It’s the Return of the Top 5 at Disney With Me! Well, for this week at least…
So as always – your kids may vary. This is based on my children’s likes, plus reviews I’ve read, my awareness of average kids’ preferences, and so forth. I’m also leaving out play yards which means the Boneyard is out, even though for the record I think the Boneyard is the best play area Disney parks offers. 🙂 I’ll tell you why I left out “It’s Tough to be a Bug” – because when I saw that with my husband, I loved it, but that sequence when the lights go out and then things drop from the ceiling, etc – that’s when the screaming started, and at least five people had to take their crying kids out of the theatre then. So I say wait on that 3D movie, and not only for 1-2 year olds.
Honorable mention goes to: all the animal/nature trails. I think these are *great* for every single person, but I’m not putting them officially on the list for two reasons: 1, it’s a lot of looking and no interacting for young kids, and two, it’s a lot of *walking* for young kids. Without something specific to hold their attention, some – not all, but some – children under five aren’t able to get a full experience out of nature trails and similar things. I think once they get older and can draw their own experience out of such attractions, it gets better and better. On the other hand, I still think the opportunity to see a huge variety of animals, at your own pace instead of the Safari’s pace, is a fantastic one for kids, so it HAS to be mentioned.
Now, the actual list!
#5: Flights of Wonder.
Low on the list because I haven’t “tested” this one – we didn’t manage to catch a show on my last trip. I am reasonably certain that my children would be enchanted with this, I mean – the birds fly out over your head! I would only really worry about whether your kids like being relatively close to real live animals; my daughter is skittish about this and though she was willing, she was nervous about whether the birds would land on her. I still don’t know how she would have handled it in the actual show when they were flying around.Myself, I think this show is phenomenal – one of the best “Animal Stars” shows I’ve ever seen. Best is that they are not trained to perform tricks, they are displaying natural behaviours, just doing it on cue. And they manage to make it funny. It’s an all-around pleasure.
#4: Character Greeting Trails at Camp Minnie-Mickey (and elsewhere). I was sort of amazed by all the meet and greet opportunities. Animal Kingdom is really FULL of them and some are unexpected, like Flik. It’s neat to come out of Festival of the Lion King and pretty much stumble into a nest of characters; my daughter and I used the restrooms and when we came out Brer Rabbit was just standing there with no line at all. So she went to see him, and he started dancing with her and spinning her around, and she was giggling, and it was awesome. Then we saw all the others, and even waiting in line wasn’t hard, because the handlers were coming by and kidding around with the kids; then the characters were making us feel like we were the people they’d been waiting to see. They focused on the kids but it was really an inclusive feeling; I’m always so impressed by character greets.
#3: Speaking of Camp Minnie-Mickey, and the afore-mentioned Festival of the Lion King, here we have it at number 3!
I myself am going to go on record and invite criticism by saying… I’m not a huge fan of “The Lion King”. Certain songs, certain characters, but the overall package I can skip. (Lord help me though, I do LOVE Rowan Atkinson.) However, when we went to this show last time, I was blown away. The audience involvement is high-level, the songs are so well-performed, the use of Timon & Pumbaa is perfect (and they are among the characters I really like), and hey! Tumble Monkeys! 😀 No, this was everything I liked about TLK and none of what dragged for me. My son actually slept through it but my daughter was VERY into it, and interestingly, so were both my husband and I – and he feels exactly the same about TLK as I do. 😉 Every time I’d read a review of someone saying “Not to be missed!” I’d think “Yeah, well, fine for YOU” but actually they’re right. Highly recommended and not to be missed.
#2: Finding Nemo: The Musical.
I’m going to confess here. I… I haven’t seen this. But I know for certain that, in spite of that, it’s a must-see and it’s our loss for not having seen it. The puppets alone… From reviews I have heard, they do a great job of condensing the movie into a shorter timeframe *and* add songs, and the performers are brilliant. I can’t give personal experience recommendations, unfortunately, but it slightly outranks FotLK just on reputation alone.
#1: Number one for anyone I recommend this park to will always be Kilimanjaro Safaris. I honestly can’t think of anybody who should not go on this attraction; it’s super fun, you see SO many animals, and it’s deservedly the showcase of the park. IMO, having done both Kilimanjaro and Expedition Everest (which I only just got to do last trip), Kilimanjaro is my preferred choice. Everest is amazing though. But obviously it would not be on a list for young children. 😉 The setup and organization of this safari ride are expertly managed; you see so many animals that it’s really highly likely your kids will see something that excites them. Our last visit, a giraffe crossed the road right in front of us. My daughter’s favourite animals are giraffes and she still goes on about how beautiful it was. 🙂