Disney World’s Top Five Most Loved but Underrated Attractions

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When you think of top Walt Disney World attractions, you probably think Space Mountain, Soarin’, or the Haunted Mansion. Even when it comes to those lessor attractions,  you probably have It’s a Small World and Buzz Lightyear at the top of your list, attractions that speak to a wide range of guests. But what about those attractions that you love but would never make anyone’s top ten list? What about the ones that you walk into and it’s like seeing an old friend, like they’ve become a part of your personal history?  I’ve got a handful of those attractions that I love and I bet you do too.

5.  The Boneyard.

As underrated attractions goes, the Boneyard suffers on two fronts: 1)  It’s in a park that a lot of guests don’t even visit; and 2) It’s an attraction that you walk past on your way to bigger and better things. That’s too bad, because this play area is basically the best playground you’ll ever set foot in, with plenty of places to dig in, climb over and run across. For kids, the Boneyard offers an opportunity to run around rather than standing in lines. Adults can find a cool area to supervise–there’s only one way in, so kids can’t get too far. Visit the Boneyard late in the day because it will be difficult to get your kids out of here.

4.  Gran Fiesta Tour Staring the Three Caballeros.

The Gran Fiesta Tour was the first attraction my younger twins really fell in love with, in part because they loved the fantastically politically incorrect movie, The Three Cabelleros, upon which this attraction is based. Loud, bright and unsophisticated, it’s like It’s a Small World set only in Mexico with catchier theme song.  As a bonus, it gets you into the unassuming Mexican pavilion, an attraction which itself is easily overlooked.  I love walking into the cool, dark town square and shopping a bit before we ride.  Adults can even buy a margarita before they tour.

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3.  Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage.

Guests don’t go to Hollywood Studios because they want to see this show; they see this show because they happen to be in Hollywood Studios and they walked past the venue on their way to Tower of Terror.  What they get is a huge surprise, of course.  Live singing, great costumes, and Broadway caliber performances. Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage is a hidden gem and a must do every trip. Even if you have little boys who “strongly object” to princesses, make the effort to see this show. It’s some of the best that Walt Disney World has to offer.

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2. Tom Sawyer Island.

I love Tom Sawyer Island for the same reason that I love the Boneyard: Because kids can really burn off some excess energy.  This tree-filled island, complete with a fort, trails, rope bridges, and caves, is a sweetly low-tech spot in the middle of what can seem like complete entertainment over saturation, the Magic Kingdom.  Many guests overlook this attraction but that’s to your advantage. Head over on hot crowded days and enjoy your own little oasis.

1. Carousel of Progress.  Nestled in one corner of Tomorrowland, Walt’s last attraction is a completely retro tour of one’s family’s journey through the last 100 years.  Some might call it corny, but that’s part of its charm. How many times have you walked into Carousel of Progress on a hot day and sank into the coolness of the theater and completely relaxed?  Okay, maybe you napped. That’s alright too.  But I bet you’ve watched it enough times that you can recite many of the lines.  Carousel of Progress is a tradition in our family–it’s always the last ride of our trip–and you don’t buck tradition.

I’d love to hear about your old favorites too. What attractions to you always visit even though they’re not E-ticket rides?

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About Christina Wood

For more travel planning articles by Chris, check out her Disney travel blog, Everything Walt Disney World. Chris is also a member of the Mouse Chat podcast team and an authorized Disney travel planner with Pixie Vacations, and visits the parks about 55 days each year. To get free planning and assistance with your next Disney vacation, please call her at 919-889-5281 or email at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com. You may also fill out a quick Disney Vacation Quote form here.
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29 Responses to Disney World’s Top Five Most Loved but Underrated Attractions

  1. Duy says:

    My friends and I recently went on the Grand Fiesta Tour in Epcot while we were chilling cause we’ve been to the parks a lot.
    It was really fun and enjoyable than I remembered.
    Spotted a Hidden Mickey and laughed at all of the stereoypes cause they’re true (says my Mexican-American friends with us).

  2. Michelle P says:

    The Country Bears for me! I couldn’t even tell you why I have to see this show every trip – I think it’s the one liners. Melvin saying that he’s only ‘part-moose’ will make me laugh out loud even when I’m listening to it in my car on the drive home after a rotten day!

  3. Chris G says:

    The Mexico ride was PERFECT the way it was, those ducks destroyed it

  4. KMB says:

    Most underrated? Definitely the People Mover in Tomorrowland. This ride has a lot of things going for it: 1) The long relaxing ride catching the cool breeze outside and the AC inside. 2) The easy way to see a lot of sites all over Tomorrowland. There’s even a great view of Cinderella Castle. 3) The freedom to stay on for another time around (provided it is not too busy and the cast member is cooperative that day). 4) A great way to catch a snooze since much of the ride is in the dark and the motion is gentle. 5) A great ride for romance. (Careful, though. There are cameras and they are being monitored.)

  5. tommymomo says:

    I always have to spend time at the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade. it is just another reminder of when I first went to the parks with my family.

  6. Jessica says:

    I love Universe of Energy! The first time I rode, I admit I was asleep most of the time, but hey I had gotten up earlier than normal after working late, as my parents were visiting me on my college program. The second time I rode it, I realized it was now one of my favorite rides! Ellen is hillarious(as always) and I love that Bill Nye the Science Guy, a childhood hero of mine, is in it as well!

  7. Lisa says:

    For me it’s One Man’s Dream at DHS. I think it should be a requirement that everyone sees it. I love walking through and looking at the exhibits and I love the movie at the end. We do it every time and even the kids enjoy it. I always think it’s a little sad when we are the only ones in there though.

