Most of you who read this magazine probably, like myself, consider yourselves Disney experts. You may have the “been there, done that” mindset when it comes to just about everything at the parks. If the topic of Disney comes up among friends, everyone turns to you as the definitive voice. But, all of us have things we have never done in the World. The size and depth of Walt Disney World means it is difficult to literally do it all. The incomplete list can range from minor experiences to major attractions. What follows is my own list of nevers–big and small.
1. Stayed at a value resort
I know what you are thinking, “Gee Michael, where do you keep your top hat and monocle when you are on the rides?” Safely stowed beneath my seat of course, but that’s not important right now. This is not due to any independent wealth on my part. The value category did not exist until 1994. By that time, our annual family trip was in the RV phase. It turns out that the campsites at Fort Wilderness actually offer the best value on property after the purchase of the vehicle.
After moving into the post RV era, my family joined DVC, which made it even less likely that we would book there. I am no longer making any trips with children, and squeezing four adults into the smallest rooms on property is not an appealing idea. Perhaps once the new family suites open at Art of Animation, I may finally book this category. But as a child of Fort Wilderness, I would still rather stay in a cabin.
2. Seen Legend of the Lion King
Of all the items on my list, this may be the most shocking, even to me. I have wanted to see this show since the park opened, yet somehow I manage to miss it every time. It is fairly easy to do all of Animal Kingdom in a single day. I usually only go one time per trip. Anything missed gets pushed back until the next time. Legend of the Lion King never makes it to the top of the list of things to do in that park. It is the perpetual “next time” attraction.
Also, it is, perhaps, the least conveniently located attraction in the park. It is off to the side in an area that has nothing else that is of interest to me. Being a show, I need to time arriving there around their schedule, not mine. All this makes it a constant near miss on every vacation I take. This is the one item on my list I am determined to remove.
UPDATE: Since this article originally ran, I finally made it back there to see this show. I rather enjoyed it.
3. Waited in the standby queue for Soarin
If there was ever an attraction that made me glad Fastpass came into the world, it is this one. Once upon a time, we would wait up two hours to get onto an E-Ticket attraction such as Space Mountain in an era before one could entertain him or herself with iPhone games. This is something I have not done in quite some time. Occasionally, I will still get into a standby line; I even do this for something as torturous as Toy Story Midway Mania, but never Soarin.
I did come close to doing this on one trip. The sign at the entrance listed only a 20 minute wait. Since we happened to be passing by, we figured we should try since a line that short is almost unheard of for this attraction. Apparently the “1” on the sign was broken, and the standby line stopped at the first corner barely steps in from the entrance. It was not even close to 20 minutes.
This is a bi-costal “never done” for me. At Soarin over California, I have actually never used the standby line or Fastpass. The west coast counterpart actually uses their single rider line; I have always used that option at DCA. Other than missing the game in the queue, I see no reason to ever wait in the standby line for this one.
4. Done at least one attraction at each park in one day
I actually have been in all four parks in a single day. Although, it was part of the Walt Disney World Marathon, so I didn’t really have the time to stop and ride anything. I love the ability to park hop, and I use it every day. But, hitting all four parks is a bit of a challenge, and it is unlikely to result in the best use of your time. My personal opinion is that two parks per day is ideal. You get a nice variety without spending all of your time on a bus.
5. Played that game at the end of Mission Space
While my mother has become an expert at this one, I have never taken the time out of my day to try it out. This is not surprising since this whole area is designed for those too young or too queasy to ride the main attraction. I am not even sure I know exactly how it works despite seeing numerous games played.
6. Ridden Dumbo as an adult
I think anyone without small children probably falls into this group (our WDWNT photographers trying to snap early images of the new Fantasyland aside). This long, slow, in the sun line, combined with an attraction that is not terribly interesting to a grown-up, puts it pretty much at the bottom of my list. If I am going to ride a spinner, it will be Dumbo’s big brother in Tomorrowland—The Astro Orbiter. And even that one rarely gets a ride these days. But, perhaps a ride is in my future once Storybook Circus is fully realized. I will particularly be interested if I don’t need to spend an hour in a hot, switchback queue.
7. Been to the parks on Christmas Day
The busiest holiday I have ever spent at Walt Disney World was the Fourth of July. I have done that twice. Since Independence Day is less crowded than Christmas, I am not likely to rush there for this any time soon. I love the parks at Christmas time, but in recent years, Christmas starts in early November and runs through mid January. There are plenty of low crowd days during which I can experience the holidays in the parks. If I need a calculator to figure out what the minutes translate into hours for the posted wait times, I would rather spend the day at home.
8. Missed a ride on Haunted Mansion during a trip
I will admit on this one, I am not 100% certain, since I need to rely on over 25 years of admittedly fuzzy memory. I wanted to figure out if there was any attraction or attractions that I did on every, single trip without fail. This means the attraction must have existed in 1986, so no Studios or Animal Kingdom, and it cannot have been scheduled for a refurb while I was there. Going back over photo and video evidence, it seems Haunted Mansion is the only one that was there every time. I did not visit WDW during the last refurb.
I used to include Spaceship Earth in this list, but last year I missed it. I was not happy about this, but that’s just how it ended up. So, I need to make absolutely sure I never miss Haunted Mansion since it is the last attraction standing. Thankfully, it is unlikely to be replaced anytime soon.
9. Visited Animal Kingdom at night
I think this is an item most of you probably have on your list as well since the park usually closes before the sun goes down. Why stay here late and lose the extra hours you would get at any other park? Animal Kingdom has one method of attack–get in early and hit everything. Perhaps Avatarland will change the dynamic. But, for now I am out by early afternoon at the latest. Maybe on my next trip I will stay behind for Lion King, and I will experience at least a later day visit.
10. Eaten at Victoria and Albert’s
Has anyone seen my top hat and monocle? I really do want to eat here, but it needs to be the right occasion. I don’t mind paying for a nice meal, but this one is a little on the high side to make it a regular stop. I have paid for outrageously expensive meals before; I live in New York City after all. The 30th birthday dinner for my partner at a rooftop rotating restaurant in Times Square was surely worse than the cost at this place. The next time he and I go together, I am definitely making this one of the dining reservations.
There are others to be sure. So, how about you, readers? Are any of these “never dones” on your list? Anything that would be even more surprising? Remember, if you haven’t done it all, you have a very good reason to go back.