Our first trip to Walt Disney World was very well-researched and guided by people who had been avid goers before us. That said we knew we were experiencing the best of the best. As a result, everything on this list is here because it survived some extremely high expectations. You can peruse this list knowing that if the attraction, restaurant, or resort is on this list it’s our top recommendation for your Best Disney Vacation ever. So when you’re up against making your dining reservations or choosing which rides deserve your time, you’ll know you have chosen wisely.
If you’re taking your First Disney Vacation or haven’t visited Walt Disney World in a while, then this list of the best things at each Walt Disney World park is for you. With more rides, restaurants, and shows you can possibly fit into any vacation. We’ll share our favorite rides in each park and potential places to eat. Know that many quick-service restaurants offer Mobile Order, which you can access from your My Disney Experience App. Table Service restaurants typically require reservations. Also know that each Disney park highlights Disney Characters, not only at character Dining and in meet and greets but also featuring characters on parade, so be on the lookout for those throughout your stay! Consider this your Disney Vacation priority list.
Walt Disney World Parks
Walt Disney World is made up of 4 Theme Parks, 2 Water Parks, a Shopping Center, the Disney BoardWalk, over 200 restaurants, and over 25 resorts. Walt Disney World is not a single place you can just go and park your car. As such, it pays, literally to get a lay of the entire Walt Disney World Resort so you know how to get from place to place. And where you most want to go. This post offers a snapshot of what you can find in each park. Be sure to click through the links in each section to learn more about each park.
- Theme Parks
- Water Parks
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Blizzard Beach
- Special Areas– No Park Ticket Required
- Disney Resorts: Disney Resort Categories and Prices
- Disney Restaurants: Disney Restaurant Reviews
Disney Vacation Planning
Just a couple of things to know before you go to Walt Disney World. For details on everything check out the Walt Disney World 2024 Planning Guide.
- Download the My Disney Experience App for all your tickets, resort info, reservations, schedules, maps, and more.
- Review the Disney World Planning Timeline for details on how to plan for your Disney Trip.
- Disney Dining Reservations are able to be made 60 days before your vacation.
- For convenience, grab a Disney MagicBand for everyone in your travel party, to make scanning in at the parks, and opening your resort door easier.
- Brush up on the Disney World Transportation options so you know how to get around the multiple parks at Walt Disney World.
- Choose your Disney Resort wisely, to make sure you are close to the parks you hope to visit most.
- The Disney World Meal Plan is available if you’d like to pre-pay for your food.
- Review the info on the Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane options so you can budget for skipping the line.
- Learn about Virtual Queue at Walt Disney World as it is a requirement for select rides.
- Check out the EPCOT Festivals and Parties for anything happening during your trip.
What’s the Most Popular Disney World Park?
While Walt Disney World crowds vary throughout the year depending on what time of year you visit Walt Disney World, the most popular park at Disney World is Magic Kingdom. Home to Cinderella’s Castle, the Magic Kingdom is Disney World’s smallest park. Oddly, it’s also the Disney World Park with the most rides. While some would also consider Magic Kingdom the Best Disney World Park, that’s simply a matter of preference.
Best Magic Kingdom Attractions and Restaurants
Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s most popular park, and also its smallest. This makes having a plan an important part of your Magic Kingdom Day if you hope to avoid the crowds and enjoy the rides. While there is so much to do in this park, know that some things can be skipped if you’re pressed for time, or trying to prioritize attractions. Here’s a list of things you should include in your day at Magic Kingdom Park.
Best Magic Kingdom Rides
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride
- Peter Pans Flight
- Haunted Mansion
- Jungle Cruise
- It’s a Small World
The Happily Ever After Fireworks Show is a must-see nighttime spectacular, not to be missed.
While these are popular and well worth the wait, other favorite rides at Magic Kingdom are the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Tomorrowland PeopleMover, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid, and Big Thunder Mountain. Check out everything to do in the Magic Kingdom Checklist.
Best Magic Kingdom Restaurants
- Be Our Guest for the atmosphere. But the food is pricey and the menu is limited.
- Crystal Palace is a great family buffet restaurant and offers character dining with Winnie the Pooh and Friends.
- Liberty Tree Tavern offers up a family-style Thanksgiving dinner on a budget and is delicious.
- Sleepy Hollow is a quick-service walk-up counter offering quick bites, like chicken-filled waffles.
- Aloha Isle in Adventureland serves Dole Whip and is considered one of the Best Snacks in Walt Disney World
- Best Magic Kingdom Quick Service Restaurants
Magic Kingdom is filled with places to grab a bite. From snack kiosks to quick-service restaurants, and signature dining experiences like Cinderella’s Royal Table. But, not all places are necessarily worth your Disney dollar or make sense for your family. Skipper Canteen Restaurant, for instance, is fantastic for more exotic palates. And Columbia Harbour House is a great place to grab lunch if your family likes seafood. Check out the Top 10 Things to Do in Magic Kingdom.
