January 28, 2016

Not to Miss at Walt Disney World: For First Timers

Never been to Walt Disney World? Then this post is for you! It can be overwhelming your first time to Walt Disney World, with so many things to do! Continuing on with the Not to Miss Series, I’m laying out the attractions and shows I think certain groups will want to experience. I’ve gone through what I think is Not to Miss for Little Ones, Thrill Seekers, the Classic Disney Fan, and Character Lovers. I lay out where everything is by park, when is best to experience them and if you should use Fastpass+ (if available). You can read about Fastpass+ here, and My Disney Experience (which goes with Fastpass+ here. Walt Disney World is populated mostly by “once in a lifetime guests” so they target these guests. Because so many people only visit once, it’s important to get it right the first time! So, let’s get on with the list!

Magic Kingdom

It’s a Small World- I think this one is a right of passage. Yes the song can be annoying, but if you ride at night you can get away with a minimal wait so your don’t have to hear it for too long! Fastpass+ is available, but only needed if you are wanting to ride during the day, as the wait time can be longer.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- conquer this and the next two and you’ve conquered the mountains of Magic Kingdom! Big Thunder is a mine train that got loose, keep an eye out for a goat and a dude in a bathtub! Ride during the first hour of the day or use Fastpass+.

Big Thunder

Splash Mountain- this log ride blows any other log ride you’ve been out of the water. At 10 minutes in length, it tells a great story and fakes you out with a few small drops before the big one. It’s my favourite, as I said here. 🙂 Use Fastpass+ to ride during the hottest time of the day, or ride just after park opening for a short wait time.

Space Mountain- A rollercoaster in the dark makes me scream more than any other rollercoaster in WDW. With all the drops and turns, you never know what to expect (especially if you ride in the very front). Ride in the first hour of the day or use Fastpass+

Dumbo- Even though it’s a kid’s ride, I think everyone needs to ride Dumbo at least once. It’s very pretty at night, and there is minimal wait. If you are travelling with little ones, use Fastpass+, or wait in line and experience the playground in the line!

When I See An Elephant Fly

Haunted Mansion- I love this ride! head into the Haunted Mansion to see 999 happy haunts, but there is always room for one more! The line for this usually isn’t long, but Fastpass+ is available. Check the Disney Parks App to see when the wait time is short and head over!

Pirates of the Caribbean- Dead men tell no tales! Keep an eye out for Captain Jack Sparrow, and see the trouble pirates get into! Fastpass+ is available but generally not needed. This one is definitely a Disney classic.

Seven Dwarf Mine Train- the newest attraction in Magic Kingdom showcases the newest technology! Fastpass+ is strongly recommended, unless you are riding first thing after park opening.

Wishes!- a day at Magic Kingdom should end with Wishes! The fireworks by Cinderella Castle are just perfect, and still bring a tear to my eye after seeing it many times. Fastpass+ is available, but does not make the best use of a Fastpass+ as they generally book up in advance, so it would need to be one of the original 3 you select. Have no idea what I mean? Read this post.) You can stake out a spot 30 minutes in advance if you want to make sure you have a good view, but you can see the fireworks from pretty much anywhere. Also watch Celebrate the Magic before the fireworks 🙂

All your wishes...

Festival of Fantasy- depending on the length of your stay, you may or may not want to watch the parade. Parades are a great time to experience attractions with minimal wait time, but Festival of Fantasy is the newest Walt Disney World parade, and it’s pretty awesome. Fastpass+ is available, but not needed as you can stand anywhere along the route and have a great view.


Main Street Electrical Parade- this night parade is full of lights and some of your favourite classic Disney characters. Fastpass+ is available but not needed. Personally, I’m over this parade. I’ve seen it too many times, and after seeing what Disneyland got for the 60th anniversary (Paint the Night) I’m hoping it comes to WDW soon.


Spaceship Earth- Head inside the geodesic sphere and the icon of Epcot! This attraction is slow moving and very nice on a hot Florida day. Because it is the first attraction you see in the park, the line can be hit or miss. Use Fastpass+ if needed, or use the Disney Parks app and head over when the wait is short. The ride is constantly loading, so the line generally moves pretty fast.

Our Spaceship Earth

Soarin’- Soarin’ is a great ride. Currently down for refurbishment (coming back summer 2016 as Soarin’ Around the World), this is definitely an attraction not to miss. Fastpass+ strongly recommended.

Test Track- Design your car and put it to the test! Ride first thing in the morning for minimal wait, or use Fastpass+. I love doing this one a few times, so everyone in your party can have a chance designing their own car. It is fun to see how different they turn out!

World Showcase- while not technically an attraction, World Showcase really shoes what Epcot is about. With performances happening at the different countries throughout the day, it is a great place to wander and take in all the details. If you are looking to experience attractions (which I didn’t include because it depends on the time you have, there is a ride in Mexico, and shows in Canada, China, and France.)

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth- the fireworks show at Epcot is great, and has a great message that’s not in-your-face Disney. Fastpass+ not needed, as it can be seen all around World Showcase. I would suggest grabbing a spot at least 30 minutes before it starts, to ensure a good view!


Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Rock n’ Rollecoaster- the only upside- down rollercoaster in WDW, this coaster is definitely a not to miss for thrill seekers. Ride first thing in the morning, or use the single rider line (your party WILL get split up) to avoid a long wait time. If wanting to ride during the day, use Fastpass+.

Rock n Roll!

Tower of Terror- this one keeps you guessing, as the ride sequences are randomized! I love the detail in the queue, and the surprise of the ride! Just when you think it’s over, you go back up! Ride during the first hour of the day or use Fastpass+.

Tower of Terror!

Toy Story Midway Mania- You will probably want to do this one more than once, just a warning! Play some of your favourite carnival games, with 3D technology, all while sitting down! Ride this one first thing, or at night during Extra Magic Hours (more about that here) for minimal wait, or use Fastpass+.

Fantasmic!- I love Fantasmic so much it is my ringtone. This show takes place in a huge amphitheatre and has some of your favourite Disney characters in the show. I recommend using Fastpass+ for this as the regular seating section is quite small, and fills up quickly. Check out the Fastpass+ post to see how I made Fantasmic! my 4th Fastpass+ of the day.

Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris- This safari really makes you feel like you are in Africa! Use Fastpass+ to experience it at certain times of day if you wish, but it is not needed.

Expedition Everest- the big rollercoaster in Animal Kingdom has a crazy amount of detail. Ride first thing in the morning for minimal wait, and ride it a few times! Fastpass+ is available if you cannot make it to the park for opening, Watch out for the Yeti!

Yeti Territory

It’s Tough to be a Bug!- I suggest this show because it gives you a closer look at the Tree of Life, so you can appreciate all the detail in there. For fans of A Bugs Life this is a cute show with some 3D gags. Fastpass+ not available, but the wait usually isn’t long.

Tree of Life

Animal Kingdom is getting a night-show this year, and I’m quite excited! It’s called Rivers of Light, and you can find some information about it here. I’ll update this post once I’ve seen it!

Check out this post if you are planning a Walt Disney World vacation, it lays everything out for you!

If you’ve been to Walt Disney World, what would you do your first time if you could go back? What did you do on your first trip? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading!


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