Pros:These attractions are fun for all ages
Cons:Some of these attractions (Kilimanjaro Safari, Toy Story Mania) can have long lines
The Bottom Line: I loved Disney World, and these five attractions were the ones that made the trip the most "magical" for me.
I recently returned from my first trip to Walt Disney World. We had a wonderful time, and there were many attractions I enjoyed, but some were simply a cut above the rest.
Here's my list of five can't-miss attractions for Disney World, along with five "Try your best to make time for" honorable mentions. The top five are attractions I will definitely be making room for in my schedule the next time I go.
As I am not one for thrill rides, this is a roller coaster-less list. If you're looking for a list of big-time rides, you'll have to consult with someone who's not such a wuss.
1. Magic Kingdom — Fireworks and pre-show: Even if the rest of the trip had gone awry (and it didn't), the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show and the pre-show, in which they project images onto the castle and it changes colors and does all kinds of cool stuff, would have made the trip worthwhile. Make sure you watch from a spot facing the front of the castle. On some nights, you can also catch the Main Street Electrical Parade directly beforehand — it's fun but nowhere near as magical as the fireworks.
2. Hollywood Studios — Fantasmic show: Holy crap. I don't even know how to describe this show. There's music and dancing and water and boats and fireworks and fire and lights. It was one of the coolest, over-the-top Disney things I saw on my vacation, and I didn't really think anything could top it until I saw the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. The basic concept is that Mickey's having a dream. As you can imagine, this gives them creative license to do about anything, and they do. I recommend doing the Fantasmic dining package so that you don't have to stand in line to get in. We did one where we ate at the Hollywood Brown Derby, and the food was terrific.
3. Animal Kingdom — Kilimanjaro Safari: I thought this was the best "ride" in all of Disney World. You go on a safari through Africa, and you have the change to see elephants, giraffes, lions, okapis, ostriches and many other wonderful animals up-close. And the scenery is just beautiful; it really feels like you've been transported to another country.
4. Hollywood Studios — Toy Story Mania: This is a fairly new ride with massive lines, but it is, in the words of a kid that came skipping while I was in an hour-long line, "Totally worth it." The game is basically a 3D shooting gallery, and you spin around from game to game, shooting at targets. It's hard to explain why it's so much fun, but it is. If you don't have time to stand in line for it or even to visit Hollywood Studios, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Magic Kingdom is a decent replacement.
5. Animal Kingdom — Festival of the Lion King show: Aside from Fantasmic, this was by far my favorite Disney World show. As far as I'm concerned, The Lion King had some of the best music of any Disney music, and this show combines it with dancing and tumbling and all kinds of good stuff.
Five honorable mentions:
Epcot — Illuminations fireworks: I preferred the Magic Kingdom fireworks, but Epcot also puts on a terrific show with fireworks and lasers.
Animal Kingdom — Finding Nemo the Musical: Another great show. This one has terrific music and puppetry, and the colors are just spectacular.
Hollywood Studios — Star Tours - The Adventures Continue: I don't even LIKE Star Wars, and I thought this attraction was awesome. It's a 3D simulator ride that just feels so realistic, like you're really flying through the air and landing.
Magic Kingdom — Main Street Bakery: They have one of best cinnamon rolls I've ever had, and this concoction that involves two giant cookies with ice cream in the middle.
Hollywood Studios — Walt Disney: One Man's Dream: A nice little mini-museum and movie dedicated to the man who started it all. It's not something you need to see every time you visit the parks, but if you're a long-time Disney fan, this is definitely worth stopping for.
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Best Suited For: Families
Best Time to Travel Here: Anytime