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Top Ten Unsung Attraction Heroes for Kids at Walt Disney World

By Mary Jo Collins

A Walt Disney World vacation is not complete without doing popular headliner attractions.  From riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to watching Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, a family has the opportunity to experience together fun, well-themed attractions and shows.  However, having taken my kids to Walt Disney World many times in their life, I have made a very interesting on-going observation.  Kids and tweens enjoy more than just the headliners in the parks.  Often what an adult might just overlook, may be thrilling and exciting for a child. So, with the long standing tradition of the Top Ten Segments with Lou and Tim on the WDW Radio Show, it is only fitting that I present the “Top Ten Unsung Attraction Heroes for Kids at Walt Disney World”.

1) Streetmosphere at Disney Hollywood Studios

Being a part of the act is just half the fun when you encounter the Citizens of Hollywood.  Having a little one on one time with Dara Vamp to Roman Holiday, kids are enchanted and often mesmerized by these chatty characters.  “The Funniest Citizens of Hollywood Contest” brought down the house during our last visit and left my kids creating their own one-liners. Please don’t get them started. “99 cameras walk into a bar…”

2) Innoventions at Epcot

Little paws are encouraged to test the many hands-on, entertaining and educational exhibits in Future World’s Innoventions.  My kids could spend hours learning sound financial advice at The Great Piggy Bank Adventure to making paper at the Environmentality Corner. Of course, The Sum of All Thrills is a great place to sneak in your daily Physics lesson.  Outside of Walt Disney World, Innoventions could almost be billed as its own theme park. There are endless mini attractions and shows in 2 buildings where kids can imagine, invent, inquire and be inspired.

3) Snacking

Snacking is an attraction unto itself at Walt Disney World. And kids will stop anything to eat a Mickey Bar or have some popcorn from a Main Street popcorn cart.  The Mini Donuts at Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach created havoc with my kids on our entire last trip. And if you want to lose your kid’s focus altogether, try taking them to Goofy’s Candy Company.  A kid’s creative nature will inspire a one-of-a-kind, mouthwatering treat.

4) Looking for Hidden Mickeys

From the time a kid finds his first Hidden Mickey, all of your Walt Disney World vacations become a treasure hunt. Even the ornamental Mickeys found commonly in carpets and bedspreads lead to all kind of excitement.  The time my son found the black tar Hidden Mickey (probably not purposely placed by an Imagineer) in the parking lot between Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House and Kidani Village made me think Steve Barrett would either be proud or embarrassed, not sure which.

5) Playing at Tom Sawyers Island

Running around the island blowing off steam couldn’t be more fun. From the mysterious jewels hidden in the dark caves to bouncing across the barrel bridge, this island takes outdoor exploring to a whole new level.  If your kids are clever enough, they’ll even find the twisting escape tunnel over at Fort Langhorn.

6) Trading pins with cast members

My kids aren’t huge pin collectors, but they are huge pin traders. There is a huge appeal with the process of trading. Matter of fact, a kid can start the day with one pin and just trade all day with that same starter pin. So, to enjoy trading doesn’t necessarily require a whole lot of money invested. In addition, the process of trading couldn’t be easier than with cast members. Find a cast member with the green lanyard. They will only trade with kids.

7) Kidcot Fun Stops in World Showcase of Epcot

With Duffy the Bear now inhabiting the eleven World Showcase pavilion Kidcot Fun Stops, kids love the chance to sit down and create their own colorful bear. What kid is not attracted to a table full of Sharpie markers at their disposal? Talking to the cast members from the country makes it even more fun.  They are friendly and are willing to share anything the kid wants to know about their country. It’s educational and fun!

8 ) Just swimming at the resort pool

After several hours at the parks, unwinding in the pool is a priority. And if you are lucky enough to be staying at a moderate or deluxe resort, then trying out the slide is a priority for most kids as well.  Some resort pools even rival the water parks, like Stormalong Bay at the Beach and Yacht Club Resorts.  Making new friends is always fun (my kids are far from shy). Pool time also gives mom time to sit back on a lawn chair and relax which is an added benefit.

9) Interactive Attractions

Despite the fact that the technology for such Living Character Initiative attractions as Monsters Inc., Laugh Floor and Turtle Talk with Crush is amazing to us adults, kids just marvel that they can actually talk to their favorite characters from Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo. The humor in these attractions is just perfect for kids. My kids love to reminisce about the time Buddy Boils had me think of a number and then put the antennas on my head.  It’s a classic (and embarrassing) memory that we all laugh about.

10) Chip’n Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-long

Smores, Chip and Dale, campfire and singing add up to one of the best nights ever. Over at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, kids can be a part of an old fashioned campfire sing-a-long. And the bonus for mom and dad is that it’s free to attend. Bring your own marshmallows and sticks or purchase a kit at the snack shop.  Following the sing-a-long, kids can enjoy a Disney children’s movie on an outdoor screen.

Honorable Mentions

Where Lou and Tim will mention 25-40 honorable mentions for any given Top Ten, I will just list a few.

  • The Boneyard at Disney’s Animal Kingdom trains every kid in becoming a paleontologist in this kid friendly archeological dig site.
  • Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure transforms kids into secret agents who must save the world.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure gives kids the chance to feel like they’ve been shrunk to bug size by Professor Szalinkski’s Electromagnetic Shrinking Machine.
  • Shopping may be a double edged sword for parents, but kids do love to shop at Walt Disney World. Whether they collect pins or Vinylmations, there is undeniable lure of the stores to kids.

You cannot underestimate what a thrill it is to find a Hidden Mickey or trade a pin with a cast member for a kid.  Sometimes these “little things” are what a child remembers from their vacation.  Amazingly, a veteran kid guest to Walt Disney World can appreciate the finer, lesser-known aspects of the parks.  As an adult that travels with them, take the time to recognize these “unsung attraction heroes”.  Slow down and learn to appreciate the World through the eyes of a child.