Walt Disney World is full of so much magic! With countless attractions in each of the four theme parks, too many snacks to count, and endless dining options, how do you know which is best?
What can you NOT leave Walt Disney World without experiencing? That answer is different for everyone, and a “perfect” Disney day looks different for every family. Whether you are planning your first trip ever, your thirtieth trip, or your first trip in a long time, I have put together some must-dos for you! Let’s visit Walt Disney World, park by park, and see what is waiting for you!
Knowing what to enjoy, where to eat, and how to spend your time is really important! I have chosen three attractions, one show, and some dining options at each park to help you formulate your list for your next Walt Disney World vacation.
Let’s start with Magic Kingdom!
Magic Kingdom Theme Park Must-Do Attractions
Pirates of the Caribbean, located in Adventureland
Pirates of the Caribbean is a Disney classic. This is considered one of the most immersive attractions ever created for a theme park! This attractions is perfect to get a classic Disney park experience, and is great on a hot Florida day. We like to ride this mid afternoon, to get out of the sun and possible rain.
Jungle Cruise, located in Adventureland
Jungle Cruise has become increasingly popular since the updated release of the film. Guests can chart a course for adventure on the most entertaining boat ride ever! Plus, it does not have a height requirement, so it’s an attraction that everyone in the family can enjoy together.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, located in Frontierland
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is truly the wildest ride in the wilderness! This “runaway” mine train takes guests on a fast and fun adventure through the gold mines. This attraction is a great option if you are using Disney Genie+, and super magical to ride at night during the evening fireworks show!
Magic Kingdom Theme Park Must See
While there are several shows at Magic Kingdom, the one that I consider a “must do” is Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Mickey’s PhilharMagic is located in the heart of Fantasyland, and is a fun, 3D movie musical with all your favorite characters! This show is one of our favorite afternoon activities. As the crowds and heat build, we find a nice cool escape in Mickey’s PhilharMagic.
Magic Kingdom Must Eats
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, located in Frontierland
Pecos Bill’s has become my new “go to” for Quick Service dining at Magic Kingdom. It is located in Frontierland, and is really a hidden gem (read what other Pecos Bill diners have to say here)! This old style saloon offers kid friendly food, as well as some southwest favorites. My personal favorite is the Chicken Nachos. So good!
Liberty Tree Tavern, located in Liberty Square
This family style, colonial themed restaurant has become our favorite over the last few trips. The Liberty Tree Tavern menu offers classic favorites, such as roast beef, turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and the famous Ooey, Gooey Toffee Cake. This is one of those locations that once you try it, you’ll want to keep going back. Liberty Tree Tavern has huge portions (check out Liberty Tree Tavern dining reviews here), and they will continue to bring you more food upon request. The family style works great for a larger group, and this is a great location if you have picky eaters.
Sunshine Tree Terrace, located in Adventureland
Sunshine Tree Terrace houses my favorite ice cream treat at Magic Kingdom…..the Citrus Swirl (this can also be found at Polynesian Village Resort – photo below). This yummy concoction of Dole Whip Orange and Vanilla Soft Serve is perfection. I also love Sunshine Tree Terrace (read the reviews here) because they often serve unique Dole Whip flavors. The I Lava You Float is delicious as well!
EPCOT Must-Do Attractions
EPCOT seems to have a festival year round, doesn’t it? This eclectic theme park is full of so many great things to enjoy, especially food when there is a festival! But what can you enjoy year round with your family?
Soarin’ Around the World, located in World Nature
Soarin’ Around the World takes you on a beautiful journey as you “soar” over some of the most beautiful sites of the world. Guests “hang glide” over the Great Wall of China, Iguazu Falls, the Eiffel Tower, and so many others! This attraction can gain some longer waits, so using a Lightning Lane or perhaps planning an afternoon ride is perfect. The queue is indoors, comfortable, and moves quickly.
Frozen Ever After, located in the Norway Pavilion of EPCOT’s World Showcase
Frozen Ever After has taken the World Showcase by storm. Fans of the popular films will LOVE this attraction. The animatronics are beautiful, and you sail through Arendelle on a fun, Norwegian vessel! This attraction is VERY popular, so I suggest you Rope Drop this one if possible. Otherwise, using a Lightning Lane is wise!
