Hidden Treasures Of Walt Disney World
A trip to Walt Disney World doesn’t have to include large family reunions or lots of children. Believe it or not, college students can have a blast in these world-famous theme parks, if you just know where to go! Buying a hopper pass is the best way to go, because you can get into all four theme parks for however many days you want. You can visit one in the morning, and a different one at night! It’s the most flexible ticket package and you get the most experience for your money.
1. The Great Movie Ride, Disney’s Hollywood Studios – This is a 22-minute slow-moving tram ride through classic Hollywood movie scenes. The ride is hosted by a live tour guide and takes you through familiar movies such as Mary Poppins and Indiana Jones, and through beloved genres like gangster, western, and romance. This attraction is anything but boring. In one of the movie scenes, guests are surprised by a live character coming out of the movies and find themselves in the middle of a real-live shootout! Location? It is “hidden” behind Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat in the middle of the park, and housed in a replica of Grahmann’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.
2. The Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom – Many visitors come to Disney World with the notion that the Magic Kingdom is only for kiddie rides and fantasy characters. This is not the case! The Haunted Mansion may be slow, but the details and story in this attraction are just as chilling as any scary movie. The ride moves through the various rooms of the mansion, including an extremely-detailed attic focused on brides that beheaded their husbands. A chilling fact: All of the furniture, fixtures, etc. were taken from old grand hotels in California. There is also a pet cemetery hidden in the woods at the exit of the attraction, which is considered the final resting place for Mr. Toad of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, a classic Disney dark-ride that used to be in Fantasyland. Location? In the back of the park in Liberty Square.
3. Dinosaur, Disney’s Animal Kingdom – This is easily one of the scariest rides in the Walt Disney World Resort. It is a fast, extremely bumpy journey back into time to collect a dinosaur and bring him back via “time machine” (aka your ride vehicle). The audio comes eerily close, as do the most lifelike dinosaurs, like the T-Rex and the Raptor. Your vehicle tries to escape a meteor shower, people are screaming, and the vehicle jerks back and forth as it whips you through time. A combination of lights, larger than life dinosaurs, and audio makes this ride a must for any thrill seeker. Location? In the corner of Dinoland USA, to the right of the park entrance.
1. The American Adventure (with the Voices of Liberty), Epcot – This is a must-see for all ages, but college students will appreciate the unique Audio Animatronic detail, right down to the smoke coming out of Mark Twain’s pipe. It is hosted by Ben Franklin and Mark Twain, and it tells the story of America all the way up to the present. Little known fact: This show features a Will Rogers Animatronic, which twirls a lasso, seemingly on his own. The character’s voice is the son of the actual Will Rogers. Before you do this attraction, you must come earlier than the posted time to see the Voices of Liberty. They are an incredible a-capella group that sings songs of American heritage. Guests crowd around for every performance to see this amazing group, whose vocal ability goes unmatched throughout Disney property.
2. Fantasmic, Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Fantasmic is probably the most popular nighttime show in Walt Disney World history. This spectacular show includes live characters, boats, fireworks, acrobatics, and a giant mountain where all the action takes place. There is animation projected onto giant screens of water, all set to music conducted by Mickey Mouse himself. It is best to arrive at the show at least 45 minutes prior to showtime, though there is no bad seat in the theater. Location? Through a winding road behind the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and next to the Theater of the Stars, which hosts the Beauty and the Beast show. Guests can only enter this giant arena about an hour before showtime; otherwise, it is hidden to passers-by.
3. Festival of the Lion King, Disney’s Animal Kingdom – You and your friends will love this Broadway-style musical based on the classic Disney film. The singers are fantastic, the acrobatic monkeys are straight out of Cirque-Du-Soleil, and there is even a man who twirls and eats a stick of fire! This is fun for all ages, but the sheer talent of the dancers and singers in this show is amazing. Location? This is “hidden” in Camp Minnie-Mickey, which is to the left upon entering the park.
1. Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre, Disney’s Hollywood Studios – As your waiter takes you to your “car” on roller skates, you enter a drive-in movie theater, where the tables are actual cars! The giant screen in front plays a 45-minute loop of authentic drive-in commercials and movie trailers from the 50s. It is all situated under a giant night sky. The menu is American cuisine that is spiced up from the usual drive-in food. Eating here is a must, because there really is no other restaurant like it on all of Disney property. Location? This is “hidden” in a soundstage on Commissary Lane towards the back of the park. Look for the Cadillac parked out front.
2. The Main Street Bakery, Magic Kingdom – At first glance, this may seem like an average theme-park bakery. But this is easily one of the best places to get fresh, decadent desserts and baked goods. Some favorites include giant, plate-sized cinnamon rolls drenched in icing and huge ice-cream sandwiches that they make by hand-scooping ice cream in between two cookies. You can also find cheesecakes, pies, and other goodies. Location? This sweet shop is “hidden” on Main Street USA in between the glass shop and the ice cream shop.
Whether you are quickly on the move or slowly take it all in, keep these “hidden” treasures in mind to have a blast on your Disney vacation!
by Katherine Sears