    • Josh says:

      I love that exhibit, too. Whenever we go to MGM, we make sure to hit it (usually, if we’re up for it, we go straight back to Midway Mania, then do the backlot a little bit, and then take a break doing One Man’s Dream). It’s just so wonderful. Then, the mid-afternoon break is for me (a character designer by profession) to enjoy the sadly all-but-defunct Magic of Disney Animation.

  8. Aaron says:

    My wife won’t let me go on Carosel of Progress anymore she says its dumb and she’s seen it enough to not need to go again. I agree that Beauty and the Beast is a great show to see as well. Muppets 3D is an every trip thing for us and it’s great every time.

  9. Heather says:

    I strongly agree on the other 4 attractions, but I can’t comment on Beauty and the Beast. (As a mom of 3 boys, I haven’t seen it yet, but have heard it’s amazing!) Our fave underrated ride is the Peoplemover. We’ve been known to ride it 12 times in one day!!

  10. The Mommy says:

    My favorite under-rated attraction is the Muppets – I LOVED that show and I laugh every time – even though I’ve seen it more times than I can count! It helps that they reference Pittsburgh (our hometown). I have to say I DON’T like the Boneyard – I can’t always SEE my kids and that makes me twitchy.

  11. The Mommy says:

    We also ride Living with the Land (aka “the boat ride” or “the storm ride”) multiple times. This time, all of our kiddos will be tall enough for us to all ride Soarin’ together so we might cut it down to just once or twice but we won’t miss it, for sure!

    • tracy says:

      i agree 100%! we ride it as a time killer while the big kids are on soarin’ but i still enjoy every minute of it!

    • Josh says:

      We always do that one, too! It started by us going on it for my grandfather, a farmer, but we all loved it as much as him!

  12. Tia says:

    We are the queens of the underrated attractions! Living with the Land and Carousel of Progress are two of my favorites. Gran Fiesta Tour and Journey into Imagination are at the top of my 10yo’s list. Not sure what I’ve done right along the way, but a trip isn’t complete for her if we don’t get to see the attractions so many see as underrated or “skipable” – Living with the Land, Universe of Energy, Carousel of Progress, Gran Fiesta Tour, TTA.

  13. Chris says:

    The Enchanted Tiki Room!

  14. Christopher T. Rhodes says:

    Carousel of Progress is probably one of my favorite attractions in the Magic Kingdom, but I think everyone will agree when I say it needs to be seriously updated. The technology and script of that ride hasn’t even been TOUCHED since 1994!!! There have been so many technological improvements that I think an update of the fourth act and the Audio-Animatronics are not only needed but necessary, at this point!

  15. Griswold says:

    I think I my favorite underrated MK attraction is the TTC. But please don’t tell anyone. I like just walking right on.

    • Debbie Fritson says:

      Love this ride. I ride it over and over again while my family is on Space Mountain!

  16. Diane in NC says:

    Gran Fiesta Tour is just so much fun. We always do it. We also love the Carousel of Progress. Last time we were there, there were only three other people in the theater. They were rude jerks and actually go kicked out! We also love the People Mover for reasons KMB covered well. The Hall of Presidents is always a must see as well. I know a lot of people don’t want to give up that much time but we love it (and not to nap).

  17. Josh says:

    My family doesn’t consider it a full trip to the MK without (a) Country Bears, (b) People Mover, (c) Carousel of Progress (“It’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow!”), and (d) (more popular) character b’fast with Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace.

    I’ve never been big on Tom Sawyer Island, even when I was a kid. But to each their own. That’s part of what makes Disney so special–everyone can have their own absolute favorite places to go.

  18. disneymommy2801 says:

    My top 5 would def be Beauty and the Beast show in DS, Carousel of Progress in MK, the boat rides in Mexico and Norway, Lion King show in AK and watching the electrical boat parade and fireworks from the beach at the Poly.

  19. John says:

    My Top 5 Underated Attractions:
    5. Flights of Wonder – First time in this show and it was fast-paced, fun, and wow those birds fly low!
    4. It’s Tough to Be a Bug – Never had a long wait and walking in and around that tree is pretty neat. An exciting quick show that is well done.
    3. Muppet Vision – Best 3D effects anywhere!
    2. American Idol – Just like the real show with the chance to always see a star in the making.
    1. Walt Disney World Railroad – A relaxing 20 minutes (or more), a look around the whole park, and the ability to get off at any corner of the Kingdom. And, it’s a real steam locomotive!

  20. Kevin says:

    Mickey’s Philharmagic is another great spot to cool off and relax for few minutes, and a fun experience too. It’s a favorite for our family, and never has a long line.

    The Muppets are great too.

    And we ride the TTA at LEAST 3 times per visit. Usually the first thing we do at MK. It’s probably my son’s favorite.

  21. Ana says:

    For me it is the People Mover at MK (a.k.a. the blue cars) and the animation class at HS. If I go to HS I must schedule at least one class in the day. Wouldn’t have thought the BatB show would be consider underrated, my entire family always schedules it in, but I usually find myself going alone to the animation class…

  22. DisneyMike says:

    I’m sorry, but the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico is just awful. The purpose of the pavilions in the World Showcase was to teach visitors about the various countries and cultures, and the original Rio de Tiempo at least made an attempt to do that. The Gran Fiesta Tour is just a pathetic attempt to draw visitors to what is essentially a useless attraction.

    I certainly wouldn’t call the Gran Fiesta Tour a “most loved” attraction. Carousel of Progress is loved, Tom Sawyer Island is loved, but not the Gran Fiesta Tour.

  23. Marcy Kay says:

    Beauty and the Beast Live on stage is one of my personal favorites! We saw the show twice on our last visit and look forward to it again on our upcoming visit. I only have two daughters, but even boys will be entertained by the music and vibrant colors. Also, at AK park, the Primeval Whirl was my 7 year old daughter’s favorite. We rode it 4 times!

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