Dumbo, teacups and Space Mountain. Check, check and check. You’ve already hit all of the standard-issue attractions and photo ops. Lucky for you, we’ve picked the brains of the Disney-obsessed to come up with the best the Mouse has to offer.
Royal Sommerhus in Norway Pavilion at Epcot
While the Magic Kingdom’s new Princess Fairytale Hall saves steps and planning by corralling the most popular princesses into one meet-and-greet venue, they can also be spotted throughout Disney’s four parks. Frozen‘s uber-popular princesses Anna and Elsa have already joined the lineup at Epcot’s Norway Pavilion.
We haven’t met a little girl yet who didn’t love being pampered like a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (at Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs). While a full-blown makeover can run $200, there’s no buyer’s remorse here.
“Smallville’s” Michael Rosenbaum at Disney World
If the boutique is booked up, you can swing by the Harmony Barber Shop in the Magic Kingdom for a free sprinkling of “pixie dust.” Here, Michael Rosenbaum, who plays the bald villain Lex Luthor on TV’s Smallville, jokes with barber Michal Marach at the Harmony Barber Shop at the Magic Kingdom.
Book a “royal room” at the Port Orleans Resort. The guestroom’s coolest perk is the fiber-optic “fireworks” built into the beds’ headboards. (Just be sure you’ve seen The Princess and the Frog, since that’s the resort’s main princess theme.)
Most folks know you can dine with princesses at the Royal Table inside Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. But there’s also the little-known My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea at the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room. It’s more intimate that some other princess events, and every girl gets her own 18-inch My Disney Girl doll (Disney’s version of the American Girl doll) with her take-home souvenirs. Book activities like character meals and cruises six months in advance.
Pirates League hits the high seas in the Magic Kingdom park
It turns out entire families can bond over face-painted beards and plundered booty at the Pirates League, hands down the best pirate experience at Disney World. (Apologies to all animatronic Caribbean pirates.) In about 45 minutes, you get your pirate name, face paint, eye patch, sword and sash, and a visit to a secret treasure room.
Reserve the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage, which sets sail from the Contemporary Resort. The pirate guide is over-the-top enough to keep sleepy little ones’ attention; the view of the Magic Kingdom’s Wishes fireworks makes it worthwhile for adults.
If Star Wars is your kid’s thing, then he just has to do Jedi Knight Training— a chance to don a Jedi cape and engage in a light-saber duel with Darth Vader on stage. (Best photo op ever!) While it doesn’t require extra money, it does require getting out of bed early to get him signed up at ABC Sound Studio.
Disney canceled Star Wars Weekends back in 2015 – much to the dismay of fans in a galaxy far far away – but this year it’s being replaced by Star Wars: Galactic Nights. This one-night-only event hits Disney’s Hollywood Studios on April 14, 2017, and takes place after the park closes (from 7 p.m. to midnight). It’s not cheap (starting $129 per adult) but guests will be treated to Star Wars character meet and greets, themed food and merchandise and other special entertainment and attractions.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: “Cars” Family Suite
The Cars-themed section at the Art of Animation Resort features suites styled to match Radiator Springs (cabinets that mimic toolboxes, traffic-cone lightshades) and giant Cozy Cone cabanas by the pool.