Is there anything more exciting than your first trip to Walt Disney World? If you ask us the answer is no. But, with so much to do and not a whole lot of time to do it, your first trip to Walt Disney World can become very stressful. What attractions should you ride? What attractions should you try and get fastpasses for? Should you skip an attraction all together? These are all questions a first timer is probably asking themselves and without any sort of help planning your first trip can quickly become overwhelming. Here is our list of "Must Do's For Walt Disney World First Timers 2020."
Space Mountain: One of Walt Disney Worlds most Iconic rides, Space Mountain has everything a great rollercoaster should have, high speed turns, butterfly inducing drops, corkscrews, and as if that wasn't enough, the entire ride is set entirely in the dark. Nothing get's your heart pumping like flying around at high speed in complete darkness. Space Mountain offers excitement that is truly one of a kind and can only be appreciated by experiencing it for yourself. Keep in mind this ride takes place in almost complete darkness so if you have younger children in your party this may be something to consider. Being one of the most popular attractions in the park, the line will fill up quickly and stay full most of the day. We highly recommend utilizing Fastpass+ for this attraction as well as riding it early in the morning or right before the park closes to avoid the long lines.
Big Thunder Mountain: Big Thunder Mountain takes you on a runaway mine train through the middle of the Wild Wild West. This fan favorite features fast, banked turns, drops of all sizes, and a few tight switchbacks that are sure to have you grinning from ear to ear. There are some darker parts in the beginning parts of this attraction so you should plan accordingly if you have younger children who aren't fond of dark spaces and loud noises. While the line always moves pretty quick for this attraction, it can fill up in the busier part's of the day so Fastpass+ is highly recommended.
Splash Mountain: Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain is a Log Flume ride that transports you to a colorful southern bayou featuring classic Disney characters such as Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear, and all your other favorite characters from Disney's classic film, "Song of the South". This attraction includes 950,000 gallons of water, 3 small dips and to conclude your visit to the Briar Patch, a 5 story waterfall that is sure to get you soaked. There are no dark or scary themes and the entire ride is lit up by singing characters so it more than appropriate for all audiences. The line can get pretty long in the busier hours of the day so we do recommend using Fastpass+ for this attraction.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: In our opinion, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the most fun attraction in all of Walt Disney World. It is the goldilocks of rollercoasters, its not too fast but not slow, there aren't any crazy drops but there are plenty of hills to keep things interesting and the way this attraction sways back and forth is a sensation you can get from no other attraction. This is one of if not the most popular attractions in the Magic Kingdom so we highly recommend getting Fastpass+ if you would like to avoid a 2+ hour wait!
It's A Small World: If you leave Walt Disney World and don't have the "Its a small world" theme song stuck in your head, where you even there at all? Created for the 1963-1964 Worlds fair, Walt Disney's "It's a small world" is another Disney classic. Sing along as you take a boat tour around the world hosted by the Children of there respective countries. This ride features smiling hippos, dancing penguins, over 300 Animatronic dolls from around the world and much, much More! Guests of any age and height can ride and there is never much of a wait on this attraction so Fastpass+ is not needed here.
Haunted Mansion Walt Disney World's "Haunted Mansion" is a Disney classic and has been home to 999 unearthly spectres since opening day October 1, 1971. Featuring Ghosts, Ghouls, Goblins and unexpected spooks, this attraction is sure to send a tingle down your spine. While mildly frightening, all of the ghosts are friendly and there is absolutely no blood or gore throughout this attraction, making it fun for all ages. The Haunted Mansion is tucked away in the right corner of Liberty Square. There is always a bit of a wait for the Haunted Mansion but the line always moves relatively quick and there are plenty of things to see and do while waiting in line so a Fastpass+ isnn't needed for this attraction unless you have an open slot.
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin: Magic Kingdom's Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin simply has no equal in terms of pure fun and entertainment. Who wouldn't love taking control of a Star Command cruiser and chasing the evil Emperor Zurg across the galaxy, all while blasting his evil minions to pieces with your laser Blaster?There is no height requirement for this attraction and while the ride does take place in the dark, it isn't complete darkness and is very well lit so we would not be too concerned about your smaller children being frightened. This attraction is located near Space Mountain Directly across from were Stitches great Escape used to be and being one of the most popular attractions in the Magic Kingdom, the line will fill up quick so Faspass+ is highly recommended for this attraction.
Spaceship Earth: No Epcot Top 10 Must Do list would be complete without Spaceship Earth, it's a Disney Classic. Located inside of the giant ball in the middle of the park, Spaceship Earth takes you on a journey through time showcasing the technological advancements made by mankind. While this ride may not be the most exciting, the journey through time is very interesting and it is a great attraction to take a little break on from all of the walking. Spaceship Earth has no height requirement and the line is always fast moving so Fastpass+ is not needed here.
