7 Disney Films You Must Watch Before Your Trip

Cinderella's Castle
Cinderella's Castle

(And Where to Find Their Stars in the Parks)

It’s nearly impossible to pick certain Disney films over others, but this list was created with the intention of providing an idea of what films have the most presence in the parks. This way, you and your little ones will be reacquainted with some of the parks’ most prominent characters before your magical vacation. We’ve also included some information about where to find the stars of these favorite films. Although not on the list, if your children are not familiar with the “fab four” (Mickey, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy) you may also want to take a look at any shows or films that include these characters (Disney shows or movies like “Mickey and the Beanstalk” are great for this).

Here are our top picks, in order or importance least to greatest!

7. The Lion King

The Lion King film is both emotional and amusing, making it a perfect film for adults and children to enjoy together before a trip. Once you get to Disney, you’ll be delighted by The Festival of the Lion King, an amazing show that takes place at Animal Kingdom. It’s full of singing, acrobatics, and audience participation, and is truly not to be missed. You can also see some of your Lion King pals in the Circle of Life attraction (an environmental film) in the Land pavilion at Epcot. If you travel out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Animal Kingdom, you can meet the main monkey himself.

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6. Toy Story

Who hasn’t wished their toys would come to life? Toy Story is hugely popular in the parks, and with a 4th movie in the works, it’s bound to stay that way. There are two rides devoted to Toy Story: Toy Story Midway Mania, located in Hollywood Studios, and Buzz Lightyear’s Ranger Spin at the Magic Kingdom. Love meet and greets? Woody and Jessie meet in Frontierland, Buzz Lightyear meets in Tomorrowland, and Buzz and Woody can be seen together at Pixar Place in Hollywood Studios.

6. Finding Nemo

This flick about the adventures of little lost Nemo and his nervous father has a lot of park presence! The Seas with Nemo and Friends, as well as the interactive attraction Turtle Talk with Crush, are both popular attractions at Epcot. Finding Nemo: The Musical is a must-see theatrical performance at Animal Kingdom. While the characters from the film are not available for meet and greets, these three attractions are all quite popular.

4. The Little Mermaid

Follow Ariel on her journey to join the human world, and you won’t be able to help becoming enchanted by the music and characters. Then, relive the adventure in the parks. Ariel has her very own ride at the Magic Kingdom- under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid- as well as her own stage show at Hollywood Studios (Voyage of the Little Mermaid). You can meet Ariel at her grotto in Fantasyland, or dine with her at Cinderella’s Royal Table or at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion of the World Showcase.

3. Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland is full of enchanting and well… delightfully odd characters. Happily, Alice and her eclectic group of friends can be seen throughout the parks. The Mad Tea Party ride pays homage to her friend the Mad Hatter, who is sometimes found meeting guests in the area. I recommend going to the Supercalifragilistic breakfast at 1900 Park Fare to meet him (and Alice, of course). The White Rabbit and Alice are also seen near The Mad Tea Party. Alice can be found at both the Wonderland Tea Party and Supercalifragilistic breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, as well in the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot.

2. Peter Pan

Peter Pan’s Flight remains one of the most popular attractions at the Magic Kingdom, so take some time to have a refresher on the story before your magical flight over London! After you take his flight, you can meet Peter Pan and Wendy in Adventureland, and see them in the Festival of Fantasy parade (along with the Lost Boys, Smee, Captain Hook, and the crocodile). And let’s not forget Tinker Bell! She flies from the castle nightly and has her very own meet and greet location in the Town Square Theater on Main Street U.S.A.

1. Cinderella

Cinderella is the ultimate “dreams really do come true” film. Cinderella’s castle is probably the most iconic associated with Walt Disney World, so watching Cinderella before your trip is a must. You’ll want to share this classic with your kiddos before your trip so they know who resides in that amazing castle they are about to see! Just beyond the castle, you can experience Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel. If you’d like to meet the stars of the film, you can! Cinderella can be found at Princess Fairytale Hall. If you’d like to dine with Cindy, she makes appearances at Cinderella’s Royal Table, Akershus Royal Banquent Hall at Epcot, and 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella can also be seen at 1900 Park Fare. They also lurk around the castle in the Magic Kingdom. I even saw them riding the carousel early one morning! If you’re lucky, you may even spot Fairy Godmother behind the castle.

So, get out the popcorn and start watching some movies! Tell us which movies you might want to add to this list.

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About Meredith Smisek

Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart who works as an elementary school counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and corgi. Meredith is a DVC member who loves music, podcasts, crafting, and "talking Disney" with anyone and everyone.

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