10 Hidden Gems of Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World owns and operates more than 100 attractions, making it easy for some of them to get lost in the shuffle.
Everyone can agree on the best attractions at the four theme parks. The debate lies in which ones deserve a better reputation.
Today, I’ll discuss nine hidden gems. These are Walt Disney World attractions you should prioritize the next time you’re at the park.
Alien Swirling Saucers
I say that Disney rides need more collisions! Who’s with me?
Okay, I should preface this by saying that when I visit an amusement park, I spend tons of time at the bumper cars if the park has them.
I’m a fan of the violence inherent in the system! But, alas, you won’t find many contact sports at Disney theme parks.
That’s what makes Alien Swirling Saucers so unique. This ride stretches and contracts, employing physics to smash guests into each other.
No, nobody gets hurt. It’s all in good fun. Your ride cart will eventually experience a correction, placing you shoulder to shoulder with the other person in your vehicle.
Honestly, the ride is better for two people than when three sit in a cart, which may be why people don’t appreciate it as much.
That middle person accidentally works as a blocker, preventing solid contact. So, always pick two people per ride cart!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Walt Disney World contains plenty of roller coasters these days. Unfortunately, for this reason, some of the older ones have fallen behind in reputation.
Coaster enthusiasts understand how ridiculous that behavior is, though. A good coaster today will be a good coaster in 30 years!
The reverse is true as well. Sure, Big Thunder Mountain may date back to 1980 at Magic Kingdom, but it still delivers dynamic thrills today!
Out of all the Magic Kingdom coasters, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the one I’ve ridden the most…and I’ve never gotten tired of it!
Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360
Admittedly, this one can be a bit trippy. Circle-Vision 360 definitely isn’t for everyone.
You enter a circular movie theater and watch a short film that takes place on every screen. And that’s not even the weirdest part.
Each individual screen shows a different part of the story. So, while you’re watching one screen, you’re missing the story on all the others.
As such, the repeat value on Circle-Vision 360 attractions is off the charts. And the best of them is Canada Far and Wide, which Disney rebooted in 2020.
The Canada pavilion’s featured attraction now includes an entirely new video, making it that much more of a must-do experience…presuming you can handle it.
This attraction will always feel a bit out of place, as it’s loosely connected to a Disney movie that nobody remembers.
I suspect that’s why people tend to overlook it in favor of more conventional attractions like TriceraTop Spin and the (relatively) nearby Expedition Everest.
Personally, I don’t understand that philosophy, though. DINOSAUR is an E-ticket attraction that involves time travel and dinosaurs.
What more could you possibly want from a ride? On DINOSAUR, you’ll travel millions of years in search of an extinct animal you need…for science!
Obviously, the ride goes poorly, leading to a desperate escape from the impending extinction-level event that’s about to wipe out the planet. It’s awesome!
Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
Disney parks host several shows that are mini-Broadway presentations.
Some of them are better than others, but Disney doesn’t operate any subpar shows.
After all, we’re discussing shortened retellings of beloved Disney movies.
The most current of them, at least until Encanto inevitably arrives, is the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
You’ll love this one, but parents with small children should prioritize it. This performance will stun your child with its believable magic.
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
I have the fondest memories of Donald Duck from my childhood. My dad wasn’t really big on impressions, but he could do an A+ Donald Duck.So, I always hear Donald’s voice but see Dad’s face.
That may be why I’m so compulsive about riding Gran Fiesta Tour.
Others view this ride as a lesser knockoff of It’s a Small World. Personally, I evaluate It’s a Small World as totally lacking in Donald Duck appearances.
As such, I prefer the version at the Mexico pavilion and highly recommend it.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Hundred-Acre Wood has entertained Disney fans since the first movie in 1977. But, of course, some fans had read the books for more than 50 years before then.
That’s the thing about Winnie the Pooh as the character. He’s just as old as Mickey Mouse and nearly as timeless.
People never tire of watching Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, and Roo as they go on merry adventures together.
Kids especially relish the Heffalumps and the scarier aspects of the ride. This one’s a classic and worthy of your time.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
This show isn’t quite the same as the Frozen presentation. For starters, there’s no classic tune from Monsters, Inc. to belt out.
Instead, each performance of Laugh Floor plays out differently due to its nature.
This attraction includes an improvisational story wherein unseen cast members voice characters from the Monsters franchise.
Several story beats happen each time, but Laugh Floor also comes with a chaos factor.
Cast members never know how guests will respond when called on, making each show unique and engaging.
I’ve had some terrific times at Laugh Floor and highly recommend it.
Na’vi River Journey
For whatever reason, when people talk about Disney’s Animal Kingdom, they focus on three rides.
I’m referencing Avatar Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safaris.
To be fair, that’s the best ride at the park, a white-hot roller coaster, and the most thematic attraction. So, I get it.
Still, I’m devout in the belief that Na’vi River Journey gets a bad rap. This one brings Pandora to life in a way that Avatar Flight of Passage lacks.
On Flight of Passage, you enter an augmented reality universe, which means it’s transparently fake.
Na’vi River Journey recreates the splendor of the Pandora we’ve watched in the movie, Avatar. It does so in a real-world environment, though. I respect that.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
I feel like people stop before they reach the back of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. Perhaps the lure of Be Our Guest proves too irresistible.
Whatever the explanation, I’ve witnessed many guests circle the artificial mountain at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and watch the twisting ride carts.
For whatever reason, they barely cast an eye toward the exceptional dark ride directly across from that mountain.
As a superfan of The Little Mermaid, this knowledge breaks my heart, as I adore the attraction. It wonderfully recaptures the spirit of the movie.
You watch Ariel dream her dream of life above the water. Then, you watch her gain legs and find love on the shore.
Alas, Ursula tries to ruin everything because she’s a ruiner. Thankfully, love and great music win out in the end.
This ride’s a joy, and I cannot get enough out of it. I am absolutely gobsmacked that anybody would willingly skip it.