World Showcase: Take a trip around the world and experience the vibrant cultures and cuisines of 11 different countries, all in Epcot's World Showcase. The World Showcase features 11 different countries including Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, U.S.A, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada, all showcasing their very own unique shops and restaurants. And While eating at every single restaurant in the World Showcase isn't very practical, stopping in at each country to explore their one of a kind shops, attractions and way of life is an absolute must. The best part about the World Showcase? Since it is so big and has so much to offer, aside from a few attractions, there is hardly ever a wait for most of the World Showcases's offerings making it the perfect attraction for the middle of the day when the crowds are at their peak.
Test Track: If you only have time to get one attraction done while visiting Walt Disney World's Epcot. Make sure it's Test Track. Test Track is a High Speed, High Intensity thrill ride designed to take you through the rigorous tests new automobiles are put through before they are allowed to drive on the road. You start your automotive testing seminar by first designing your very own car. You get to choose everything including the vehicles shape, wheel size, color and even engine power. Now comes the fun part, testing your new creation! You will experience everything from 0-60 braking tests, a slalom course, icy road handling test, Hot and Cold weather tests, and our personal favorite, the acceleration and pedal to the metal High Speed Racetrack test! Test Track has a 40in height requirement and has absolutely no scary or frightening themes and is appropriate for riders of all ages. Test Track is one of the most popular attractions in Epcot so Fastpass+ is a must.
Soarin' Around The World: While at first glance Soain' may not strike you as the most thrilling attraction, make no mistake, this one of a kind 4D Motion rides combination of special effects, realistic motion simulator and breathtaking visuals provide thrills like no other that make this one of our Favorite Walt Disney World attractions. The sensation you feel when you are flying over the SanDiego bridge or dodging golfballs on a California golf course or avoiding the treetops of the Swiss Alps is something that cannot be described and must be felt to truly understand how wonderful it really is. Soarin' has a 40in height requirement and is appropriate for all ages. While there are no scary or frightening elements, the attraction is quite high off the ground, almost 10 stories at the highest point so any guests with a fear of heights should make note of this and request to seated on the lower tier. Being one of Epcot's most popular attractions, the wait times for this ride will skyrocket within minutes of the park opening so we highly recommend using Fastpass+ for this attraction or riding as soon as the park opens or right before closing during Illuminations to avoid a long wait.
Epcot Forever: While the Magic Kingdoms Happily Ever After takes the cake as the best Nighttime Show in Walt Disney World, Epcot Forever is not far behind. First debuting on October 1st, 2019, Epcot Forever is a fresh take on the story of Epcot stands and everything that is to come. If you aren't planning on a dining experience to watch this show. our favorite spots to watch are in the United States of America Pavillion, France Pavillion or right in the beginning of the World Showcase between the Mexico and Canada Pavillion. Fair warning though, if you plan on watching the fireworks from the the USA Pavillion just know that you will be as far from the bus depot as possible and you may be waiting quite awhile to board your bus.
Expedition Everest: Easily one of our favorite roller coasters in all of Walt Disney World, Expedition Everest has everything a great roller coaster should have, and then some. A seemingly never ending climb to the top, high speed turns, huge drops, a backwards loop or two, and as if all of that wasn't enough to get your heart thumping, the entire time you're racing through the Himalayas you're being chased by a giant Abominable Snowman! There is a 44in. height requirement and there are some loops and barrel rolls so keep that in mind if you have guests in your party who are a little unsure about roller-coasters. The Yeti can also be a bit scary for younger riders so that is something else to keep in mind. While this used to be the most popular attraction in the Animal Kingdom, the introduction of Pandora and Flight Of Passage have brought the wait times for this attraction down into the 1 hour range. A Fastpass+ is recommended but certainly not a necessity.
Kilimanjaro Safaris: Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of, if not our favorite Attractions in all of Walt Disney World. And now that they have the new Nighttime Safari's, this attraction should most definitely be at the top of you Animal Kingdom Must-Do List. Keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle as your safari guide takes you on a very real African Safari. While you're not guaranteed to see anything, in our 20 years of visiting Walt Disney World we have never come up empty handed and you have the chance to be up close and personal with cheetahs, black and white rhino's, African elephants, a whole pride of lions and much, much more! While the majority of the Kilimanjaro Safari focuses on well.....the Safari, the final portion of this attraction focuses on a more gloomy topic, poaching, and while not scary or gruesome in anyway, it provides a stark reminder of what is really going on in African Game reserves and how hard it can be to protect these beautiful animals. There is no height requirement for this attraction although the ride can get quite bumpy so please, please hold onto young children as large bumps and unattended children hanging out of the windows is a recipe for disaster. There is always a large wait for the Kilimanjaro Safari's as it is one of the Animal Kingdom's most popular attractions so we highly recommend utilizing Fastpass+ on this attraction.