Best Animal Kingdom Attractions and Restaurants
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s largest park and includes almost 500 acres of land, much of which houses wildlife. Filled with separate areas, like Africa, and Asia, Animal Kingdom also includes Pandora World of Avatar. This park features trails throughout certain hours that allow animal viewing, so be sure to allow enough time here for browsing. Animal Kingdom typically closes earlier, about 5 or 6 p.m. in the low seasons, so be sure to check park hours before you make plans. Check out everything you can do on your Animal Kingdom Day.
Best Animal Kingdom Rides
- Expedition Everest
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Kali River Rapids
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Festival of the Lion King Show
There are not a ton of rides in Animal Kingdom, but these are the few things you absolutely must do. If you have the time and want to add more fun to your day, check out Na’vi River Journey, and the Maharaja Jungle Trek. And be sure to check out the Animal Kingdom Checklist, for anything else you don’t want to miss.
Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants
- Tusker House in Animal Kingdom’s character dining experience offers an African buffet.
- Satu’li Canteen is located in Pandora and has to make your own bowls on the menu.
- Harambe Market offers a variety of Kid-Friendly drinks like the Frozen Flamingo.
- Kusafiri Bakery for the Colossal Cinnamon Roll
- Best Animal Kingdom Quick Service Restaurants
Other dining options in Animal Kingdom include both quick and table service at Yak and Yeti, which typically includes grilled meats, rice, kabobs, and couscous. And Mr. Kamal’s cart typically offers a variety of to-go foods that make a quick lunch. Check out the Top 10 Things to do in Animal Kingdom.
Best Hollywood Studios Attractions and Restaurants
Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios is home to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land, and old-school attractions from the early days of the park. As a smaller park, Hollywood Studios feels like it fills up fast. Thankfully, there are several areas throughout the park to escape to when Disney gets crowded. Depending on your aim for your day at Hollywood Studios, you can get the best rides done before dinner. However, if you’re a Star Wars or Toy Story fan plan at least one full day at Hollywood Studios. Here are all the fun things to add to your Hollywood Studios Day.
Best Hollywood Studios Rides
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Rise of the Resistance
- Toy Story Mania
- Star Tours
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Fantasmic Nighttime Show
We also love Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular if you’re in the mood for a show. And the Mickey Shorts Theater and MuppetVision in 3D are great options if you’re looking to get out of the heat or rain. Another favorite attraction in this park, for thrill-seekers, is the free-falling elevator drop on the Hollywood Tower of Terror ride. Be sure to check out the Hollywood Studios Checklist for all the things to do in this park.
Best Hollywood Studios Restaurants
- 50’s Prime Time Cafe for immersive dining and home cooking.
- ABC Commissary for a decent budget-friendly meal.
- Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater for the milkshakes.
- Baseline Tap House for the Pretzel and Cheese dip.
- Best Hollywood Studios Quick Service Restaurants
Although one of our favorite places to eat is the Starbucks at Hollywood Studios, because we always need coffee, there are plenty of restaurants here. PizzeRizzo’s, Mama Melrose, and a variety of quick-service restaurants are all options. One thing to remember about Hollywood Studios is that it’s just a short walk to the Disney Boardwalk, which offers a variety of restaurants to try. Check out the Top 10 Things to do in Hollywood Studios.
Best EPCOT Attractions and Restaurants
Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Park opened in 1982 and was designed to be the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow ( EPCOT). It has seen loads of changes, and is undergoing even more today! Home to four neighborhoods, EPCOT park is divided by themes; World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature, and World Showcase. Here’s everything you can do at EPCOT Park.
Best EPCOT Rides
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Frozen Ever After
- Spaceship Earth
- Gran Fiesta Tour featuring the Three Caballeros
- Living with the Land
- Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind Rollercoaster
- Nighttime Spectacular
EPCOT is filled with attractions for everyone. Mission Space, Test Track, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends are attractions to fill your day, along with a variety of 360 film experiences. One of the best things about EPCOT is the impromptu performances that take place in each park. From the acrobats in China to the street performance in France, and live music in Canada. Check out the EPCOT Checklist for everything to do in the park.
Best EPCOT Restaurants
- Via Napoli Ristorante & Pizzeria for a fancy dinner or pizza.
- La Cantina de San Angel for quick-serve Mexican lunch.
- Les Halles Boulangerie de Patisserie for breakfast.
- Fife and Drum Kiosk for The American Dream
- Regal Eagle Smokehouse BBQ for lunch, or a quick dinner.
- Best EPCOT Quick Service Restaurants
This park is filled with culinary options, and even more during the Annual Festivals at EPCOT. Restaurants like Nine Dragons in China, Chefs de France in France, and Rose and Crown Pub are favorites of many. These restaurants all require a reservation, which can be done from the My Disney Experience App. EPCOT also has a variety of quick-service dining, for easy snacks and meals throughout the day. Check out the Top 10 Things to Do in EPCOT.
The Best Things to Do at Walt Disney World
All of Walt Disney World’s parks have a variety of amazing things to do, see and eat. Be sure to check out our Disney Checklists for Each Park. This list is a good start if this is your first Disney Vacation, or you haven’t visited in a couple of years. So much has changed! We’ll be sure to add new favorites to this post as they arrive at Walt Disney World.