Just outside of Orlando, Florida sits one of the most magical places on earth – Walt Disney World. Known as the place “Where Dreams Come True,” you’ve likely heard of the four magical kingdoms that draw people of all ages to the park year-round. The resorts, amusement parks, and iconic architecture also helped to put Disney World on the map when it opened back in 1971.
But Disney World’s water features often go unmentioned, even though they provide beautiful scenery and some seriously fun entertainment to the park. If you’ve ever wondered about the names, locations, and activities available at the Disney World lakes, continue reading to find out more.
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1. Seven Seas Lagoon
Without a doubt, one of the most famous Disney World lakes is the Seven Seas Lagoon. Located at the majestic gateway to the Magic Kingdom, this large lake is a staple of the Walt Disney World Resort and offers scenic vistas and fun activities for the whole family.
The lake is man-made, and planning began back in 1965. More than 7 million cubic yards of earth had to be removed to make the iconic Seven Seas Lagoon, and some of this dirt was used to create the three islands that call this lake home. Of these, Castaway Cove is one of the most famous, as this is the launching point for the legendary Disney World fireworks show.
But the fun doesn’t end with the fireworks. The Seven Seas Lagoon also offers daytime recreation that visitors of all ages can enjoy, including boat rides and fishing excursions, among others. There are also some resorts located around this lake, including Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
2. Bay Lake
Unlike the Seven Seas Lagoon, Walt Disney World’s Bay Lake is a natural lake located on the north end of the park, just east of the Magic Kingdom. If you enter the park through the Transportation and Ticket Center (or TTC), you’ll have the option to take a ferry across the lake into the Magic Kingdom or hop on the Monorail and travel around the lake’s perimeter.
Bay Lake is bordered by three resorts: Disney’s Contemporary Lodge, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Each resort boasts its own marina, allowing guests to easily access boat rentals and other transportation options.
On the lake’s southwest side, you’ll find remnants of Disney World’s first waterpark, Disney’s River Country. Bay Lake’s Discovery Island also holds remnants of a Disney World classic, a walk-through wildlife sanctuary that closed shortly after the opening of Animal Kingdom due to the similarity of the two.
3. World Showcase Lagoon
Situated in the center of Epcot, the World Showcase Lagoon is part of a larger area of the park that celebrates the culture, cuisine, traditions, and architecture from different countries around the world.
The World Showcase Lagoon is outfitted with 11 different pavilions, each of which features a different country with rotating attractions about history, culture, and Disney movies. Currently, the 11 pavilions feature attractions about Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom.
After you’ve visited each of the pavilions in the World Showcase Lagoon, you can stick around Epcot to enjoy some international cuisine or visit one of the shops located in this area.
4. Crescent Lake
Crescent Lake is connected to the World Showcase Lagoon, though the vibe at this Disney lake feels worlds away from anywhere else in the park. The wooden boardwalk along the lake is the perfect place to take an early morning or sunset stroll, and you’ll pass by various resorts and even a creamery as you take in the views.
The Crescent Lake area is lined with resorts and hotels, and it’s no wonder that this beautiful area is a favorite amongst Disney World visitors. Your options here are nearly endless, but some of the most popular accommodation picks in this area include the Beach Club, the BoardWalk Inn, the Yacht Club, and the Swan & Dolphin.
5. Echo Lake
One of Disney World’s smaller bodies of water is Echo Lake, located inside of Hollywood Studios. In the original planning of Walt Disney World, there was meant to be a “hidden Mickey”, which could be seen only from an aerial view, and Echo Lake was planned as one of the famous mouse’s ears. Alas, these plans did not pan out, but this oval-shaped lagoon remains.
Around the lake, you’ll find funky architecture modeled after California’s Golden Age, along with various restaurants and attractions. Currently, some of the most popular attractions on show around Echo Lake include A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Jedi Training, and the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, to name just a few.
6. Disney Springs
Disney Springs is one of the busiest areas in the park, and the lovely springs here are part of what makes this waterfront neighborhood so popular. The area was formerly known as Downtown Disney, and while some major changes have occurred here over the years, the popularity has remained.
“The Landing” is where the marina is located, and here you’ll find water taxis, nautical-themed shops and restaurants, and a boathouse. From the boathouse, there are rentals of the iconic “amphibious automobiles”, which are actually boats made to look like cars.
7. Lake Buena Vista
Formally known as Blake Lake before Disney acquired the body of water, Lake Buena Vista is another small Disney World Lake.
Located just behind Disney Springs and a little ways off the beaten path, Lake Buena Vista is home to three resorts: the Buena Vista Hotel and Spa, the Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort, and the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort.
This area is perfect for visitors looking to stay inside of Disney World who also want to have a little peace and quiet when they return to their hotel in the evening.
8. Hourglass Lake
Unlike other Walt Disney World lakes, Hourglass Lake is intentionally underdeveloped, and it’s a great place to get away from the bustling crowds that are frequent around the rest of the park.
Located between Disney’s Art of Animation and Disney’s Pop Century Resorts, this small body of water is outfitted with a 1.38-mile walking/jogging path. If you’re looking for a quicker way to cross Hourglass Lake, you can take a ride on the newly constructed gondola line. Day or night, the retro Disney Skyliner Station is definitely worth a visit.
9. Lago Dorado
Located at the base of the lovely Coronado Springs Resort, Lago Dorado is another one of the park’s quieter areas. With the opulent resort as a backdrop, Lago Dorado boasts convenient walkways, stellar views, and even a bar and grill.
Even if you’re not staying at Coronado Springs Resort, if you’re looking for a calm place to take a walk or get away from the bustling crowds, don’t hesitate to check out Lago Dorado.