Walt Disney World: what MUST we do?

EPCOT is my favorite as well. We love to hit Spaceship Earth (the big ball) first, and then Test Track. After that we head over to the countries. For us, Japan is best for shopping, Canada has the best lunch (the cheese appetizer is to die for, and they have delicious hot sandwiches and potato salad, and cold Canadian beer. Mmmmm), and dinner at Morocco is a must. The food is great, and there is live music and a belly dancer. If you have kids with you, there is a Kidcot station in every country where they get to make a souvenir mask. Each country will stamp it as well as put a little tag on the ear (an origami bird in Japan, a boat in Norway, etc.). Very nice, and free!

Yeah, I guess I should have given more information in the OP. Oh well, better late than never:

I, at 32, will be the youngest person in our party, so, it’s just us BIG kids this time. We’ll be staying for about a week, 6 or 7 days. We’ve already booked at the Port Orleans French Quarter, so we’ll be on the property. Also, the package we bought includes Cirque tickets, so we’ll get to see La Nouba (although we scheduled overlapping one of their blackout weeks, so the only night we can go is the last night of our stay).

We bought a Birnbaum guide, although my wife hasn’t let it stray far from her since we bought it, so I haven’t gotten to read it much myself.

If you’ve cost concerns, check the rates for Fort Wilderness. Despite the rough look, the cost isn’t too bad and the “homes” quite nice. Aside from that, I didn’t see anyone mention the Hoop-de-Do revue. Decent food but a great show, and it’s right there for you. And on other nights, if you want to relax, there’re two arcades, a nice dining hall, sometimes movies playing outdoor, and River Country waterpark and a bird-watchers island nestled right nearby - it’s great, and connected to the parks by a loverly water-ride.

Magic Kingdom-

  1. The lines are a bit long in the morning, so snatch a few rides early, then wander around the less exciting stuff while everyone else waits in line. Use fastpasses for Splash Mountain.

  2. Go back to the big stuff, like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, in the evening, especially during paraded time. The parade isn’t that great (it’s a parade, what do you expect?) and you can go ride things all you want with no wait.

  3. Epcot is, if you know what to look for, by far the best park. Take advantage of the Early Opening for WDW guests (i.e., you if your on-property). Some rides may not be open yet, but check out the Test track ASAP and the new Mission to Space thingy or whatever its called.

  4. Sounds as if you don’t have kids. If so, take the backstage tour (not the riding tour) of The Land. Even if you’re not a scince buff, it’s an amazing and beautiful place.

  5. At 10-11 they open up the World Showcase. Fill in some time going to the Living Seas or Energy and Imagination. Find a restaurant in WS and eat there. Then go to America. Great and accurate animatronic show, and you’ll relax out of the heat. Wander around WS in the afternoon, checking out the shows in England, China, Japan, and Africa. Take a tour in Mexico later on. Then while your way out of the park

  6. There’s a small, not too pricy place called Starring Rolls. Man, they have the best pastries there! And Hollywood Bowl is a truly great place to eat. MG is a more rela

  7. Take a few eveings to eat on the Disney Marketplace if you can. It’s an amazing place with fine and moderately pricy ($20-30 range dinner) restaurants. You won’t go away hungry or unsatisfied. Plus, ther’re may great stores to look through. The Virgin megastore is amazing. You can find everything there.

  8. if it rains one afternoon, don’t panic. The Marketplace has plenty indoor things. Check out the movie theater. Last time I checked, the prices were amazingly low, far lower than they are at your local theater, I wager.

Oh, one last thing: Nicer restaurants in the parks are often beter with reservations. OTOH, most of the Disney marketplace restarants are actually pretty capable of handling your needs without them.

If you like queuing theory, the Unofficial Guide has done amazing work on line management.

If your tickets include park hopping, take advantage of it. We seldom are in Epcot in the morning - seldom in AK after lunchtime.

With grownups - if you are the type - consider “drinking around the world” You can do the monorail loop, stopping in each hotel bar (the hotels are worth the trip alone), or drink your way around Epcot’s world showcase.

Have each person in your party pick one or two “must dos” a day. Disney says you should be able to do EIGHT big things a day - include dinner as one of them if you sit down. You won’t do it all, but if everyone gets to do the things they want to do most, you’ll have happier campers.

Yes, I’ll have to come back and third the drinking around the world. I went with my family a year or two ago, and it was the first time I could legally drink at Disney. I was the youngest there as well (parents, older sis and her fiance), so we could all drink what we wanted. The variety of beer is great, and Mexico has some icy mixed tequila drinks that are tasty (and very strong) if you like that kind of thing. There is also plenty of wine in both France and Italy, and of course sake in Japan (I love the stuff). You can also walk around the parks with most drinks, so you don’t have to stay at one place longer than you want.

