WDW Top 10 Attractions for the Whole Family

Cinderella Castle in Magic KingdomTop 10 lists are fun!  This one in particular, for me, was cool to build – I’ve been going to Walt Disney World now for 24+ years.  The first time, married just five months, I was already in the family way, the next dozen visits were made with children from age 13 months on up to adulthood (I should say adult-ish).  I’ve been through the rider swap phase, the am-I-tall-enough stage, the oh-I’m-too-scared times, and finally to the (well-deserved, I might add) – everyone can and will ride everything!  There is absolutely nothing our family will not ride at Walt Disney World (okay, well, except Mission: Space, but I explained all that here).

I thought it would be fun to put together a few of our favorite rides (and attractions) that are suitable for just about every age.  I’m talking about the ones with no height requirements that aren’t too scary – the kinds of rides and activities Walt Disney was talking about when he said, “We believed in our idea – a family park where parents and children could have fun- together.”  These are some of our must-do’s, our favorite things we’ve enjoyed as a family from the very beginning and still love today.  No rush or anything, but someday (when I’m older), these are the first rides I’ll take my grandchildren on.

Walt Disney World Top 10 Attractions for the Whole Family:

Magic Kingdom

Dumbo (Storybook Circus / Fantasyland) – I KNOW, it’s just riding around in a circle – but you’re on a flying elephant!  The quintessential Disney experience and, unlike the Mad Tea Party’s tea cups, there’s little chance of motion sickness.  It’s okay for you to have fun on Sailing on WDW Jungle CruiseDumbo…even if you’re old.

Jungle Cruise (Adventureland) – There’s a lot to see, most of it of the cute and funny variety.  Even if the little ones can’t yet appreciate the Jungle Cruise skipper’s comedic genius, it’s not dark and more thrilling than actually scary.  C’mon – The BACKSIDE of water!  Never gets old.

Peter Pan’s Flight (Fantasyland) – Who doesn’t love a lost boy?  I’m always surprised by how much I love boarding my little pirate ship and flying over amazing scenes from Peter Pan.  From London to Never Land and back – all our favorite characters are there!

Mickey's PhilharMagic / Fantasyland / Magic KingdomMickey’s PhilharMagic (Fantasyland) – So much fun and happiness in one place.  The music, the special effects, the smell of pies and cakes floating by…yes!  This holds a very special place in our hearts.  So special, in fact, that our Megan’s been able to talk us into seeing this 3D movie experience 3 times in the same vacation.  Compared to It’s Tough to be a Bug over in Animal Kingdom, this one’s much less likely to induce a meltdown.

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (Fantasyland) – Yes, I’m aware that there’s a carrousel in every mall in America.  There’s a reason for that – they are fun!  Prince Charming’s version is no exception.  You get to look out and see what’s happening in Fantasyland all around you or just watch the other guests enjoying their ride upon a fancy horse.  Good, old fashioned family fun.  Don’t miss it.Sign in The Seas With Nemo & Friends


The Seas with Nemo & Friends (Future World) – Board a clam-mobile and watch your favorite characters from Finding Nemo as you drift along with the ocean current.  It’s bright and fun and a little silly, so everyone finds something to like about it.  Plus, it’s a great place to cool off on a hot day.  I love Bruce and Mr. Ray the best!

Malestrom (World Showcase) – Might be the scariest thing on this list, but the ride’s fun, the Malestrom / Norway Pavilion / World Showcasebig troll is cool, and, if we hurry, we can enjoy it as an educational tribute to the country of Norway.  ‘Cause that’s what the World Showcase is supposed to be all about – teaching us about other cultures around the world.  If the rumors are true and the Norway Pavilion changes to be completely overtaken with the Frozen theme, characters, and fictitious land of Arendelle…well, I’ll save that rant for later.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

MuppetVision 3D – We love everything about this show.  The waiting area with all it’s puns and sight gags, the pre-show, the fancy theater, Statler and Waldorf doing their thing.  Sweetums at the end – it’s all great!  Everyone’s favorite frog can never disappoint.  Fun for all ages.  And species.

Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safari / Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safari  – If you’ve been here before, you know how much I love the Safari!  Well, it’s perfect for our family because there’s so much to see!  Animals out on the savannah, in the wild (sort of) – doing their thing.  It’s always changing – so no two trips around are exactly the same.  We love mornings the best – the animals seem to be much more active than they are later in the day.

