Most of the 50 million people who visit the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida have special memories about their trips to the most magical place on earth. Many have memories based on a special experience, a character encounter or a show they saw for the first time. No matter what your memories of Disney include, one thing is for certain—there are a few things that Disney World just wouldn’t be Disney World without. Here are 8 of them.
8. Dole Whip
The Dole Whip is more than simply pineapple soft serve. On the contrary, it’s more of a Disney pop culture phenomenon. Disney without a Dole Whip is just weird, and it just isn’t Disney. And we love that we can enjoy our Dole Whips in several different ways now—with pineapple upside down cake, swirled with vanilla soft serve, etc.—but there’s something about the original Dole Whip (with a spoon please!). It’s especially got that “Disney” feel when you visit in the summer, and the Dole Whip takes a bit of that summer heat away!
7. The classic attractions
Disney World wouldn’t be Disney World without the classic attractions we find in Adventureland, Liberty Square and Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom. Attractions like Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Enchanted Tiki Room, Haunted Mansion, Carousel of Progress and others make Magic Kingdom…well, magical! We love the attractions that seem to have Walt’s fingerprints on them, and without them, Disney would just be another amusement park.
6. Themed and cart foods
The Dole Whip takes the blue ribbon when it comes to iconic Disney World food items, but it’s not alone in the category. Other themed and cart foods give us that “Disney” feel when we enjoy them. They include things like the Premium Mickey Ice Cream Bar, themed cupcakes, churros and other yummy treats that let our taste buds know we are definitely at Disney World.
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5. Character encounters
Nothing says “Disney” more than Disney characters, and Disney World is chock full of them. You could make an entire day at Disney out of just meeting characters. Everyone from Cinderella and Tiana to Gaston and Flynn Rider meet Guests, as do King Louie, Belle, Princess Aurora, Baloo the Bear, Peter Pan, Beast, Mickey, the Incredibles, Daisy, Goofy, Donald, Joy and Sadness and others. Without characters, “Disney World” would be just “World.”
The live entertainment at Disney World is second to none—and that often includes comparisons to Broadway shows! Shows like Finding Nemo The Musical at Animal Kingdom, Beauty and the Beast—Live on Stage at Hollywood Studios and other shows make Disney World even more magical. The Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom will have you standing up and cheering at your seat, and Disney wouldn’t be Disney without these amazing shows.
3. Parades and street entertainment
Parades play a big role in the whole Disney World experience. The Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom takes Guests through many of Disney’s beloved stories as parade floats full of Disney characters and props from their respective stories pass by excited onlookers along the parade route at Magic Kingdom. Street entertainment at Animal Kingdom gives Guests a taste of African and Asian culture. We can’t imagine Disney World without these amazing offerings in entertainment.
Is there even a Disney empire without Mickey? Who would have thought that an animated version of an animal we usually think of as a rodent would springboard Mr. Disney into multi-billion-dollar fame and worldwide success? But that’s exactly what happened! Mickey was the brainchild of Walt on a train on his way back from a getaway with his wife Lillian just after Walt had been sabotaged by a contract loophole. What he thought was his darkest day was actually the day that led to the birth of the first of many of his beloved characters. And as Disney fans, we feel as though we are engaging true Hollywood-style royalty when we get the chance to hug and shake hands with the Main Mouse himself at Disney World. And without the mouse, Disney World would be nothing more than a state-of-the-art theme park.
1. Walt himself
There’s only one thing in the Disney empire that carries more weight than Mickey, and that’s the man—Walt Disney. Without his genius, his creativity, his ability to see the end result and then instinctively approach it, not only would Disney World not be Disney World; it would be simply non-existent. It’s Walt’s way of thinking and his dedication to not cutting corners that we see in the workings of Disney’s Imagineers today, and without those things, Disney World wouldn’t have nearly the draw it does today.