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8 Classic Must Do Experiences At Disney

There are so many classic must do experiences at Walt Disney World—meaning it’s time to mention a few runner ups that didn’t quite make this list, but are still classics in their own rights. Tomorrowland is full of classic attractions: Space Mountain, the Carousel of Progress, and the Peoplemover, all of which I would consider must do’s if my list could go on for longer. Other classics in my opinion include, Journey into Imagination (despite how botched the current version is compared to the original) and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride or 20,000 Leagues under the sea if we’re counting extinct attractions as well. Here are my top 8 picks for classic must do experiences:

8. The Great Movie Ride

While the Great Movie Ride has not been around for as long as anything in the Magic Kingdom, I would consider it a classic experience because the movies seen inside the ride are classics in themselves. This ride is one of the most well done, in terms of the acting abilities of the Cast Members and the set designs and animatronics in each scene. While Hollywood Studios has gone through a number of transitional phases since its opening, the Great Movie Ride has stuck around and become the most classic attraction in the park.

7. It’s a Small World

Whether or not you love or hate this attraction, there is no denying that it’s a classic. Created for the 1964 World’s Fair, and designed by artist, Mary Blair, this ride is a definite classic, that I believe should be experienced at least once per trip. Another 1964 World’s Fair attraction in the Magic Kingdom is the Carousel of Progress. Be sure to head over to Tomorrowland to experience that classic attraction after a spin on It’s a Small World.

6. Peter Pan’s Flight

Another Fantasyland attraction that’s made my list is Peter Pan’s Flight. Peter Pan’s Flight is designed in the style of a classic Disneyland dark ride, that is unfortunately becoming more and more difficult to come by. Make sure to get a FastPass, as the lines for Peter Pan’s Flight reflect its classic status. (However if you can’t get a FastPass, don’t fret, the new queue just opened, allowing guests to travel through the Darling home before boarding the ships.)

5. Jungle Cruise

The World Famous Jungle Cruise is one of my favorite classic attractions in the Magic Kingdom. This ride, like the Great Movie Ride, is truly a great experience because of the Cast Members who work there. The kitschy jokes and puns are not to be missed on this classic attraction.

4. Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth, the geodesic sphere which welcomes guests to Epcot, is probably the most classic experience one can find in that park. While this ride has undergone a number of changes over the years, the basic premise is still there. I find the concept behind building this ride fascinating, and it is a perfect symbol for future world, where guests can learn about the past, while connecting it to the present and future.

3. Haunted Mansion

There is likely no doubt in any Disney fan’s mind that the Haunted Mansion is a classic experience. Everything from the hearse outside, to the more recent interactive queue, the stretching room, and the maids and butlers, makes for a totally immersive, and classic ride experience. If there’s an attraction with a preshow monologue that you could recite off memory at any given time, you know it’s a classic. In fact, this ride is such a classic that so many other things have been based off of it. During Halloween parties, guests are greeted by the ghost host, and they are able to hear some of the attraction’s music, and see the ballroom dancers in the parade. This attraction has even been given its own gift shop, Memento Mori, where guests can purchase portraits of themselves in true Haunted Mansion fashion.

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2. Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean is a classic attraction with a legacy that has continued to inspire films based on the ride. When an attraction inspires the creation of a film, and not the other way around, you know you’ve found something special. Another classic dark ride, this time on a boat with a wide variety of animatronic pirates, this experience is a fully immersive classic that will have you singing “yo-ho, yo-ho,” all the way home.

1. Wishes

Fireworks have always been part of the Disney experience, and there is truly nothing like relaxing and watching Wishes after a long day at the parks. While the fireworks displays at the Magic Kingdom have experienced a number of changes since the park’s opening, the premise of watching fireworks together before heading back to the hotel is definitely a classic Disney experience. Regardless of what rides and shows change over time, a fireworks show will always remain a classic, and something everyone in your family will want to experience together.

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About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."