When planning a trip to the “happiest place on earth,” prioritizing the day’s activities is a must to make sure that every (expensive) second spent inside the parks is used to its full advantage.
A future Disney World goer could look to blog posts, travel guides, and original Disney content for tips, tricks, and hacks to make the most of a first-time trip to Disney, or they could seek out a true Disney expert.
Carly Carramana has been going to Disney World for 30 years and has visited the parks over 500 times. It’s safe to say that she knows a thing or two about which attractions are worth it at Disney World, which can be skipped, and how to get the most out of your trip.
With over 100 attractions across five parks — Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom — including over 50 rides and roller coasters, Disney World can feel overwhelming for a first-time visitor.
With crowded parks and long wait times, there’s also no possible way to get it all done in just a few days. You have to have a plan.
Carramana recently wrote a piece for Insider listing out her must-dos and skips when it comes a Disney World visit, and some of her answers might come as a surprise.
First of all, when she visits Magic Kingdom, she recommends heading straight for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
“Pirates of the Caribbean is the pinnacle of Disney’s excellence when it comes to storytelling. In fact, it was one of the last rides Walt Disney personally oversaw before his death,” she wrote.
Carramana went on to explain that while Pirates has been updated throughout the course of its existence, it still retains that old-school charm.
Disney’s Haunted Mansion is also a must-do for Carramana. “From the spooky soundtrack to the iconic ballroom scene that utilizes the simple Pepper’s ghost effect, it’s a must-do every time,” she said.
Surprisingly, when the Disney vet is hanging out at the Magic Kingdom, you won’t find her in Tomorrowland. “I’ll usually skip Space Mountain because I think it pales in comparison to other versions of the ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Disneyland Paris (my personal favorite),” she said.
When the Rockin’ Roller Coaster opens back up in Disney World after its refurbishment, Carramana will be first in line. “The indoor launch coaster, featuring music from the rock band Aerosmith, is pure fun without being too aggressive. Each seat is outfitted with personal speakers that blast the special soundtrack during the ride, adding to the appeal,” she said.
The attraction actually closed for refurbishment on February 20, 2023, with a reopening scheduled sometime in the summer of 2023.
She also suggests guests prioritize fitting in a ride on the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios when visiting. As for a skip? She has no time for Star Wars Land due to high cost and long waits.
“I’ll usually skip … Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, as it often has a long wait time or a pricey Individual Lightning Lane purchase (about $20 a person),” she explained.
For guests wondering what to do besides “Drink Around The World” at Epcot, she suggests hitting up the “underrated” Living With the Land, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Spaceship Earth, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, which she says is “worth the wait.”
“I love how the ride taps into all the senses, including smell, as you are transformed into the size of a rat. The ride’s dialogue also alternates between French and English, further adding to the unique sensory elements,” she wrote.
She advises skipping the unpredictable Frozen Ever After ride, as it tends to break down frequently, cutting into precious park time.
Animal Kingdom was next on her list, noting that the Dinosaur ride is worth it every time. She also recommends the Kilimanjaro Safaris and Avatar Flight of Passage, which is “absolutely worth the hype” calling it the “crown jewel” of Animal Kingdom.
As for a ride to avoid, Carramana opts out of the water-based Kali River Rapids. “Nothing can ruin a theme-park day quicker than getting soaked,” she wrote.
If you’re thinking of planning a trip to Disney — with prices increasing heavily over the past ten years — knowing which rides are worth the wait and which attractions can be skipped is vital to get the best bang for your buck. This also goes for food choices and merch decisions.
According to expert Disney blog, MouseHacking, a “baseline” Disney World vacation for a family of four (two adults, one child 10+, one child 3-9) will cost about $6,320 in 2023.
This includes flights, transportation to and from Disney World, a five-night stay at Pop Century (one of the more affordable hotels), five day tickets without park hopper, Genie+ at two parks (recommended Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios), and quick service meals, snacks, and two table service meals.