1. Go to rope drop at Magic Kingdom.
I had heard about rope drop for years and assumed it was hype. Boy, was I wrong! “Rope drop” is Disney code for park opening, but at Magic Kingdom, it is quite the experience! Get there early so you will be one of the first to stand at the foot of Cinderella Castle for a production like no other! Mickey, Minnie and all our Disney pals are there to welcome Guests to another wonderful day at the most magical place on earth! The Disney princesses, heroes and even Mary Poppins join in the festivities as well. Have you ever seen fireworks in the morning? You will when you go to rope drop. Do. Not. Miss. This.
2. See the Festival of Fantasy Parade.
This is another can’t-miss experience at Magic Kingdom. The Festival of Fantasy Parade boasts some of the most beautiful floats and pageantry you’ve ever seen. The music will take you away! Belle and Beast, Tiana and Naveen, Princess Aurora and Phillip, Peter Pan and Wendy, Anna and Elsa, Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, Alice, the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter and more take part in the parade. If you’re a true Disney fanatic, I dare you not to cry tears of joy every time you see this fantastic production!
3. Say hello to the brand-new Toy Story Land.
PIXAR fans of all ages have waited to be able to finally step into Andy’s backyard. After all, we were wondering why there wasn’t a land dedicated to Woody, Buzz and Jessie years ago. So when Disney announced plans for Toy Story Land, we stood up and cheered! And then we waited. And waited. And waited. For three long years, we dreamt of the day our hopes would be realized, and in June of this year, Andy finally opened his backyard and the toys have invited us to come and play! Enjoy two brand-new attractions and a quick-service eatery called Woody’s Lunch Box. You’ve got to see this place to believe it!
4. Experience Pandora. At night.
The World of Avatar was the most recent land to open (before Toy Story Land). And it is as popular as ever. It opened in May of 2017, and parkgoers of all ages were instantly smitten! You can enjoy this popular place and its two dynamic attractions any time of day, but it’s especially magical at night—and if you don’t know why, we won’t spoil it!
5. Drink the Beverly at EPCOT.
Visit Club Cool for free samples of sodas from all around the globe, and if you’re feeling especially adventurous (and brave), drink the Beverly soda. If you dare.
6. Take a tour.
Most of the magic at Disney World is, well, magic. But a small percentage of the magic in the parks is a result of the tireless creative efforts of some brilliant Imagineers. And Disney is only too happy to allow Guests an insider’s look at some of that magic by offering tours of all kinds. Some Disney tours allow you an inside look at attractions and Magic Kingdom’s expansive underground tunnel system called utilidors (yes, they do exist!). Other tours guarantee Guests an amazing look into parts of EPCOT and even into the training of some of the sea animals in the 5.7-million-gallon aquarium in The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion. For a complete list of available tours or to book your tour, call (407) WDW-TOUR.
7. See Beauty and the Beast—Live on Stage!
The “tale as old as time” has never been told more beautifully. On Sunset Boulevard at Hollywood Studios, you can sit in the 1,500-seat Theater of the Stars and relive the beautiful story of Belle and her Beast. The music, costuming and performers are amazing, and the sets and props help to illustrate the fantastic tale of a young girl who happened upon a castle with a very impatient master. FastPass+ service is available for this attraction—use one of your selections to get one of the best seats in the house so you don’t miss a second of this stellar performance.
8. Order the thing that looks like it’s from a Dr. Seuss book at The Edison.
The Edison is one of the newest restaurants at Disney Springs. The food is not only good, but it’s creative as well. For an appetizer, try the Clothesline Candied Bacon. It’s candied bacon—on a clothesline (yes, we’re serious), and it’s delicious! Try the Edison Burger—betcha can’t eat it all without a friend—and for dessert, share a ginormous milkshake for two or order the Lollipop Tree, a Dr. Seussian-looking invention that is delivered to your table in the form of a tree with holes drilled into it. Each hole holds a cheesecake pop that’s been rolled in crushed goodies of all kinds, and there’s even bubble gum whipped cream for dipping. (I know, it sounds weird, but it’s really good!)
9. Experience The World of Disney.
The World of Disney at Disney Springs is the largest Disney character merchandise store in the world. You can find almost any souvenir you’ve been eyeing in the parks at this store. Just browsing through this store is an experience. It’s such a big place, you’ll want to plan to visit when you aren’t in a rush.
10. Experience the classics.
Pay homage to the man who started it all and enjoy the classic attractions that were the brain children of Walt himself. Include on your itinerary the Jungle Cruise, the Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Carousel of Progress, Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s a Small World.
11. Ride Flight of Passage.
This amazing simulation attraction takes you on a journey—a rite of passage for a Navi warrior. In Flight of Passage, you will learn to handle a mountain banshee, as you ride on his back through the mountains and over the valleys A FastPass+ is an absolute must for this attraction. Don’t miss it.
12. Go on safari.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’re invited to go on safari and see over 30 species of wildlife native to the African savanna. At the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction, Guests board a rugged safari vehicle and set out for the savanna. No two experiences are the same, thanks to the very natural setting of the savanna and because of the nature of the animals. Disney’s Imagineers took great care in designing an attraction that feels just as real as being on the African savanna—and you never have to leave Florida.
13. Have a belching contest with the Mad Hatter.
Disgusting, right? At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, you can book the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. While you dine on an all-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast buffet, you’ll enjoy the company of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Mary Poppins, Alice and the Mad Hatter. And the Mad Hatter steals the show with his loud personality and silly antics that—believe it or not—sometimes include belching contests! (I’ve seen it with my own eyes!)
