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by Soarin’ Diva

I remember the very first time my husband and I were planning our family trip to Walt Disney World. We were going for one week, and someone asked me which parks we were going to. He was shocked when I told him we were planning to go to all four parks, some of them multiple days. He was quick to inform me that this was impossible, there was no way we could get everything done at all the parks, we should just focus on a couple of parks.

I have to admit, since I had never been before, this news was intimidating to me.  My husband was doing most of the planning, as he had been lucky enough to vacation in “The World” before, so I wasn’t sure exactly how much we were going to be attempting to accomplish.  Would we be able to check off all the items on our to-do list for each park?

It turns out, I worried over nothing.  We went during the off-season, which was a HUGE help in having time to tackle that to-do list, as there was very little time spent standing in line.  Most of the rides were walk-ons during that week.  At the time, there actually was still an off-season.  Unfortunately, these days, that’s not the case.  The parks stay busy pretty much all year now, thanks to incentives like free dining.  Because of this, I’ll give you my family’s top list of absolute must do’s for each park.

043Magic Kingdom: We’ll go ahead and start with the most popular park.  This one is also the most difficult, as there are just so many things to do, it’s hard to narrow them down.  Please keep in mind, I’m only short listing these, I love every ride and attraction at Magic Kingdom, but if it’s a busy day there, we have to focus on our top picks.

  1. Peter Pan’s Flight – This is an extremely popular attraction, if you don’t head for this ride first, you BETTER have a fast pass or you will wait in line for an hour or more.
  2. Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train – After Peter Pan’s Flight, head straight for this ride.  Again, if you don’t hit it first thing in the morning, you better have a fast pass.
  3. Space Mountain – After hitting Fantasyland, run over to Tomorrowland and jump on Space Mountain.  A fast pass for this one is always welcome.
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean – We love this ride and were devastated it was under refurbishment on our last trip.  Luckily, it reopened the last day we were there, so we did get to ride it once.
  5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Another Disney classic that we can’t miss
  6. Splash Mountain – This ride, which is based on the classic movie Song of the South, is an absolute blast to go on.  From the big drop into water to the adorable theming, this attraction is not to be missed.
  7. Carousel of Progress – If I didn’t include this, my husband may just disown me.  I wasn’t crazy about it to begin with, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world now.
  8. Haunted Mansion – This one is listed last, but that doesn’t mean it’s last in my heart.  I only list it last because it’s easier to get on this one without a fastpass than it is most of the others.  I’m pretty sure if this attraction ever closed, my devastation would be so large, I would probably be found curled into a fetal position mumbling incoherently.  My love for this attraction cannot be equaled by any other.  Did I mention I love this attraction?
Soarin' Diva's family opening Hollywood Studios

Soarin’ Diva’s family opening Hollywood Studios

Speeder Bike near Star Tours

Speeder Bike near Star Tours

Hollywood Studios:  With all of the current closings at Hollywood Studios, it shouldn’t be very hard to tackle every attraction in the park in one day.

  1. Toy Story Midway Mania – Yeah, this one is kind of given.  You better perfect that “speed walk” and get over here quick when the park opens, you also better have a fastpass for it later in the day.
  2. Rockin’ Rollercoaster – This one is probably the second biggest attraction at Hollywood Studios, so head on over here after Toy Story Midway Mania.
  3. Tower of Terror – If this attraction doesn’t tie Rockin’ Rollercoaster for second most popular, it comes in a very close third.  Hop in this slightly creepy elevator after you have taken that zooming, fast limo ride with Aerosmith at Rockin’ Rollercoaster.
  4. Star Tours – Oh gosh, can I just tell you how much my youngest son and I LOVE Star Tours?  We got to ride this one about ten times in a row once, and the movie scene’s we were thrust into were never the same twice.  I’m so excited to experience the new scenes added with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  5. The Great Movie Ride –  Another Disney classic that has been slightly updated recently, we never miss this attraction.
  6. Muppet Vision 3D – Need a break in some cool air conditioning.  Cool off with Kermit and the gang and have a laugh at their antics.
  7. Shows – Okay, technically I’m grouping Beauty and the Beast, Lights, Motors, Action and the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show together.  If you have time, try to catch all three, they are all fun, exciting and entertaining.
  8. Fantasmic! – What better way to cap off your day than sitting and watching the epic Fantasmic! show?  You will get to see most of the Disney characters, amazing lighting and awe-inspiring fireworks, all in one show.

