This is probably the hardest article I’ve ever written. I have a hard enough time going to Walt Disney World for only one week when we plan our vacations. So narrowing the list to just ten things wasn’t easy. But here’s what I came up with.
10. Tower of Terror
This experience is one of the best Walt Disney World has ever given us. The ride experience begins as you walk down Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and continues after the ride right up to the gift shop. The hotel itself can be seen from outside the park, and as you walk up to the ride and enter the gates, the line works its way through the grounds of the hotel. After that, you will set foot in the lobby area, where Disney Imagineers have worked overtime to make it seem like this hotel lobby has been abandoned – and gathering dust – for decades. The cast members are always in character, and every second of this experience is absolutely extraordinary. Hands down, this is our favorite ride in Walt Disney World.
9. Meet and Greet with Mickey
It doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matter how long the wait is. You can’t have a visit to Walt Disney World and not meet the mouse that started it all. There are countless opportunities to make this happen. Magic Kingdom of course has one, Epcot has the character meet-and-greet right in the middle of Future World, Hollywood Studios has Sorcerer Mickey (now located where the back lot tour used to be) and Animal Kingdom has Safari Mickey at the Tusker House during your meal. Or if you want an experience outside of the parks, Chef Mickey’s is a great opportunity to meet Mickey and his friends during dinner.
There is a reason they keep enlarging the theatre that houses Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios. It is already enormous, with seating for up to 6900 people and standing room for another 3000, but they are always making the theatre bigger. And it is always crammed full for each and every show. Fantasmic has everything: water, fire, a great story, fireworks, pretty much every single Disney character you can imagine, and a light show you will never forget. This should be high on everyone’s list.
7. Avatar Flight of Passage
Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the two attractions located in the new Pandora – The World of Avatar area within Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Prepare to straddle what feels somewhat like one of those motorcycles at an arcade, be secured in, and then using 3D screen technology, awesome 4D effects, and motion simulation – feel like you are literally flying on the back of a mountain banshee in the most exhilarating way. Your banshee (somewhat like a flying dragon) will soar through the sky as it takes you on the ride of a lifetime through Pandora – The World of Avatar.
6. Test Track
I remember when I was growing up seeing crash test dummies on tv in commercials and shows, and wondering what it would be like to be inside a car as it was tested. Aside from the last step where the car slams into a wall, it would be amazing. Disney took this idea and ran with it and even found a way to make it more personal by letting you design your vehicle and test it against others on the track. Leave yourself time after you get off the ride to get some great shots with your car with out-of-this-world (sometimes literally) backdrops.
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5. Haunted Mansion
This ride has become so popular they had to open up a specialty store for it. It is yet another ride whose story begins early and keeps going right up until the moment you leave the building. You can see this one from far off. The graveyard has some incredible touches that shouldn’t be missed. This is also a ride that has to be ridden again and again to catch every little detail. It definitely took me a few times to catch the shadow of the ghoul playing the piano on the floor.
4. Kilimanjaro Safaris
Every zoo on the planet has tried to create what Disney created in Animal Kingdom. Kilimanjaro Safaris is the best way, outside of actually travelling to jungles and the plains of the Serengeti, to see these majestic creatures close up. You definitely feel like you are experiencing these amazing animals in the habitats they were born to be in. This is yet another ride that you’ll want to ride over and over. Each and every time is different, and always worth the trip.
3. Photo Op with Cinderella’s Castle
Just the sight of this iconic symbol brings many to tears. I know it makes me happy on a level unmatched by anywhere else. For me, it feels like home. There are so many angles to get a great shot of the castle. Take advantage of the photographers that Disney provides. They do this all day, every day, they know the best angles, they understand how light and shadows affects a shot, so you will get the perfect picture. My personal favorite picture is one that includes Walt and Mickey right in front of the castle.
2. Expedition Everest
It’s the only roller coaster on my list. There is a really good reason for that. The first time I rode this ride, I remember walking through each building in the line, trying to take in all the details (people behind me were getting a little frustrated with me). All of the décor aspects imported from Nepal and Tibet are awe-inspiring. With each step, the atmosphere builds up the mystery of Everest, and of course, Yeti himself. By the time you finally get on the ride and you experience what has to be one of the best roller coasters you will find anywhere, you will be hooked, and it will be a welcome addition to each of your trips.
1. Magic Kingdom Fireworks
Waiting for the lights to go down at Magic Kingdom is probably my favorite thing to do in any of the parks. Knowing that you are about to be mesmerized by one of the most incredible fireworks displays anywhere in the world makes you feel like a little kid all over again.
Everyone has their own top ten list for Walt Disney World. What’s on yours?