in the park. It’s hard to see too many points of interest.
The Yellow Zone is the former home of the Primeval Whirl roller coaster which was one of two big attractions at Dinoland USA. No official word from Disney on what happens next in this area.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Our final stop on this top-down Walt Disney World tour is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Not much has changed now that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is open to guests.
The yellow arrow in the middle points to what will one day be a new barbecue restaurant in Toy Story Land. This will provide much needed air conditioning to a country where the only other air conditioner is in the toilet.
Just above the yellow area is the Central Plaza for Hollywood Studios, at one time a large Mickey Mouse face was easily visible here. Alas, the changes that began with the millennium celebration adding the wizard’s hat scarred Mickey’s face. Currently, only his left eye and ear are approximately as they were originally. Do you see it?
Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th anniversary. One thing is certain… aerial views today will look very different from those of a few decades ago and those taken decades from now.
Many thanks to pilot Brent Jordan Jr. and photographer A. Jordan for sharing these photos with us. Each photo above links to a larger version if you also want a closer view.
We hope to bring you more air tours in the future and track additional changes over the years.