For this edition of WDWNTips, we thought it would be fun to think of all our favorite Disney World activities and pick out our absolute must-dos. From WDWNT, here are our favorite traditions around Walt Disney World.
Illuminations On the First Night:
It does depend on your travel plans, but you often only have half a day to spend at the parks on your first day of arrival. The question then becomes how to spend that first evening after so much waiting and anticipation. Many of our WDWNT staffers suggest planning your first night at Epcot, making especially sure to catch the Illuminations evening fireworks spectacular. There really is no better way to start off your Disney trip than with this iconic fireworks show! Be particularly sure to catch the 12 minute show while you still can after the recent announcement that Disney is working to replace Illuminations by the latter half of 2019.
Another tradition we love to do is ride the full loop of the Disney World monorail. With 3 separate lines, a trip along the full loop will certainly give you a great view of much that Disney World has to offer. WDWNT recommends you take your trip at times when the weather is either wet or hot, or when tired legs could use a much needed rest. This isn’t an experience you’ll find at any other theme park across the world!
Flag Retreat Ceremony:
Gather around the Town Square flag on Main Street U.S.A. to participate in the evening flag retreat. This special ceremony is a wonderful way to stop and pay tribute to our nation’s soldiers and the principles upon which our country was founded. As part of the 15 minute show, guests will watch the flag be lowered as the Pledge of Allegiance and the “Star Spangled Banner” are performed. The crowd then participates in singing the chorus of “God Bless America” before a short procession is led down Main Street. It’s a great reminder of all the things we can love about our great nation. The flag retreat is often scheduled around 5:15 pm, but be sure to check the calendar for your specific travel dates since ceremony times can/do change.
Harmony Barber Shop:
From the flag retreat, take a quick hop over to the Harmony Barber Shop for WDWNTs next recommended tradition at Disney World. This little shop, just to the left of the Main Street Emporium, is a fantastically fun way to get a haircut as if from America’s Golden Era. The Harmony Barber Shop is open from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, but you will need to reserve a time to get a cut. Barbers are fully licensed cosmetologists, but only cuts, trims, and stylings are provided (Mom’s perm and your highlights will have to wait until you’re back home). Prices include $19 for adults, $18 for children, or $25 for the “My First Haircut” package. It’s such a simple way to feel a little pampered on an already special vacation.
Dole Whip & Tiki Room:
For many guests, a trip to Disney World without a refreshingly creamy Dole Whip is simply not complete, and we at WDWNT couldn’t agree more! For many of us, a favorite tradition is to savor one of these seriously satisfying frosty treats just after the morning rush at Magic Kingdom. Once you’ve had a chance to get in some quick rides and you’re waiting for your first FastPass, head over to Aloha Isle in Adventureland and then go catch a show with those crazy singing birds at the Enchanted Tiki Room.
Pic with the Mick:
Though nothing new, one of our favorite traditions at WDWNT is to catch a classic photo with Mr. Mickey Mouse himself. Photo ops with characters may not be your thing, but if for no other reason beside a good laugh and smile, we suggest you get at least one picture with a character with every trip to the parks. Mickey can be spotted at various times and locations throughout Disney World but one place you can always count on finding him is at the Town Square Theater from 9:00 am to 9:30 pm daily. Wait times are almost non-existent if you head directly there upon park opening, although FastPasses are also offered for times throughout the day.
Last Night at Liberty Tree Tavern:
Another must-do tradition for many WDWNT staffers is to enjoy a final evening of our trip having a savory Thanksgiving feast at the Liberty Tree Tavern. Located in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square, the New-England style Tavern offers both a somewhat historically immersive and delicious experience alike. Make reservations ahead of schedule for your last night at Disney World and be prepared to enjoy the super tasty Patriot’s Platter, complete with Roasted Turkey Breast, Pot Roast, Oven-roasted Pork, Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, Herb Stuffing, and House-made Macaroni and Cheese. PHEW! Oh, and don’t forget the Mixed Green Salad for an appetizer and the Oooey Gooey Toffee Cake to top it all off for dessert. As part of the restaurant theming, the 6 dining rooms are each decorated to honor a special figure from American history, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. As a way to keep each return to the Tavern fresh, we recommend you accept the challenge to try and dine in each of the 6 rooms. Once you’ve filled your tummies to their satisfaction, enjoy some time hanging around Magic Kingdom before catching the nightly fireworks spectacular at 9:00 pm.
Afternoon Tea at Garden View Tea Room:
After a morning spent getting hot and sweaty at the parks, you might just be in the mood for a somewhat posh experience sipping tea and nibbling delicate savory finger foods. A perfect way we recommend to indulge in this white-glove experience is to set reservations at the Garden View Tea Room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. This is one tradition many WDWNT staffers never pass by. However, a relatively new alternative to tea at the Grand Floridian is the Dining Room Tea Experience at Epcot’s Rose & Crown Pub. Sounds like a new tradition in the making!
Main Street Vehicles:
Although most of the WDWNT staff will suggest making the most of the early morning hours at Magic Kingdom by getting in some good ride time, we also have a favorite tradition to make time for a quick ride on the Main Street vehicles. Running only from 9:00 am to 10:15 am, these early 20th Century replica cars are a pretty neat way to catch a ride from Town Square to Cinderella’s Castle. Vehicles include a horse-drawn car, an omnibus, a jitney, and a fire engine. Lines are rarely long enough to make you wait for multiple vehicles and the ride down Main Street will only take about 5 minutes or so. This is just one more excellent way to catch the splendor of Magic Kingdom as Walt Disney originally imagined the park.
These are just some of our favorite traditions around the Disney World parks. What other traditions can you add to our list?