Living with the Land, located in World Nature
Living with the Land is, in my opinion, an underrated attraction at EPCOT. This slow moving boat ride takes you through the greenhouse of the Land Pavilion. Watching Disney grow vegetables and fruit in this beautiful space is amazing. This attraction often has a very low wait, and is perfect for the WHOLE family! I think it’s worth enjoying on every trip to EPCOT!
EPCOT Must See
Harmonious, located around World Showcase Lagoon
Harmonious is simply stunning. This is a new addition to EPCOT, as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration….and I hope it’s here to stay. This show takes place nightly at 9PM, and there are so many great spots to watch. My personal favorite is at the Port of Entry shops, but you need to get there early! This show is a beautifully crafted combination of classic Disney music and visuals on giant floating screens with choreographed fountains, lights, and pyrotechnics. It is not to be missed!
EPCOT Must Eats
La Cantina de San Angel, located in the Mexico Pavilion of World Showcase
Sometimes all you want is some decent Mexican food, right? While World Showcase is full of amazing and unique eats, it’s also nice to have something easy and budget friendly to turn to. La Cantina de San Angel is a quick service location (check out the menu here) that overlooks World Showcase Lagoon, and makes a nice way to escape crowds while enjoying a good meal (you can read dining reviews here).
Via Napoli, located in the Italy Pavilion of World Showcase
Via Napoli is a “must do” dining gem at Walt Disney World. Via Napoli has a wonderful menu full of your Italian favorites. They are best known for their wood fired pizzas, of which the Quattro Formaggi is my favorite. This is not your normal cheese pizza! It’s a blend of white sauce, along with four perfectly blended cheeses. Via Napoli is consistently clean, has good service, and a great menu for everyone in your family (read Via Napoli dining reviews here).
L’Artisan des Glaces, located in the France Pavilion of World Showcase
L’Artisan des Glaces is a beautiful sweet shop in World Showcase. This French artisanal shop is home to handcrafted frozen treats, as well as ice cream and sorbet. While the ice cream is divine, the Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches are AMAZING. Second to those, the Croque Glace is a must eat. Check out what other guests have to say about this sweet shop here. This scoop of ice cream with a choice of sauce served in a warm brioche is definitely something you will want to try!
Hollywood Studios Must-Do Attractions
Disney’s Hollywood Studios houses some of our favorite must dos, in terms of attractions especially. While it is widely known for Star Wars, Galaxy’s Edge, there is so much more to this park than Star Wars!
Slinky Dog Dash, located in Toy Story Land
Slinky Dog Dash has become a wildly popular Walt Disney World attraction. Of all four theme parks, Slinky Dog Dash is definitely in my top 5 attractions that we must experience on a Disney trip. This family friendly coaster takes you through Andy’s backyard, with incredible views of Toy Story Land and even Galaxy’s Edge!
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, located in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge
While I am not a giant Star Wars fan, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is really spectacular. This is a huge part of a trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and well worth purchasing Lightning Lane for as well. This is an absolute must do, even if you only choose one Star Wars experience. Join the Resistance in an epic battle against the First Order on this amazing attraction.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, located on Hollywood Boulevard
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway took the place of the Great Movie Ride, and I am not sad about it! This darling duo is taking a leisurely drive to a picnic, and you get to go along! Embark on a whirlwind ride with unexpected twists, fun jokes, and your favorite Disney friends. The visual effects in this attraction are out of this world!
Hollywood Studios Must See
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Singalong Celebration, located on Echo Lake
This fantastic, For the First Time in Forever Frozen singalong is one of the most fun experiences in all of Walt Disney World. It’s so much more than just singing to the Frozen soundtrack! Frozen comes to life, with your favorite movie characters, AND hysterical narrators. There are plenty of show times throughout the day, so it’s easy to work this in at the last minute. Guests of all ages will love this one!
Hollywood Studios Must Eats
Woody’s Lunchbox, located in Toy Story Land
Truthfully, I have been to Disney many times, and most recently tried Woody’s Lunchbox. It’s amazing. This cute, Toy Story themed restaurant is right beside Toy Story Midway Mania. There is plenty of outdoor seating, and the menu is so fun! Andy has taken his lunchbox and turned it into a walk up, backyard dining location! Woody’s Lunchbox serves all three meals of the day. It is most known for its seasonal Lunch Box Tarts (read the reviews here). Make sure to check the menu to see which one is being served during your trip!
