Walt Disney World Resort is chock-full of amazing things to see and do. In fact, there are so many options that one could probably spend months in the resort and still not see it all. Of course, with so many choices of things to do, it’s easy for guests to become overwhelmed. This is especially true for first time visitors. If you’re visiting Disney World for the first time ever, our first piece of advice would be: don’t try to do it all. Instead, pick and choose the things that are most important to you. Additionally, we recommend focusing on the Disney World rites of passage listed below. These are the things we think all first-timers need to experience before they can say they’ve truly “done Disney World.”
1. Don Some Mouse Ears
Everyone who visits Disney World should own a pair of Mickey or Minnie ears. These fancy pieces of headwear can be found in every single park, come in a variety of colors and themes, and are the perfect way to show your Disney spirit throughout your vacation. Pick the pair that best suits you, put them on, and get ready to have an amazing time!
2. Enjoy a Dark Ride
Walt Disney was the inventor of the animatronic as well as the classic dark ride. Therefore, it only stands to reason that Walt Disney World would be home to some of the very best dark rides out there. Be sure to enjoy some of these slow-moving storytelling rides before your visit is over. We especially love The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Rise of the Resistance, Na’vi River Journey, and Frozen Ever After.
3. Ride the Mountains
Did you know that Disney World is home to mountains? There are several of these mountains scattered throughout the parks, and each one features a fantastic thrill ride that needs to be experienced by all who visit. Four of the mountains can be found in Magic Kingdom. These include Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and—though some may not consider it an official “mountain”—Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The final mountain can be found in Animal Kingdom and is a super fun roller coaster called Expedition Everest.
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4. Try a Dole Whip
If we had to pick one snack that is the best in all of Walt Disney World, the Dole Whip would be it. This delicious pineapple soft-serve is absolutely wonderful, especially on a hot Florida day. We especially love the pineapple-and-vanilla twist Dole Whip Float served over pineapple juice. This treat can be found at Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom.
5. Wave at Disney Friends
One of the most exciting things about visiting Disney World is the ability to see all your favorite Disney friends in person. This is true whether you’re a small child or a fully grown adult, and it should absolutely be experienced. Fortunately, Disney has found a way to keep the characters in the parks while maintaining social distancing. They do this through the use of “character cavalcades” (basically, short parades) which can be seen in every park. Additionally, you might catch a friend or two waving from a balcony, high on a hill, or a stage, so keep your eyes peeled and be sure to wave back or shout hello!
6. Get an Iconic Landmark Photo
No trip to Disney would be complete without a photo of your family (or friends) in front of Cinderella Castle. For extra measure, we recommend snapping a picture in front of Spaceship Earth in Epcot, as well as the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom. These make excellent keepsake photos.
7. Enjoy a Mickey Bar
Very few things are as magical as enjoying a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar while people-watching in a Disney park. When your feet get tired and you need a break, we highly recommend grabbing one of these classic Disney treats from a nearby ice cream cart, plopping yourself down on a bench, and enjoying the amazingly happy ambiance that can only be found in a Disney World park.
8. Fly Away
For many, the ability to fly is a dream come true. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Disney World offers guests so many opportunities to take to the skies. Be sure to experience these attractions so you can experience just how incredible it might be to soar with the birds. Not sure where to try your hand at flying while in Disney World? We recommend Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Magic Kingdom, Soarin’ Around the World in Epcot, Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Hollywood Studios.
9. See an Animatronics Show
Disney just wouldn’t be Disney without shows. Unfortunately, many live performances have been canceled for the time being in order to maintain a safe environment for all. That said, there are still plenty of awesome animatronics show to be enjoyed, and seeing as Walt invented the animatronic, it only seems fitting that you make time for at least one of these shows. Available options include: The Enchanted Tiki Room in Magic Kingdom, Country Bears Jamboree in Magic Kingdom, Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom, Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom, The American Adventure in Epcot, and Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy in Hollywood Studios
10. Check Out Other Popular Rides
Finally, there are those amazing rides that definitely deserve a mention but didn’t fit into the categories listed above. These rides should without a doubt be added to your must-do list. They include Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom, Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios, and Test Track in Epcot.