TouringPlans is pleased to welcome guest author Amy Crockett.
Last week, I gave you tips on what to do before your first Disney trip. So, your trip is planned, your bags are packed… now what? With so much to discover at Walt Disney World, it can be difficult to prioritize, especially on your first visit. Personal preference, age, height, and fear factor will determine many of the attractions you choose to ride, but Disney World includes so much more than amazing rides. Read on to discover 50 things I believe everyone should include on their first trip.
(Note: Some items may be limited or unavailable at present due to current COVID-19 restrictions and refurbishment schedules.)
- Take a castle pic. It’s one of the most photographed sites in the world.
- Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. Pick out a special souvenir to remember your first trip.
- Check out some opening day attractions. Some best bets include Dumbo, Haunted Mansion, Small World, Jungle Cruise, Mad Tea Party, or Peter Pan. There’s a reason they have stuck around for 50 years!
- Conquer the Mountains. If you’re up for it, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain are incredibly themed and lots of fun.
- Experience Mickey’s PhilharMagic. This 3-D show flies under the radar, but is one of my absolute favorites.
- Enjoy a classic snack. Whether you opt for a Mickey ice cream bar, Dole Whip, or churro (or all three, for science!) you can’t go wrong. All three are available at Magic Kingdom.
- Ride the railroad. Sit back, relax, and enjoy one of Walt’s original inspirations.
- Buy a pair of ears. There’s tons of choices, both in hat and headband form.
- Use the Tangled bathrooms. Can restrooms be cute? If so, these are the cutest.
- Visit Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. A festive favorite!
- Watch Happily Ever After. Fireworks are always the perfect end to a perfect day.
- Take the monorail. On your way in or out. And make sure to stand clear of the doors!
- Ride Spaceship Earth. A trip inside this EPCOT icon is something everyone should experience.
- Go Soarin’. Truly breathtaking.
- See The Seas. An impressive aquarium experience.
- Explore World Showcase. Appreciate the sights, sounds, smells, architecture, and attention to detail in all 11 countries.
- Eat/drink around the world. From gelato to margaritas, sample cuisine from a few different cultures (or all 11 – no judgement, you’re on vacation!).
- Catch a street performance. Musicians, acrobats, jugglers, and more.
- Ride Runaway Railway. The first ever Mickey & Minnie ride.
- Check out Galaxy’s Edge. Star Wars fan or not, this immersive land is very impressive.
- Take in a show. Excellent live entertainment includes the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Beauty and the Beast Live, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and a Frozen Sing-Along. Try to see a few.
- Learn some history. Walt Disney Presents is a walk-through exhibit with tons of history from Disney animation and the parks. Take a few minutes to appreciate it all (in the AC!)
- Experience Fantasmic! This is an epic nighttime spectacular that cannot be missed.
- Test your skills at Toy Story Mania! This 3-D arcade game ride-through attraction is loads of fun for all ages!
- Go on safari. Kilimanjaro Safaris is a must-do!
- See Festival of the Lion King. Extraordinary singing, dancing, and acrobatics, set to one of the best Disney soundtracks.
- Check out some animal exhibits. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to over 300 species. Take some time to appreciate the amazing wildlife.
- Marvel at the Tree of Life. Look closely at the beautiful carved animals.
- Eat at Flame Tree Barbecue. Generous portions of delicious BBQ.
- Walk through Pandora at night. Bioluminescence makes this land absolutely stunning after dark.
- Arrive early for Rope Drop. I cannot stress this enough!
- Get a First Visit button. Given for free at all 4 parks.
- Meet Mickey. Remember: it was all started by a mouse. Catch him at any of the 4 parks.
- Use the Lines app. View and report actual wait times. Update and optimize your touring plans.
- Try at least one table-service restaurant. Disney has so many great cuisines to enjoy beyond standard theme park food. Plus, it is a good chance to rest and recharge (in the AC!).
- Use Mobile Ordering. No waiting in line. Available at many counter-service restaurants.
- Eat something Mickey-shaped. Ice cream bars or sandwiches, waffles, pretzels, caramel apples, and more.
- Purchase a ride photo. Even if you didn’t get Memory Maker, a good ride photo is worth the splurge on your first trip.
- Stop and take it all in. Make sure you take the time to look around, notice the details, listen to the music, and soak up the magic.
- Be flexible. You planned ahead so that you’d be prepared, not confined. Don’t run yourself ragged or miss out on the wonderful spontaneous moments because you’re too worried about “the plan”.
- Take a break. Whether it’s leaving the park, sitting down with a cold drink, or napping in the Hall of Presidents, you’ll need a break.
- Thank a Cast Member. They are the heart of Disney World.
- Take lots of pictures. They will be fun to look back on!
- Visit Disney Springs. Shop till you drop (or run out of money).
- Start a collection. Choose pins, magnets, ornaments, ears, pressed pennies, or anything else, and keep adding to your collection each trip.
- Make time for pool time.
- Wear sunscreen. Reapply often.
- Hydrate. Walking miles in the Florida heat requires drinking a lot of water.
- Wear comfortable shoes. It’s a long day on your feet.
- Smile! You’re at Disney World!!!
I hope this helps you have a magical first visit to Walt Disney World. With water parks, resorts, recreation, and other area activities, there is always so much more to explore, but I’ll save all that for your next trip!
Amy Crockett is a native Michigander who works at a library by day and dreams of Disney by night. Planning Disney trips is her favorite thing in the entire world to do (apart from the trip itself)! In addition to all things Disney, she loves reading, musical theatre, playing tennis, traveling, and cheering on the Detroit Tigers.