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By:  Tangled Diva

If you’re like me, you have your must-dos for each trip—certain things that no matter how many times you’ve been you have to do each and every time you go. I am frequently asked by friends going to Walt Disney World what my must-dos are. Below is a list of my five favorite things to do in each of the parks at Walt Disney World.

Magic Kingdom

IMG_13121.  Big Thunder Mountain – Of all the places, shows, and rides in Disney, this one is my son’s absolute favorite.  Whenever we go to MK, it is the first place we go.  We race there when park opens and usually ride it about 5 times in a row (TIP:  Get to the parks when they open and you can usually get at least 2 hours in before the crowd levels start to rise).

2. Festival of Fantasy – This new parade in MK is truly something to behold.  I’ve only seen it once, but it was quickly added to our must-do list.  I truly believe you would have to watch it at least a dozen times to actually take it all in because there is so much to see and absorb.  I’ve tried to describe the parade with all of its costumes, colors and sounds, and it proved to be a very difficult task.  The best I could come up with was fantasmical.Festival of Fantasy

3. Pecos Bill’s – A trip to WDW is never complete without eating at Pecos Bill’s at least one time (usually more).  This is our favorite quick serve restaurant in all of WDW.  And we always, always, get the Taco Salad.

4.  Jungle Cruise – If you love cheesy jokes as much as we do, this is a must-do.  There is typically quite a wait for this ride, so you may want to use it for one of your fast passes.  (TIP:  There is a fast pass kiosk right outside this ride too if you need it).  The enjoyment you have on this ride is completely dependent on how good of a captain (or swimming instructor if you don’t laugh at their cheesy jokes) you have.  But, in all the times we’ve ridden it, we’ve only had one bad one.  And, trust me, we’ve been on it more times than I care to admit!

5.  People Mover – The People Mover is a great place to rest your feet, get some great pictures of the castle, cool off, and, most importantly, people watch. A trip to MK is never complete without at least a few rides on this Tomorrowland attraction.


Animal Kingdom

1.  Festival of the Lion King – This past May when we went to Disney, I went to this show for the first time. But, it was quickly added to my must-do list. This interactive show is absolutely amazing, the costumes are incredible, and the acrobatics keep you completely captivated.

1469972_1417194775177391_1389335429_n2.  Wilderness Explorers – Since discovering the Wilderness Explorers, it has quickly become one of my son’s favorite things to do in AK. While we don’t always complete the whole book each time, we at least get a few badges whenever we go. It is a great way to make AK a full-day park, help your child learn about animals, the environment, and conservation, and, best of all, it’s FREE. Just head towards the Tree of Life, and the main kiosk for Wilderness Explorers will be on your right. The Cast Members will tell you how it works.

3.  Kilimanjaro Safaris – This one is a fast past must for AK.  The times we’ve been there has typically been a pretty lengthy wait for this one.  This ride is a safari where you can get up-close-and-personal with a lot of the animals.  Be sure and have your cameras ready because there are some great photo-ops.  TIP:  Try to avoid the back row–it is a very, very bumpy ride back there.

4.  Expedition Everest – This is my second favorite coaster in WDW.  Polar caps, yetis, twists, turns, and a huge drop make this thrill ride exciting and unpredictable.  We are those awful parents that force their child to try everything once even if they don’t want to.  We still have to force our son on this one because he is a little scared of it, but he is slowly coming around to the idea of it.  (TIP:  If you don’t have or want to waste a fast pass, and  you don’t mind riding alone, hop in the single rider line.  It goes MUCH faster than the regular line.)

Sorry – just have 4 for this park!

Hollywood Studios

1.  Star Tours – This is my son’s favorite thing to do in Hollywood Studios. We never go where we don’t ride it at least 5 times. The best part of this ride is that it has over 60 possible combinations of “tours” you can take, so you have a different “tour” every time you get on it.

