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Despite marketing claims and popular misconceptions, the Florida resort is not located in Orlando. The entire property is outside Orlando's city limits; the majority sits within southwestern Orange County with the remainder in adjacent Osceola County to the south. Most of the resort's land and all of the public areas are located in the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Orlando.

The 25,000 acre (101 km²) site is accessible from Central Florida's Interstate 4 via Exits 62B (World Drive), 64B (US 192 West), 65B (Osceola Parkway West), 67B (SR 536 West), and 68 (SR 535 North), and Exit 8 on State Road 429 (Florida), the Western Expressway.

At its peak, the resort occupied approximately 30,000 acres (120 km²) or 47 square miles (120 km²), about the size of San Francisco, or twice the size of Manhattan. Portions of the property since have been sold or de-annexed, including land now occupied by the Disney-built community of Celebration.

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