The Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida is world-famous for a reason. Its attractions are world class, and many of the classic rides are famous enough to be household names. Nowadays, press attention has made any potential visitor well aware of impressive new attractions like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Avatar Flight of Passage. However, there are many rides, shows, and experiences that a typical guest might overlook. Many of these overlooked and underrated attractions consequently have far lower wait times and can offer a better overall experience than riding an “amazing” popular attraction after waiting 2 hours for it. This article will showcase the best attractions in each of the 4 Disney theme parks which deserves far more attention than they currently get.
Starting off with the most popular theme park in the world, the Magic Kingdom has multiple lesser-known attractions that are still awesome experiences. The most underrated has to be the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. The Magic Kingdom is currently the only Disney Park in the world with a Peoplemover, much to the chagrin of Disneyland fans (theirs broke). It’s a classic ride which Walt Disney himself wanted to make a much bigger use of in his parks and in his planned experimental city, the idea of which eventually was transformed into EPCOT park. It’s a slow 12-minute journey of Tomorrowland and offers great views of the park. It even travels straight through Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, offering riders a chance to preview potential attractions. The seats are very comfortable, and it’s an overall amazing way to take a break from the crowds. It usually has just a 10-minute wait!
A second grouping of underrated attractions in Magic Kingdom are its shows. The Hall of Presidents, Carousel of Progress, Country Bear Jamboree, and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room are all excellent shows which never have a wait. All of them have a classic “Walt Disney touch” to them since he worked with most of them personally. The Tiki Room and Country Bears shows last only 15 minutes, so they’re always easy to pop in to see while waiting for the parade. The others last just a bit longer but are still well worth it. These attractions are great choices to experience in the middle of the day since the park will often get very crowded by the afternoon. While others wait in lines for an hour for every ride, you can quickly move from show to show with no wait. Plus, you’ll be in the sweet, sweet air conditioning to avoid the Florida heat. Making plans to avoid the heat is crucial during the summer!
Lastly, a sort of “hidden gem” in the Magic Kingdom is Main Street, USA. While other guests power straight through the land to get to the rides, take a minute to look around and experience the atmosphere. The Dapper Dan barber shop quartet is well worth a listen. You can also meet multiple citizens of Main Street like the mayor or fire chief. There is even live glass blowing in one of the shops! Be sure to take at least a few minutes to explore everything there is to offer in all of the lands of Magic Kingdom, but especially the often-overlooked Main Street.
The single most-underrated attraction across all the Walt Disney World Resort is Living with the Land. This slow boat journey combines a classic dark-ride experience of physical sets and animatronics with an educational tour of EPCOT’s greenhouses. It’s truly neat to see where Disney grows some of the food it serves in restaurants, in addition to the creative techniques they use to increase yields. This attraction never has a wait time, making it easy to experience before or after Soarin’ Around the World.
Another great underrates experience in the park is located on the way to Test Track and Guardian’s of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind called Club Cool. It’s a shop where you can try free samples from sodas from around the world! The most unique current offering is probably China’s Sour Plum flavored drink (which tastes like barbecue sauce to me!), though Beverly from Italy is the best. It’s so good, in fact, that it used to be a popular challenge to down 10 shots of it!
Lastly, it needs to be explained that the World Showcase itself is often overlooked. Most visitors will walk around the loop of countries, but few people truly enter all the way into the countries to explore what they have to offer. There are tons of intricate details within each country waiting to be seen! This is particularly true of Morocco, Japan, China, and Canada. China and Canada both have 360-movie-shows that showcase the sights and culture of their respective lands. Japan has a massive store with all sorts of interesting things, plus a beautiful bonsai garden. Every country also has plenty of authentic food and drink options. Whether its Japanese Sake or Italy’s Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, certain guests should absolutely partake in the special dining options. When you’re visiting the World Showcase, be sure to take at least 10 minutes in each country to walk all the way through the pavilion to explore everything it has to offer!
The conversation around attractions as Hollywood Studios is now dominated by its new offerings like Star Wars. However, its classic attractions are criminally underrated. To start, as our true underrated and often unnoticed attraction of the park, Muppet-Vision 3D is a great show. It’s zany and funny and full of classic Muppets shenanigans. There are also all sorts of hidden details in the queue, with references and puns to films, actors, and more. As you enter the queue, you’ll see a sign that notes “the key is under the mat.” Lift up the mat to check!
Some of Hollywood Studios’ live shows are sometimes overlooked as well. The Frozen Sing-Along show, for example, is hilarious (despite me not liking Frozen or sing-alongs) due to its live comedian narrators. It’s different every time because of its live production nature. If you enjoy live entertainment, be sure to check out each and every show Hollywood Studios has!
Though it’s still popular, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror simply deserves more attention than it gets, so I think it is underrated. The theming for the queue and the ride is simply unmatched by any other attraction in the world. The buildup for the ride is suspenseful and dramatic which makes you truly feel like you’re a part of a Twilight Zone episode. Even if younger visitors don’t know what the show is, they can still feel the eeriness of the tower. Though Star Wars and Toy Story Land are new and shiny, they don’t quite have the classic full-immersion theming that Tower of Terror offers.
To round out our last of the Disney World parks, it’s surprising that one of the most underrated things at Animal Kingdom is the animals! Though the park is not a zoo, it has plenty of zoological elements and animal enclosures that are well-worth visiting. These exhibits are primarily located on two short trails: the Gorilla Falls exploration trail near Kilimanjaro Safaris in Africa, and the Maharajah Jungle Trek behind Kali River Rapids in Asia. Both have animals one after the other on relatively short paths, each with their own highlight. Gorilla Falls’ is, as its name suggests, Gorillas, while Maharajah Jungle Trek’s is tigers. Both feature aviaries that offer great chances to relax on a bench to take in the sights.
Another location to catch some animals is around the base of the Tree of Life, which is well-hidden and often completely overlooked. Kangaroos, otters, fish, and tortoises are all located on different trails around the base of the tree. The Tree of Life itself is highly underrated, as it features hand-carvings of 1000’s of animals. These intricate carvings are amazing and should be appreciated up close. There is one main path around the back of the tree, and another around the front, so be sure to see both!
Finally, to speak more on the rides of Animal Kingdom, I’d consider Dinosaur to be underrated. Though most visitors still ride, it’s not nearly as popular as it should be. It’s an awesome ride that takes you back in time to encounter scary animatronic Dinos that are very impressive. I remember riding the attraction as a kid and being completely terrified! The effects on the ride have been no operating at their full potential recently, however, which can lead to a far less impressive experience. For example, the second Carnotaurus should be moving forward, running and chasing after you. When everything is operating properly, it’s an awesome attraction. The fossils inside the queue are all either authentic bones or casts of real finds. The T-Rex outside the building is one of 3 casts ever made of Dino Sue, the most complete T-Rex fossil ever found.