Whether you are visiting Disney parks for the first time or the 100th, there always seems to be something new to do. A Walt Disney World vacation is full of many firsts, from the moment you walk in the gates and hear the music funneling through walkways to the first time you feel your body being propelled through the galaxy on Space Mountain; there is nothing like experiencing Disney for the very first time.
Among the many firsts at Disney, there are a few that stand out as being extra special moments. Here are my top ten best ‘firsts’ of Walt Disney World:
The First Time You Walk Through The Magic Kingdom Gates
The gates of Magic Kingdom are first on my list. That moment when you pass through, greeted by a friendly cast member and welcomed into the place where dreams come true. The heart of this fantasyland is hidden behind a perfectly structured railway, forcing you to pass through the arches into another world that opens up ahead. That first moment is one of the best first experiences and sets the scene for the enchantment of Disney that lies ahead in your adventure.
The First Time You See a Disney Parade
You’ve likely seen a parade or two in your time, but they will not compare to a Disney parade. Intricate floats make their way down Main Street, U.S.A., with dancers and music, perfectly in sync with each theme. For a minute at a time, performers of the highest caliber draw you into the world of their characters, enticing you with color and bedazzlement.
The First Hug With Mickey Mouse
When you see other characters at events or theme parks, they all make you feel somewhat disappointed. It’s almost as though whatever you had built them up to be in your mind, as a child or an adult, never quite pans out. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, for that matter, are entirely different experiences. Partly because they are always set up in a particular spot, perfectly positioned where the music and the scenery can play a part in the meet & greet atmosphere, but also in large part to how they move. The cast members within come across as comfortable and natural, giving you more than just an awkward shuffle of someone struggling to keep a costume on straight. Mickey and Minnie wave and move so you can easily suspend your disbelief and feel invited into their world for a cuddle and a photo.
Your First View of the Castle
If you close your eyes and picture a Disney theme Park, your mind most likely includes a sample image of a grand castle, like Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom or Sleeping Beauty castle in Disneyland. The Castle is a Disney parks staple, and the experience can be much more emotional than you first expect. As you move down Main Street, U.S.A., the music shifts away from a Dapper Dan level of enthusiasm to a whimsical softer tone. The Castle stands before you, perfectly crafted to feel much larger in person than it measures, shimmering in the sunlight as the intricate details that can’t be seen in photos suddenly become so obvious. That’s a first that announces, ‘you’ve arrived!’
Your First Ride in Fantasyland
Fantasyland is dense with classic Disney storytelling and imagination as you zip from one character world to the next. Your first ride on an attraction in this area is literally what dream vacation brochures are made from, and it feels just as unique while you are on it.
The First Taste of Dole Whip
Whether you love or hate it, Dole Whip has become synonymous with Disney theme parks in the U.S.A., and the Dole Plantation in O’ahu, Hawai’i, making it a must-try for new guests. This pineapple goodness is sure to be a treat that is different from any other soft serve you’ve had before.
Your First Set of Ears
Hats, headbands, or clip-ins, there are so many ways to express yourself when it comes to showing off your personality with some Mickey or Minnie ears. There is a style for every occasion, with many inspired by different characters in the Disney realm. The hard part is only picking one, or if you are like me, one new set for every visit. That first photo with family and friends, all wearing your chosen accessories, is one of the memorable moments you won’t forget.
The First Visit to Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Park
While there are several Disney parks to choose from outside of the more traditionally designed Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, EPCOT has one particular experience that sets it apart from the rest; World Showcase. This area of the park is an experience unto itself, allowing guests to live, breathe, and taste a little piece of eleven different countries. For many, this might be their only experience with these locations, which makes hearing the accents and being introduced to the culture even more special.
Your First Night in a Disney Resort
A Disney Resort is a special place to stay because it allows you to keep that feeling of being enveloped in the magic of the Disney world throughout your stay. The first moment when you walk in and the welcome screen on the TV plays your favorite classic tunes while images of the parks roll over is nothing short of heartwarming. I spent many years visiting Disney before we were able to stay at one of the Disney Resorts, and I will never forget it was a whole different experience, even after many of my traditional “firsts” were behind me.
The First Time You See The Fireworks Exploding Over The Castle
This one is the ultimate first, and it’s one that can give you that tingling feeling every trip you go back as well. When that first boom echoes through the air, you can feel it in your chest, and you wait for the crackling burst of color to erupt over the Castle. The first time you see it, in a year, in a decade, in a lifetime, it feels electric. There is no better way to describe it.
What are your favorite Disney firsts?
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.