Festival Of The Lion King: The one event you should plan your entire Animal Kingdom visit around, the Festival of the Lion King is an experience like no other. Inspired by the Disney classic "The Lion King," this show features everybody's favorite characters including Simba, Timon, Pumba, and even a fire juggling Scar! Not only will you get to see all of your favorite Lion King characters up close and personal, the Festival of the Lion King brings to life your favorite movie soundtracks including "The Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," "Be Prepared," and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" like you've never experienced before. While there are some dark parts of the show with very loud, intense music, fire, and swords, the Festival of the Lion King is targeted at a younger audience so we would not be overly concerned about bringing young kids to the show. There are a limited amount of shows per day so we highly recommend getting to one of the shows a priority as this attraction is simply one you don't want to miss. While there is hardly ever a wait, the theater will fill up quick so we suggest showing up to the doors at least 20 minutes early to guarantee you and your party get a seat.
Kali River Rapids: Make no mistake with this one, you are absolutely going to get wet, you might even get soaked. Kali River Rapids is a fast paced, river raft ride that takes you through a once beautiful jungle landscape that has been destroyed by logging. Designed to showcase how illegal logging is destroying animal's habitats and disrupting the natural balance, it is a stark reminder to the detrimental effect illegal logging can have on our environment. But, its not all sad here, in fact quite the opposite. Kali River Rapids features rip-roaring rapids, water-shooting elephants, and large drops that not only make this one of the wettest attractions in the Animal Kingdom, but one of the most fun as well. There is a 38in height requirement with no dark or scary themes and is appropriate for all ages. Much like the other popular attractions throughout Walt Disney World, the line for Kali River Rapids will fill up quickly. We highly recommend using a Fastpass+ for this attraction as riding this one in the earlier hours of the day may not be the best idea, after all no one wants to walk around all day soaked to the bone.
Avatar Flight Of Passage: If you ask me, Avatar Flight Of Passage is the greatest attraction on earth, nothing else even comes close. Flight Of Passage is one of a kind and it truly has to be experienced first hand to truly understand how great it is. I am usually not the biggest fan of Motion Simulator rides as I feel like they are generally lazy, poorly designed and overdone but that is simply just not the case with this attraction. For fear of spoilers I wont go into too much detail about the ride itself but what I will tell you is that FOP truly makes you feel like you are flying through the Valley of Mo'ara. If you have a fear of heights, flying or tend to get a bit claustrophobic you might want to think twice about this attraction. Although if you ask me, there is no better time to conquer your fears than on you first flight aboard a Banshee! FOP also happens to be the most popular attraction at Animal Kingdom by a landslide so we highly recommend getting a Fastpass+ or arriving at gate drop to avoid the 3+ hour wait times that this attraction regularly garners.
DINOSAUR: Hidden in the very back of Dinoland U.S.A, DINOSAUR takes you back millions of years in the CTX Time Rover to save a 3.5 ton Iguanadon from the inescapable meteor strike that destroyed almost every living thing on earth. DINOSAUR is coming off a fresh Refurbishment in 2016 and while they didn't change the ride itself, they did give it a new paint job and update all of the lighting, restoring this once tired attraction to its former glory. DINOSAUR is a fast paced, indoor vehicle ride that features small drops, high speed turns, large bumps and oh yeah....did we forget Dinosaurs!? While the main objective of your mission is to locate and bring back the Iguanadon, a second and arguably more important objective that you and your other 11 rover mates have thrown at you is surviving the never ending barrage of small meteors and constant onslaught of meat eating dinos, none of which is more fierce than the immense Carnotaurs. As if all of that wasn't enough, you have just minutes to complete your task and get back before the meteor that killed every living thing on earth strikes. Will you make it? You're just going to have to ride to find out. This ride has a 40in height requirement and while not pitch black, it is quite dark inside and some of the larger dinosaurs can be a bit too scary for young children. While this attraction may be hidden in the back of the park, it is still one of the Animal Kingdom's most popular attractions so it is highly advised that you use your Fastpass+ to avoid any long waits.
Hollywood Tower Of Terror: Even the most novice of Disney-Goers know about the Hollywood Tower making it an absolute must do for any newcomer. As you walk to your seat in the rickety old elevator aka your passage into the 5th dimension, you are greeted by a not so lively Bellhop. After you take your seat you are slowly moved upwards into complete darkness where you meet the ghosts of hotel guests from 1939. This is where the Hollywood Tower goes from scenic Hotel Ghost tour to something completely different. The elevator shoots you straight up 13 stories where you will hear and see Ghosts and ghouls all inspired by the hit TV series "The Twilight Zone". Just as quickly as the elevator took you up it will shoot you right back down again and it will do this over and over again. This is easily one of Hollywood Studios most popular attractions and the waits for this ride can easily become 2-3 hours long near midday. A Fastpass+ is an absolute must for this attraction.