50s Prime Time Cafe, located on Echo Lake
Classic American comfort food is served at 50s Prime Time Cafe, along with some fabulous humor and jokes from your servers. 50s Prime Time serves both lunch and dinner, and it is a Disney dining reservation that is fairly easy to acquire. The Formica countertops, black and white TVs at each table, and comfort food menu make it one of our favorites (read all the 50s Prime Time Cafe dining reviews here). Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken and the milkshakes are my favorite!
Epic Eats, located on Echo Lake
Epic Eats has some of the best snacks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (check out Epic Eats dining reviews here). Our family loves this location for their funnel cake selection. The Glimmer and Shimmer Funnel Cake is simply gorgeous, and tasty! Or, you can get a more classic flavored funnel cake such as one with vanilla ice cream and strawberries, or simply powdered sugar.
Animal Kingdom Theme Park Must-Do Attractions
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park has become one of those parks that has really stepped up its experiences over the last few years. It’s more than “just a zoo”, and the attraction and other experiences definitely prove that!
Kilimanjaro Safaris, located in Africa
Kilimanjaro Safaris is the most unique experience. Where else can you enjoy an African savanna in the United States? This attraction is fabulous for all ages, and you see something different every time! The open air vehicles and knowledgeable guides take you on an adventure to see real-live exotic animals! Try enjoying the Kilimanjaro Safaris experience day AND night for a totally different experience!
Avatar, Flight of Passage, located in Pandora-The World of Avatar
Avatar, Flight of Passage is beyond popular, so using a Lightning Lane for it is wise. As you fly on the back of a mountain banshee on this 3D ride above the moon, you have an experience like nothing else. Even if you are not an Avatar fan, it is worth experiencing. It is definitely an immersive experience! The sights, sounds, and smells come together to make it so magical!
Kali River Rapids, located in Asia
Kali River Rapids is a raft ride, and you will likely end up absolutely soaked! There is no question that guests who board this river raft ride through the jungle will disembark soaked! While the queue can get quite long, this attraction is a great option for the middle of the afternoon when you need to cool off. And then, head back to the resort for an afternoon break and to change into dry clothes.
Animal Kingdom Theme Park Must See
The Festival of the Lion King, located in Africa
The Festival of the Lion King is the main reason I go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. This Broadway style show never disappoints. While it was in a short format post reopening, it will be back in its full format in mid July. This musical experience is full of classic Lion King songs, beautiful costumes, and amazing performers. If you are park hopping to Animal Kingdom and only have a short time to enjoy the park, add this to your list!
Animal Kingdom Theme Park Must Eats
Satu’li Canteen, located in Pandora-the World of Avatar
Satu’li Canteen is perfect for adventurous eaters. The Na’vi have prepared their favorite selections for you, and they are delicious! The Combination Bowls allow guests to create their own entrees with a base, meat, sauce, and vegetables. The popular Cheeseburger Steamed Pods do not disappoint, either! Satu’li Canteen is great for those who want an extremely unique and delicious Quick Service Dining experience. You can read what other diners have to say about Satu’li Canteen here.
Yak and Yeti, located in Asia
Yak and Yeti continues to be a crazy popular Disney Dining location. You can relax with some pan-Asian food in this gorgeous restaurant. Getting a taste of Asia while at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park adds to the entire experience! If they seat you on the upper level, you have a great bird’s eye view of the area below. The details in this restaurant are stellar. The Teriyaki Chicken is definitely my favorite menu item, but they also serve family and kid friendly options as well if you prefer something simpler for a picky eater. Read Yak and Yeti dining reviews here.
Mr. Kamal’s, located in Asia
Mr. Kamal’s is a cute snack kiosk – a quick stop while you are in Asia. It is popular with guests who follow a vegan diet, which makes a great alternative to some of the more common snacks at Walt Disney World. The menu is tiny – two options and some drinks -but it is delicious. The Mr. Kamal’s Seasoned Fries are my favorite! They are served with your choice of a curried honey mustard or a Korean chili ketchup.
So there you have it! A VERY EXTENSIVE list of the must dos, must sees, and must eats at each of the Walt Disney World theme parks! Which of these are you adding to your itinerary for your next trip?