The Top 30 Experiences ‘Newbies’ Must Have At Disney World

So you have never been to Walt Disney World or are about to take someone who hasn’t yet set foot in the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ – the options are endless and probably overwhelming! When signing up for attractions and experiences on the FastPass+ system, you’ll want to plan ahead and make the most of every second. There’s no way for ‘newbies’ to do all of this in one day but here are 30 can’t-miss-attractions to help develop a strategy for a first visit (listed in order of the most efficient route in each park).

The Magic Kingdom

1. Space Mountain – This classic indoor dark-ride rollercoaster is the arguably the most thrilling attraction at Magic Kingdom. Head straight for Tomorrowland and launch your day with excitement! Be prepared for long wait times unless you FastPass or arrive early!

2. Carousel of Progress – This vintage circle-motion presentation in Tomorrowland created by Walt Disney himself captures the imaginative use of technology through the years. There is very little wait involved as the scenes revolve every few minutes!

3. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – This interactive attraction in Tomorrowland is fun for the whole family. Take control of your ride car as you laser-blast targets to help Buzz defeat Evil Emperor Zurg. The line queue constantly moves so wait times aren’t usually very long!

4. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – The newest installment at the heart of New Fantasyland will take you on a pretty tame rollercoaster tour of the mountain mines with Snow White’s fun loving dwarfs. Very long wait times should be expected.

5. Peter Pan’s Flight – Set sail on your own flying pirate ship to depart the streets of London and follow Peter Pan’s adventures in Neverland from the air! Be prepared for longer wait on this popular dark-ride in Fantasyland.

6. It’s A Small World – If you don’t know the song, you will by the time you finish sailing through the various lands inhabited by singing dolls and lovable creatures in this classic Fantasyland attraction. You won’t have to wait long because the boats fill up fast and are on their way to a small world after all.

7. Haunted Mansion – Board a doombuggy and, with the help of your Ghost Host, visit the 999 happy haunts that are all too eager to spook and entertain you. A very engaging line queue awaits you for those busier days in Liberty Square – leading into the doorway where there’ll be no turning back now.

8. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – This outdoor rollercoaster in Frontierland is truly the wildest ride in the wilderness featuring hairpin turns through mountainous caverns. The line is often quite lengthy but it along moves fairly quick.

9. Splash Mountain – Enjoy this cozy log flume ride in Frontierland as you follow the hijinks of Br’er Rabbit leading to a soaking 5 story drop into the briar patch. Wait times vary, but on busier days, the line can be very slow moving.

10. Pirates of the Caribbean – Board a sea-worthy vessel that transports you in time to the antics of Captain Jack Sparrow as he joins a cast of singing pirates in this Adventureland attraction. A well-themed queue moves along pretty fast in spite of the sporadically longer wait times.

11. Jungle Cruise – Laugh along to some corny puns by your boat skipper as you explore some of the world’s most famous rivers. Expect moderate wait times during busy days.

12. Walt Disney World Railroad – Travel the outskirts of the Magic Kingdom on this grand circle tour with stops in Main Street, Frontierland, and New Fantasyland Circus. Waiting is never long for the next train to come eventually around.

13. Celebrate the Magic/Wishes Fireworks – At the end of the night, position yourself in front of Cinderella’s Castle for these very magical shows, often back to back, and experience Disney stories through projection and pyrotechnics. Grab a spot when you notice crowds beginning to gather!


14. Soarin’ Over California – You definitely cannot afford to miss the thrilling combination of epic music and breathtaking scenes as you ‘hang-glide’ through the air. Be prepared for extremely long wait times to board this flight!

15. Spaceship Earth – This classic attraction takes you along the historical track of communication inside the giant Epcot Geosphere. You needn’t worry about waiting too long for this relaxing dark-ride.

16. Test Track – Customize your ride vehicle and test out the specs on a fun course that closes with a 60 mph race around the outer track! You will need to wait a while in the line but your attention will be put to good preparatory use.

17. Mission: Space – You have to experience the feeling of blasting off to space at least once, even if once is all you’ll ever need. The ride employs a less intense version so that may be your best bet to avoid any lingering feelings of nausea. People aren’t usually getting in line for that so expect a light wait time.

18. The American Adventure – This emotional presentation of the America’s story is told through the many characters and events of our independent nation. Time is based on set showtimes and you won’t need to wait long for this inspirational production.

19. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth – World Showcase comes alive in this riveting spectacle of song, light, and pyrotechnics for this nightly show. Grab a lakeside table (at Rose and Crown or La Hacienda de San Angel) for dinner an hour and a half before showtime for an optimal experience!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

20. Toy Story Midway Mania – This great interactive competition thrusts you into the 3D world of Andy’s toys as you aim and shoot for the best score. Even FastPass+ holders for this ride will need to wait a bit, so set aside a lot of time if you don’t have one scheduled.

21. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Check in at the Hollywood Tower Hotel and experience the thrill of a wild elevator ride. The perfectly themed gardens, lobby and boiler room will help you pass the moderate wait time accompanying your stay.

22. The Rock’n’Roller Coaster – The inverted indoor coaster boasts 4.5 G on take-off and thumping music from Aerosmith. You’ll happily wait the lengthy wait times for this and will want to do it again after the ride is over!

23. Star Tours – Travel across the galaxy as you visit two different Star Wars environments (out of six randomly selected possibilities) in this 3D adventure. The wait times are not very long for this, making it easy to experience the different worlds on subsequent rides.

24. The Great Movie Ride – A mixture of classic dark-ride animatronic scenes with live action magic help tell the story of the movies while giving you the impression that you’re in one! The line moves pretty steadily while you view old previews of vintage films.

25. Walt Disney One Man’s Dream – This attraction is really a museum that you can peruse at your own pace, telling the fantastic story of the visionary man who created the most magical place on earth. You only need wait for the closing film at the end of the tour.

26. Fantasmic – Close out your day with the magic of Mickey and his imagination to a performance with a live cast, familiar musical themes, and the most stunning climax sure to leave you cheering! Arrive at least 30-45 minutes early and, with the option, choose the later showing for better access to desired seating.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

27. Everest Expedition – Explore the caverns of Everest on a runaway train while trying to avoid the ferocious keeper of the mountain, the fabled Yeti. Wait times are lengthy for this popular roller coaster, but single rider options are available for a shorter wait.

28. Dinosaur – Embark on a time traveling journey that allows you to experience the last few heart-stopping minutes before extinction of the dinosaurs. Moderate wait times should be expected.

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29. Primeval Whirl – This outdoor rollercoaster has a literal twist – it spins as you glide back and forth on the track. The line usually offers moderate wait times.

30. Various Animal Encounters – Be sure to make the most of your trip by saying hi to the many different animals housed on various trail walks and viewing treks. These can be enjoyed at your own pace.

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About Jared

I believe there's magic everywhere and love Story in all of its forms. Disney has impacted me from childhood, helping to instill in me the lost art of wonder and imagination. Having spent time as a cast member and now as a professional communicator, I long to inspire others with those same values. A few of my favorite Disney things are Fort Wilderness, extra-magic hours at the Magic Kingdom, and the nostalgia of EPCOT Center. My wife and I recently traded the Walt Disney World mountains (Space, Splash, Everest, Big Thunder and Mount Gushmore) for the mountains of Tennessee but writing about the Disney experience helps keep the magic alive!

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