17 must dos for your first visit to Walt Disney World

When you're planning your first trip to Walt Disney World it's so difficult to know what to do first. There are four parks and two water parks as well as all the Disney resorts and it gets overwhelming when you think of all the things there are to do. I have visited Walt Disney World nearly 10 times over the years and I've got a list of my favourite things that epitomise Walt Disney World so are a great place to start.

Magic Kingdom

17 Must Dos For Your First Visit To Walt Disney World | Head down Main Street U.S.A and go to Tomorrowland!
Main Street U.S.A - always makes me want to cry when I see that Castle!

1. It's a Small World

This slow and steady boat ride will have you smiling and singing along in no time. It opened in 1971 and features over 300 audio-animatronic children that dance and sing while wearing traditional costumes from different cultures around the world. 

It's a Small World is a ride that is perfect for all the family. Your babies will love the colours, your toddlers will love the singing, your school-aged children will drive you mad repeating the song over and over, and your teens will laugh while secretly loving the ride. This ride is what Walt Disney World is all about - inclusion - and that's why it's a must do for your first trip to Walt Disney World.

2. Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

See inside some of Magic Kingdom's best rides from the second floor by riding the PeopleMover. It's a constantly moving transit system that takes you through rides like Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and above the Tomorrowland Speedway while a narrator talks about the rides and Magic Kingdom. You get to learn about Magic Kingdom as well as seeing around Tomorrowland without having to actually walk around. It is also one of the best places to get a quick rest when you need it!

17 Must Dos For Your First Visit To Walt Disney World | It's fun to watch the people milling around below you as you race on the PeopleMover.
Looking down from the PeopleMover on all the people queuing.

3. Walt Disney World Railroad

Another way for you to see around Magic Kingdom and save your achy feet is to ride the Walt Disney World Railroad. The train starts at Main Street U.S.A and travels all around the outside of Magic Kingdom, stopping in Frontierland, next to Splash Mountain, and Fantasyland, and you can hop on or off wherever you like. It's a great way to get around the park and you'll be entertained by the driver of the train - always entertaining.

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality. 

Walt Disney

4. Dole Whip

When visiting Magic Kingdom there's one snack you have to have, it is a MUST - a Dole Whip from Aloha Isle. A Dole Whip is basically an ice-cream float, you get pineapple juice and a choice of vanilla ice cream or pineapple ice cream on top. My favourite is the vanilla ice cream, it is so good! The juice is refreshing and the ice cream is the perfect addition for somewhere it is always hot. They're big enough to share if you're only after a small snack but if you could eat a whole one to yourself then go for it - it's quite the treat!

17 Must Dos For Your First Visit To Walt Disney World | The snack you must try out is the Dole Whip - pineapple juice topped with vanilla ice-cream. Perfect.
One of the best snacks in Walt Disney World - a Dole Whip.


5. Spaceship Earth

You know the big golf ball looking thing at the entrance to Epcot? That is Spaceship Earth, a ride that takes you through time to see how we humans have changed the earth and the impact of technology on our lives. It's a great way for your kids to learn about the world, or even for you to learn one or tow things - like it was the Venetians who invented the alphabet we use today! It's also quite a peaceful ride, it gets you away from the craziness inside the park and you are inside (where there's air-conditioning) for a while.  Spaceship Earth is one of our favourite rides in Epcot and highly recommended.

17 Must Dos For Your First Visit To Walt Disney World | Spaceship Earth, a huge golf-ball-looking thing in Epcot, one of the best rides.
Spaceship Earth - one of my favourite rides in Epcot. 

6. Garden Grill Restaurant

If there's one place you're going to eat it should be the Garden Grill Restaurant which can be found inside The Land. This restaurant sits on a spinning platform (it spins very slowly) where you get to see inside Living with the Land while eating your meal. The food is good too - it's served "family style" which means you don't have to order, you're given a selection of food and you eat what you want. You can order more of whatever you like and they'll keep bringing it. I particularly enjoy the salad, but the meat is good too.

The other great thing about Garden Grill is the characters, you get to meet characters while enjoying your meal. Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Mickey Mouse will visit your table to say hi and you are welcome to get a photo while they're there. We love the Garden Grill for this and even BP, who is 14, got up to give Mickey Mouse a hug and have a photo with him. 

7. World Showcase

My favourite place to visit when I'm in Walt Disney World is the World Showcase in Epcot. You get to walk around 11 themed pavilions, see different cultures in the "countries" and see (and even buy) products from those places. For me it's a wonderful place to walk around and no matter how many times I've done it I still want to keep walking through the different pavilions. 

17 Must Dos For Your First Visit To Walt Disney World | Visit the Canada Pavilion and you'll see this beautiful waterfall spilling over the gorgeous orange rocks.
Do stop by the Canada pavilion where you can see this beautiful waterfall.

In each of the pavilions there are places to sample traditional food, one of our favourite places to eat is Tepan Edo where you watch the chef cook your meal at your table - it is quite an experience. And there's not just food either, there's drinks and snacks and plenty of souvenirs. Do not miss World Showcase!

8. British Revolution

Entertainment can be found all over the place in Walt Disney World but one of them you really mustn't miss is British Revolution, a rock band who play classic British music in the UK pavilion. You'll hear tunes from Queen, Oasis, and The Beatles, amongst others, and you'll be truly entertained. Whenever we're in Walt Disney World I do not miss a chance to see British Revolution if I can help it. 