The big sushi place in Japan was disapointing, so I wouldn’t recommend that (I think someone mentioned it as well). The desserts in Norway were really good, though, and we also liked the Italian restaurant (maybe just b/c the cute Italian waiter was flirting with me, though).

Go to Epcot and have a drink in every country, go to Pleasure Island. And be prepared to stand in line. Or have a cast put on, rent a zippy cart and be whisked to the front of most lines. Not that I would do that.

I disagree about EPCOT – depending on how long you’re gonna be there and if you have park hopper passes. If you’re there 4 or more days, see EPCOT – you’ll have seen most of the “must see” stuff at the other places, and there are enough equivalents at EPCOT that it will be more fun than revisiting the other places to reride stuff or doing the not-so-fun stuff.

OR, if you have park-hopper passes and aren’t that interested in the rides at EPCOT, at least swing over to EPCOT to eat and see the sights. I haven’t been to MGM in awhile, but I can say that nearly every restaurant in EPCOT is better than nearly every restaurant in the other parks (and on average about as good as the restaurants in the resorts.)

I agree that without knowing how adventurous you are it’s hard to tell what you must see, but I also agree that despite this the “Bug’s Life” show is the best attraction in Animal Kingdom if you don’t have scarable children.

I partially disagree with the advice to stay out of Fantasyland. My second-favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom is Peter Pan’s Flight. It’s short, but trippy. If you want to do some shopping or sightseeing near Fantasyland you might consider getting a Fastpass and seeing that.

Big Thunder Mountain isn’t, in my opinion, a “Must See”, unless you have seen all the rest of the rest of the items on your “must see” list and still have time for some more action. It’s pretty much the same as any carnival-type park roller coaster, except slightly prettier and slightly tamer.

I’d forgotten about Peter Pan’s Flight - “short, but trippy” is the perfect description for it.

I love that ride . . .

If you have time, take a day and do Universal Studios. Quite an experience.

And if you REALLY have some time, take two days. It’s really two parks, since they added Island of Adventure, and if you want to see everything, it will take two days. The Superman ride, the Hulk, and the Dueling Dragons are the best rides in the park IMHO.

I’m pretty sure it’s called the Kali River Rapids. Rode it once … once was enough :slight_smile:

I’ve only seen one person mention it, but I really recommend Mission:Space in Epcot … that ride is something else. I’m resisting the urge to say that it’s “out of this world” because I’m a nerd, but not THAT big of a nerd. The G-Force in that ride is absolutely intense, though.

If you decide that there’s nothing to do after a while (yeah, that’ll happen) and you have a rental car, check out the town of Celebration. No longer part of Disney property, but built in the 90’s by Disney, it’s a modern day replica of old “hometown” America with big Victorian homes and white picket fences. And while you’re there, WAVE! because my older brother lives there. Hence why I tend to visit WDW about twice a year - no room and board charge plus about $130 in roundtrip airfair makes for a fun and cheap vacation for a single guy like me.

We also stayed at the Port Orleans Resort. Nice, mid-price resort since you spend so little time in your room anyway. Be sure to find the adults-only pool - it was nice and tranquil.

Whatever you do, make your dinner reservations (called priority seatings a la Disney) NOW. Trust me on this one.

Dinner & drinks at the top of the Contemporary Hotel during the fireworks was awesome. Be sure to tell them if it’s your anniversary, birthday, etc. - this often gets you better seats.

Another vote for the Living Seas. It’s like eating in an aquarium. The she crab soup was great.

Finally, we LOVED the African buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Soooo different and cool.

Definitely ask and wait in the longer line to sit in the front seat for Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster. The picture of my hubby and I from this is amazing and worth the price tag.

Finally, without question, purchase the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World now. Well worth the money.

You’re going to have a blast!

PS - for kicks, I wore a pedometer when we were there and we sometimes walked up to 10 miles per day! Comfy shoes, lots of sunscreen, etc.

Magic Kingdom:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Splash Mountain
  • Space Mountain
  • WEDway people-mover (in tomorrowland). Great way to relax in the afternoon heat.
  • Look for the special little things: Tinkerbell flying down from Cinderella’s castle right before the fireworks (hint: stand on the tomorrowland bridge); The barbershop quartet on mainstreet; the amazing piano player near the crystal palace.
  • Hall of presidents (I love this exhibit, but very few people seem to go to it)

MGM Studios:

  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Pay close attention to the amazing detail they put into the walk-through of the hotel as you’re waiting in line. (Mah-jongg anyone?)
  • Indiana Jones stunt spectacular. (And get your wife to volunteer)
  • Beauty and the Beast show. Great to relax if you’re worn down.
  • Movie Ride (in the Chinese theater). Awesome.


