20 Not-To-Miss Moments at Walt Disney World

20 Not to Miss Moments at Walt Disney World-2

Walt Disney World is a magical and fun place.  With four different theme parks, there is so much to do.  But in all the opportunities for attractions, shows and activities, don’t miss out on these fun moments.  They are some of my absolute favorites!

1.  The Opening of the Magic Kingdom.  This 10 minute ceremony happens each day at the Magic Kingdom.  It begins 10-15 minutes before the park opens so plan on arriving early for the festivities. What happens?  Magic!  The mayor or other town official of Main Street USA comes out and greets all the guests.  Dancers and singers in 1920’s garb join him and sing “Good Morning,” “Casey Junior’s Coming Down the Track” and “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah.”

It is fun and exciting as guests wait for the Magic Kingdom’s steam engine train to pull into the station bringing Mickey and so many other characters.  The crowd helps count down from 10 to open the Magic Kingdom, fireworks shoot up and pixie dust is thrown.  All that just to open a park!  It is one of my most favorite moments in the parks.

2.  Tinkerbell’s Flight at the beginning of Wishes, the Magic Kingdom firework show.  You have to pay attention so you don’t miss this.  At the beginning of Wishes, Tinkerbell (a real person, lit up in costume) will fly from the right side of the castle to a building at the top Main Street. Best places to stand are:  on Main Street, on the hub right in front of the castle or the Tomorrowland bridge.  If you are in this area, you won’t miss her.  And if you look during the day, you can spot her wire.

3.  The Kilamanjaro Safari.  This is one of my favorite attractions at the Animal Kingdom.  On this ride, you will have to remind yourself that you are still in Florida.  Many of the animals roam freely and often are near the safari truck.  Some of my favorite Animal Kingdom moments have been when we were within a couple arms-lengths of a giraffe or ostrich.

4.  Meeting Your Child’s Favorite Characters.  These moments are not to be quickly passed by.  Some of our family’s favorite moments have been playing chase with Pluto or chatting it up with Cinderella.  If your kids are old enough to engage and ask questions, the cast members are animated, fun and quite entertaining in their conversations.

5.  The Magic Kindgom’s nighttime parade.  Currently, the Main Street Electrical Parade is at the Magic Kingdom.  I am secretly pining for Spectromagic to return, but both parades are wonderful and enchanting.  My favorite spot to sit is on Main Street where the parade starts.  But this does mean arriving quite early (as in 1.5 hours) and taking turns with others in your party shopping and people-watching.  Truthfully, my mom and I arrived 2 hours early to sit on the curb last month.  It was a welcome break after a day filled with walking.  And that takes me to the next one…

6.  Shopping on Main Street at night.  Main Street has some of my favorite shops, but there is something thrilling about shopping during all the buzz before the parade starts.  This is usually when my kids spend their Disney Dollars from Grandma and souvenir money from me.  It is a fun moment, albeit expensive and crowded…but worth it.

7.  The Caves on Tom Sawyer Island.  Grab your family and maneuver your way through Tom’s caves in the Magic Kingdom.  You’ll need to catch the raft over to the island, but from there you are free to roam the trails, explore the fort and brave the escape tunnels.  The caves do get pretty dark and the floor is definitely not flat.  But we love doing this on our last Magic Kingdom day for a change of pace.

8.  Movie Night at Your Hotel.  If you are staying at a Disney Hotel on Property (and you can read why you should here), check the movie schedule at your resort.  Last month, we watched Dumbo under the stars at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarters.  The resort provided *warm* towels to sit on and it was fun watching the movie on a jumbo, outdoor screen.

9.  A Character Meal.  One of my favorite ways to see the characters is by booking a character meal.  Truth be told on our last trip, we did four of them on the dining plan (Akershus with the Princesses, Tusker House with Donald & Friends, Garden Grill with Chip & Dale and the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast with Mary Poppins and Alice.)

The characters come to each table to greet your family, take photos and sign autograph books.  Most of the meals are buffets with lots of great options on food.  But the fun is seeing your kids interact with the characters without having to wait in line.

10.  The Classic Photo in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  No Disney photo album is complete without your family’s photos in front of the castle.  There are Disney photographers on Main Street who will take your picture with their camera and with your own.

When the photographer takes the photo, be sure to link the images to your account with your magic band.  You can purchase it later if you don’t have the Memory Maker…or just use the *free* one on your camera.

11.  Talking with PUSH in Tomorrowland.  PUSH is a moving, talking garbage can that works his way through Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom.  Just watch for a crowd (mainly children) and that is probably where he is.

We ran into him at one of the stores on this last trip.  He and my son carried on a humorous conversation much to the delight of my son.  Dan even had him looking at garbage cans in other parks to see if it was PUSH…thanks, Dan for having him touch nearly every garbage can we passed!  Gross.

PUSH is controlled by a cast member that you can spot if you’re looking.  He’ll be wearing a ball cap, satchel with controls and have his hand up to his chin, speaking into the mic.  He does a very good job!  I did hear that there are some problems with his contract and that he would be removed from the MK, but I am hoping he returns quickly.

