Is a visit to Walt Disney World in your future? Lucky you! Before you head off to enjoy 'the happiest place on Earth', there are a few must-see Disney movies (along with some non-Disney movies) that will help to enhance your visit.
Here's our top recommendations on what movies fit with the various rides & attractions in all four parks:
This tops my list for a few reasons - the Buzz Lightyear Space Spin ride at the Magic Kingdom and the (very popular) Toy Story Mania ride at Hollywood Studios. Both are worth riding, especially for families as they offer an opportunity for families to compete to see who can score the most points.
Another great movie to see as it covers a few attractions at WDW. The first is The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT. Climb on the 'clamobile' for a fun adventure with all the characters from Nemo; and at the end of the ride, explore a great under sea area with live animals and some of the characters from the movie. Younger kids will love 'Turtle Talk with Crush', located in the same area.
You'll also want to catch the 'Finding Nemo - the Musical' at Animal Kingdom. When we visited, half of our party hadn't seen the movie prior to this AMAZING show. We found ourselves explaining a few things but we all enjoyed the show (in fact, we felt it was one of the best shows at the Disney parks!)
Yes, you could ride Peter Pan's Flight at Magic Kingdom without seeing the movie, but flying over London and on to Neverland is so much more fun when you have seen the film! And of course, there's all the Tinkerbell experiences at Disney that also tie into this film (I know Tinkerbell has her own movies, but it's always great to see where characters started their journey).
Swiss Family Robinson
One of the old classic films from Disney is still appealing to our kids today. What would you do if shipwrecked on a desert island? Visiting the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse in the Magic Kingdom is so much more fun once you've seen the movie!
In addition to the amazing theming at the Animal Kingdom related to the movie, you should also see the Lion King if you plan to watch the parade or see the Festival of the Lion King - both at Animal Kingdom. There are areas of Animal Kingdom that reference the characters in the movie too, such as Rafiki's Planet Watch.
At EPCOT, you can experience the 'Circle of Life' - an environmental film for families that includes live action & animation (and of course features some of the main characters from the Lion King).
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast is also a film that transcends a few of the parks. First, the Beaty and the Beast show at Hollywood Studios is a live action show based on the movie. Kids who know the songs love the sing along to this musical performance.
And coming in late 2012, the newest part of Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom will include Belle's cottage, the Be Our Guest Restuarant, and Enchanted Tales with Belle.
If you enter Hollywood Studios, your first question might be "What's that big blue hat?" - but if you've seen Fantasia, you'll know! Mickey's sorcerer's hat is one of the most famous symbols in the parks (but sadly, some folks have never seen the movie that made it so famous). The movie itself is also part of the exciting nighttime show 'Fantasmic', which is shown at Hollywood Studios on certain nights.
You'll also see the hat and the magic in the Magic Kingdom at Mickey's PhilharMagic, a 3D show where Donald borrows Mickey's hat and gets himself into some trouble!
Not as good as the book, but entertaining for kids, is Tom & Huck. The movie is based on the stories of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn - both by author Mark Twain. And if your kids plan to search the caves and look for paint brushes on Tom Sawyer Island at the Magic Kingdom, knowing the story makes it more fun to explore!
The Little Mermaid
A favorite princess, Ariel can also be found in more than one park. At Hollywood Studios, families can experience a very fun show at Voyage of the Little Mermaid - great effects and puppets integrate with live action!
And coming soon to the new Fantasyland expansion in the Magic Kingdom will also feature an amazing Little Mermaid ride as they continue to add on to that area of the park.
Ah, those lovable monsters in your closet! If you love humor (and most kids do!), than stop by the Monster's Inc. Laugh Show at the Magic Kingdom. My kids thought it was amazing that they could ask questions to the monsters and have them answer! And you can also text in jokes to see if yours gets told to the audience. The monsters also show up in the parade at Hollywood Studios.
Lilo & Stitch
Stitch shows up in the weirdest places at WDW - like crawling out of the cement in one of your photos as you enter Hollywood Studios. Kids may also want to become part of the Galactic Federation as they ride Stitch's Great Escape at the Magic Kingdom.
Little Einsteins & Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Also at Hollywood Studios, young kids will enjoy the Disney Jr. live-action stage show that features Jake & the Neverland Pirates, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny. Parents may want to watch a episode or two so you can sing along with the catch music during the show :)
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
If you're trying to get the kids to burn off some energy, you can stop at the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure at Hollywood Studios (which is really a HUGE playground based on the movie). If you see the movie, you'll realize that as you navigate the various elements of the playground, you are suppose to feel like a kid the size of an ant - very cute details here!
A Bug's Life
Anyone will enjoy the 4D 'It's Tough to be a Bug' at the Animal Kingdom (Disney says 3D but trust me, there's a fourth dimension to the show!) The show is hosted by Flik who brings along many of his friends. The bugs also show up in the parade at Hollywood Studios.
Song of the South
If you want the kids to find their 'laughing place' when they ride Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom, make sure to find this old movie at your local library or video store. It really adds a lot to the ride - you'll understand the antics of Brer Rabbit so much more!
At the Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios, one of the few scenes that young kids will recognize comes from Mary Poppins. This is also one of the most popular Disney musicals, so you'll hear songs from the show and see the word 'supercalifragilistic' referenced throughout the parks.
The Wizard of Oz
The other popular scenes seen at the Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios are from The Wizard of Oz (no, not a Disney film).
Bonus: Lady & the Tramp
If you're having lunch at Tony's Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, you'll get 'extra points' if you can answer the questions from the waiter (all from this movie). You'll also enjoy some of the connections you'll see during your visit if you seen the movie.
For Older Kids:
Not a Disney film, but a great combination of movie & ride - seeing Star Wars will help you as you ride Star Tours at Hollywood Studios. You may also get a chance to bat lightsabers with Darth Vader as you tour the park. And younger kids can attend the Jedi Training Academy at Hollywood Studios too!
Pirates of the Caribbean
Now that Captain Jack Sparrow has been added to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at the Magic Kingdom, if you haven't seen the movie before your visit, you'll probably want to on your return. Captain Jack also hosts his own pirate tutorial for kids in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland.
The Twilight Zone
Thinking of riding the Hollywood Studios' Twilight Zone Tower of Terror? If you have brave kids who love the supernatural, you may want to introduce them to one of the original Twilight Zone episodes before the trip.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
There are a few attractions at Hollywood Studios that relate to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The first is the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular! (popular with tweens and teens). You'll also see Raiders as you travel through the Great Movie Ride too!
And for a great experience on the Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios, I would also recommend seeing the following two movies as older kids will enjoy the ride more if they are familiar with some of the scenes from these two classic films.
Singin' in the Rain
Enjoy the Movies!! ~ Jacquie
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