by Brady Aymond
We’ve all been guilty of it at times. We get to the WDW parks 30-45 minutes before park opening, just as the touring plans tell us to do. We line up for rope drop with our strollers/feet pointing directly at the attraction the touring plans tell us to hit. And when that rope is dropped, we become Arnold Schwarzenegger, with one goal and only one goal in mind – hit the major attractions. Usually, it’s because our time is limited. Or because we’re going during the summer and the lines dictate hitting the headliners before it’s too late. Either way, we’re all guilty of walking right past hidden gems en route to another headliner. So, today, inspired by my most recent trip to Walt Disney World, I’ll give what I feel are the top five most overlooked attractions at Walt Disney World:
5. Epcot’s Living with the Land: It’s easy to miss Living with the Land for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s in the same pavilion as Soarin’ and if you’re heading to The Land, then chances are you either are heading straight to the Soarin’ Fastpass booth, or you’re bracing for a 90+ minute wait for Soarin’. Second, Living with the Land is in the back of The Land pavilion, so it tends to go unnoticed by many. But you won’t find a more relaxing, informative ride than this one. All of it is indoors, so it’s a good ride to hide out from the rain, as well as the heat. The only downside to the ride is that it doesn’t include a tasting after it’s over. (Editor’s note: Unless you book at ADR at the Garden Grill, which gets some of it’s produce from the Living with the Land greenhouse).
4. Hollywood Studio’s Magic of Disney Animation: Another one of those attractions that’s kind of tucked away in the back of an area. The Magic of Disney Animation isn’t quite what it once was, but it’s still a fun attraction. Where else can you learn to draw Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck? Better yet, you get to keep the pictures that you draw, so you get an awesome souvenir that you can go home and frame and proudly display.
3. Animal Kingdom’s Flights of Wonder: Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo The Musical steal the show, literally, when it comes to Animal Kingdom. Because of that, Flights of Wonder often gets overlooked by guests. It’s not a grand theater like FOTLK and Nemo, so people walk right by it without giving it a second look. The show hasn’t changed much in 10 years, but it’s still so much fun to watch. The kids enjoy it, and it’s a welcome break from a hot day in the parks.
2. Street performers in parks: I couldn’t really decide on one park, so I decided to lump all of the street performers into one big group. I’m talking about the Citizens of Hollywood and Mulch, Sweat, and Shears in the Studios; DiVine and Gi-Tar Dan in Animal Kingdom; The Jammitors in Epcot; the Dapper Dans and the Main Street Philharmonic in the Magic Kingdom; etc. I know I’m cheating by lumping so many performers into one spot, but I can’t believe how many people will walk right past a performance by The Jammitors or a movie scene being shot by Vladimir Pooey and talent agent Jack Diamond. Or worse, walk right in the middle of a performance by Pooey and Diamond. I LOVE the Citizens of Hollywood. I could sit and watch them all day long. I think a lot of people view it as wasting valuable time in the parks, but I see it as an opportunity to stop and enjoy the magic and creativity of Walt Disney World.
1. Magic Kingdom’s Carousel of Progress: This is almost cheating, because true Disney fans won’t go a trip without seeing Carousel of Progress. But the average Disney visitor will repeatedly walk right past the Carousel of Progress and never know they’re walking past a real Disney artifact. This past trip, I actually heard several people say “I wonder what’s in that building” while walking past the Carousel of Progress. One family followed us into the theater and remarked “Wow, I never knew they had this here.” True, it hasn’t really stood the test of time, but I think it’s a genuine look at how life has changed for us over the years. And it’s got a few laughs, a couple of cool effects and a snappy tune that your 5-year-old can sing at the top of his lungs the rest of the day. To me, it screams Walt Disney, and it’s an attraction that you won’t find on many touring plans, but it’s a definite can’t-miss in my book.