14. Take in the antics of Cinderella’s stepsisters.
If the Mad Hatter’s antics aren’t your style, you can book the Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare, during which you will enjoy an expansive buffet of American fare. You’ll also enjoy meeting the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella and her prince and Cinderella’s stepsisters, Drizella and Anastasia. They are more jealous of Cinderella than ever and have no qualms about letting Guests know it. The buffet is delightful and so are the shenanigans between the stepsisters. Cinderella is beautiful, and the entire experience is well worth your time. Book via the My Disney Experienceapp or by calling (407) WDW-DINE.
15. See Fantasmic!
This nighttime spectacular is so popular with Guests that it is offered twice a night on select evenings—and it is presented in an amphitheater that seats 10,000! Fantasmic! tells the story of Mickey, who is having a dream. During his dream, scenes from several beloved Disney films are projected onto walls of water. But suddenly, Mickey’s dream morphs into a nightmare, and Disney villains abound. Will Mickey wake up in time? This immersive look at the power of imagination uses pyrotechnics, laser lights and other special effects, and over 1 million gallons of water that are taught to dance and come to life during this very special nighttime presentation.
16. Experience the VOID.
If you’re a Star Warsfanatic, this is one experience you just can’t skip. At Disney Springs, you can suit up in Stormtrooper gear, travel to the planet Mustafar and work with your team to gather intelligence necessary to complete your mission—all in a (virtual) “hyper-reality” setting, powered by LucasFilm, ILMxLAB and the VOID. Purchase tickets in advance at www.thevoid.com.
17. Fall down an elevator shaft. Purposefully.
I suppose it’s a controlled fall down an elevator shaft. At the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Guests are seated in an elevator car that breaks away and begins dropping down the elevator shaft over and over again, and thanks to cutting-edge ride technology, no experience is the same, and you never know when or how far your elevator car will fall.
18. See the parks at Christmastime.
If you’ve never experienced the magic of Walt Disney World at Christmastime, you’re missing something phenomenally special! Not only is there “ice” on Cinderella Castle, but it snows at Disney, regardless of what the weathermen forecast. At EPCOT, Guests can listen to Christmas stories told by Santa Claus, Pere Noel and Father Christmas. There are holiday treats and sweets to sample all around the World Showcase. At Disney Springs, over 25 Christmas trees are dressed to the nines—each one telling a different story from a beloved Disney film. Attractions are decked out in their Christmas best, and every square foot of the Disney World resort—including the resort hotels—is decorated for Christmas.
19. Again, see the parks at Christmas. At least once.
This one deserves a “once again.” Words cannot describe Christmas at Disney World. And the best part is that the special Christmas feeling, as well as the beautiful decorations, ice, snow and Santa don’t leave until around January 6 or 7, making it easy for families to celebrate Christmas back home and still have time to celebrate at Disney World as well.
20. Dive into a Dole Whip.
No visit to the parks at Disney World would be complete without the ever-popular famous Dole Whip. It sounds simple enough—pineapple soft serve. Yep, that’s it. But somehow, it’s a magical experience because it’s happening at Disney. One taste and you’ll understand the fandom.
21. Visit a place “where a million diamonds shine.”
The year 2014 forever changed the Magic Kingdom experience—in an exciting way! The New Fantasyland expansion opened to Guests, and for the first time ever, they could experience the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Guests board a swaying mine cart and set out over the mountains and down the valleys to the mine where the Seven Dwarfs are hard at work. And thanks to variable speed technology in the ride, the train of mine carts moves more slowly through the mine and more quickly up and down the hills. Don’t miss this attraction—you’ll need a FastPass+ if you’re visiting during peak seasons in the parks.
22. Tour the galaxies at Hollywood Studios.
Star Warsfans (and even non-fans) can board a StarSpeeder 1000 vehicle and journey to far away worlds made popular by the Star Warssaga, but not without a few hitches along the way. For example, C-3PO has no experience flying a StarSpeeder, but he is accidentally caught in the cockpit and must pilot the vehicle to the best of his ability. What ensues is an exciting, fast-paced simulated ride you’ll never forget.
23. Be their guest.
It’s one of the most sought-after dining experiences at Disney World—dinner at Be Our Guest restaurant in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. Because of this, you’ll need to book your dining reservations as soon as the reservation window opens—6 months in advance. When you arrive, you’ll be seated in either the West Wing, the Castle Gallery or the Grand Ballroom. The French Onion Soup is covered in gruyere cheese, and it’s amazing! Entrée offerings include chicken, steak, ratatouille and more. And of course, for dessert, try the Grey Stuff; it’s delicious! (But then so is the strawberry cheesecake cupcake!) Book your experience 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-DINE, or access the My Disney Experienceapp.
24. Soar around the world.
Experience the Soarin’ Around the World attraction at EPCOT and enjoy one of the best simulation attractions at Disney. This attraction gives Guests the feeling of hang-gliding over some of the world’s most famous landmarks, such as the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, Main Street U.S.A., the Taj Mahal and more.
25. Make plans to do it again.
Disney World is not a place you can visit just once. There’s so much to do, see, ride, experience and eat. And the magic draws Guests back again and again. So of all the things you’ve got to do at Walt Disney World, the most important is to make plans to visit again. Soon!