Getting off the beaten path at Florida’s iconic theme parks
Today’s guest is Kim Wright Wiley, a mother of two, who has been updating her award-winning travel guide, Fodor’s Walt Disney World with Kids 2011 every year for the last twenty-three years. Click that link to buy her book — Kim really knows Disney.
Walt Disney World is so big and so overwhelming that first-time visitors often drive themselves crazy in a frenzied attempt to “do it all.”
And while I’d never deny that the big deal attractions are indeed a big deal, there’s a lot more to the Disney experience than high-profile rides like Space Mountain and Toy Story Mania. Take time for these smaller attractions which are off the beaten path. You’ll be glad you did!
1. The Jedi Training Academy (Hollywood Studios)
Volunteers age 5-12 are suited up and armed with light sabers for this fun, interactive experience in which – spoiler alert! – Darth Vader actually shows up and challenges the young students to a dual. The Academy is very popular – especially with boys who may have had a little too much princess power by this point – so you’ll need to sign up first thing in the morning as you enter. The attraction is, appropriately enough, right beside Star Tours.
2. Turtle Talk With Crush (Epcot)
Everyone’s favorite surfer turtle dude interacts with the kids in real time in this adorable attraction, which receives high marks with our readers. Although the show is funny and popular, it’s really tucked away and easy to miss, located deep inside The Living Seas pavilion in Epcot’s Future World.
3. Tinkerbell’s Flight (Magic Kingdom)
Everyone knows about the huge fireworks display at closing time in the Magic Kingdom, but not everyone knows about the nifty little extra called Tinkerbell’s Flight. A young gymnast dressed like Tink slides from a wire atop the castle to the ground, signaling that it’s time for the show to begin!
The Lion King show is interactive, fun, and a great choice for younger kids. The character meeting areas outside not only feature the characters in adorable “vacation” outfits but are never as crowded as those in other areas of the parks.
5. Chinese Acrobats (Epcot)
Think the World Showcase is just for adults? Think again. The sidewalk entertainment is family-friendly, especially in the China pavilion. The acrobats – which do amazing stunts – are kids, which makes the show especially fun for children in the audience. Check your map for showtimes.
Get the book, or even better — win it!
We’ve got one copy of Fodor’s Walt Disney World with Kids to give away to one lucky Travel Savvy Mom reader. To win, just leave a comment here by midnight, May 18, 2011 for a chance to win (18 and over, U.S. only please). Good luck!