Every Great Disney Experience, Ranked by Popularity
Find out which attraction is truly the best.
There's no feeling like scanning your Disney ticket, walking through that little tunnel, and popping onto Main Street, USA. The smell of a churro cart hits you just as soon as your eyes take in the sun shining over Sleeping Beauty Castle. There's a reason that it's called The Happiest Place on Earth. But with seemingly endless ways to spend your precious Disney hours, how do you narrow it down? Whether you're currently planning a vacation or daydreaming at your desk, let us bring your mind to a more magical destination with the best Disney World and Disneyland experiences for everyone. And for more affordable tips, These Are the Best Disney Deals for 2020, According to Experts.
The dream of dining at this exclusive attraction is on every Disney fan's bucket list. In order to get a reservation, you must hold a coveted—and costly—membership or have a member secure you a reservation. The food is divine and no detail is spared: the lattes even have a chocolate-dusted "33" on top. For those who want to bring home more than a full belly and great photos, there are a few cases of little-seen merchandise, including "33" Mickey ears, dad hats, chocolates, and keychains.
Mickey's Halloween Party
There are tons of special events at both Disney World and Disneyland, but Mickey's Halloween Party stands out as the only time that adult guests actually get to dress up as Disney characters within the parks. Expect to see some awesome fan cosplay and group costumes, in addition to countless adorable kids trick-or-treating up and down Main Street.
Have you ever seen photos of people in (usually retro) dresses and suits enjoying the park? That's Dapper Day! This unofficial event happens twice a year and gives fans a chance to show off their finest in a location that is already incredibly photogenic. Strolling around and seeing so many thoughtful, fabulous outfits will transport you back to a time when people actually dressed up to go out, and leave you with many exciting photo ops.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique transforms kids ages 3 to 12 into princesses or knights, including makeup, hair styling, T-shirts, tutus, or princess gowns, and even a portrait near Cinderella's carriage, depending on the package purchased.
It's a Small World
The song is as famous as Walt himself and this iconic boat ride encapsulates everything people love about Disney: intricate details, beloved characters, catchy music, and just the right amount of kitsch. The experience lasts 10 minutes and floats through all seven continents.
Disneyland has no shortage of fantastic restaurants, but Blue Bayou is a long-standing fan favorite for a reason. No matter the time of day, diners are transported to nighttime in New Orleans, enjoying everlasting twilight as they eat some of Louisiana's signature dishes. Pro tip: The Monte Cristo sandwich is a must-try, but can be too rich as a full meal. Order one for the table!
Sure, you could wait in line for character meet and greets instead of hitting rides, but why not let the characters come up to you while you relax? There are a handful of character dining options throughout Disneyland, with breakfast at the Plaza Inn being the only one within the actual park.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run
For Star Wars fans, it is a dream come true just to see the full-size Millenium Falcon. Who would have ever guessed they'd one day get to be part of its crew? Each ride takes six crew members—two pilots, two engineers, and two gunners—who work together to complete a mission that goes a little haywire, naturally.
This '90s favorite has recently been revamped and reinvigorated with high-tech projections and special effects. Fantasmic! is an epic battle between Disney heroes and villains, complete with pyrotechnics, a gigantic Maleficent in dragon form, and all your favorite princes and princesses dancing upon glamorous boats. What else could you want in a show? Grab a FastPass along the Rivers of America in the morning, so you don't have to sweat showing up early for a good seat.
If you see a long line at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, chances are you're looking at fans waiting to enter Oga's Cantina, an immersive watering hole that just so happens to be the first place to serve alcoholic drinks to the general public. The expansive menu includes beer, wine, cider, mocktails, and lots of creative cocktails that seem crafted specifically for the perfect photo. Be prepared for things to get a little theatrical… it seems that Oga's has some trouble with its hyperdrive from time to time.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Clocking in at 16 minutes, this Disneyland attraction is well worth what can sometimes be a sizable wait. This classic ride is completely immersive—riders forget where they are as they traverse the dark waters, pointing out their favorite details and singing along to its famous song.
What could be more magical than ending a Disney day by watching a spectacular fireworks show over Sleeping Beauty Castle? Schedules and shows vary throughout the year, but each one awakens the childlike wonder you felt on your very first visit. Why is this not higher on the list? Because there is a large contingent of efficient people who take advantage of the fireworks crowd to hit big rides with shorter than usual wait times.
Any peek at the #Disneyland tag on Instagram reveals a bevvy of food photos, with churros, Dole Whip, caramel apples, and Mickey Ice Cream Bars playing starring roles. While no Disney trip is complete without at least one of these, don't sleep on other winners like beignets from Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square and character-inspired gourmet donuts, a newer offering from the coffee cart near Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The Haunted Mansion
The popularity of The Haunted Mansion is not up for debate. Beloved by Disney fans for over 50 years, it's not unusual to see people walking around the park sporting T-shirts, tote bags, Mickey ears, or other memorabilia inspired by the 999 happy haunts. The only question is: Would you rather hop in a doom buggy during The Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired holiday season or during the rest of the year?
Indiana Jones Adventure
Ready for an adventure? Join forces with Indy and enter the Temple of the Forbidden Eye at Disneyland. Together, you'll decode carvings and escape booby traps like collapsing bridges, slithering snakes, and rolling boulders to get to the treasure at the end of the perilous journey.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
This is the most thrilling ride in the wilderness of both Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. Who doesn't love a rip-roaring trip on this rickety mine train? The roller coaster speeds through 1850s gold-mining ghost towns and creepy dark caverns. Pro tip: Ask for a seat in the back for extra speed.
Forever a fan favorite, Space Mountain is a dark rollercoaster wowing fans with a thrilling light display as they twist and turn through space. Bonus: The soundtrack was composed by Michael Giocchino, the same man who wrote that Up music that makes you cry.
There's nothing like the nervous energy of hearing the music take a minor chord turn at the top of the mountain, knowing that the drop is coming any second. The thrill is enough to entice park goers into a long line, even on a chilly day! Never fear the wait though–you and your friends will need plenty of time to brainstorm the best group pose for the ride photo that gets taken just as the log starts to fall.
Peter Pan's Flight
The whole of Fantasyland is a retro, nostalgic dream, but nothing brings classic Disney fans the warm fuzzies like Peter Pan's Flight. There is no FastPass option, but fans happily brave the 45+ line to experience the sheer magic of seeing London glow from above. Unlike the popular mountains (Splash and Space), this ride is beloved by all ages without alienating those who don't enjoy high speeds or drops. Another reason this must be in the top spot? It's one of the only remaining attractions that was up and running on opening day in 1955. See you in Neverland!