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20 Experiences You Simply MUST Have at Walt Disney World in Your Lifetime

Walt Disney World in Florida is known as the “Vacation Kingdom”.  With four world-class theme parks, 20+ resort hotels, two waterparks, five golf courses, shopping, dining, nightlife, and dozens of restaurants, there is so much to do!  Disney is constantly innovating and updating their parks and resorts.  It is nearly impossible to see and do everything.  Here are 20 Non-Negotiables – 20 Experiences You Simply MUST Have at Disney World Resort in Your Lifetime.  

 

 

1. Nighttime spectaculars

During your Disney vacation, be sure to make time for the nighttime shows at each park.  These may very well be the highlight of your trip!  Currently, you can experience Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular and Fantasmic! at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot Forever at EPCOT, and Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. 

2.  Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review

Hoop De Doo
Photo credit Disney

You’ll have a rip-roarin’ time at this fun, rollicking, Western themed vaudeville dinner show!   It takes place in Pioneer Hall located at the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. FYI: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review has been running continuously since Disney World opened in 1971!  

3.  Dining in World Showcase

Most of us will never be able to experience all the different foods of the world.  In Epcot’s World Showcase, you can come close!  Before your trip, make a dining reservation for Morocco, China, Mexico or any of the 11 countries represented.  You’ll be hosted by cast members native to that country.

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4.  Character Dining

Chef Mickey's
Photo Credit Disney

If you have children in tow (or even if you don’t), you simply MUST do a character meal!  Have breakfast with Mickey Mouse, lunch with Pooh and friends or dinner with the wicked stepsisters.  Bring your autograph books and a camera to record all the fun!  

5. Staying with Disney

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Spend a little more and stay at one of Disney’s on-site resort hotels.  Enjoy the Disney quality, free transportation all around Disney World and even extra theme park hours for resort guests.

6. Soarin’ Around the World

Have you ever been hang-gliding?  Me neither!  You can at Epcot!  Do NOT miss the thrilling adventures of seeing the Seven Wonders of the World (and more) from a birds-eye view.  The sights, smells and a stunning musical score will thrill the entire family!  

7. Kilimanjaro Safaris

Safari Ride

It may not be the plains of Africa, but it sure seems like it!  As you travel around the savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’ll see dozens of animals in their natural habitat.  Have your cameras ready!

8. California Grill

For a fine dining experience and a great view of the Magic Kingdom, make a reservation for this beautiful restaurant atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  *Bonus tip: Make your reservation about 90 minutes before Magic Kingdom fireworks and you can step outside for a stunning view!

9. Stay deluxe

Grand Floridian

If you’ve decided to stay with Disney, consider upgrading to one of the dozen or so deluxe resorts.  You’ll enjoy a prime location, stunning views and larger rooms.

10. Join the Resistance

Millennium Falcon

Go for a wild ride on the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon is docked in the exciting space port of Batuu and the Resistance is using this famous ship to make smuggling runs to battle the First Order. Plus, you don’t want to miss the popular Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction that is one of the most immersive experiences in all of Walt Disney World.

11. World of Disney

If you’re going to shop for souvenirs at Disney (and you should), you simply MUST visit the world’s largest Disney store.  From housewares to t-shirts, plushies to jewelry, there’s something for everyone!  If you can’t find it there, it simply doesn’t exist!

12. Monorail

Don’t miss Walt Disney’s “highway in the sky”.  If you park at the Magic Kingdom, you can ride right through the middle of the Contemporary hotel!  Or, take a ride from the Magic Kingdom over to Epcot, where you’ll pass through Epcot’s Future World.

13. Magic Kingdom mountain range

Splash Mountain

You’ll definitely want to scale all the “mountains” in the Magic Kingdom!  Don’t miss Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  It’s a thrilling adventure!

14. Meeting Mickey

Mickey Mouse _ Town Square Theater

Be sure to stop by Town Square Theater in the Magic Kingdom for a meet and greet with the Big Cheese himself!  Magician Mickey has a few tricks up his sleeve and is ready for hugs and photos.

15.  Dining with Cinderella

Cinderella's Royal Table
Cinderella’s Royal Table – Photo Credit Disney

Cinderella Castle is stunning to look at!  Wouldn’t you like to go inside and meet Cinderella?  Schedule a character meal to dine with Cinderella and her princess friends. Get your reservations early as this dining experience books up quickly!

16. Eat a Mickey bar

Ice cream just tastes better in the Magic Kingdom!  Grab yourself a Mickey bar-be sure to eat the ears first!

17.  Parades

Parades

Nobody does a parade like Disney!  Catch the daily parade at Magic Kingdom.  Reserve a spot early and send one member of your party for snacks to enjoy while you wait.

18. Disney classic rides

Walt Disney played a hand in many of the original attractions at Disney World.  Some are still in existence today!  Don’t miss Carousel of Progress, the Peoplemover, Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s a small world and the Enchanted Tiki Room. 

19. Take a photo in front of the castle

Cinderella Castle Disney World Resort - Emporium

As you walk down Main Street USA, Disney Photopass Photographers will take your family’s picture in front of Cinderella Castle.  When you get home, you can add borders, dates and other fun things before purchasing. 

20.  Special events

Santa parade

Throughout the year, Disney hosts several special events.  Consider trying a RunDisney race, the Festival of Arts, the Flower and Garden Festival, the Food and Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or the Candlelight Processional.  While most of these events do require a separate ticket, they are all fun and inspiring.

About Jimmie Jones

Jimmie is a retired school teacher from Texas, who has been going to Disney World for 25 years. He has experience in taking large groups to Disney, in addition to taking his own children and grandchildren. Jimmie and his wife Rhonda make annual trips to Disney World, Disneyland, and sail on the Disney Cruise Line.