If you happen to be flying into Orlando on just the right approach path to Orlando International Airport, and you’re lucky enough to have a window seat on the correct side of the plane, you’ll get a wonderful aerial view of the Walt Disney World Resort.
From above, you can see where iconic buildings are located, how much space is available within the parks, and maybe spot a few construction projects going on at the resort. We know spotting the various landmarks is one of our favorite things to do as we fly into or out of MCO.
Last week, a friend of the blog had the opportunity to fly a plane over the resort. Thankfully, one of their passengers snapped some wonderful aerial photos for us to share with you.
We start our Walt Disney World aerial tour high above the Seven Seas Lagoon. Down below 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 couple interest points with arrows. The blue area at the top points to TRON Lightcycle/Run roller coaster, which is already in its testing phase.
The yellow arrow to the left is the canal that connects the Rivers of America to Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake where the water craft maintenance facilities are located.
The yellow arrow at the top left is where the Reflections Resort was scheduled to be constructed before the pandemic hit. Since then, Disney has been silent on future plans for this plot of land. It was once home to a water park and I’ve heard various rumors about other potential plans.
Finally, the yellow arrow at the bottom of this photo is pointed at the Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau building. The area between the current Polynesian Resort and Grand Floridian will be the home for 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 at TRON Lightcycle/Run. The upper left of the photo is part of the operational heart of Walt Disney World. There are cast member training buildings, various shops to build and repair attraction vehicles, themed elements, and more.
With this zoomed in shot, we can see the reconfigured plaza / hub of the Magic Kingdom. The extra pathways and ‘lawns’ provide a lot more viewing areas for the nighttime shows while also making it easier to navigate the crowds.
From Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake we move to Crescent Lake and World Showcase Lagoon. Around Crescent Lake are the Yacht & Beach Clubs, Boardwalk Resort, and the Swan and Dolphin complex, including the new Swan Reserve.
Over in EPCOT, we’ve highlighted a few points of interest. The green arrow points to the show building for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. It’s big, but the light blue show building for the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (yellow arrow) is much larger.
The purple arrow is the former Wonders of Life pavilion that was previously announced to become the Play pavilion. However, the landscape work for Cosmic Rewind has cut off access to the Play pavilion from Future World, I’m sorry… World Discovery.
The blue area marks World Celebration where the Moana Journey of Water attraction is moving along with rockwork on some of the waterfalls already beginning to show.
The red arrow is where the new CommuniCore Plaza and Hall will be built. This will be the new festival center for EPCOT.
Our last stop on our tour of EPCOT area is the orange arrow, which points to one of the Disney Skyliner’s weird features. This building turns the cars ninety degrees. If they just went straight, The gondolas would go right to Hollywood Studios.
If you look close at the bottom right, you can see the Hollywood Tower that’s home to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. Right at the top of that is the Fantasmic! stage. Disney was hoping Fantasmic! would reopen in time for Memorial Day weekend 2022, but it looks like that date has been pushed.
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. Makes it hard to see too many points of interest.
The yellow area is the former home of the Primeval Whirl roller coaster which was one of two big attractions in Dinoland U.S.A.. No official word from Disney on what’s happening next in this area.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Our last stop on this tour of Walt Disney World from above, is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There’s not much change going on now that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser has opened to guests.
The yellow arrow in the middle points to what will someday be a new barbecue restaurant in Toy Story Land. That will provide some much needed air conditioning to a land where the only other A/C is in the restrooms.
Right above the yellow area is the Central Plaza for Hollywood Studios, at one time, a large Mickey Mouse face was easily visible here. Alas, changes that started with the Millennium Celebration adding the Sorcerer’s Hat have scarred Mickey’s face. Right now, only his left eye and ear are pretty much as they originally were. Do you see it?
Walt Disney World is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. One thing is certain… the aerial views of today will look significantly different from those of a few decades ago and those taken decades from now.
A big 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 want a closer view too.
We hope to bring you more aerial tours in the future and track additional changes over the years.