Headed on a family trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth? Disney World is that once-in-a-lifetime family destination, where even mom and dad get to be a kid again. Where else can you have a mad tea party with Alice in Wonderland, set off on a Jungle Cruise, and eat breakfast with Winnie the Pooh – all in one day? If you’re only in Disney World for a few days it can be hard to decide which attractions to hit and which to miss. Check these 15 Walt Disney World Resort must-dos off your Disney to-do list and you know you’ll have seen the best that the resort has to offer.
1. Start your day by donning your official Mickey Mouse ears. At the Chapeau Hat Shop on Main Street, just as you enter the Magic Kingdom, you’ll find a huge selection of hats, perfect for protecting your face from the Orlando sun. Mickey Mouse ears are a classic, and you can have your name embroidered on the spot at this adorable Victorian inspired hat shot.
2. Enjoy breakfast with your favorite Disney characters. Fuel up for a day of walking the parks with your favorite cartoon characters. At the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Hotel), you’ll have a chance to dine with Alice in Wonderland and her friends, as well as Mary Poppins. Mickey Mouse is the Chef de Cuisine at the Contemporary Resort’s Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet, with Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto joining in on the fun. Our favorite breakfast has always been the Buffet with Character at the Crystal Palace, just off Main Street in the Magic Kingdom: Winnie the Pooh and all his friends will be on hand as you indulge in a delicious brunch buffet. To reserve a table, click here.
3. Set off on an early-morning Kilamanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom. Early morning is the best time to catch the exotic animals in action on the Kilamanjaro Safari, a bumpy ride through the African savanna in an open air vehicle. Make a beeline to this attraction as soon as the park opens to guarantee your spot on the first safaris of the day.
4. Keep your eyes peeled for Hidden Mickeys! Throughout Disney World, silhouette of the Mickey Mouse’s head and ears are hidden in the designs of rides, attractions, and other architectural elements. There are entire websites devoted to discovering hidden Mickeys. Make it a contest: whoever spots the most Hidden Mickeys in a day wins a special treat.
5. Ride a historic train around the Magic Kingdom. Tour the 1.5 mile perimeter of the Magic Kingdom with a narrated audio guide on the Walt Disney World Railroad, an open air experience that features vintage, steam-powered trains. There are three stations – Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland and Frontierland – and the train runs every 4-10 minutes.
6. Ride the Magic Kindgom classics. If you have a toddler, don’t miss Peter Pan, It’s a Small World, and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Older kids (taller than 40-44″) will want to hop on Splash Mountain and Space Mountain. The entire family will love the all-time classic favorites Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and the Jungle Cruise.
7. Travel around the world in Epcot. Visit 11 countries – all in one day – at Epcot’s World Showcase! While parents will enjoy browsing the many shops, keep your kids entertained at the Kidcot Fun Stops: Each country has a Kidcot Fun Stop, where kids can color, learn how to say their name in that country’s native language, pick up a free Duffy the Disney Bear cardboard cutout and receive a passport stamp.
8. Check into the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is perhaps the most spine-tingling ride in all of Walt Disney World: its many vertical drops are not for the faint of heart. Make sure you purchase the picture of your family snapped during the ride, available as soon as you check out of this creepy hotel – so you have a lasting memory of what you all look like screaming for your dear lives!
9. Zoom around the park on the amazing monorail. The Walt Disney World Monorail runs over 14.7 miles and transports over 50 million Disney guests each year. Each train features a distinctive colored stripe. Ride the monorail from the Magic Kingdom to the Ticket and Transportation Center and you’ll splice right through Disney’s mod Contemporary Resort.
10. Visit Beauty and the Beast in the New FantasyLand. Doubling the size of original Fantasyland from 10 to 21 acres, Disney’s new Fantasyland is home to the new Beast’s Castle. Have a quick service lunch at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the castle, making sure to wander into the West Wing, where you’ll find a glass bell jar containing a red rose slowly shedding its petals. You’re likely to find Belle’s egotistical suitor at his namesake tavern, Gaston’s Tavern: take a sip of Le Fou Brew – apple juice, toasted marshmallows and mango foam – served in a manly stein.
11. Catch a live action show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There are so many thrilling, live-action shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that it will be difficult to choose a favorite. The preschool set will love the bright singing and dancing of Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, performed in the 1,500-seat outdoor Theater of the Stars along Sunset Boulevard, while older kids will enjoy the American Idol Experience, a daily competition to discover America’s next rising star. The Lights, Motors, Action! stunt show will engage every member of your family as you watch high-octane stunts that reveal incredible special effects secrets.
12. Ride the Kali River Rapids and search for the elusive Yeti in Animal Kingdom. Hope onto a river raft and ride through the lush jungle landscape on the Kali River Rapids. Wear your swimsuit or a rain poncho! Afterwards, explore the Himalayas on a runaway train but beware! Legend has it that a mysterious guardian monster protects the Forbidden Mountain.
13. Rocket to outer space. Board a vessel bound for Mars on Mission: Space in Epcot. As part of a 4-cadet crew you experience the monumental force of lift-off in this space shuttle simulator. Note that you can choose two levels of training: The Orange Team will experience high speed and G-forces during launch and re-entry, while the Green Team travels to Mars in a motion simulator ride that does not spin and is less likely to cause motion sickness.
14. Make a wish as you witness the amazing fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle. Join Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy as they share the power of hope and dreams with the melody of famous Disney songs as a musical backdrop. Arrive well before the show and enjoy an ice cream in the Cinderella Castle forecourt or on the surrounding bridges for the best view.This biggest fireworks extravaganza in Magic Kingdom Park history will remind you that dreams really do come true if you believe in yourself!
15. Let yourself be a kid again! Kids love seeing their parents with true, happy smiles on their faces. So let loose…and have fun! Don that Goofy hat, ride the Merry-go-Round, give Mickey Mouse a hug when you see him! You’re in the happiest place on Earth with you family, and these Disney moments are the cherry on the top of the family memories cake.