You’re at Disney. What’s First?
The Walt Disney Company owns and operates six theme parks.
While the slogans may differ, they’re all the Happiest Places on Earth to me.
When you’re fortunate enough to visit one of these parks, you want to maximize your visit.
So, you’re at Disney. What’s first?
Disney California Adventure
Part of the game at a Disney theme park involves beating the crowd.
You really don’t want to spend your whole day standing in line. Thankfully, you can control that aspect a lot more than you may realize.
Radiator Springs Racers (RSR) instantly claimed the title of the crown jewel of Disney California Adventure the instant it opened.
Even though Disney has opened several worthy attractions since then, including the ones at Avengers Campus, RSR remains the most popular.
You can save yourself as much as an hour if you target this attraction first thing in the morning.
However, this isn’t a Rope Drop article per se. Let’s presume that you arrive later in the day. What should you do instead?
I’d strongly recommend a visit to Avengers Campus, which is home to several thematic shows starring some of your favorite Disney characters.
This experience will immediately set the tone for your park visit!
The answers at some of these parks prove controversial and are subject to much debate.
For example, let’s say that your favorite ride is Matterhorn Bobsleds. The obvious solution is for you to head straight to Matterhorn Bobsleds!
While my family doesn’t do this at all Disney parks, we most assuredly do at two.
Whenever we walk into Magic Kingdom, we’re heading straight to Haunted Mansion. Similarly, when we’re at EPCOT, I’m riding Spaceship Earth first.
Disneyland fans are perhaps the most loyal of all Disney lovers. In truth, many aren’t Disney fans inasmuch as they’re Disneyland fans. It’s different.
Did you know there are biker gangs, err, social clubs at Disneyland? It’s true! Fans take their Disneyland devotion that seriously.
I’m not going to tell any social club member how they should do Disney.
However, let’s assume you’re an infrequent guest at the park. If so, I’d strongly encourage you to steer toward one of the exclusive attractions.
Walt Disney World lacks Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, or Indiana Jones Adventure. You should target one of them.
Personally, I’d suggest Indiana Jones Adventure unless the line is abnormally long. If you want a quick ride, the other two options would work better.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Every rational person on this planet would tell you to head directly to Pandora – The World of Avatar.
While I think that’s solid advice, I wouldn’t suggest that you follow the crowd here unless you’re visiting during Rope Drop.
Instead, I’d suggest a different tactic. You’re at Animal Kingdom. So, you should interact with the animals.
Your destination should be Harambe, the fictional African port that houses Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
You can’t go wrong here since Disney has reinvigorated the park through the introductions of Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Alas, the progress comes at the expense of crowds. Hollywood Studios has evolved into arguably the second-most popular theme park in Orlando.
Since Hollywood Studios doesn’t operate a large number of rides, most of the good ones will require a long wait.
For this reason, my suggestion here isn’t quite as finite. You should check the wait times for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
If either one of them appears reasonable, go there. If not, take a detour to Toy Story Land instead.
Until five years ago, Toy Story Mania! was unquestionably the most popular ride at this park. It’s still just as good now, but the wait time is quite short.
By the way, if you have your heart set on something Star Wars-related, I have two other suggestions.
You can pick Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, a ride that Disney frequently updates. In fact, new scenes will arrive in 2024!
Should you prefer something newer, try the Single Rider line at Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. On some days, it’s a wait of 20 minutes or less!
Your choices at EPCOT come in two forms. You can ride something quickly, or you can ride something truly exceptional.
As a Spaceship Earth evangelist, I would argue that you can do both by choosing it. Alas, mine is a (sadly) minority opinion.
In this area of the park, you’ll discover several solid options, none of which should require an extensive wait.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Mission: SPACE join Spaceship Earth in this category. Many would include Journey into Imagination with Figment as well.
Should you prefer an E-ticket attraction, you’ll find several. The most popular options are Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Test Track.
At EPCOT, you have your choice of the newest ride (Remy), the fastest ride (Test Track), and the most regal ride (Frozen Ever After).
Technically, I should include Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, but it isn’t offering a standby line queue at the time of publication.
What I’ll recommend represents a compromise between the two. You will find Soarin’ Around the World at The Land pavilion, not far from EPCOT’s entrance.
This attraction rarely requires a wait in excess of an hour. It’s often 30-45 minutes, presuming that you’re arriving during peak park hours.
For the longest time, Soarin’ stood as the best ride at EPCOT. So, it’s an E-ticket attraction without an E-ticket wait time.
Look, there’s no wrong choice here. I already told you what my family does, but that wouldn’t even be my first option.
My wife loves Haunted Mansion an unholy amount, and I love her. So, we ride Haunted Mansion first…and second…and fifth…and ninth. We ride it A LOT.
For the average person, someone who isn’t trapped by love, Magic Kingdom is overflowing with desirable attractions.
You could meet Mickey Mouse the instant you enter the front gate or walk to Fantasyland to hang out with Disney Princesses.
Show attractions like Mickey’s PhilharMagic and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor aren’t for everyone, but they DO establish a mood for your visit.
Still, I suspect most people want to ride something. And it’s probably Tron Lightcycle / Run, the new hotness at Walt Disney World.
Alas, like Cosmic Rewind, this one isn’t offering a standby line queue yet and probably won’t for a while.
Meanwhile, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will probably require an 80-minute wait no matter when you visit.
As I weigh the options, I realize that a classic ride is probably your best bet. I mean something decidedly Disney in the best possible way.
You should target something like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, or…Haunted Mansion.
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