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When you visit Walt Disney World you indelibly make memories, whether it’s your first time in the parks or your 20th time. Your family will participate in Walt Disney World experiences that will stick and, sometimes, for no reason at all. It’s funny how that happens. Don’t be surprised if the first restaurant you eat at while on your first day in the parks ends up becoming the place your family HAS to go to for your first meal on every subsequent trip.
For us, that place is Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom because we ate there on our first trip to Disney World as a family. Then there may be a Walt Disney World experience that you do one time and you may never do it again, but you will be glad you at least tried it once. My husband and I have one of those experiences, too….
Be An Actor in Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
On our honeymoon, we were in Hollywood Studios and decided to enjoy this awesome stunt show that recreates a few scenes from the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. At the beginning of the show, the casting director asked for volunteers and asked the audience if there were any honeymooners. Not really thinking what I was getting us into, I raised my hand. She told us to come onto the stage. Now, I saw this show when I was younger and knew what was basically going to happen with the next scene. Jeremy, on the other hand, had never been to Walt Disney World and had no clue what I was volunteering us for. Poor guy!
So that we could get into character, the casting director told us to act scared. I made a scared face and what did Jeremy do? He ran behind me and slightly crouched down like he was hiding. We got a lot of laughs! Then, she told us to do it again and this time, Jeremy looked scared and I ran behind him to hide. More laughter! I was surprised at how much fun we were having, especially since neither one of us is an actor or even likes to get onstage or draw attention to ourselves. We followed someone to costuming and put on our costumes for the next part of our performance. We were to run with other volunteers to different places on stage and, of course, look frightened and scared.
After we finished our part of the show, we sat back down to enjoy watching the big stunts. Afterwards, someone took a picture of us in our costumes, and I’m so glad they offered to do that, since it’s one of my favorite pictures! The biggest compliment – When we were leaving, someone stopped us and told us they thought we were Disney actors and really part of the show!
Kidcot Stations in World Showcase in Epcot
The World Showcase section of Epcot features 11 countries you can ‘visit’. Each country has a Kidcot Station where anyone can have their passport book signed and stamped. Disney World sells Passport books that come with quite a few stickers from each country that you can place in the book. You can also bring a DIY passport book and it will work just as well. None of the stations can be found on the main walkway through World Showcase. Each one is hidden within the country. So, you will need to walk through the shops and pavilions to find each station. That’s part of the fun, though. My kids have always loved to do this activity.
Each station has one or two castmembers who are native to that country. They will sign the passport book in their language. They might also draw pictures or write something really cute pertaining to their country. For instance, the castmember in Japan wrote a message in Japanese and drew cute caricatures of Disney characters. In England, under ‘Time of Entry’, the castmember wrote ‘Tea Time’.
Another cool aspect is you get to talk with someone from the country you are in and hear their accent. Otherwise, if you don’t have any interaction with a castmember by eating in a restaurant or purchasing anything, you may walk through each country and never hear anyone’s accent. So, stopping by the Kidcot stations is a good way to do that.
Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
In World Showcase in Epcot, you can find secret messages and hidden clues throughout several countries. This scavenger hunt is based off of the TV show, Phineas and Ferb, and is set up so that up to 9 people can help to defeat the arch-nemesis Dr. Doofenshmirtz. The countries that offer missions are: China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and United Kingdom. This is a lot of fun for everyone in the family and allows you to see hidden scenes behind everyday Disney objects. For instance, there will be a window display that anyone can walk past and view, but when you are playing the mission and activate a device, the display will change and reveal a secret message or cool setup.
A few trips ago, we were tackling a Kim Possible mission in Norway. Disney switched to Phineas and Ferb in 2012. My son had activated a Viking horn sound and a flag that came out of the Viking ship. He was so excited and yelled out “Mom, I’m creating Disney magic!” When a group of people passing by noticed what was happening but didn’t know he had activated it, my son asked me if he should tell them he was the one causing those things to happen. I told him to let them think it’s just an everyday occurrence at Walt Disney World.
Listen to the Christmas Storytellers Around World Showcase
Between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, World Showcase hosts the Storytellers. Each country has a different traditional Christmas character that will give a 7-14 minute presentation about the Christmas legends their country celebrates. For instance, Norway’s storyteller is Sigrid, who tells about the mischievous Christmas gnome, Julenissen. In France, Pere Noel talks about the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child. In Italy, La Befana, a kind-hearted witch, talks about a Christmas from 2000 years ago. Disney World really knows how to get you in the Christmas spirit with the decorations and music alone, but these storytellers add a little something to the holiday mood.
Start A Pressed Coin Collection
Our family started a pressed coin collection on our last trip to Walt Disney World. We have been numerous times before but never really got into this until recently. Disney sells a really cool coin collection book with four different areas, and in our book, each area represents one of the four parks. The book sells for about $12.00. We plan on adding coins each year and looking for different pictures to press on the coins.
I try to be organized most of the time (sometimes, I just have to give up), so I added the month and year of our trip above each coin. We used to pass up these machines, but we had fun stopping at most of them and seeing which pictures we could choose from. It costs 51 cents for each pressed penny and $1.25 for each pressed quarter. This can be a more economical way to buy souvenirs of your trip.
