Anyone can go to Walt Disney World and ride the rides and eat a turkey leg while watching fireworks. But you have done all that, and more. Here is our bucket list of things you must do at Disney World to get the full experience.
- Fireworks Dining – At least once, you should book a dinner at a restaurant with fireworks viewing. Magic Kingdom fireworks can be seen best from the California Grill atop the Contemporary Resort, but can also be enjoyed from Narcoossee’s or Citrico’s at the Grand Floridian Resort. Most of the restaurants in Epcot’s World Showcase boast fireworks views of IllumiNations fireworks.
- 8:00am Breakfast in the Magic Kingdom – Walking down a deserted Main Street USA is truly magical – as will be the photos you’ll take of your family with virtually no one else in sight. Arrive early so you’ll have time to take a photo stroll around the hub before breakfast. Be sure to book this meal (Cinderella’s Royal Table or the Crystal Palace) on a day when there is no Extra Magic Hour taking place in the park!
- Wilderness Lodge Flag Family – For guests staying at the Wilderness Lodge, each morning, the Lodge picks one family to be the Wilderness Lodge Flag Family. The Flag Family gets to go up to the roof with a Disney cast member and raise all the flags, enjoy the fantastic view and gets a certificate and photos of the great experience. Make sure to ask at check in if you can be the Flag Family one morning.
- A Magical Transformation – You’ll hardly recognize your child when he or she becomes a member of the Pirates League in Adventureland or visits Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Magic Kingdom or at Disney Springs. Perfect for little princesses or pirates, but be aware of the cost before hand, and requirements of what you need to bring.
- Get a Haircut – A less immersive (and much less expensive) but pixie-dusted transformation can be achieved at the Harmony Barber Shop in the Magic Kingdom. You may even be serenaded by the Dapper Dans.
- Get Merry – Visit during the holiday season to see beautifully themed trees in every resort and Cinderella’s castle dripping with the thousands of icicles of the Dream Lights. Don’t miss the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. If you love the holidays, and warm weather, this is the place to be.
- Stay at a Deluxe Resort – These resorts are so much like visits to faraway places – a Polynesian village, a seaside retreat, an African savanna – you could think of the nightly rate as a ticket to paradise for the whole family. Consider staying at a deluxe resort for a night or two at the end of your stay to relax and enjoy the resort before returning home? Consider a savanna view room at Animal Kingdom Lodge, a room at the Beach Club or Yacht Club to enjoy Stormalong Bay or a Magic Kingdom view at the Contemporary as a treat.
- The Mountains – Don’t miss a single one! Splash, Space, Big Thunder Mountains at the Magic Kingdom and Everest at the Animal Kingdom. Can you ride them all in one day?
- Culinary Tour of Africa – Who could pass up free food from Boma and Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge? The tour is held every day at 4:00pm.
- Back Stage Tours – You can go behind the scenes at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot for a variety of ticketed tours. You can even experience the utilildors, the secret tunnels that run below the Magic Kingdom. Our favorite is the Keys to the Kingdom tour. This tour is 5 hours, and includes a fantastic look at the history of Disney World and access to many backstage areas. The cost is $79 and includes lunch. Want to see more than just the Magic Kingdom? Consider the Back Stage Magic Tour, which includes access to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, priced at $249. Want a little more adventure? Try the Wild Africa Trek in the Animal Kingdom theme park. This three hour tour includes crossing a rope bridge over hippos and crocodiles, a jungle walk and yummy snacks.
- Street performers – Did you know Disney has paid performers that walk the streets of the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios? Find the Mayor on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, or my favorite, the Citizens of Hollywood in Disney’s Hollywood Studio. Many guests just walk by and not even notice them, but you should. Take your time to talk to them, they are hilarous, or stop and watch one of the citizens performances, you may even be asked to participate.
- The Kiss Goodnight – Don’t fight the sea of humanity exiting the Magic Kingdom at the end of the evening. Instead, find a place to sit down and soak up the atmosphere as When You Wish Upon a Star plays and the lights on the castle cascade through the colors of the rainbow. Plus, there isn’t anything quite as magical as the Magic Kingdom at night.
What is on your Walt Disney World bucket list?