When people rush into the parks at Disney World, they always have a few major attractions at the top of their minds: maybe their goal is to hit all the mountains in Magic Kingdom, hit the major attractions in Epcot, or explore Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, in our hurry to get to the major attractions there are often a few attractions that are impressive, beautiful, funny, and other things, but sadly overlooked. In this post, I’m going to point out 5(ish) attractions in Walt Disney World that deserve a little bit more love, and, if you have never visited them yet, you should set some time aside next time you go to the parks to see.
Carousel of Progress
The Carousel of Progress is seen by many as a cool, dark place to take a nap but it is so much more than that. The Carousel of Progress is the longest running stage show in the world, it debuted in the 1964 World Fair in New York and was moved into Tomorrowland (Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom later on). The show features both a look at the past and a view of the “future”. It blends an optimism for what is to come and a humor for what has already passed, which is basically what the attraction is all about: watching as a family (or several different but incredibly similar families!) participate in the march of progress. There are two reasons why I believe that people ought to participate in this show: First, we live in an age that looks to the future as being bleak. The future is presented here as a “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, something that we all ought to be reminded of. Secondly, I do not believe any attraction at Walt Disney World encapsulates the philosophy of Walt himself quite like this show. In fact, when the Sherman Brothers wrote the song “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, they wrote it with Walt in mind, and even said that the line, “Man has a dream and that’s the start, he follows the dream with mind and heart, and when it becomes a reality it’s a dream come true for you and me,” they claimed that in their minds they replaced the words “Man” with “Walt”. The Carousel of Progress is more than just a show, it is a big way to see into the heart of the man who started it all.
Many Epcot rides
I know I’m cheating here, but when I started thinking about Epcot, I could not come up with just one overlooked attraction, there are so many. I think that too many people discredit Epcot as a place to just eat and drink. I’ve heard people say that other than Frozen, Soarin’, and Mission Space there is nothing to do. I almost shed a tear when I hear this. Let me spout out some overlooked attractions here: Journey into Imagination, Living With the Land, Gran Fiesta Tour, even to some extent The Seas wit Nemo and Friends, and Spaceship Earth. And those are just ride based attractions, what about the shows all throughout world showcase:
Reflections of China, The American Adventure, and O Canada. Take the time to do these attractions, they are fun! I personally believe that Epcot can be a 2 day park if it is enjoyed for everything that it is and not just the few big E-ticket attractions.
Muppets Vision 3D
I am not just adding this one because I am a huge Muppets fan, but also because this is a hilarious show. Muppet Vision 3D combines so many elements that you will not find combined anywhere else at Walt Disney World, meaning, there is no other show, at least that comes to mind, that combines a 3D video, audio-animatronics, live performers (Sweetums), and the theater itself being used to tell the story. This is a marvelous show, and better yet, it is hilarious. Something that I would suggest is to arrive at the theater 10 to 15 minutes before the show starts, you will be treated with the pre-show, which, I think, is the best pre-show on Disney property. You will be delighted by the 3 D’s, you will receive instructions from Sam the Eagle, and you will even be greeted by Mickey Mouse (well, not really. I won’t ruin that surprise though!) I hear people complain all the time about how there is nothing to do at Hollywood Studios, but a lot of those people don’t take the time to go down to the Muppet Courtyard and see this wonderful show. Even if you have never had any experience with the Muppets before, this show is a must-do.
Conservation Station is a hidden gem at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The big reason for this is that you have to ride on a train to get there. I promise you, though, it is absolutely worth the time spent to get there. After getting off the train, you will walk down a path, along this path are demonstrations and signs that teach about the importance of conservation and practical ways to practice it in our own homes and yards. At the end of the path there is the Affection Section, which is Disney’s special name for a petting zoo, there is also a building that houses the Conservation Station. Inside there are animal encounters and a look at the veterinary care of the animals. Outside the building is a special gem for you character lovers. There is a space for character encounters. Last time we went, we got to meet Chip and Dale without having to wait in any line! I heard that you can also meet Doc Mcstuffins and even Jiminy Cricket (a very rare find) inside the Conservation Station. To me, this is an attraction that will take you off the beaten path and get you away from the crowds. It is a relaxing experience, it is an educational experience, and it is a fun experience.
Swiss Family Tree House
The Swiss Family Tree House is a great attraction. I guess the best way to describe it is: Ultimate Treehouse. I understand why it is an overlooked attractions. First, The Swiss Family Robinson is not exactly a movie that has endured the test of time, not many people know about it anymore. Second, the Tree House is not a ride, it is a walk around attraction, and most people are looking for excuses to not walk, not the other way around! But the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse is a unique experience and truly fun. I personally was so sad last time that I went to Disney because my kids were cranky and did not want to explore the tree house, but next year when I go on my first “adult only” trip you’d better believe that I am going exploring! By the way, there is only one song in all of Walt Disney World that is more of an ear worm than “It’s A Small World” and that is the Swisskapolka!
A few others that are of note that I did not add to this list are Tom Sawyer’s Island, Country Bear Jamboree, and the Great Movie Ride. There are others that I also have not mentioned on purpose!
What do you think? Are there any attractions that you think are often overlooked but deserve some love? Let me know in the comments! But please, I beg of you, do NOT say Frozen Ever After!
Check out my new book, Level Up!