One of the best things about Disney World is the wide array of spectacular shows, fireworks displays, and parades held held throughout the parks. Each of them is themed differently and offers a unique experience. Here are my top five favorites:
This classic Hollywood Studios water show stars Sorcerer Mickey and takes audiences on a journey through iconic Disney animated films. Following the narrative of a dream sequence, characters like Simba, Pocahontas, Ursula, Jafar, and Maleficent all make appearances as Mickey tries break the nightmare. The show ultimately culminates with a fireworks celebration and a journey on the Steamboat Willie River Boat. It’s not the best that Disney has to offer, but everyone should see it at least once.
4. Main Street Electrical Parade
I’m not the biggest fan of parades, but this one is worth it; held after dusk in Magic Kingdom, the Main Street Electrical Parade features enormous glow-in-the-dark floats that travel around the park. Some of the stories represented are Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Cinderella. The beauty of this parade is breathtaking, and it’s a great way to cap off your night in Magic Kingdom.
3. Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
This holiday extravaganza can be found in Hollywood Studios during Christmas time. The Streets of America are draped in millions of sparkling lights that flash to various Christmas songs. The sheer magnitude of this show is unbelievable, and it’s really something that everyone should experience at least once. The details on each building are incredible, and each new song that plays features something different. You can catch the Dancing Lights show on select nights from November to January.
This Epcot must-see is completely different than any other show at Disney—it’s not based on anything mythology from the movies, but rather it features a premise designed by Walt himself. Epcot as a whole is meant to bring nations and cultures together to work towards a brighter future, and IllumiNations inspires just that. The show takes place in the center of World Showcase Lagoon when all the countries around it go dark. A metallic globe rotates on the water and captivating images are projected onto it as it turns. It eventually cracks open and makes way for a gorgeous and inspiring fireworks display. I revisit this show each time I come to Disney, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone for something a little different.
You probably saw this coming, right? Wishes is the ultimate Disney experience; there’s nothing quite like gathering on Main Street when the sun goes down to watch the Castle light up and hear your favorite characters come to life as fireworks adorn the sky. The movie scores and original songs that play during the show are a stirring encapsulation of what Disney is all about, and there’s nothing quite like seeing the Castle transform right before your eyes. In the end, it’s nothing short of magical.
The attractions at Walt Disney World are iconic, innovative, and immersive—but which one’s the best? It depends on your taste, but here’s my list of the park’s top five greatest rides. (Disclaimer: I’m no thrill-seeker! You can keep your Rock n’ Rollercoaster and your Tower of Terror.)
5. Pirates of the Caribbean
This classic Magic Kingdom ride is such a must-see that it inspired an entire movie franchise. It takes you on a boat ride through deep, swash-buckling caverns as 18th century inhabitants pillage, plunder, and party all around you. There’s nothing really thrilling about this ride, save for a small drop at the end—the enjoyment comes from the atmosphere and attention to detail as you traverse the water-way. A fun legend surrounding the ride helps add to its captivating theatrics; many Disney visitors have long-since acknowledged that Pirates is haunted by a (mostly) friendly ghost named George, who will break down the ride if you denounce him in your boat.
4. Haunted Mansion
Speaking of ghosts, another one of my favorites is the Haunted Mansion. Similar in style to Pirates, Haunted Mansion takes you via Doom-Buggy through the ghoulish residence of Madame Leota. The technology on this one is pretty impressive, and there are so many undead beings floating around that you’ll have to ride multiple times to catch all the details. But don’t worry—this ride never gets old.
3. The Great Movie Ride
This Hollywood Studios landmark doesn’t have the universal appeal of some original Magic Kingdom favorites, but as a lover of all things movies, it’s a must-do for me. I’m hooked right from the queue, which features a clip-show of great films throughout the years. When you are seated in your vehicle, everything is flashing dazzling lights and you really feel like a part of Hollywood. The live-action part of the ride is always entertaining, and can change each time you return. This one truly lives up to the name.
2. Kilimanjaro Safaris
Instead of taking you on a journey through the movies, Kilimanjaro Safaris brings you to the African savannas. This ride in particular has the most potential for a completely unique experience each go-around, and new animals are constantly arriving at the location. It’s an adventure unlike anything else at Disney, and has become a landmark attraction over the years. As an animal-lover, I really enjoy this up-close encounter with the parks’ residents.
Fly over California in this amazing attraction located in Future World, Epcot. Your vehicles are only a few feet off the ground, but their swinging momentum coupled with the dazzling scenery in front of you really makes you feel weightless. Some of the scenes are even accompanied by scent to add to the immersion. This ride always has a really long wait, but it’s definitely worth it, and the journey’s ending is unforgettable.
Honorable Mentions: The Jungle Cruise, Test Track, & Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
Images provided by buzzfeed.com, pinterest.com, grumpymickey.com, and thegreatmovieride.tripod.com.
Devised by Walt himself during the park’s earliest days, EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) was designed to highlight not only the many cultures of the world, but to show how we can all come together to build a better future. As such, the park is split into two distinct sections: World Showcase and Future World. Both unique themes stay true to Walt’s vision while forming one cohesive experience, making Epcot one of the most revolutionary aspects of Disney World.
In an effort to bring together the world’s many cultures, Disney highlights 11 countries at Epcot, where unique cuisine, architecture, and language make up the different areas of World Showcase. In one convenient and diverse location, you can explore the culture of Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the U.S., Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Each designated pavilion is run by cast members indigenous to the country, and features immersive dining and entertaining experiences. Certain places, like Norway and Mexico, even have attractions dedicated to telling the history of their countries!
