16 Bucket List Items you Can’t Miss at Disney World {updated for 2023!)

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When you are planning for a Disney World Vacation there is a lot of stuff to consider and of course, a lot of stuff you dream about doing! And these Magical Disney World Experiences are just waiting to be explored.

But the most important things to consider are the deal breakers. The Disney World Bucket List.

These are those items that are SO important, the cherry on top, the must do adventures at Disney World. These bucket list moments at Disney World are the ones you’ll want to cherish forever- but they can also be the ones you might regret if you don’t get to do them!

But with Disney World becoming out of reach for some people because of price hikes and the economy, I want you all to know that this guide is a suggestion. Your trip can be filled with resort eats and only one park day, or strictly focused on rides, or only on shows and snacks.

Whatever you decide, just know that this trip is about Memories. It’s about enjoying yourself and your trip mates. It’s about living in the moment.

Don’t let anyone convince you that it has to be ‘perfect’. (Including me, other big blogs, youtubers, influencers, content creators, the Disney Marketing Team, and your neighbor Dave three doors down who goes to Disney on his credit card and loves every minute of it!)

Heading to Disney World with a Toddler this year? You’ll need this updated Toddler Guide, plus the Preschooler Itinerary, and then all the fun stuff you can do without a park ticket!

This post contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you, and I may earn commission on qualified sales, check out my affiliate disclosure for more information and all the legal mumbo jumbo.

16 Can’t Miss Moments at Disney World you should consider for your vacation

Yes, we’re starting with the last but not least at number 16 and we’ll head to number 1. Make sure you take notes for your next Disney World Adventure so you get all the fun stuff (and don’t miss any of the bucket list items!)

#16- THE MOST ICONIC PICTURE

This is one of those classic and iconic pictures. The Cinderella Castle! You can get a close up picture with your own camera (and its the perfect time and place to bust out the ole DSLR), or wait in line at one of a dozen photos pass spots down Main Street and around the castle.

Getting a picture without a crazy crowd can be hard, because midday, when the crowds are generally lower, is also horrible for lighting. Do yourself a favor and plan an early morning picture. The light will be better and you wont look icky from melting in the florida sun.

This was taken by a photopass photographer. Sometimes you get people in the shot with you- and sometimes you just get Cinderella’s Castle in all her glory!

Pro tip: you can still get a nice picture from the side or the back of the castle. You can also check out the wishing well on the east side of the castle for a cute and unique picture spot. Cast members (and strangers) will take pictures for you on your phone, or you can use the Photopass photographers stationed around the area. Just look for a white vest.

Bonus tip: Grab a picture with the Mickey balloons! Just ask the cast member if you can grab a pic and tell them how you want it

#15- Eating with your favorite pals at Character Meals

Food and Fun Disney Characters? It’s a yes for everyone from toddlers to grandmas! Character Dining is a great way to get a break and fill up on yummy offerings and then get some memorable pictures with some of your favorite characters.

Without the line.

Without the hassle.

And you get some delicious food (and a chance to take a rest!) while you are at it.

Character dining is a big deal for lots of people who come to Disney World. It might not be worth it for you though, so see this post detailing what makes a Character Meal Worth It to decide if it’s right for your trip.

Also consider that Character Meals can be done on No-Park-Days, so don’t need a ticket for them.

#14- Enjoy the Shops and Food in Epcot’s World Showcase

Not only are the shops in Epcot full of unique items specific to the country you are in (seriously, some really cool items and they make great gifts!) Plus drink AND eat your way around the World.

You can also stop by the kidcot stations for lots of fun. The Kidcot Stations are one of the perfect activities to do when the weather is freaking out. I always have one of these in my Disney bag, but even with that, Disney isn’t always the funniest thing to do in the rain.

These shops are typically all indoors, temperature-controlled, and you can easily spend the whole afternoon and evening going around the world showcase. Perfect for those rainy days, or days where it’s way too hot or cold!

#13- Saying Hi to all your favorites (or your kiddos favorites!)

Besides the rides, the characters are one of the reasons that most people go to Disney World. But not all characters are out at the same times throughout the year.

And PLEASE < prioritize > the characters you want to meet for the beginning of the day. Many Characters have limited hours, and many don’t work very late in the evening/night. (plus pictures look better in the morning!)

Meeting Princess (or should I say Queen) Anna is a treat for my little girl!

This is one of those iconic things to do, because it’s such a fun memory to make!

Are you bringing along toddlers? No worries! Here’s a guide to all the best character meets at Disney World for toddlers.

Sometimes Characters that aren’t as popular are harder to find. In these cases you might need to get online and look around for where to find them (like at the Halloween Party). We also like to use this character finder trick in case we’ve missed a new addition or a special meet and greet!

