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Walt Disney properties not just for children

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The Walt Disney empire is a leader in the entertainment field. Theme parks, movies, cruise ships, resorts and golf courses are the most visible components of this empire. The less publicized part of Disney World is the Disney Institute and its associated resort facility, The Villas at Disney Institute.

Disney World is not just for children. Walt Disney's original concept was an amusement park with universal appeal. As the park has expanded, many of the additions have had as much appeal for adults as for children.

EPCOT is a miniature tour of the world. When you step into one of the foreign pavilions, you experience the architecture, culture and people of that country, away from the sights and sounds of America. There are 11 countries represented, which the visitor can experience in a single day, with culture-specific restaurants in each pavilion.

Disney MGM Studios is a delight for moviegoers of any age. The style is reminiscent of 1930s Hollywood, complete with vintage cars and diners.

The newest attraction is Disney's Animal Kingdom, opened in 1998, which is like stepping onto the African continent, complete with an African frontier town and safari drives to view free-roaming wildlife. There is a staggering collection of game animals in a setting true to the grasslands of Africa.

Add to these Disney's three water parks, Disney's Boardwalk and Downtown Disney with the newest attraction, Cirque du Soleil, in its striking circular building, and there is entertainment and recreation for everyone.

On the Disney World property are two dozen resort areas. Most of these are self-contained with a special design theme and excellent accommodations. There is the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, The Caribbean Beach Resort, The Old Key West Resort and the Pon Orleans Resort to name a few.

These resorts have their own restaurants, pools and, in some cases, golf courses. To give you an idea of the quality of these resorts, the March 1999 issue of Travel and Leisure magazine listed Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resort as No. 1 of the top 10 hotel choices in a group containing the Ritz, Madrid and Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa.

For businesspeople, there is the Disney Institute. This combination convention center, corporate training facility and resort is in the year-round business of serving the business community.

The Villas at Disney Institute provide cottages and condominium accommodations for families of all sizes, are beautifully appointed and include full kitchens and patios. The Villas surround a small lake close to, but out of sight and away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Disney.

Beyond business programs, the institute offers a full spa and hobby programs on photography, gardening and culinary arts. This facility offers serious business services, along with unlimited recreational possibilities in a very attractive environment.

(Linda and Dr. Don Overend are co-owners of Ozark World Travel, a full-service travel agency serving the Springfield area since 1976.)

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