12.  Epcot’s IllumiNations.  This is by far the best and most impressive firework and laser show I have ever seen.  It is choreographed to music in true Disney style.  I usually don’t worry about arriving super early to get good seats.  Just make sure that you can see the center of the lake in the World Showcase.  You will not want to miss what comes out of the water.

13.  Adventureland’s Spitting Camel.  You may find my thinking a bit twisted on this one, but if you are in need of a little rest and laughter, send your family to the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House and grab a seat near the gold camel.

The camel spits water on unsuspecting guests.  It is a riot.  I was in tears and I can only imagine the kind of idiot I looked like sitting by myself, nearly busting out with laughter.  😉

14.  Mornings at the Magic Kingdom (or any park).  Mornings at the parks are cooler and so much less crowded.  These are the perfect times to hit those long wait rides while other vacationers are still in their beds or eating breakfast.

15.  Street Performers.  Don’t miss out on an opportunity to catch some of the fabulous talent that pops up in the parks.  Some of my favorites are the Barbershop singers on Main Street, the Mariachi Band in Mexico at Epcot or the movie star wannabees at Hollywood Studios.  They are fun, often engaging and enjoy a crowd.

16.  Dinner at the World Showcase.  Be sure to book a meal in one of the countries at Epcot’s World Showcase.  There is a wonderful variety and all cast members/servers are from the country you are visiting.  It is a great way to learn, interact and ask questions about their native country. . . not to mention, enjoy some exquisite cuisine.

17.  Enchanted Tales with Belle.  This Magic Kingdom attraction has won awards and it is no wonder why.  This is an interactive activity where your kids have the opportunity to re-enact Belle’s story with her.  It is small group based and can have long wait times.  Book a fast pass for it!

18.  The Unofficial Early Opening of Hollywood Studios and Toy Story Mania Walk-On.  Each morning, Hollywood Studios unofficially opens about 15 minutes early.  This is your best chance to ride Toy Story Mania without a fast pass or the insane 90 minute wait time.

I LOVE this ride.  If you arrive early and wait for the opening of the park, head straight back to Toy Story Mania and you’ll basically walk on the ride.  When you are done, be sure to look back at the Wait Time when you’re leaving.  You’ll notice it jumped to about 50 minutes!

19.   Enjoying the Largest Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches!  Whether you use one of your snack points on the dining plan or the dessert that accompanies your quick service meal, these ice cream cookie sandwiches are huge!  If you’re at the Magic Kingdom, stop in the ice cream shoppe on Main Street and get one as a snack.  If you are at your resort’s cafeteria for a quick service meal, tell the cashier you are going to come back for your dessert.  They’ll stamp your receipt and you’ll have an hour to return for your treat.

20.  Serving Others in the Parks.  As I mentioned in my ebook, Teach Me To Serve, when we are in Disney World, we try to keep helping others in the forefront of our minds.  One way we do this is by purchasing little Disney candy tins to give away to children who are having a rough or sad moment.  We make sure that the child isn’t throwing a fit over something and my kids ask the parent’s permission before giving the tin to the child.  It is good opportunity to help your kids focus on others.

One of the tins my son gave away was to a fussy toddler on the monorail.  The toddler used the candy tin as a rattle and was entertained the rest of the ride.  My son was beaming after blessing someone else and I was quite pleased to see him take the initiative.

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Oh Disney World, how I would love to go now!  What are you favorite moments in the parks?

 

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Comments

  1. Don’t forget Dole Whip! It’s the one thing I never miss:) We also love Blizzard Beach.

  2. I am so glad to see number 20! Our family does the same thing. We look for the frazzled family at the end of the day with screaming children and give them any leftover fast passes (before WDW started using wristbands!) I love your idea about the tins. Will do when we go in July. Thanks for the tips!

    • Hi Dana! Yes, the magic bands have put a stop to giving away fast passes. We did that too and were often the recipients of others giving their unused fast passes to us. I hope you have a great trip in July and find many opportunities to bless others. :)

  3. Hey Kristen, I love your article but just wanted to let you know PUSH is no longer in WDW and at this time will not be coming back. Also please urge your readers to meet Di Vine before she leaves as well. For those whp dpn’t know, she can be found in Animal Kingdom and is someone you will never forget. Her meeting times are Not posted so you’ll have to ask a character attendant where and when she’ll meet.

  4. Do all the parks open early or just hollywood. I need to visit epcot and hollywood studios on the same day due to time restrictions. Would you reccomend hollywood studios first and epcot second or vice versa. I was hoping to go on the frozen ride.

    • From my experience, only Hollywood Studios opens earlier than publicized. If you are staying at a Disney resort, one park each day opens early for Extra Magic Hours. Check and see if Epcot or HS is opening early on the day you are going. If you’re not a hotel guest…I would probably do it this way: Get to HS first and do the top picks there and do them early. Then I would schedule your fast passes for Epcot and select the Frozen ride. The Frozen ride is in Norway in the World Showcase which doesn’t open until 11am. (The front part of Epcot is open earlier and has lots of fun things to do!). Assuming you can get a fast pass in advance for Frozen…I would do it that way. If not and Frozen is your most important item, then I would do Epcot first. Get there at opening and enjoy the front of the park and then be ready to book it at 11am to Norway and get on the ride when it opens. You’ll wait the least amount of time when it first opens for the day. Hope that helps!!