  • Dinosaurs (World of energy)
  • Test track
  • World Showcase. My favorite thing is to just talk to the workers, because each country is staffed by young people from that country. Norwegians staff Norway. French staff France. It’s awesome. I’ve met some amazing people from around the world this way.


  • Ride the monorail from Magic Kingdom to Epcot, or vice-versa (you’ll have to make one monorail switch in the process)
  • Get a fast-pass for some of the crowded rides. You’ll get a specific time to come back later and a MUCH shorter wait.
  • Take a monorail to the Grand Floridian. The place is opulent and gorgeous. Ask someone where the water sprites are, and rent one for each of you. You’ll thank me later…

This guy is amazing. He’s not always there, of course, so watch for him.

MGM (we were just there the weekend before last):

  • Lights, motors, action is a new show that is great. Lasts for about 45 minutes, and shows how they do car stunts and features some great stuff.
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire? is a nice cooldown, will give you a chance to show your Doper acumen, and maybe win a Disney Cruise (you have to get in the chair and be perfect… we just missed getting in the chair because of time constraints)


  • There’s a new “ride” that is a glider flight simulator. Wasn’t open on our last visit in April, but will open, if not already, this month.
  • I like to just watch the street performers.
  • German buffet gets good reviews from my friends for food. Have not tried it yet.
  • Between the two French restaurants there is a little “patisserie” that has nice looking treats and reasonably priced things like sausage in pastry that is not bad at all. Very good for a snack.
  • My kids loved both the test track and the space flight thing.

We usually visit one park in the morning and a different one in the evening. Animal kingdom is good early since animals are usually more active then. EPCOT is generally better in the evening since the Worldshowcase doesn’t open until later. The other two parks I don’t really know, but some of the stuff at MGM seems to close earlier. This could have been due to a later “event”, but not sure.

Max, we’re there in July for the first time so thanks for starting this. It’s been an interesting read. The Floridian (or Grand Floridian maybe?) was recommended so we’re there for 5 days. Can anyone confirm… is it okay? Also, any recs on golf courses in the area? Grandparents will be taking our 4 year old to Disney so we’re looking for some adult things to do too.

Bring empty water bottles from home. Seriously. Bottled water is $3.50 in the park, but the water fountains are free. Fill them up every chance you get. Florida is absurdly hot.

It’ll rain almost every afternoon for a little while (or it did last May when I was there.) Plan around it.

Stuff you have to see:

Magic Kingdom - Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Space Mountain (FastPass it), Splash Mountain (also FastPass.) The Hall of Presidents is good in that it’s air conditioned, but it’s not a must-see. Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Tour are good for a cheesy laugh.

Disney/MGM - The Great Movie Ride (I’d start here), Star Tours, MuppetVision 3D, Tower of Terror, Rock’n’Roller Coaster.

EPCOT - Mission: Space, Test Track are the big ones, but I enjoyed World of Energy as a “get out of the heat” experience. It’s one of the “rolling theater” rides that seem to be common.

We didn’t make it to Animal Kingdom on my last trip.

Epcot: Spaceship Earth and Body Wars. Disappointing that Walter Cronkite has been replaced as the narrator, but still a great ride.

Magic Kingdom: The Pirates of the Caribbean. Even the dungeonesque queue area is impressive. (as is using que queue in succession).
It’s a Small World. Sure it’s cheesy, but it’s always nice and cool inside and the lines move quickly.

Grand Floridian is Disney’s Flagship hotel. If you aren’t happy there, you probably won’t be happy. It is themed like the “great turn of the century beachfront hotels” Victorian.

Disney has five 18 hole championship courses and 1 nine hole course. Plus 2 mini golf courses. There are plenty of other courses in the Orlando area. Eagle Pines is generally considered to be the most challenging. The Magnolia and Palm are the “classic” courses.


(Seriously, if it has to do with Disney, someone is obsessed enough to have created extensive web pages about it. www.allearsnet.com has menus for all the restaurants).

Tiger Woods lives close by but I’m not sure if you can get in his group for a foursome.

If you’re going by Celebration anyway I think they’ve got a decent course. Just remember that it will be HOT in July and you will get rain in the afternoon, as a general rule. Embrace the rain, it will cool you off. Just don’t stand out in the rain holding a nine iron skyward.

It’s okay to hold a 2 iron; even god can’t hit that.