Festival of the Lion King – Audience interaction, aerial stunts, dancing, singing, OH! and don’t forget the Tumble Monkeys – This live tribute to all the best things about The Lion King is an absolute must do!  Seriously, it’s a lot of fun.  This show highlights some of the most talented performers at Walt Disney World.

Under the Sea - Journey of the Little MermaidHonorable Mention – this ride is brand new, but totally kid and adult friendly in the Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)…I’m talking about Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid.  It’s colorful, cute, non-scary (even the parts with Ursula are mild).  Everyone will like something about it.  Especially Little Mermaid fans.

What are your favorite rides and attractions for all ages?  What would you add (or subtract) from this list?

Disney’s Under the Sea – Voyage of the Little Mermaid

In Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland has always been a favorite place for Fantasyland Photo Opparents and grandparents to take small children and enjoy some of Disney’s more whimsical, milder rides and attractions.  These are the ones made for every age – low or no height requirements, no rough twists and turns, no scary surprises – The kinds of rides Walt Disney himself had a hand in creating so children and adults could have fun together.

As part of the Magic Kingdom’s new Fantasyland expansion, the Little Mermaid ride (officially:  Under the Sea-Voyage of the Little Mermaid) is an adorable tribute to Ariel’s story – full of all our favorite characters and Queue for Voyage of the Little Mermaidscenes.  Tucked beneath Prince Eric’s castle, guests board clammobiles for a fun and fanciful journey through familiar scenes – brought to life, straight from the movie!  As you approach the attraction, there’s a great photo op and most likely a Disney photographer will be standing by to snap your picture in front of a ship with Ariel as the figurehead!

The queue is full of clever surprises – so much so that I was actually disappointed that the line moved quickly and I couldn’t look at the details as long as I would have liked.  The queue starts outside where you’ll feel just like you’re IMG_3003at the seaside walking in and out of caverns carved by the ocean’s waves.  Look down and you’ll see a variety of seashells under foot.  Look along the walls and find starfish and barnicles.  Once you go inside, there are interactive parts to this queue involving Ariel’s treasures and some cute and funny little blue crabs.

The indoor part of the queue is cool and dark – as is the ride itself.  Lighting effects make you feel like you are truly going under the sea in your clam shell.  Unlike Epcot’s The Ride Vehicle for Voyage of the Little MermaidSeas With Nemo & Friends which offers a new storyline continuing where Finding Nemo left off, Under the Sea – Voyage of the Little Mermaid (similar to Peter Pan’s Flight) offers only a selection of scenes straight from the movie. This is what divides visitors’ opinions about this attraction – Little kids (and Mermaid fans) love seeing the familiar scenes reproduced in great detail and larger than life.  Big kids and adults are often disappointed by the scenes’ simplicity and how the ride offers nothing new or different – basically just replicates parts of the movie exactly (with low-tech animatronics to boot).

Judge for yourself!  This attraction is worth at least one visit for the experience.  The highly detailed, interactive queue is very well done and the ride itself is a great place to sit down and cool off for a bit fromScuttle the Florida heat.  This is a continuously loading attraction, so you may want to save a FastPass for something else as the line moves pretty quickly.  Personally, I liked the ride okay, but I LOVED the queue!  I have to agree with the folks that would have liked a little something new or different in the Little Mermaids story – there seems to be wasted potential.

Have you ridden the new Little Mermaid ride?  What did you think about it?


WDW Ariel and Eric in Silhouette Ariel Getting Legs Ursula - Voyage of the Little Mermaid WDW Little Mermaid's King Triton



Disney’s New Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Fantasyland Construction WallNote:  This post actually has an accompanying video (such as it is) of my first ride on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  If you’re interested in watching, catch the action here (twice for some reason!) on Living a Disney Life’s YouTube channel.

So much hype!  Such incredible buildup!  Those walls were up in Fantasyland for years!  Could the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ever live up to the sky high expectations?  Sadly, it couldn’t.  Probably, not much could have proved worthy of all the massive promotion.  Nothing, realistically, could be as spectacular as the excitement generated by years of rumor and speculation, promises of cutting-edge ride vehicle technology, and the fervor created by a huge media blowout event.  All of that pre-excitement was counterproductive, maybe – stealing the thunder from what could have been a great final reveal.