2.  Lights, Motors, Action! – This somewhat hidden jewel is one of my husband and son’s favorite things in all of Disney. Located at the very back of the park past the Streets of America, it is an easy one to miss But, trust me, you don’t want to miss this one- especially if you have little boys. Basically, it goes through the making of an action movie. It has amazing stunt drivers in both cars and on motorcycles, amazing stunts including one man catching on fire, jet skis, chase scenes, and Lightning McQueen himself even makes an appearance.


3.  Rock’n’Roller Coaster – This is probably my favorite ride in all of WDW.  It is hard to be a fast coaster and Aerosmith blaring in your areas.  My only complaint about this ride is that it is too short–less than a minute.  Our son rode it for the first time on this past trip, and while I wouldn’t say he liked it, he has loved bragging to people that he rode it.  And, he is already–albeit skeptically–talking about riding it on our next trip.  TIP:  At the beginning, keep your head at the back of your headrest and look straight ahead.

Mulch4.  Mulch, Sweat ‘n Shears – We never, ever, ever miss this show!  And, because there are so many different shows (80’s, Beatles, etc.), we usually see it more than once.  As the manager states, “While yard work is the family business, hard rock is the family passion.”  But, don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a musical act. The band manager’s comedic timing combined with his ability to think on his feet, his obvious awkwardness and his desperation to be part of the band make it quite the comedy routine too.  We’ve seen this show under the hat and on the Streets of America, so be sure and check your times guide for the time and location of this must-do show!

5.  Hollywood & Vine – Sadly, our son has outgrown the Disney Junior phase, but when he was younger, lunch at Hollywood & Vine was a must.  It is considered a table service meal, so it is a little pricey.  But, the food is great.  It is a buffet that is very similar to what they have at Chef Mickey’s with the addition of this amazing chocolate fountain that they dip everything in!  And, it is a character meal.  You get to meet Jake (and the Neverland Pirates), Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, and Handy Manny.  Like all character meals, it is a great way to meet and get pictures with the characters without having to stand in line.


1.  Lotus Blossom Cafe – I honestly can’t pinpoint why this one made the list, but we always seem to stop in here for a quick serve meal when we are in the World Showcase.  If you go to China and head towards the back, it is on your left.  It has options to eat outdoors or indoors, and there are multiple plugs where you can recharge while you eat.  Our picky-eater son especially loves this place.  He always gets the chicken (they put the sauce on the side) and rice.

2.  JAMMitors – This is another new one to this list.  Our May trip was the first time that we were able to experience the JAMMitors, and I highly recommend seeking them out if you are in EPCOT.  The musicians/comedians are quick-witted and very entertaining.  They sing, dance and even rap–all Disney-themed of course. Check your times guide and catch them at the Future World East entrance when you are in EPCOT.

3.  Chase Character Meet’n’Greet – We are Disney Visa credit card holders, and there are a lot of advantages to this.  There are two credit card options, and we have the one that does not have an annual fee.  In my opinion the biggest benefit is getting to take advantage of Disney deals like free dining before it becomes available to everyone else!  Another benefit is that there is a free character meet’n’greet at EPCOT, and, because you have to be a card holder to use it, the line is always very short.  There is no guarantee who you will see, but it is always a combination of the Fab Five.  Plus, the best part is that you get a free 5 x 7 photo from one of the pictures you take.  You pick this up at the photo shop under the ball.  The meet’n’greet itself is located at Innoventions West.Chase

4.  Soarin’ – I have to admit, I am kind of over Soarin’.  I honestly wish it were like Star Tours where you got a different show every time.  But, since this is our son’s absolute favorite ride, it had to make the list, because we have to do it every time we go.  TIP:  Try to get in the front row, then you will be at the very top.  It is so different when you can’t see people’s feet dangling over your head.  You really get the sense that you are flying.

5.  Test Track – Although, I am not a huge fan of the Test Track redesign, it is still a must do for our car-lovin’ family.  My son loves to design his own car and see how it fairs against the other cars.  And, the picture at the end is always entertaining as my hair is usually all over the place.

I am sure that you and your family have your own must-do list, and it is probably very different from mine.   I may have things on my list that are must-don’ts on your list and vice versa.  That is one of the beautiful things about Disney–there is truly something for everyone!