Everyone has their favorite and least favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. You will always find me hanging around Festival of the Lion King and The Haunted Mansion, just as you will rarely (if ever) find me anywhere near It’s Tough to Be a Bug (spiders? No thank you!). Throughout the Disney-lovers community, there also seems to be a general consensus about which attractions you should wait 3+ hours for and which ones you should avoid at all costs.
Although there are a few experiences I am not a big fan of, I do love the majority of the rides and shows offered, including a lot of the ones other people don’t. Here are eight seemingly* unpopular rides that I enjoy, and why I think everyone should experience them.
*Disclaimer: I am aware that not everyone dislikes these rides, and that some of them are beloved by many. These are just a few that I’ve noticed the general consensus has deemed “lame” and “not worth the time.”
Journey Into Imagination with Figment
One of my favorite rides at Walt Disney World, Journey into Imagination with Figment is an attraction that is seems to get swept to the side in favor of more exhilarating rides or rides with well-known characters like The Seas with Nemo and Friends. It breaks my heart to see people pass it up, because it really is one of the most fun attractions EPCOT has to offer. The ride takes you through the five senses, educating you in whimsical ways you wouldn’t expect, all while encouraging you to use your imagination. After you get off the ride, the experience continues in the Kodak “What If?” Labs, where you can create your own Figment character, play music using just your body, and other cool activities. It’s a great place to blow off some steam and get a break from the theme park craziness, and you will absolutely leave this attraction with a smile on your face!
The Country Bear Jamboree
The Country Bear Jamboree, located in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom, is often ignored in favor of the thrill rides located in that land—either that, or people aren’t a fan of the un-bear-ably (sorry, I had to) corny jokes and silly songs the show is made up of. I personally love it because I am a big fan of corny jokes and silly songs, but I know that’s not for everyone. Despite the goofy humor, it is a nice place to sit down in air conditioning and put your feet up out of the heat. It is a relatively short attraction, which is nice if you’re trying to find something quick to take up some time before a FastPass or reservation. It also hosts some very expressive Animatronics who are a lot of fun to watch throughout the show, even if you don’t listen to what is being sung. Pay special attention to the three heads mounted on the wall—Buff, Max, and Melvin—as they show exactly how they feel about the performances on their faces, from boredom to shock and everything in-between!
Flights of Wonder
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is well-known for hosting some excellent, professional live productions. Several of the shows here portray human actors as animals (*cough cough* Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical), but one of my favorite performances showcases animals being themselves! Flights of Wonder, located on the walkway between Africa and Asia, teaches about conservation with the help of birds of all shapes and sizes. With a relatively simple, humorous plot, the show follows the story of a tour guide who has a fear of birds, and how he learns to appreciate them and their beauty and importance.
It is a cute and informational show where you get to watch bald eagles and cranes and even chickens (to name just a few) perform tricks and show of their smarts while also learning how important it is to protect wildlife and their environment. The best part about this show is that because it involves animals, no two performances are ever the same. Sometimes the birds feel like doing their stunts, and sometimes they don’t, but the human characters play really well off of them just the same! The Disney Parks Blog just recently announced that Flights of Wonder will be closing on December 31 to make way for an all-new bird show featuring some of the characters from Up! If you still haven’t seen Flights of Wonder, I highly recommend getting over there before the end of the month if you have the chance!
Perhaps my favorite of the 3D shows at Walt Disney World, MuppetVision 3D is just as corny and silly as you remember the Muppets to be. Located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the short show takes you on a tour of Muppet Labs and provides you with musical numbers and lots of gags and jokes. One thing I think is so cool about this show is how it combines Audio Animatronics—and even a live character—with the movie. There are Muppets that pop up in the theatre throughout the show, making it a more immersive experience than some other ones found in the parks. There is hardly ever a long wait for this attraction, since it is tucked in a corner of the park away from the bigger thrill rides, and even waiting for the show isn’t unbearable, as the preshow video will keep you plenty entertained with good old-fashioned Muppets humor.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
One of the oldest attractions in Magic Kingdom, The Carousel of Progress is probably what most would consider the underdog of Tomorrowland, but it is absolutely worth seeing every time you have the chance to. You are taken along on the journey of a family experiencing the 1900s, starting at the turn of the century and ending in “the future;” although based on the outfits they’re wearing in the final scene, I would assume “the future” is sometime in the 1980s. It may be a bit outdated, but that is one of the things I think is so cool about it—the fact that Walt himself created the attraction and envisioned what he hoped the future would look like. It is easy to follow and involves some cute, silly characters with relatable storylines, making the show transcend the passage of time, even more than half a century after it was created. And a final bonus—it’s indoors! Hooray for AC!
Living with the Land
This slow-moving boat ride often gets passed by as soon as people get a glimpse of the sign for Soarin’. But Living with the Land is actually a really interesting attraction, especially if you’re a “foodie” like me. The attraction starts out very relaxed (who am I kidding? It stays relaxed the whole time) as it moves through several different climates and teaches you how living creatures survive there. It gets interesting when you begin to float through the greenhouses and see all of the plants used in many of the kitchens at EPCOT. It’s so fascinating seeing exactly how different types of foods grow, and learning how they are used at the restaurants throughout the park. Although this ride is more educational than “thrilling,” it’s a good way to rest your feet a bit and see some pretty amazing nature miracles, too.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
There are such a large number of blockbuster shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that Voyage of the Little Mermaid often gets overlooked on a day spent there. Tucked away in Animation Courtyard, this stage show boasts a variety of mediums: puppets, Animatronics, and live actors. It is perfect for all ages, as it is quite a sensory and colorful experience. Kids will love the neon-black light moments and 3D elements like bubbles, while adults will enjoy the quality of the live actors. As someone who loves theatre, I enjoy taking in all the elements of the production. Even the preshow area of this attraction is quite immersive, with artifacts from various sea-related movies and novels scattered all around to marvel at while you wait for your turn to see it.