Rockin' Rollercoaster: Based on the world famous band Aerosmith, Rock n Roller Coaster takes you for a crazy adrenaline pumping ride. Waiting in line in this attraction is even fun! You're able to see the band in the recording studio, they then invite you to be a VIP guest at their concert! As you step into the limo to start your ride, you'll hear Steven Tyler talking to you and giving you a countdown. 5 4 3 2 1! 0 to 57 MPH in 2.8 seconds. You experience more G-force then astronauts on take off! On your way to the concert you go through corkscrews, flips, and all sorts of crazy things! This is an absolute must for anyone going to Disney for the first time.
Star Tours-The Adventures Continue: Join C3PO and the rest of the Star Wars crew as you help the Rebellion complete a top secret mission, all while trying to avoid the First Order! Star Tours is a 4D Thrill ride that is fun for the whole family. Guest who get motion sickness easily however should proceed with caution as the 3D glasses and motion effects have been known to cause motion sickness. This is one of the most popular attractions at Hollywood Studios and with Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge quickly approaching, it is sure to only get busier. Using a Fastpass+ on this attraction is highly recommended.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is one of our favorite attractions at Hollywood Studios and for good reason. The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is a daily stunt show that takes guests on a breathless journey to watch stunts from the film franchise performed before their very eyes – including fight scenes, whip tricks, sword fights, high falls, fiery explosions and much more. While this attraction almost always fills up every show, as long as you get into line 15-20 minutes early, you should have no problem getting a good seat so Fastpass+ is not needed.
Toy Story Midway Mania: Step into the world of Toy Story with all your favorite characters like Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Ham, Rex and more! This attraction is much like Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin with a twist! Soon to become a part of the long awaited Toy Story Land (Opening Spring/Summer 2018,) Toy Story Midway Mania is currently one of the most popular attractions in all of Walt Disney World and waits frequently rise to 2 Hours+. We highly recommend a Fastpass+ or visiting during extra magic hours.
Millenium Falcon Smugglers Run: If you happened to be following the launch of this attraction then you are probably aware of its rocky start. Early riders complained of incredibly long queue times, unreliability and an overall underwhelming experience. We had the chance to ride this attraction just a few months ago and we can say with confidence that that is no longer the case. With the opening of the rest of Galaxy's Edge as well as an updated queue system, wait times have been drastically reduced. I might actually go out on a limb and say that this may be the most efficient attraction in all of Walt Disney World. The reliability issues have also been ironed out and in my opinion this is one of the most thrilling attractions in Disney World. There is a catch however. Unlike other Disney attractions, your crews performance and willingness to participate will directly effect your ride experience as well as its length. Simply put, If you have an enthusiastic crew that is willing to participate, you will have an amazing experience. If you have a few members of your crew that are less than enthusiastic and would rather record the whole ride on there phone than participate, well, results may vary. In recent years, Hollywood studios has not exactly been at the top of Disney goers lists, in fact, some people would describe it as "The Most Skippable Park In Disney." With the additions of Galaxy's Edge as well as Toy Story Land, this is simply not the case anymore.
Star Wars-Rise Of The Resistance: There may be no other attraction in existence that has garnered as much stigma and folklore as Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance. Even the most novice of Disney goer will have heard that this attraction is "Impossible to get on," or that it is "Without a doubt the best attraction in Walt Disney World." Well, we are here to inform you that the rumors are true! In our opinion Rise Of The Resistance is the greatest attraction ever made at any theme park. Nothing else comes close, it is simply unrivaled. While the rumor about it being the greatest attraction ever are true, unfortunately, the rumors of it being almost impossible to get on are true as well. You can't actually wait in line for Rise Of The Resistance, you have to get into a boarding party by logging into your My Disney Experience app on your smartphone once you've gotten into the park and following the prompts on there.Here is a great tutorial on how to do so! While this may not sound so difficult, on my last trip my bus drivers were telling me they have seen people showing up at the gates at 4am in order to get into a boarding party. To say getting onto this ride is difficult would be a massive understatement.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on on your next vacation or to make the most of your time, read our Tips for Saving Money and Time at Walt Disney World post. Our Fundamental Walt Disney World Packing List post takes a unique look at clever items to pack and has a printable PDF. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Resource Guides will help.
For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
For Walt Disney World news, tips, discount info, and free eBook downloads sign up for our free monthly newsletter