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8 Awesome Disney Experiences We Just Can’t Live Without

Everybody has a favorite tradition (or 2!) when it comes to family vacations at Walt Disney World. Generally, what I love about the parks isn’t even the rides. Sure, I like roller coasters as much as the next girl, but I go to Walt Disney World for the kind of thrill that I can’t find at my local 6 Flags. I’m sure I share some of my favorites with most other guests, but a few of my must-do experiences may surprise you!

8. Let The Magic Begin

Roughly 5 minutes before Magic Kingdom officially opens the park, “Let The Magic Begin” begins! This is a welcome show held on the stage in front of the Castle with fun music, special characters, and a few fireworks to kick off the day!

7. Happily Ever After

Nothing screams Disney more than fireworks bursting over Cinderella Castle. I can’t ever let a Disney trip pass without experiencing Happily Ever After. The music, the projections, the characters, the fireworks… AMAZING! What a way to end a day in Magic Kingdom!

6. Fantasmic

At Hollywood Studios, battle the forces of evil with Mickey as he learns about the power of dreams. Throw in Pocahontas, Lion King, and a slew of villains. Can you imagine anything more Disney-ish than that? I absolutely love Fantasmic because it celebrates the renaissance animations from the 1990s, the very ones I grew up with. This show takes me back to childhood, which is what Disney World is all about!

5. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Who says characters are required for Disney magic? World Showcase in Epcot proves that Disney can transport guests to another place. Illuminations honors all the countries in World Showcase, but most importantly it tells the human story as a whole. It’s magic comes from the universal relatability. Plus, the finale fireworks are astounding, and so close!

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4. Kilimanjaro Safari

This one of a kind attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is truly astounding. Where else can you see lions, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, elephants, hippos, and crocodiles (and more!) all on one attraction? Rounding the bend to the elephant enclosure, when the safari truck picks up some radio signal and the music starts playing, and the beautiful elephants come into view, that is a magically zen experience. I feel happier just thinking about it.

3. Taking the Ferry

Riding the monorail from Ticket and Transportation Center to Magic Kingdom seems like the most popular option. However, the ferry boat just seems more magical, romantic option. My family and I always stand near the front of the boat, so we can watch Cinderella Castle grow larger as we get closer. Nothing pumps me up like that sight. Of course, being in the front means we are usually the first people off the boat when it docks. Plus, the ferry is often the less crowded transportation choice, so you can get on the first boat you see, rather than waiting for a few rounds of monorails on an early morning.

2. Riding Monorail into Epcot

Just as the ferry seems special to Magic Kingdom, riding the monorail is so quintessential to Epcot. Looping through the park from above is so much fun, and makes me excited to go play! Even years later, the monorail is still cool and futuristic, and fits perfectly in theme with Future World in Epcot. The monorail is a perfect start to a day in Epcot!

1. Being Told to Have a “Magical Day”

Cast Members make so much magic for the guests. They’re always ready with a smile and Mickey-gloved wave. Hearing “have a magical day” (or other variations of the idea) remind me that I’m in a magical place. Walt Disney World is unlike any other, and it’s these interactions with Cast Members and other guests that transform a regular theme park into a magical oasis. It just never fails to put a smile on my face.

These are the experiences I look forward to when I plan my Disney World trips, and what make my vacations complete. But really, these eight things are just the tip of the iceberg. Disney World has hundred of unique experiences. What are some of your favorite experiences?

About Robin Swanson

Robin’s Disney journey began with Beauty and the Beast bedsheets, a Jasmine dress up set, and a purring Nala plush. As a child in the 1990s, the renaissance and classic animations alike captivated her imagination. In 2008, Robin visited Walt Disney World for the first time, and the obsession really took hold. Since then, Robin has enjoyed visiting the Happiest Place on Earth many more times. She lives in the Chicago suburbs where she is wrapping up a Masters in writing. When not at Disney World, Robin enjoys researching fairytales, eating ice cream, Netflix binging, reading and, of course, planning the next Walt Disney World vacation!