Egg-stravaganza Scavenger Hunt
The Egg-stravaganza Scavenger Hunt in World Showcase in Epcot was so much fun! We all loved looking for the Disney character themed eggs throughout each country. This Easter egg hunt runs anywhere from a few weeks to a few months in March, April, and May. It takes place during the International Flower and Garden Festival. Last year, it ran for 3 months. It looks like this year it lasted only 2 weeks. If you are in the parks during this egg hunt, I highly recommend participating. The eggs could be anywhere – in one of the shops, outside in the grass, or somewhere way up high! The maps and stickers are sold for $5.99, plus tax, and can be purchased at Pin Central in Future World, Disney Traders at the entrance to World Showcase, or World Traveler at International Gateway.
When you find an egg, you attach the sticker that corresponds to that country. When you have completed the map, you turn it in at Disney Traders at the entrance to World Showcase for a surprise. Just a warning.. you only receive one prize per map. So, if you have more than one child and they each want a prize, you will need to purchase more than one map. Speaking of the Flower and Garden Festival…..
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
March through May is a wonderful time of year to visit Walt Disney World! You do not want to miss the flowers and topiaries that are dispersed throughout Epcot. I cannot imagine the time it takes to put everything together, but it makes for a beautiful park. Especially fun are the topiaries in World Showcase that represent characters from each country. When we were vacationing during this festival, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs represented Germany, Beauty and the Beast were found in France, and Peter Pan was flying along the rooftops in the United Kingdom.
Stay Late in Magic Kingdom for Empty Park Pictures
One thing our family loves to do is stay late until Magic Kingdom closes and take pictures of Cinderella Castle and an empty park. It is an awesome feeling walking down Main Street, USA and having the place to yourself. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and your family could be the only ones as far down as you can see. After a full day of weaving through crowds and standing in line, it’s nice to have such an open space to walk in and take pictures.
The way we accomplish this is reserving a later dinner reservation, usually at Cinderellas’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest Restaurant. This does work best when the parks aren’t opened until midnight. When we are through with our meal, we will slowly walk towards the front of the park. The shops on Main Street, USA are open 1 hour after Magic Kingdom closes, so you could also shop while more people leave. Considering that other guests start leaving after the fireworks show, we never have to wait long for Main Street to clear out.
Have Silhouettes Made
One of the best souvenirs Disney has to offer doesn’t involve a mouse or have the name Disney on it all! You can have silhouettes made for a very reasonable price and it is a very personalized souvenir. Each silhouette is $12 and includes one copy. You can also purchase an oval frame for $9, but Walmart has them for $5.87 right now. The silhouette artists are very good! I don’t know how they do it but they always get a great representation of my kids.
There are four silhouette stands throughout Walt Disney World. The first one is in Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom, across from the Hall of Presidents. This is the one we usually use, since having a silhouette made goes along with the period of time Liberty Square is based on. It just feels like we are participating a little more in that ‘land’. You know, have lunch in the George Washington room at Liberty Tree Tavern and then have a silhouette made. They go hand in hand, right? Directly next to the silhouette stand is a caricature stand, which has nothing to do with America in the 1700’s.
If there is a long line in Liberty Square, you can always have a silhouette cut out on Main Street. There is a small side street off of Main Street, USA that offers these inexpensive souvenirs, as well. As you are walking towards Cinderella Castle, the street will be on your right. We did use this cart on our last trip just to switch things up a little bit. There is also a silhouette cart located in Disney Springs and another in France in World Showcase.
Take A Picture In the Same Place Each Trip
It is fun to recreate the same picture with each trip your family takes. It might be outside of your favorite ride, in a restaurant, or just a pretty spot in a shaded area. For us, our spot is actually in my least favorite park. Not that I dislike Animal Kingdom at all, I just prefer the other three parks if I had to choose. While on our honeymoon, my husband took a picture of me by the David Greybeard chimpanzee carving at the base of the Tree of Life. I don’t remember why we stopped here for a picture instead of going on to ‘It’s A Bug Life’. But we stop here every time now, just the kids and me, while Jeremy takes a picture.
More than likely, your picture spot will not be preplanned. It could be a random picture that turns out really good. Or, maybe when looking back at vacation pictures you realize what a pretty spot it is. Either way, it is neat to have a set picture of your kids to see their growth and changes. I treasure these pictures!
Take a Picture of Your Feet in the Lady and the Tramp Heart
The last experience goes along with taking the same picture throughout the years in the same place. But this is a fixed location that is in a very specific place. The Lady and the Tramp heart is outside of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. It is another location we took a picture at on our honeymoon. So, every trip we put our toes inside the heart and take a picture. The bigger our family gets, the more shoes we have inside the heart!
There are countless memories your family can make at Walt Disney World. I absolutely love the rides and the restaurants. But the small things our family does while at the parks are what bring us back time and time again. I would love to hear about your family’s traditions and must do experiences. Maybe there is something my family should try. Leave a comment and let me know what new traditions we should add to our itinerary!