You can meet Characters in lots of ways.

You Can:

  • Meet Characters at Character Meet and Greets included in your ticket
  • Meet Characters at Random Meet and Greets at the Resort Hotels
  • Meet Characters at Character Meals
  • See Characters in Parades and Shows
  • See/Meet more exclusive Characters at Special Events like the Christmas and Halloween Party

#12- Catch a ride on Disney Transportation

What might seem kinda boring or cliche, is actually pretty fun at Disney World.

The monorail has different colors (and now wraps) for each of it’s trains and you don’t see the all out all the time.

There’s Trains you can ride, one at Animal Kingdom and one at Magic Kingdom.

The newest edition is the Skyliner, which takes you to several resorts and goes in between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.

While it might not seem so appealing now, once you get there, you’ll see that transportation is part of the magic of Disney. Worried about how all the transportation works? don’t be. There’s an easy guide for getting where you need to go.

#11- Mickey Head Eats everywhere!

Mickey Waffles. Mickey Ice Cream. Mickey Rice Krispies.

YUM!

They are all fun and especially delicious! I mean, Disney Food Blog built her blog around the fun food at Disney!

If you don’t eat something shaped like mickey, well then you are missing out! Good news is that you can get them everywhere! From Rice Krispie Treats to Waffles and SO MANY OTHER treats in between, it’s a no brainer!

Can’t wait for the Mickey Heads? Me either. Grab yourself one of these handy Mickey Makers and invite me over for breakfast.

AND if you think you can’t have Mickey Waffles because of Food Allergies– think again. #shamelessplug I write all about Food Allergies at Disney World and can assure you, there’s a lot of options for people with special dietary needs.

gluten free mickey waffles and ham in cast iron skillet
Yummy Breakfast at Ohana! It’s a must eat!

#10- Catch the Nighttime Shows 

This is a no brainer for many, especially because Disney does such a good job with advertising their nighttime shows. (Though the nighttime prices for the glow up stuff gives me heart palpitations! I prefer to bring my own that I grab on amazon.)

Disney Parks have gone out of their way to make it magical the times you are at the parks, with a grand finale at night! Each of the parks have their own fun nighttime shows that are a great way to end the day.

The best part is that they are constantly updating the nighttime shows and adding new options like dessert dinner parties, and holiday offerings. You certainly won’t be bored when the sun goes down!

But Seriously though, by the time Night Time rolls around, I’m exhausted! Have a good game plan in place for making it through the day. You can do half day tickets, grab some really good shoes, and prepare for chub rub from walking around all day (and this is my secret weapon I use everytime Im in the parks- and just florida in general to protect my thighs from… well from themselves!)

You won’t enjoy the nighttime shows if you’ve had a super long day, and neither will the kids.

#9- Ride a Train

It starts at a young age and never goes away- the love for trains that is! Maybe it’s all the toys they brain wash us with, but also… people just love trains.

Disney has done a great job with the trains at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom in that they provide a fun, safe, and immersive experience in what riding a train is really like.

So hop aboard! This train is headed around the park and is a great way to see things (and save you some steps!)

The train at MK is closed though- and will be for another 12-18 months as of July 2019. This is due to the new tron ride.

But the one at Animal Kingdom is back up and in action!

#8- Get your Thrill on with all the Rides!

I know, I know, rides are a given at Disney World.

But, with the longer lines, and the free fastpass system being removed, rides are no longer top priority for many people.

It can be hard to ‘do all the rides’ at Disney World, so this is a friendly advice to pick the rides that you really *want* to do. Then you can prioritize those ahead of time and be clear what you will and will not wait for when it comes to lines!

I separated this because it does require some preplanning. You should not assume that even if you purchase (or don’t) Genie+, the new paid skip the line tool, that you will get every ride you wanted.

#7- Grab a Souvenir

This really isn’t hard to do, in fact, mickey ears and fun hats and nifty trinkets are everywhere at Disney World!

Mickey Mouse Ear pictures are timeless. If you’ve even been to Disney just once, you’ve likely taken a picture with them. You can get them on Amazon for pretty cheap, (or eBay, as those are legit Disney ears that people no longer need) from cute Mouse Ears on Etsy, to the latest collection at Disney World, mouse ears are not only classic pictures to get but they are also instagram worthy.

Souvenirs can be purchased ahead of time and given out on the trip, they can be purchased at Disney World, they can be the custom T-shirts you had made or the customized Christmas Ornament you picked up.

