Disney World comprises four major theme parks as well as two water parks. There’s a lot to see! And a lot to miss – if you don’t know what to look for. Here are some of the experiences many people miss, but are so very worth enjoying and exploring!
Tom Sawyer’s Island – Most people never take the raft ride to Tom Sawyer’s Island, much less explore the island, but it’s a delightful respite from the Magic Kingdom’s heat and crowds.
Liberty Belle riverboat – A leisurely ride, with shade, and if you’re lucky, a seat.
Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse – Have fond memories of the film? Want more stair climbing? Take a wander up and down all the levels of the treehouse. Tip: levels in the treehouse provide a different perspective for photos.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – The Tiki Room gives you a chance to rest and relax in air-conditioned comfort, as well as be entertained by Walt’s original animatronic birds. The queue is even in the shade, which is pretty wonderful.
Mosaics in the walkway through Cinderella’s Castle – Most people don’t ever walk through the castle on the path, much less look up at the absolutely astonishing mosaics that tell Cinderella’s story in several large tableau. Take a look, and a wander on all the small paths around the castle – there’s even a wishing well!
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – Originally designed for the New York World’s Fair, this show debuted in 1964 in NYC. After the world’s fair, it relocated to Disneyland, then moved to the Magic Kingdom in 1975. The theater show is in four equally-sized staged sections, and the audience rotates around the stage, learning about how technology shaped the last 100 years by listening to a family discuss their lives in a highly entertaining way. The show entertains and informs as the plush theatre-style seating and air-conditioned ambiance help you relax and rejuvenate after running amok through the park.
Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of Tomorrow – This interactive area you will walk through after riding Spaceship Earth, the long-running slow dark ride inside the massive geodesic sphere you quickly encounter after entering the park, is often overlooked. You can play any number of several games that educate about energy conservation, among other topics. Do yourself a favor and give the games a try-they’re really fun!!
Advanced Training Lab at Mission: Space – Like Spaceship Earth’s exit, the Mission: Space experience has several absorbing games at the exit – an excellent place for anyone in your party who chooses to bypass the experience to explore while others ride. And an equally excellent spot for riders/astronauts-in-training to get additional training.
Living With the Land (LWTL)/Behind the Seeds Tour – The LWTL boat ride educates you about various types of agriculture around the world and through time. The add-on tour is a great way to learn even more about Disney’s efforts to advance land conservation and use. Really worth the additional fee!! Tip: Be sure to sign up for the tour early in the day to avoid disappointment.
AquaTour/DiveQuest/Dolphins in Depth Optional Experiences (additional cost) – If you are curious about sea life, consider one of these little-known small group experiences. Snorkel(Tour), SCUBA (only for certified divers)(Dive), or stand in waist-deep water interacting with dolphins(Depth) in the 5.7 million-gallon, man-made saltwater ocean in The Seas With Nemo & Friends Pavilion. And you can book any of these experiences pre-trip if you really crave the experience.
Journey into the Imagination with Figment/ImageWorks – The “What If” Labs – Various incarnations of Figment (of Imagination, or purple dino) and the Dreamfinder (human sidekick) have appeared at Epcot since the park opened. This ride is the third iteration, and a sweet dark ride, with Eric Idle voicing Dr. Nigel Channing. Pro tip on the ride: The smell factory can really, really stink, and the sound area has a very loud sound, startling to children or sound-sensitive individuals. When you disembark, spend some time exploring the What If Labs you’ll walk through to the exit – lots of fun activities for everyone.
JAMMitors at Future World East – This 3-person drumming extravaganza is ecologically driven and immensely talented. They appear in Future World, and are spectacular-completely worth the time!!
Club Cool – This Coca-Cola spot offers self-poured samples of almost a dozen Coca-cola products offered world-wide. Pop in, and definitely try our favorite: Beverly, a beverage from Italy. Many Americans consider it too bitter, but…it’s worth trying, even if you do it just to best your friends. The other flavors originate world-wide, and are an interesting variety of tastes and relative fizziness.
World Showcase at Epcot
Most of the galleries in the country pavilions are often overlooked by guests. These are some of our favorites:
American Heritage Gallery (US Pavilion) – pore over artifacts and history of the First Nations.
Bijutsu-Kan Gallery (Japan Pavilion) – explore Japan’s ‘cute’ culture.
Gallery of Arts and History (Morocco Pavilion) – examine Moroccan Style: The Art of Personal Adornment, and marvel at the various ways fashion has evolved in Morocco.
Stave Church Gallery (Norway Pavilion) – learn about Norse Myths, Gods, and Legends of the Vikings.
The various entertainment options are uniformly delightful, but these are our favorites.
Matsuriza (Japan Pavilion) – Taiko drumming will totally captivate you.
British Revolution (UK Pavilion) – Have a seat and listen to UK pop hits throughout the years as covered by this talented group.
Three Cabelleros Ride (Spain Pavilion) – Donald Duck is the star in this water ride through the pleasures and treasures of Mexico.
