You’ve probably heard the phrase “You haven’t really experienced Walt Disney World until you’ve seen/tasted/done [insert attraction/food/ride here]”. And while a WDW vacation means different things to different people, there are certain experiences that are so synonymous with Disney that they can be viewed almost as rites of passage for Disney guests. Here are our top 10 rites of passage in WDW – but as always, feel free to amend the list with your own!
Choosing your first (and subsequent) MagicBand is an exciting rite of passage for any Walt Disney World guest. MagicBands are your passport to all the magic at WDW. They let you into the parks, allow you to pay for things with a quick swipe of the Mickey, and even open your hotel room door if you’re staying on property. Picking the color and/or character for your MagicBand is a signal that your vacation is about to begin!
9. Classic Rides
There are classic attractions at every Walt Disney World park that can all be considered rites of passage. But here, we’ll focus only on Magic Kingdom rides, since this is arguably the most iconic WDW park, and it’s home to some of the most iconic attractions on property. Don’t leave Disney World without riding Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, and (last, but not least) Pirates of the Caribbean.
8. Iconic Selfies
Instagram-worthy shots await throughout Walt Disney World. But for a true photographic rite of passage, have your picture taken with WDW’s main icons in each park. We’re talking, of course, about Cinderella Castle, The Tree of Life, Spaceship Earth, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Get a family member to snap the shot, or take a selfie – either way, it’s a great way to remember your time in WDW (and, of course, to make all of your social media contacts jealous).
7. Mickey Bar
Plenty of guests swear by the iconic Mickey Bar, found throughout the parks in the shape of everyone’s favorite mouse. “But it’s just chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream!”, cry the naysayers. And yes, yes it is. Yet there’s something magical about eating a Mickey Bar, something that’s more than the sum of its delicious parts. Even though you may find Mickey Bars in your grocery store, or make them yourself, they never seem to taste as good as when you’re standing in front of Cinderella Castle!
6. Rope Drop
For many Walt Disney World guests, arriving at the park of your choice bright and early is not just a rite of passage, it’s standard operating procedure during a WDW vacation! Even those who aren’t exactly morning people should try arriving at a theme park in time for rope drop, at least once. There’s something inexpressibly exhilarating about being one of the first guests into the park, and of course, it gives you a head start on your attractions for the day when you’ll face fewer crowds than later in the day.
5. Celebration Buttons
Where else can you proudly wear a button proclaiming it your birthday, and receive special treatment all day long? Celebration buttons are a delightful rite of passage at Walt Disney World, and one we heartily recommend, whenever you have any kind of special event to celebrate. Cast members will congratulate you all day long, and you may even receive complimentary desserts at table service restaurants.
4. Stay at a Disney Resort Hotel
Staying at a Walt Disney World resort is an excellent way to extend the magic beyond the parks. In fact, we’d call it a WDW rite of passage! After all, why should the fun need to end just because you’re heading to your hotel? With so many WDW resorts to choose from, for every taste and budget, there’s bound to be one that’s perfect for your stay.
3. Ride the Monorail
Even if you’re not staying at one of the deluxe resorts on the monorail line, you really should experience the Walt Disney World Monorail System at least once (chances are, it won’t be the last time). This iconic mode of transportation has been enthralling guests with its panoramic views since the 1970s. There’s rarely much of a lineup to board, it’s completely free, and it’s one of the most enjoyable ways to get around property!
2. Kitchen Sink
If you haven’t heard of the Kitchen Sink (as in, “everything but the”) at Disney’s Beaches and Cream, it’s high time you headed to Disney’s Beach Club Resort to see what all the fuss is about. Working your way through this famously massive dessert is certainly a rite of passage at WDW, and one you’ll want to share with several friends or family members, because they aren’t kidding – pretty much every yummy item you can think of except the kitchen sink goes into this monstrous treat!
1. Mickey Ears
Time for a confession: the only Mickey Ears I own are a vintage pair brought back from Walt Disney World for me in 1985 by my grandparents! But for many guests, buying a new Mickey Ears hat or headband is a rite of passage every time they visit WDW. Unlike in 1985, your Mickey Ears choices today are nothing short of staggering. Find your favorite Disney character, your favorite color, or celebrate a special event with your own pair the next time you’re in Walt Disney World.