Hollywood Studios

9. Toy Story Land

Newly opened in 2018 is Toy Story Land, a Toy Story themed area in Hollywood Studios. The brilliant thing about this area is how you're made to feel how the toys feel in the movie. Huge building blocks, other toys, and large footprints in the ground will make you feel you've entered the world of the toys. And one of the best bits I noticed during our trip this summer was the army men - they move around during the night! Each time we visited the army men figures moved, and once when we were exiting one of the rides I thought I noticed one was a little different - and then it spoke to me! It was BRILLIANT!

17 Must Dos For Your First Trip to Walt Disney World | Walk through Toy Story Land and you'll feel as big as a toy!
Toy Story Land is amazing - be sure to stop by and take a walk through.

10. One Man's Dream

Learn about the man behind the dream, Walt Disney. Learn about his life, how he grew up and what he went through. I have so much respect for this man, and it's thanks to One Man's Dream that I learned so much about him. I have always loved Walt Disney World but knowing the story behind the creation of Mickey Mouse and the world that followed makes it all so much more magical. 

If you can dream it, you can do it. 

Walt Disney

11. Meet Olaf

With older children meeting characters isn't so much of a priority, but new characters - like Olaf - make the cut. LP, who is 9, couldn't wait to meet Olaf and we made a special trip just to do so. Smiling and waiting to give warm hugs to all the children Olaf is a wonderful addition to the character list. Definitely one to prioritise.

Animal Kingdom

12. Kilimanjaro Safari

Hop on a truck and head out onto the Savannah where you'll see amazing animals you might not see anywhere else. From Giraffes to Lions, Ostrich and Rhinos, you'll not only get to see the animals but maybe even snap some photos while you're there. Your driver will also talk about each of the animals you spot, and some that you don't, telling you what they've learned while working for Disney. It's a great way to learn about the animals while being entertained.

Get up close with these majestic creatures.

13. Flight of Passage

If you are going to ride only one ride when visiting Walt Disney World then this must be it. It is THE BEST ride there is, and is truly a breathtaking experience. You get on a bike looking machine and are transported into Pandora where you get to ride a Banshee. Flight of Passage is an immersive experience, you will feel like you're really riding that Banshee and you'll be blown away at the sight of Pandora. 

14. Finding Nemo The Musical

There are some great shows around Walt Disney World but this one tops them all. If you have Disney fans in your house then you'll no doubt know the story but with Finding Nemo The Musical not only do you get to follow the story but there are brilliant songs in there too. There are 5 shows daily which gives you lots of opportunity to catch one, and it is 40 minutes long - which is a great chance for a rest! I found myself singing along, and even crying at the end of the show. It's entertaining and touches your heart - do not miss it!

15. Water Parks

So often I hear how people visited Walt Disney World but didn't go to the water parks. It is such an oversight to miss these brilliant parks. Not only is it perfect water park weather in Orlando but the parks themselves are both fun and entertaining and will keep you busy. From huge water slides for your teens and thrill-seekers to river rafts for all the family there's plenty of fun to be had in the water. And when you're in need of a rest they cater for that too - in the lazy rivers! Blizzard Beach used to be our favourite park, it caters for all ages but school-aged kids will no doubt love all the slides and the lazy river is brilliant. Chill out in a ring as you float around a winter themed wonderland. At Typhoon Lagoon, which is now our favourite water park, you can swim in a wave pool where every few minutes a tidal wave hurtles towards you ready to knock you off your feet. The little ones will love it in the shallow part of the pool because it's not so strong, and your strong swimmers will love how they can swim along with the wave and watch as they almost fly through the sky!

17 Must Dos For Your First Visit to Walt Disney World | Typhoon Lagoon is a great place for the kids, especially the surf pool.
My boys love the Surf Pool in Typhoon Lagoon - have you been there yet?

16. Parades

There are parades in all of the parks in Walt Disney World but some of our favourites are in Magic Kingdom. Check out the Times Guide to find out when you'll be able to enjoy the parades and be sure to get your spot early - the places at the side of the street fill up early.

17. Night shows

From Rivers of Light in Animal Kingdom to Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios if you're looking for some good night time entertainment then there are a few shows you should check out but Fantasmic! has to be the best. Fireworks, water fountains, and Mickey Mouse make an appearance in this show. It is a huge crowd pull and there are always hundreds of people wanting to see the show. Again you'll need to get there early to make sure you get a seat but it is definitely one worth seeing.

17 Must Dos For Your First Visit To Walt Disney World | Want to know which things to focus on during your first trip - check out number 8! Click now or pin to read later.

With the hundreds of rides and attractions in Walt Disney World it can be hard to decide which ones you should focus on. In our opinion this list of 17 is a good start, we always try to get on all the rides and never quite manage it but these are the ones we focus on. 

Which things are you most looking forward to seeing?

If you enjoyed this you'll enjoy 7 ways to save money when in Walt Disney World or if you're looking for a little more information about the place check out Things to know before visiting Walt Disney World.

Do stop by Facebook and let me know what you love most about Walt Disney World, or if you've never visited, what you're most looking forward to?

And to keep your kids busy on the plane why not try this Activity Booklet!