5 Fun Walt Disney World Extras That First-timers Often Miss

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.

Can't you just feel the magic already?

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!

Win a copy of Kim's book

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!



  1. says

    I was debating on taking my 10 year old foster child to Disney this summer. I took her two years ago and felt “been there done that”. I loved the idea of the Jedi training academy. Now I am reconsidering going to Disney in June. If you have any other suggestions for off the beaten path summer vacations I would love to consider them too.

  2. Rose katz says

    I remember reading the first edition of the kids book when I was younger before going to Disney and bringing it around the park with me to make sure I did all the things I found in the book. I would love a copy to share with my niece before she goes on her first trip to Disney!

  3. Irene Sauger says

    It doesn’t matter how often you visit Disney World there is ALWAYS more to see and ALWAYS things that you never saw. I would LOVE a copy of this book. It also seems like it could be a great gift!

  4. says

    Great tips about WDW! I haven’t been since 2006 and look forward to going again soon. Lots of new attractions!

  5. Christy says

    Would LOVE to have this book and plan our very first trip to Disney! We have a 6, 4, and 2 year old who love everything Disney!!! All of our friends have given recommendations – but there are so many – would be nice to have in writing!

  6. Jennifer says

    I just stumbled upon your site – I am SOOOO excited to have done so. first I’m trying to plan a Disney trip for my kiddos – but with all the travel info you have…I think I’m in heaven.

  7. Kay Wiman says

    will be 50 this year and it is my dream to be able to take my grandchildren to experience this.Would love the book

  8. cheri says

    We have reservations for July. Would love to use the book for planning. Our little Jedi and Tinkerbell will be so excited.

  9. Alice says

    Can’t wait to take my little girl there! I’ve been there so many times as an adult that it will be exciting to see it through the eyes of a child.


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