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Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom:  Animal Kingdom closes a little earlier than the other parks, but there is still time to accomplish a lot in this park.

  1. Kilimanjaro Safaris – We usually try to hit this one as soon as the park opens.  The animals may be a little more active earlier in the day before the heat really hits.  If you don’t hit this early, think about getting a fastpass for it.
  2. Expedition Everest – This is probably Animal Kingdom’s number one attraction.  Go early and try to get a fastpass for it as well, so you get to ride it again later.
  3. Dinosaur – What’s more fun than having a huge meat-eater lean down into your face and breathing his steamy breath on you while roaring loudly?
  4. Kali River Rapids – The hotter the weather, the more appealing this attraction is.  Get.  A.  Fastpass.
  5. Primevil Whirl – This one could possibly jerk every bone in your body out of place, resulting in you walking hunched over in a Quasimodo style of glam for the rest of your vacation, but it’s fun.
  6. Tough To Be A Bug – We find this to be a very cute show, but (Soarin’ Diva tip here) be warned, we have yet to see it without hearing several children become terrified and traumatized during a couple of parts.  If your child is easily scared by huge, mean bugs and loud noises, please avoid it for their sake.
  7. Maharajah Jungle Trek/Panjani Forest Exploration Trail – If you have time and your feet haven’t fallen off at this point, try to take these exploration trails and check out all the beautiful and exotic animals and birds.  You won’t be disappointed.
Morocco Pavilion at EPCOT

Morocco Pavilion at EPCOT

Mexico Pavilion at EPCOT

Mexico Pavilion at EPCOT

EPCOT: EPCOT is a truly AMAZING park, hosting more than just rides, it’s home to several countries as well.  Please don’t sell this park short just because it doesn’t have an abundance of rides.

  1. Test Track – Ummmm….only my FAVORITE of all the rides at Walt Disney World.  I don’t know why I love this ride so much, but this one will always be my number one, and we make sure to head straight to Test Track when we get to the park.
  2. Soarin’ – I know what you’re saying, “Your name is ‘Soarin’ Diva’ and Soarin’ isn’t actually your favorite number one ride?”  Well, honestly, Soarin’ Diva sounded better than Test Track Diva.  That being said, get yourself a fastpass for this one.  I meant it.  I’m not EVEN kidding, get a fastpass.  Unless you plan on standing in line all day.
  3. Spaceship Earth – You know, that golf ball thing at the front of the park (yes, I cringe and die a little inside every time I hear this.)  This attraction takes you through the history of mankind from as early as the cave man era.  It’s truly an amazing adventure.
  4. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros – I know, this isn’t everyone’s favorite, but I think it’s cute and we make sure to go every time.
  5. Living With The Land –  This attraction takes you right into the living laboratories where you can see all the amazing foods grown at EPCOT that are served in the Disney Parks.
  6. Ellen’s Energy Adventure – You need some time for this one, it lasts 45 minutes.  If you do have the time, though, make sure you take advantage of this attraction, it’s entertaining as well as educational.
  7. Journey Into the Imagination With Figment – This is a cute and fun attraction taking you through a sensory lab with Figment the dragon.
  8. World Showcase – DUH!  You absolutely MUST stroll through World Showcase.  Learn about the countries, taste the amazing food, admire the artwork and architecture true to the countries they represent.

These are my top eight must-do’s for each of the four Walt Disney World Parks.  Naturally, there are a lot more attractions my family loves and wouldn’t miss (like Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom), but I am trying to limit my list to just eight per park.  Did I leave any of your must-do’s out?  I would love to hear about them, comment and let us know what your must-do’s are.

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Hi, I'm a Disney loving wife and mom to two awesome Devos. We love all things Disney and when we aren't at WDW, we are usually planning our next trip there! I love to give tips on how to make your WDW trip better.