Sticking around for the night? Don’t miss IllumiNations, the fireworks spectacular that takes place on the lake in the middle of World Showcase. The show tells the story of Earth with a globe on the surface of the water, reflecting powerful and beautiful images of the history of humanity. Vacationers of all ages will be amazed as each country of World Showcase goes dark, only to illuminate and celebrate their culture as the music swells. This is one show you just can’t miss!
Best known for the enormous golf ball-shaped landmark, Future World is just a step away from the center of World Showcase, and features some of the coolest attractions that Disney has to offer. Thrill-seekers will want to try out Test Track, which has been recently renovated to send guests on a ride like never before, allowing them to design their own car and then take it for a test spin on both an indoor and outdoor track. Looking for something a little more laid-back? Consider the ever-popular Soarin’, a high-flying ride that uses spectacular technology to take guests along the California coast line. For the classic Epcot experience, you’ll want to head inside the park’s famous landmark for an out-of-this-world adventure on Spaceship Earth, or its sister ride, Mission Space. Both are experiences unlike anything else on Disney property.
Images courtesy of disneyworld.disney.go.com and wdwinfo.com.
When most people think of Disney World, they immediately associate it with the childlike innocence of Magic Kingdom. This 107 acre park was designed with Walt’s childhood memories in mind, and Main Street, U.S.A. is sure to evoke a classic hometown feel. The iconic Cinderella Castle stands in the center of Magic Kingdom, with exciting new possibilities sprouting out in every direction. The park itself is divided into six wonderfully-themed categories: Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Liberty Square, and (the park’s newest expansion) Fantasyland.
Not sure which area will become your new favorite? Read on about what each one has to offer.
Main Street, U.S.A.
The classic entrance to the park is designed to represent small town America. This subsection of Magic Kingdom is a long path leading up to Cinderella Castle, where you can find quaint shops, old-fashioned dining experiences, and even a traditional barber shop. While it’s not the place for thrill-seekers, Main Street, U.S.A. is the perfect spot to wind down after a long day in Magic Kingdom. Grab a dole whip from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and browse the merchandise at the Emporium before settling down to find the best place to watch the park’s nighttime shows.
This exotic and daring subsection of Magic Kingdom transports you from small town America to exciting and far away places like the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and Polynesia. Just as the name suggests, it’s the perfect place for an adventure! The park is known for some of Disney’s most famous attractions, like the the delightfully entertaining Jungle Cruise, the classic and swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and the kid-friendly Magic Carpets of Aladdin ride.
Dedicated to the exploration of America’s wild, wild west, Frontierland features majestic mountains and rustic log cabins. Take a step back in time at the dance hall or shootin’ gallery, or better yet, explore some of the most widely-known attractions. Conquer Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as you whip around a roller coaster track in runaway mine train, or brave Splash Mountain as you climb to a five-story drop. Not feeling so adventurous? Enjoy a ride on the Walt Disney Railroad or the raft to Tom Sawyer Island.
Welcome to the land of the future, where science fiction becomes reality in this unique Disney park. Walt’s vision was to create a place of “science, adventure, and ideas,” and he has certainly succeeded in establishing a park unlike any other. Tomorrowland is home to some timeless attractions, including the ever-popular Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. If you’re not a Toy Story fan (or are perhaps looking for something a little more mature), check Space Mountain, the ultimate Disney thrill ride.
In honor of the birth of our nation, Magic Kingdom celebrates American life in the late 1700’s through the Liberty Square park. It features an animatronic dedication to all of our presidents, and has several New England-themed dining areas. Perhaps best of all, Liberty Square is home to the ghoulishly entertaining Haunted Mansion ride. Featuring spectacular technology and spooky scenery, the ride is sure to delight all ages.
Recently renovated, Fantasyland is meant to bring out the prince or princess in all of us. The park features delightful new developments, including Beast’s castle and Ariel’s Grotto, and even pays homage to old classics, like Peter Pan. Young ones will especially enjoy this park, as they can explore classic rides like the Mad Tea Party and the Regal Carousel, or even get a royal makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. You’ll also want to check out the park’s new dining option, Be Our Guest, which features Belle and other classic Beauty & the Beast characters.
Now that you have a basic idea of what there is to explore at Magic Kingdom, let’s talk about the shows performed at the park on a daily basis. From parades to fireworks, there’s something for all ages – and there’s one show in particular that you won’t want to miss!
Dream Along With Mickey
This show is performed directly in front of Cinderella Castle most afternoons, and features characters like Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald, as well as a few of your favorite Disney princesses! If you’re vacationing with young ones that love seeing the characters, consider stopping by this show. It’s run-time is around twenty minutes, and contains musical numbers and a small fireworks display.
Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Street Party
This entertaining afternoon show features several popular floats and characters that sing and dance along with the crowd. The show is perfect for little ones who love a family-friendly party with some classic Disney characters.
Festival of Fantasy Parade
Magic Kingdom’s newest parade can be seen along Main Street each afternoon, and features colorful floats and thematic music dedicated to celebrating the characters of Fantasyland. Highlights include floats for Beauty & the Beast, Peter Pan & Wendy, and Elsa & Anna, as well as an enormous fire-breathing metal dragon!
Main Street Electrical Parade
These colorful glowing character floats can be seen around Magic Kingdom on designated parade nights just before the big fireworks show. Vacationers of all ages can enjoy the Electrical Parade’s dazzling display, featuring characters like Tinkerbell, Alice in Wonderland, and Pinocchio.
A spectacular nighttime display of fireworks over Cinderella Castle, Wishes is by far the most popular Disney show. It features voice overs and songs from several classic Disney films, all set to a dazzling light show that illuminates the Magic Kingdom sky. In my opinion, this show is a MUST for any Disney World vacation – it perfectly wraps up the magic of Disney in one stunning show.