What’s Your Disney Must List for a Park Visit?
When your family plans a trip to Walt Disney World, what are some things that you know you’ll do during your visit?
Every frequent Disney guest comes up with a Must List of things that will make your vacation feel complete. And I’m ready to reveal mine!
Here are 15 items from my Disney Must List!
Board the Monorail
When I was a kid, monorails seemed like the future of transportation. They were somehow even cooler than Hot Rods, as they seemed more space-age.
These sleek vehicles soar across solid beams, carrying guests across tracks seemingly too small for the tram. Even today, I’m in awe of them.
To me, Disney theme parks are now and always will remain synonymous with monorails.
I know I’m at Disney the first time I see one, but I feel like I’m on vacation the first time I board one.
Ride the Haunted Mansion
My wife and I are one of those couples. You know, we’re the ones who spend all our time together and do everything possible to make each other happy.
So, I can say in complete sincerity that I really like the Haunted Mansion and always have. However, I like it more when I experience it through her eyes.
For my wife, Haunted Mansion represents the ultimate in Disney theme park design, and she could ride it over and over again.
Trust me on the point, as I’ve tested this theory. She’s gone on it four straight times and would have done more if she hadn’t noticed the pleading in my eyes.
For this reason, we plan our first day at the parks around the first trip to Haunted Mansion.
Then, we usually make it the last thing we ride before jumping on a plane to return home.
Buy Something at Memento Mori
The previous statement comes with a second half. My wife isn’t going to leave her first Magic Kingdom visit without some Haunted Mansion swag.
So, as soon as we exit the ride for the first time, we head over to Memento Mori. Now, we don’t always buy everything during that visit.
If we’re going to walk around the parks some, we’ll wait until we’re on the way out. But she will mentally calculate all upcoming purchases during that first stop.
We shop a lot at Walt Disney World, but two stores are where she buys the most stuff. But, as you’ll see, I have a favorite shop, too. So, it’s not just her!
Eat Dessert at Satu’li Canteen
I didn’t want to overwhelm this list with rides or restaurants. So, I held to a handful of rides and only one dessert.
You can read my complete list of favorite Disney snacks here. However, in recent years, one has risen to the top.
The Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse at Satu’li Canteen looks gorgeous and tastes even better.
We often stop here on our way out of Avatar Flight of Passage, even if we’re not really hungry. This dessert is just too good to pass up.
Enter the Twilight Zone
I’m an evangelist for quality theming, which explains my love of Disney. Nobody creates an immersive story better than Imagineers.
Perhaps no attraction has demonstrated this fact more than Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, arguably the best dark ride ever.
I love walking into the abandoned Hollywood Tower Hotel, appreciating the cobwebs and the zombie-faced bellhops.
Plus, the Rod Serling introduction still blows my mind after literally hundreds of viewings!
Hop on the Disney Skyliner
Here’s a relatively new experience that has quickly become synonymous with Disney for me.
I’m old enough to have ridden the old Magic Kingdom gondolas back in the day. Still, I didn’t realize how much I missed them until the Disney Skyliner’s debut.
Sure, the old Skyway to Tomorrowland blew my mind then, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to gondola rides today.
When I’m onboard the Skyliner, I can watch various Disney landmarks from an unprecedented perspective. It’s a literal bird’s eye view!
Plus, the opportunity to relax for 15 minutes and take in the sights suits me just fine after a hectic park day.
Relax at the DVC Member Lounge
Okay, here’s one that not everyone can do. Still, I’m mentioning it because my family joined the Disney Vacation Club.
My brother and his wife championed the idea for years. My one regret is that I didn’t listen sooner, as I love my membership.
As one of the perks, I get to visit the private DVC Member Lounge at the Imagination! pavilion at EPCOT.
If you’ve ever noticed a check-in area near ImageWorks, the Figment shop, that’s what it is!
My wife and I view the lounge as an oasis, as we can recharge in between EPCOT attractions. Plus, Disney hands out free snacks and drinks!
Ride the PeopleMover and Think about What Might Have Been
I’ll mention my favorite Walt Disney World attraction in a moment. However, the ride that entices me the most is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.
I’m lost in admiration for this attraction, which Walt Disney planned as a legitimate form of transportation.
