Walt Disney World Extras That First-Time Visitors Often Miss
By Kim Wiley | March 16th, 2018
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Do you want to “do it all” on your first trip to Disney World? Hmm ….that’s not too likely.
Walt Disney World is so enormous that first-time visitors are often overwhelmed. And while I’d never deny that the big deal attractions are indeed a big deal, there’s a lot more to the Disney experience than high-profile rides like Space Mountain and Toy Story Mania. Take time for these smaller attractions which are off the beaten path. You’ll be glad you did!
- No matter what park you visit, make sure you save some time for meeting the characters. Saying hi to Belle or Aladdin is a real treat for younger kids, who love getting a picture, a hug, and an autograph. (Autograph books are one of the few souvenir bargains in Disney World, since a $5 investment not only gives shy kids something to do when they actually meet their heroes but also makes a great show-and-tell for when you get home.) Character meeting times and places are indicated on the theme park maps and entertainment schedules.
- The Jedi Training Academy (Hollywood Studios): Volunteers aged 5-12 are suited up and armed with light sabers for this fun, interactive experience in which Darth Vader actually shows up and challenges the young students to a dual. The Academy is especially popular with boys who may have had a little too much princess power by this point. Sign up the first thing in the morning to guarantee a spot. The attraction is, appropriately enough, right beside Star Tours.
- Turtle Talk With Crush (Epcot): Everyone’s favorite surfer turtle dude interacts with the kids in real time in this adorable attraction. Although the show is funny and popular, it’s really tucked away and easy to miss, located deep inside The Living Seas pavilion in Epcot’s Future World.
- The Afternoon Parade (Magic Kingdom): Everyone knows about the big nighttime parade and fireworks extravaganza on Main Street, but younger kids are often more wowed by the smaller afternoon parade. The reason? It’s interactive, so cast members and characters invite kids into the street to sing and dance along with the show. Great photo ops!
- The Lion King Show (Animal Kingdom): The Lion King show is interactive, fun, and a great choice for younger kids. The character meeting areas outside not only feature the characters in adorable “vacation” outfits but are never as crowded as those in other areas of the parks.
- Chinese Acrobats (Epcot): Think the World Showcase is just for adults? Think again. The sidewalk entertainment is family-friendly, especially in the China pavilion. The acrobats — who do amazing stunts — are kids, which makes the show especially fun for children in the audience. Check your map for showtimes.
Kim Wright Wiley is the author of Walt Disney World With Kids, published by Fodor’s and updated annually.