A few tips for getting great merch:

  • If you have a Disney Chase Visa, you get a percentage off on Merchandise
  • Disney is crafty with merch, so if you see something you can’t live without, buy it then and there! If you decide you don’t like it, return it to any store before you leave.
  • Prices fluctuate on merchandise a lot. What you see on blogs or social media might not be the price in store.
  • Some items end up on ShopDisney (maybe like 50% or so) but not everything does. Don’t assume you can just ‘get it online’.
This was another photopass option- I have no idea what’s going on with my arm LOL! At least my face is in focus.

#6- Enjoy the Entertainment

There are so many fun people to meet at Disney World! From the awesome face and costume characters to the street performers. Then the regular CM’s keeping it real with their cute but not broadway style entertainment to put a smile on your face!

At Disney you’ll find several Broadway Style Shows. The most popular ones are The Lion King at Animal Kingdom, and Beauty and The Beast at Hollywood Studios. I also highly recommend The Frozen Ever After Show in Hollywood Studios (especially with the Holiday Overlay in November and December) and The New Nemo Show in Animal Kingdom.

Plus Parades, Stage Shows, Calvalades and short but organized Street Performers all over the four theme parks.

#5- Looking for Hidden Mickeys

There are entire books dedicated to Hidden Mickeys (don’t look! it’s cheating! just kidding they are super helpful) because it is such a fun thing to do!

Why is looking for odd shapes fun?

I have no idea, but once you’ve started, you can’t stop! From looking while you are having a bite to eat, to walking around and waiting in line, hidden mickeys are everywhere inside and outside of the parks!

We love to look for hidden Mickey’s to keep the kids entertained, but also, it’s just part of the magic of the vacation. Be a kid again and look for the little details that make everything so much more wonderful!

#4- Enjoy the Surprise and Delight of Disney World

This often overlooked treasure is a must do for a Disney guest. And that is to… stop planning every second.

I know this sounds wild, but when you’ve planned too much, you’ll miss all the extras that Disney has in store.

Disney can be so overwhelming sometimes and you can really get caught up in checking your watch for the optimal times between fast passes, reservations and trying to get the perfect instagram picture.

Make a Priority list of 3-5 things for each person in your party, and then try to let the rest of the day happen as it will. It will make your trip less stressful, and the Bucket list items you pick for you and yours all the more enjoyable.

#3- Take a Day off to Resort Hop (especially on the Holidays)

Resort hopping is a blast! I talk about it some in the things you can do at Disney World without a ticket.

Hanging out at Disney World and doing the Gingerbread House Trail is a family favorite!

Disney World is truly magical at Christmas time. It’s one of my most favorite times to visit! thankfully, the magic isn’t restricted to the parks. The resorts all have some nice directions that can be enjoyed throughout the season.

#2- It’s Florida… so it’s always time for Ice Cream.

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Yep, Ice cream at Disney World just tastes better! And have no fear, if you have allergies, the Ice cream parlor on Main Street in magic kingdom is the place to be!

Allergies? Me too family, me too. Consider a stop at Beaches and Cream, with or without a reservation, they have two types of Dairy Free Ice Cream, and allergen procedures for the other top allergens!

Mickey shaped Sprinkles? Yes Please! Find this bucket of ice cream (not dairy free, but free from other top 7 allergens) at the Disney World Water Parks. We grabbed this from Typhoon Lagoon.

There is also allergy friendly Ice cream at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom (and frozen Ice and My Mochi at Epcot) so you’ll be able to find some good treats.

Wanna know a secret? You can book at Beaches and Cream on the Boardwalk and take the secret back entrance (where the gondolas are) at Epcot to walk over there. Reservations are hard to get so make sure you have that on your list!

#1- Meet Mickey Mouse

You knew I was going to keep this for number 1.

I mean, who goes to Disney World and doesn’t get a picture with Mickey Mouse? That’s just unheard of! Go see the old guy, give him a big high five, and get a picture that says you came to Disney World.

Not big on meeting Characters? Grab a selfie with Mickey in the background while he’s on the Parade or Stage Shows.

Even if it’s not perfect for instagram, I promise you will want to see Mickey regardless of how messy your hair is after riding rides and dealing with the Florida humidity.

And when the kids are older, I can’t wait to recreate this memory with them!

Wrap Up

Save these can’t miss moments for your next Disney World vacation so you can plan to make the most of your trip!

Is there a moment you’ve always dreamed about? Share it below in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “16 Bucket List Items you Can’t Miss at Disney World {updated for 2023!)”

  1. The moment I always dreamed of was getting married at Disney World. I actually achieved this moment, with the love of my life, 12 years ago (exactly on October 19). Can you tell I’m fan of Disney 😊 ?

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