In some other, better universe, Walt Disney World guests zoom around on monorails and PeopleMovers rather than buses and boats.
Disney drives that point home early in the PeopleMover ride as guests pass a scale model of the planned but never constructed Progress City.
So, I love riding the PeopleMover for two reasons. One is that it’s really relaxing. The other is that it’s historically significant for Disney fanatics.
Ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Here’s the most sentimental ride for my wife and me.
Back in 2014, she hadn’t fallen in love with Disney theme parks the way that I had. Instead, she still preferred Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world.
Then, on a fateful day around our wedding anniversary, the Red Sea parted long enough for us to do something that shouldn’t have been possible.
We got to do a test ride on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train more than a week before its official opening date.
The visuals from the mine scene combined with the odd rocking motion of the mine trains stole her heart.
She’d loved Disney stories since she was a girl, but the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train became the first Disney attraction that she fell in love with.
We’ve legitimately visited more than 20 times since then. So, Disney is the financial beneficiary of holding that test ride that fateful day!
Shop at Mitsukoshi
My bank account cringes whenever we near the Japan pavilion at EPCOT. It knows the deal.
The Mitsukoshi Department Store at the World Showcase is one of a kind, at least in North America. It’s the only official store of its kind on this continent.
New York City used to have one, but it closed many years ago. So now, Disney vacationers are the only people who can buy the kawaii goods on display here.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this shop is the closest that Americans can come to shopping at Akihabara without getting a passport.
Fans of anime, videogames, and Japanese culture (like my wife) will feel like the mother ship has called them home. It’s probably the best AND most unique store at EPCOT.
Swim at the Hotel Pool
While I’ve stayed at most Walt Disney World resorts by this point, I have a few favorites.
Specifically, during the afternoons, you’re most likely to find me swim in one of the pools, as I’m an ardent proponent of cooling off this way.
After a hot and kinetic park visit, I want to luxuriate at the pool. It’s one of the best forms of R&R at Walt Disney World.
Perhaps no pool is better for this purpose than Stormalong Bay at Beach Club.
However, I also really love the intimacy of the small Bay Lake Tower pool at the Contemporary.
Travel through Time on Spaceship Earth
I adore all the other rides that I’ve listed here, but Spaceship Earth is the one that I love the most.
Since I was a kid, the giant golf ball at EPCOT fascinated me. It evolved into a lifelong obsession with theme park architecture.
Still, the exterior of the building only explains a small portion of the appeal here.
Once you board your ride cart time travel machine, you explore the dawn of humanity.
Yes, Imagineers have compressed the entirety of human history into a few remarkable highlights, starting with the days of wooly mammoth hunts and leading to the internet era.
After the historical portion of the show, guests get to pick their future, as a clever gamified element ends the experience.
I have recorded dozens of my “futures” for posterity’s sake. It’s a process that I never get tired of doing, and no Disney visit would feel complete without it.
Visit the Lobby at the Polynesian
Ooh, that smell. Can’t you smell that smell?
The lobby of the Polynesian may be my happy place at Walt Disney World…and possibly anywhere.
When I enter the Great Ceremonial House, I have my choice of shopping or dining or going outside and ordering a Dole Whip.
More importantly, the aromatic scent here overloads the senses with each tranquil breath. It’s pure joy and the reason why I spend so much on candles!
Visit the Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary
I’ve mentioned my wife’s favorite two shops, but I have one as well. I spend a disproportionate amount of time at Bay View Gifts at the Grand Concourse.
Disney fans know that this place resides on the fourth floor of the Contemporary. It’s where Chef Mickey’s and Contempo Café are.
Most guests know the Grand Canyon Concourse if for no other reason than it’s where you start the security process to ride the Contemporary’s monorail.
For me, Bay View Gifts presents an opportunity to do ALL my Disney shopping in a relatively calm setting.
This massive store sells everything from candy to clothing, yet it’s rarely crowded. So, it feels like my own private Disney Store…which I need since my Disney Store recently closed.
Watch a Movie at Sci-Fi Dine-In
Seriously, if I could pick a meal anywhere on the planet to eat right now, Sci-Fi Dine-In would always be my choice. It’s THE best, no question in my mind.