I know many of you likely clicked on this list to find the best attractions in each park or even potentially the best resorts as you look to plan your vacation. However, I want to take this post a slightly different way. Soon, we fly south to Walt Disney World and I thought I’d share a few things that are a ‘must-do” for me on any Walt Disney World Vacation, but more importantly we’ll take a look at a few of my most anticipated aspects of the vacation experience as a whole. Of course, I’ll have to throw in a few experiences along the way, but if you’re looking for more broad and slightly out of the ordinary things to look forward to in the realm of Disney World “must-do’s” I invite you to join me on this anticipatory journey!
For many, Disney is simply a theme park, a place to ride rides, watch shows, or enjoy a few minutes of excitement away from home. While in essence, those are entirely wonderful portions of the magic and a true part of the theme park experience, there’s so much more to the experience that many first time guests (and many returning guests) take the time to enjoy. Disney is an escape from reality for many of us, a place to create memories, and truly share time with friends or family. It’s not the place that creates the memories, but rather the people we share those moments with that make all the difference.
You see, it’s an experience of a lifetime, but a place that draws you back time and time again. It’s a place that captures your heart, and becomes a small (or large) portion of your life. As things change and the parks continue to develop, it’s easy to develop a nostalgic connection to different aspects of the magic, but as many of us know the parks will continue to grow and develop as the world around us fosters new ideas and increases creatively.
With all of that being said, there’s always something to look forward to as you tour the realm of Walt Disney World. For many, it’s that classic attraction that’s been a part of your vacations from the very beginning, but others may anticipate the latest and greatest additions to the parks. Honestly, I fall somewhere in between and that’s likely why my list is so varied. It may not be the most traditional list, but nonetheless a list that I hope will give you something to look forward to or a memory to pull from the depths of your mind as we look forward to our next trip to the parks. If nothing else, hopefully this post brings a little piece of the magic into your day!
1. Exploring Pandora All Over Again!
Inevitably, this ends up at the top of my list for a few reasons. Honestly, it’s the first thing that came to mind. In all reality though, I realize there’s a reason it was the first thing to come to mind. When I first visited Pandora back in the summer, I have to say it was one of those Disney experiences that defied the rationale of what I though was possible. I was a skeptic of the land as whole when it was first announced, and I have to say I was entirely wrong to doubt the creative minds of Imagineering. As I’ve said before, Imagineering has never let me down and I after seeing this project unveiled on such a grand scale, I have to say that concept remains entirely true to this day. For more on Pandora check out:
- What’s Your Pick: Pandora Nights Vs. Pandora Days? – An Honest Analysis
- A Closer Look: The Mind-blowing Details of ‘Pandora: The World of Avatar’
- Flight of Passage – A Motion Sickness Perspective
Pandora is a place that will defy your wildest dreams (and no I’m not being paid to say that… even though I wish that I was). As you round the corner into the land, often times you’ll witness guest after guest experience that audible “wow!” moment. At first glance, the hyperrealism mixed with the seemingly impossible physical development is truly hard to believe. The land itself throws you into sensory overload and there’s no best way to take it all in. Even knowing what to expect and what to see and not see going into the land for the first time, I didn’t get to experience it all. To me, that inevitable repeatability factor of the land is one of the things I look forward to the most. I didn’t quite get to explore the entirety of the development at first so setting aside time to explore the land is and likely always will be high on my list of “must-do’s.”
2. Trying Something Entirely New
As many times as we’ve been to Walt Disney World, you’d think that we’d run out of new things to see and do. However, that has never been the case. Trying something new on your Disney vacation can open up a world of new possibilities and may even create your new favorite aspect of the vacation experience. When you travel, I recommend trying one thing that you’ve never done before, even if you have to create that experience for yourself. Personally, about a year ago, I started traveling with a DSLR camera for the first time and I’m looking forward to the possibilities that may create in the future. In a different regard, as you book your vacation, look into a tour offered by Disney or seek out that one attraction or show that you’ve overlooked for years on end.
A few years ago, I stumbled into the show that once was a part of the animation pavilion of Hollywood Studios called Drawn to Animation. The show was simple and it was corny, but one afternoon in the heat of the summer we stumbled into the place and happened upon the experience. It wasn’t an elaborate show, but rather something we had always looked right past. Unfortunately the show ended a few months after we saw it for the first time, but little “hidden gems” of Disney are hidden in plain sight around every corner. Sure, a few of the lesser known aspects of the parks could be “duds” in your opinion, but you never know what may be outstanding in your eyes but overlooked by a vast majority of guest altogether.
3. Exploring a New Resort
Resorts are a huge part of any of our Disney vacations. We eat at resorts, obviously stay at resorts, and explore many of them in depth. To many first time guests this seems like an absurd concept, especially because we typically aren’t staying at many of the resorts we visit, but it’s a unique portion the Disney experience. Go try a new meal at resort you’ve always dreamed of staying at, or go to a resort searching for something “hidden in plain sight.” You may be surprised at the history and entertainment many of these unique places hold and unveil when you take the time to look a bit deeper. If you’ve never tried this before, the Wilderness Lodge or Boardwalk Resorts is an incredible place to start.
4. Take A Moment to Take It All In
It’s easy to get distracted by the fast paced nature of Walt Disney World, but one of the things I look forward to time and time again is taking it all in. I know that sounds far to simple to really appreciate, but take a few minutes during your trip to remove yourself from the crowds or change your mindset just slightly in order to step back and observe the little things happening around you. Look around and enjoy the smile on the faces of the guests around you, the little details you may have overlooked on the “race” to the next attraction, or even to sit down and listen to the ever present background music that plays throughout the parks and resorts.
5. Enjoy Every Second
As the last “must-do” on my list, this particular element often comes across as common sense when in reality it is increasingly easy to overlook. You get distracted by what you’re doing, you race from attraction to attraction (which can be a ton of fun), but you never stop and appreciate the moment. I know it’s easy to say that, but I struggle with this element every trip. Inevitably something will go wrong during your trip. A resort will be overbooked, you’ll miss a fastpass, or get in an argument with the guy who ran over your feet with his stroller. None of those things are fun, but in the big picture, it’s a small hiccup in overall Disney experience.
Try and overlook the little things and make the most of every second of your trip. Turn every bad situation into an opportunity to try something new and you’ll be surprised at what kind of unexpected magic could be unveiled. I look forward to the unexpected aspects of Disney more that just about anything because what you don’t anticipate is what often times sticks with you the longest. Making the most of those situations can make all the difference and create those one of a kind situations that you remember for years to come.
When we first started today, I told you my list would be bit strange, but to be quite honest these are a few of the things I see guests overlooking or avoiding time and time again. Seeing something from a new perspective can allow you to appreciate the experience so much more that you ever have before. We never know what tomorrow brings, so taking the time on a vacation to appreciate the moment is more important to me that any attraction, show, or even a dining location.
It could all end in a second, but I say that for a reason beyond what this article may state. No, I don’t want to be grim but rather positive and to encourage you to take a step back while you travel the parks and just enjoy the moment and lock in those memories that will truly last a lifetime. We never know what tomorrow could bring, so making the most of every moment we have today is a key part of any Disney vacation. It sounds so simple in writing and to be quite honest it’s a part of the experience that is incredibly difficult to portray in words, but there’s something about Disney that makes you appreciate all that you have and the people that help make that experience a reality in so many ways. I’ve said it before, but I truly believe it’s the people that create the true Disney difference rather that any particular resort, dining location, or attraction no matter how wonderful those things may be.
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
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