I’ve been a Disney fan ever since I was little. Watching a Disney movie Sunday night was one of the most exciting highlights of my week as a kid. When we went to Disneyland when I was in Grade 2, and Walt Disney World the following year, it was like walking into a movie.
In the past several years, my family and I have had the opportunity to visit Disney Parks several times and I have to say that my love for all things Disney has only grown. I’ve even done work-related training through the Disney Institute.
In this, my fortieth year, I thought that I might add a runDisney race to my agenda as part of my celebrations, but we’re saving up to potentially go to the Olympics in Rio next year, so a Disney trip isn’t in the budget.
Dreaming of Disney brings me joy, though, and with this year being all about happiness and joy, I am indulging my Disney side by writing about 40 wonderful things to enjoy at Walt Disney World. If you are already a Disney lover, it is my wish that my list of favourites brings up a few happy memories for you. If you’ve never been to Disney, I hope that my list can inspire you as you plan a trip to Walt Disney World. If you’ve found that you’re not a Disney lover, then you may just have to eye roll as you read my list. Ready?
- Being there for rope-drop when the park opens. There’s something magical about being one of the first people in the park.
- Fireworks! My favourite part of a day at Disney. I pretty much tear up every time I watch the show.
- Going in the off-season. Fewer people, shorter lines, and a more leisurely pace mean the joy of Disney with more relaxation.
- Walking down Main Street and looking up at the castle. It makes my heart expand in my chest.
- The Halloween-themed parade. The Headless Horseman is my favourite part.
- RunDisney races. The crowds have so much energy and running through the parks, even for just part of a race, is uplifting.
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Disney + Halloween = True Love.
- Planning to go. The anticipation of visiting the happiest place on Earth makes me feel like I’m 7 years old. In a good way. Except I’m paying the bill.
- VIP Tour Services. My mom sprang for this the last time we went with her, and it was an amazing experience.
- FastPasses. Having them is awesome. Standing in line – not so much.
- The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage. Awesome snacks, completely different view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, kid-friendly entertainment. And you get to have your picture taken with Captain Hook. Arrgh!
- Pirates of the Caribbean. My long-time favourite ride.
- Jungle Cruise. Cheesy, yes, but it’s on my must-ride list, along with Pirates.
- The Teacups (officially “Mad Tea Party”). Classic.
- The Tower of Terror. Love the feeling of my stomach dropping.
- The Haunted Mansion. Another of my childhood favourites.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Sure, you’re mostly going in a circle, but my entire family loves it.
- Star Tours. I’m an unapologetic Star Wars fan. Becoming part of the Rebel Alliance is a good time.
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. My daughter’s first big roller coaster, and now one of her favourite rides.
- Expedition Everest. I love fast rides, and I love the Yeti story and theming.
Food and Dining
- Fudge. It’s delicious. Enough said.
- ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. We love the character breakfast here. Go hungry, because there is so much food.
- Dole Whip. Cold, tart, and delicious. Available in Adventureland and at the Polynesian.
- The chocolate-covered Mickey-shaped crisped rice treats. A sweet and simple snack.
- The Garden Grill character meal at Epcot. Again, so much food, but you get to see Chip ‘n’ Dale, Mickey, and Pluto.
- Disney World now has Starbucks. Sometimes caffeine provides a welcome boost as part of a long day in the park.
- The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream. So much ice cream. So much whipped cream. It’s an experience to share with the whole family.
- The attention to detail. Hidden Mickeys, music appropriate to each attraction, the way the pavement changes to reflect the area of the park you’re in, the special touches that you often aren’t conscious of until someone points them out. You are immersed in Disney-ness.
- It’s super clean. If you go to other theme parks, you really notice how Disney takes care of its environment.
- There’s always something different to try: a new ride, a specialty drink, a different restaurant. No trip to Walt Disney World is ever exactly the same.
- Seeing what’s off stage and what goes into the show. It’s pretty cool.
- Customer service. It’s not always perfect, but cast members have provided us with some of our favourite Disney moments.
- The Magical Express. It’s included in your resort stay, they worry about your luggage so you don’t have to, and it starts the magic right at the airport.
- The Contemporary Resort. You can walk to Magic Kingdom. No waiting for a bus or a monorail.
- The pool at the The Beach Club Resort. It’s huge and the kids have a blast.
- Going back to the room in the middle of the day and chilling out. I love visiting the parks, but you can get burnt out.
- The Polynesian Resort. It’s on the monorail, so there’s easy access to Magic Kingdom, and I love the South Pacific theming.
- Tucking my kids in after a long day at the parks. Those are some sweet dreams they’re about to have.
- Having my kids tell me that I’m the best mom in the world for taking them to Disney World. Hey, I like having my ego stroked, too.
What’s your favourite part of Walt Disney World (or Disneyland)? What do you love about Disney? Or, if you’re not a Disney fan, why not?