Oasis – Do yourself a favor, and take the time to wander the Oasis as you ease yourself into Animal Kingdom’s laid-back flow and atmosphere.
Maharajah Jungle Trek – Nothing beats a relaxing stroll along this mostly shady path, located in the Asia section. You’ll see gorgeous birds, intricate birdhouses, tigers, and more.
Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail – Spot adorable meerkat, zebra, and gorillas as you amble around this quiet ⅜ mile long trail.
Discovery Island Trails – White Stork, Asian Small-Clawed Otter, supported by Otterbox, Red Kangaroo, West African Crowned Crane, African Crested Porcupine, Galapagos Tortoise, Lesser Flamingo, Macaw, Ring-Tailed Lemur, Saddle-Billed Stork, Lappet Face Vulture all have habitats on these trails, alternately quiet or squawky, depending. These shady trails are well-worth exploring.
The Boneyard – If you have children in your party, take them for some unstructured play time in this luxe playground, in Dinoland USA. They may never want to leave, but that’s okay – you may not want to either.
Harambe Village Street Band/Burudika – Several times a day, the pavement of the African section comes joyously alive with this upbeat African music and dance group. Come sing and dance along with them – the music is infectious, as is the joy!
It’s Tough To Be A Bug! (Discovery Island)– This attraction, tucked under the Tree of Life on Discovery Island, offers thrills and chills along with education about the bug world during this experience that involves a 4D theatre and audio-animatronics. Note: It is quite loud at times, as well as startling.
Walt DIsney Presents (Animation Courtyard) – Meander through 100 years of Disney magic, including Walt’s original office, one-of-a-kind sketches, models, photos, artwork, and more, then head into the small theatre for a 15-minute documentary about the man who created Mickey, Minnie, and so much more magic.
Citizens of Hollywood (Hollywood Boulevard) – This improv acting troupe performs randomly throughout the day, engaging visitors, drawing them into the action. Discover your inner actor, and join in the fun!
Muppet*Vision 3D – Rest your tired feet and cool down with this charming 3D film with additional special effects in the theatre, as well as a hysterical plot line.
Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple – Even if you don’t have a 4-12 year old child participating in this entertaining training, watch it – the younglings are taught the ways of the Jedi, then must immediately prove their skill when a certain representative of the Dark Side appears and challenges the class. All participants receive a certificate, and registration is required, which starts at the opening of the park at the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost located between the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! and the 50s Prime Time Café. Tip: Sign up first thing in the morning if your youngling is desperate to train as a jedi, to avoid disappointment.
Tune-In Lounge – Go into this bar/lounge next to 50s Prime Time Cafe to slake your thirst, enjoy some vintage television and marvel at the mid-century modern design.
Star Tours-The Adventure Continues – Take a seat on the Starspeeder 1000, and travel to any number of planets and locations from the Star Wars universe. Chills, thrills, and a bumpy ride are guaranteed!
Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar – Jock’s place exudes adventure and excitement, Indiana Jones-style. A fun, but laid-back spot to indulge in a spot of cocktail-drinking and nibble-snacking. The cocktails are served in beautiful retro glasses, and the nibbles are innovative.
The Art of Disney – Whether you are an avid collector, art appreciator or just enjoy all things Disney, then this often overlooked gem is a must see! Here you can not only get a respite from the Orlando heat, but you can also find limited edition merchandise, beautiful artist paintings and unique character items. If you are lucky enough, you might even visit during a time when well-known Disney artists are in the shop to graciously autograph their merchandise…a great way to make your purchase even more wonderful!
Chapel Hats – This small shop offers head adornment from flower crowns to top hats, steampunk-style, to SPF 50+ broad brim straw hats – browse and find your favorite look!
Tren-D – A great spot to find subtle Disney-themed (and non-Disney-themed) merchandise: clothing, accessories, and more. Bonus: it’s adjacent to the Marketplace Co-op, with almost a dozen pop-up shops with brilliantly designed and executed Disney designs. Go meander through here – we guarantee you’ll find something you want to take home.
Rinse Bath & Body – this kiosk, owned by a Monroe, GA business, offers a variety of skin care products, with natural and proven ingredients, ranging from deodorants to bath bombs and beard conditioners. Go browse, you’ll be pleased with the products, the service, as well as the shade in the kiosk.
The Spice and Tea Exchange – This company, more aptly described as a department in the Mickey’s Pantry shop, adeptly demonstrates the value of spices and herbs. Do yourself a favor, and nose around here – you’ll find some lovely salts, sugars, spices, and teas to take home, and that will remind you of your Disney experience.
Amorette’s Patisserie – What better way to celebrate being at Disney than with a decadent dessert and a little bubbly? Take your pick of either standard or pink champagne topped with your very own edible Mickey or Minnie ear hat on top paired with your favorite Fab 5 character cake! Don’t forget to take a few packages of macaroons with you!
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