I recently (finally!) rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and I loved it.  Was it as amazing as it was cracked up to be?  Not so much.  But – it was new, it was fun, and it has a lot of charm.  Some will call it a Kiddie Coaster (must be 38″ to ride), but I consider it more of a Family Coaster because the incredibly smooth ride will appeal to adults who don’t care for the rougher coasters like Big Thunder and Space Mountains.  I can see grandparents riding this with their grandchildren and making happy Disney memories. 7 Dwarfs Cottage

We had previously held fastpasses for the day we arrived (5/25, during soft opening) but our dinner ADR and a torrential downpour nixed those plans.  So, while I DID get to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on May 30th, I only rode once and did not get to see any of the interactive standby queue.  That standby line was loooooong and some friendly Cast Members were on hand with cups of ice water to keep everyone properly hydrated and as cool as possible.  I will be returning to Walt Disney World in October and hopefully, time will allow us to use the standby queue – I’ve heard so much about it!

Seven Dwarfs Mine LandscapingThe highlights of the ride (for me) included the landscaping, the indoor/outdoor aspect (which I also love about Expedition Everest, Big Thunder, and Splash Mountain), the mine scene with the Dwarfs and familiar music, and yes, of course – it’s the little details, once again, that make this attraction a winner!  The shadows of the Dwarfs walking that are seen along the mine’s walls are a great touch!  It’s also a ride that begs to be ridden over and over because of the different details riders will spot that went unnoticed on the previous ride(s). Seven Dwarfs Mine Loading Area

What would I change?  Well….that’s easy.  I’d make it a little longer (it’s only about 2.5 minutes), I’d make Snow White easier to see (she can briefly be seen through a cottage window, pay attention or you’ll miss her), I’d add just a few scary details, like maybe some of those scary trees that reach for you with their bare branch fingers.  I’d also probably toss in a few more friendly woodland creatures just for fun.

Overall, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a winner.  There’s a true feeling of quality to the ride, scenery, and perfectly aged, realistic details and animatronics.  The swaying, suspended-over-the-track mine carts are a fantastic innovation that do create a very smooth, quiet coaster experience.  The lap bar, though!  Heed this warning (thanks to Joseph for pointing it out before Seven Dwarfs Mine EntryRaymond and I took our first ride):  The lap bar pulls down smoothly and soundlessly (no clicking into place) – it’s very easy to pull it down too far – once it’s down, it doesn’t go back up until the ride’s over.  If you squish yourself in too much with the bar after you sit down, the ride can be extremely uncomfortable as your body shifts over the hills and around the turns.

Talk to me!  Have you ridden Seven Dwarfs Mine Train yet?  How did you feel about it?  Did it meet your expectations?  If you haven’t ridden it yet – how high are your expectations for this new experience?

Disney World’s It’s a Small World!

IMG_2544It’s a Small World! If you’ve not had the pleasure (maybe pleasure is the wrong word, depends on your taste in Disney rides) of experiencing It’s a Small World, you really need to add it to your bucket list! Okay, okay!  I’m joking. You might not want to add it to your bucket list, but if you happen to be in the neighborhood (Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland), do drop in for this little 11-minute boat trip around the world

The line moves quickly, the boat-boarding area is detailed and
– lots to look at and, if you happen to be there at the right time, the clock opens up and does this clock thing which is kind of cool. There’s no minimum height requirement, soIMG_2543 anybody, any age can ride. And it’s a classic – opened with the park in 1971 but actually dates back to a 1964 New York World’s Fair exhibit. Originally designed by artist Mary Blair (think mural in the Contemporary lobby and the Five Legged Goat!!), the entire ride exhibits an amazing use of shapes and color. If sugary sweet cuteness is your thing, this is your ride.

Warning: It may actually be possible to overdose on adorable. If you’re not into singing children or if, perhaps, you’re hiding a fear of dolls and/or clowns – try to tough it out. Be brave. You only need to ride it once to IMG_2566experience this one irrefutable, undeniable thing as you drift through It’s a Small World in your little boat: Floor to ceiling, there are thousands of moving parts in this tunnel of toys – and they’re all singing.  You cannot deny that a tremendous amount of craftsmanship and attention to detail was required to produce hundreds of small people, animals, vehicles and buildings to represent all the continents and cultures around the world. And if, after you’re through, you catch yourself singing a certain catchy tune for the rest of the day….an added bonus!

So, what do you think about It’s a Small World.  Is it really “the happiest cruise that ever sailed”?