Which Walt Disney World Park Should You Skip?
A friend of my wife’s will travel to Walt Disney World this week.
This mother is bringing her daughter and mom on a short trip, and money is a factor. So, they’ve decided not to visit one of the parks.
She asked my wife for advice on which park to skip, and we spent the body of dinner last night discussing how the answer differs depending on the traveling party.
So, which Disney parks should you skip, and which ones should you definitely visit? Let’s break it down…
Parents Traveling with Children Five and Under
Realistically, Disney has designed all its theme parks to entertain children. You’ll find delightful attractions at four Walt Disney World parks.
Still, NOTHING could possibly top Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the place where kids can hang out with Disney characters and real animals.
Combining a zoo with a theme park embodies Disney daring, and the target audience for this place has always been parents with small children.
Meanwhile, as an EPCOT loyalist, I feel the need to emphasize that kids can have a great time at this park.
Rides like Journey into Imagination with Figment and The Seas with Nemo & Friends direct-dial children.
Even so, EPCOT’s early reliance on infotainment continues to have negative long-term ramifications for families.
Many of the classic attractions like Spaceship Earth, my favorite ride on the planet, do nothing to enthuse children.
In fact, if you place the typical child on a Living with the Land boat, they’ll spend the first half of the ride making faces and the second half trying to grab fruit.
When you’re a parent with a small child planning a Disney visit, EPCOT is definitely the park to skip.
Parents Traveling with Children Six to 11
Here’s a more challenging discussion. As kids grow older, their preferences evolve as they mature.
So, the thought of petting a fuzzy animal doesn’t go away. It does become a lower priority, though.
In this age range, most kids can finally ride pretty much everything at the parks…and that’s what they want to do!
You’ll recognize the “Can we please…” face the instant your kid gets an idea about a roller coaster. And since you know how willful your child is, you recognize you won’t win that fight.
For this reason, Magic Kingdom turns into the best park for slightly older kids. It combines family-friendly attractions with more thrilling ones.
Sadly, EPCOT stays just about as boring, though. No matter how much you try to sell your child on the idea of the World Showcase being fun, they ain’t gonna buy it.
You could persuade them to try Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, and maybe even Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros.
Those Circlevision-360 movies aren’t gonna hold a kid’s interest for long, though.
Parents with Children 12 and Up
Okay, I’ve good news, and I’ve got bad news. The good news is that you’ve basically grown and raised a person. Congratulations on that! It’s a remarkable feat!
Alas, the bad news is that your child has developed a fully formed personality by this point and has a mind of their own.
They’re gonna bully you the entire vacation, and since they’re at least some level of hormonal, you’re just gonna have to take it.
You’re going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios because that’s the park perceived as the one for adults. And your pre-teen/teen child wants to feel adult.
Conversely, something crazy happens on the other side of this coin. Suddenly, Magic Kingdom becomes the park for little babies.
Your kid has totally outgrown that phase and will likely be offended if you suggest the park for anything other than nostalgic reasons.
Your only hope is to push the narrative of, “Remember when we…” If you lead with, “You loved it when you were younger…”, you’re toast.
Look, if you’re a solo traveler at Walt Disney World, you’ll choose these answers on your own. If your favorite park is Hollywood Studios, go there.
If you don’t like Magic Kingdom, well, I think there’s something seriously wrong with you, but feel free to skip it.
Generally speaking, I would tell first-time Disney guests that the must-do park is EPCOT…and not because it’s my favorite.
EPCOT caters to solo travelers because it’s so decidedly adult, especially at the World Showcase.
You can shop, dine, and drink here for as long as you like. Once you’re done, the top-heavy nature of EPCOT’s attractions works in your favor.
You can stand in line for an E-ticket like Test Track, buy a Lightning Lane for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, or ride something less popular like Mission: SPACE.
Since you’re in charge of the itinerary, the open-ended nature of this park works to your advantage.
Meanwhile, should you skip a park during your visit, I’d suggest Animal Kingdom.
The dining at this park isn’t very good, and the number of E-ticket attractions is the same as EPCOT. However, they require longer waits on average.
Personally, I think Pandora – The World of Avatar still justifies a visit, especially if you can go at night, though.
Couples of All Ages
My wife and I have a running joke that I somehow always lose 1-1 votes.
Still, the beauty of a good relationship is that both parties hold a strong emotional investment in the other’s happiness.
So, while I may gripe about buying our 432nd Stitch doll – please just stop, Funko! – I know that we’ll always find stuff that makes us both happy.
I presume your relationship works the same. As such, I’m happy to report that you shouldn’t need to skip anything on your visit!
Disney has created fun activities for couples at all four parks. Sure, some are better than others.
Specifically, I think that couples get the most out of Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.
The combination of attractions and shopping at these parks differentiates them from the other two.
However, that statement changes if at least one member of your relationship is a Star Wars superfan.
In that case, Disney’s Hollywood Studios becomes the answer. Animal lovers will have a spectacular time at the petting zoo and natural habitats at Animal Kingdom, too.
When you’re part of a couple, odds approach 100 percent that one of you will fall in love with something at all four parks.
Families Traveling with People Aged 65+
The park to skip is pretty obvious. Animal Kingdom is massive in size, which means lots of walking. And it’s hotter than the other parks, too.
I’m not saying that an older loved one is sure to have a bad time here. Instead, I’m merely acknowledging a more trying vacation experience.
As for the park to prioritize, here’s an instance when the gentle brilliance of Main Street, U.S.A., reveals itself.
When you take an older loved one to Magic Kingdom, they’ll bask in the warmth of memories.
Some of these recollections involve a bygone era when neon signs and traditional Americana architecture were more popular.
Others center on previous experiences at Disney, and it’s one of the reasons why I write about Disney for a living.
I’m actually a business and entertainment writer by trade. However, I’ve gravitated toward Disney assignments over the years for one simple reason.
Those of you who have read one of my Disney books know that I lost my dad several years ago.
He was a better person than me, wise and kind in all things, and I feel his absence on a daily basis.
Whenever I write about Magic Kingdom, I turn back time to when I was a boy watching my father’s eyes crinkle with happiness at all the park’s sights and sounds.
As I walk around Walt Disney World, he is always with me. I see him heading from Cinderella Castle toward me, and his face is aglow with unconditional love.
That’s Disney magic in its purest sense. The parks are all timeless, especially the one with Main Street, U.S.A.
Whenever someone walks this path, we recall past visits with loved ones. And the joy of those memories sustain us.
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