Disney has some incredible, over the top experiences to offer. This list, however, isn’t necessarily about the most exclusive, expensive, or rare experiences. What follows is a list of purely magical experiences that you simply must do in your lifetime.
20. Have a character meal
Adults love characters, too, so no excuses if you aren’t travelling with a child! Interacting with characters is fun, and having a character meal is usually a nice way to do this without having to wait to meet them.
19. Meet Mickey Mouse
The idea of going to Disney World and not meeting Mickey is basically offensive, so make sure you do it at least once! Don’t miss talking Mickey in the Town Square Theater. Remember, it all started with a mouse!
18. Take a behind the scenes tour
There are many to choose from. Personally, I love the Keys to the Kingdom tour and think it’s a fantastic value. If you love Disney, make sure you take at least one tour at some point to soak up a bit of the behind the scenes secrets.
17. Make a wish in the wishing well
Cinderella’s wishing well is located to the right of Cinderella’s castle, as you view it from Main Street. It’s actually located along a path that runs between the castle and Tomorrowland. I made a very important wish here and it came true!
16. Have a Dole Whip
Head over to Aloha Isle and sample a Dole Whip or Dole Whip float. It’s just something that you have to try at least once!
15. Arrive early enough at the Magic Kingdom to see the welcome show
I’m not sure what it is, but this show makes me cry! I love seeing the citizens of Main Street, as well as many favorite Disney characters, arrive via the Walt Disney World Railroad.
14. Experience an evening “extra magic hour” at the Magic Kingdom
Sometimes the Magic Kingdom offers evening extra magic hours for guests staying at Disney resorts. My favorite of these offerings is when they give you several additional hours at night (usually during peak travel times). I’ve stayed at the Magic Kingdom until 3am and it’s an amazing experience. I think the park is extra magical after dark, especially when the crowds thin and the rides are all walk-ons. If you stay 30 minutes after park closing (on any night, not just an extra magic hour night), you can catch “the Kiss Goodnight”, where the castle is specially lit and a goodbye message is played. I still haven’t seen this, but it’s on my list for my next trip.
13. Buy, and wear, mouse ears
No one is too young, too old, or too cool for mouse ears. Buy a pair early on your trip so you can wear them for the entire time. There’s something for everyone, from classic, to wedding-inspired, to animal print, to glitzy.
12. Try pin trading
I had no idea how fun this was until I tried it. Finding a pin you love is great fun, but the magic is in interacting with the cast members that you approach for trading. The extra social element that pin trading brings to my time in the park makes it very worthwhile to me. Try it, you might love it too! Just don’t blame me if you become addicted.
11. See every nighttime offering and parade
Fantasmic, the Main Street Electrical Parade, Festival of Fantasy, Wishes, IllumiNations… the list goes on and on. All of the parades and nighttime shows at Disney are must-see. You have to see each one at least once!
10. Ride the safari at Animal Kingdom
You’re simply not going to come across an experience like this anywhere else. The safari gets you extremely close to a wide variety of animals, and it’s a different experience every time you ride. If you’re not a fan of the other attractions at Animal Kingdom, at least go to the park for the morning and check out the animal viewing offerings.
9. Ride Peter Pan’s Flight
For some reason, this ride is one of my favorites, by far. Based on the consistently long wait times for the ride, I’m not alone! I love gliding over London, the mermaid lagoon, and the crocodile in a ship. There’s nothing else like it!
8. Check out all of the classic Disney originals- Carousel of Progress, the Enchanted Tiki Room, Swiss Family Treehouse, etc.
While these rides don’t have the lengthy lines that other popular attractions do, they are true Disney classics and should be experienced at least once. I think that there’s something extra special about experiencing the attractions that Mr. Disney himself had a hand in creating.
7. Ride all the headliners
They’re called “headliners” for a reason- they’re fantastic! Though not known for thrills, Disney does have some exceptionally thrilling rides, like the Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain, and Expedition Everest.
6. Attend a special event
Epcot has several phenomenal special events throughout the year, such as the Candlelight Processional, Christmas Around the World, the Flower and Garden Festival, and the Food and Wine Festival. You might also consider Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios, or a special holiday event at the Magic Kingdom (like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party).
5. Stay in the park during a heavy rain storm
I don’t like the rain, but at a certain point a downpour becomes fun. The parks usually clear out if rain is particularly bad, and therefore wait times become low. Find the attractions that stay open in the rain and enjoy!
4. Ride the monorail
Even if you aren’t going anywhere in particular, you can still enjoy the monorail. You can resort hop, or simply ride the loop. The monorail runs on a figure-eight path. If you transfer at the Ticket and Transportation Center, you can take it from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom, and vice-versa.
3. Visit with a child
I love Disney as an adult, but visiting with a child is definitely a special experience. If you don’t have a child to visit with, enjoy the delighted faces of the many children around you.
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2. Walk around for at least a few hours by yourself
There’s something really special about taking at least a few hours to just wander around your favorite park, whichever that may be, alone. I usually hate to go anywhere alone, but Disney is one exception. You can do whatever you want, go at your own pace, and just soak in the atmosphere.
1. Take a family photo in front of the castle
You probably don’t need to be reminded to do this, but it’s a definite must-do! Did you know that park photographers will take pictures of you with your own camera, too? They don’t mind at all.
I hope you enjoyed this list! How many have you done? Everyone’s “must-do” experiences vary, of course. What are your essential “bucket list” items? Share them with us!