Editor’s note: So glad to welcome Dan to THP once again! He certainly inspired a bit of wanderlust in me with his Disney to-do travel list. Hopefully his extensive list will do the same for you!
Most hardcore Disney fans that spend their days gorging on blogs and podcasts have developed a mental list of experiences they still need to do at the resorts. The new parks in Asia and their enticing high-tech attractions have placed them at the front of many of our must-see rankings. I’ve visited Disney World many times and made one trip to Disneyland and Disneyland Paris as an adult. While my trips are more frequent than the average guest, there are plenty of attractions, restaurants, and hotels left to visit. There are far too many to discuss within a single post, but I’ve placed some of the big ones here. They span all the parks and are enough to keep me inspired about the possibilities in all the parks. Without further unnecessary rambling, here is my “Disney bucket list” of excitement from around the world.
The Blue Bayou at Disneyland
Let’s begin with the original Disney theme park and one of its most iconic dining establishments. I know that the prices are outlandish, but the food is only a small part of the draw. Getting a chance to eat inside the Pirates of the Caribbean as boats float by isn’t something that you can do anywhere. If my wife and I ever visit Disneyland without the kids, the Blue Bayou would be at the top of my list.
Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland
Few overseas attractions inspire as much jealousy among U.S. fans as Mystic Manor. We’ve been waiting for this kind of exciting new ride at Disney World for so long! I’m not a huge fan of copying the same things at every park, but this should be the exception. Duplicating it in Orlando should be a top priority for Disney management. The trackless system and inventive special effects are unlike anything in Florida, and the ride could easily fit within the Magic Kingdom or the Animal Kingdom. If you haven’t watched the online videos of Mystic Manor, you owe it to yourself to see what we’re missing.
Journey to the Center of the Earth and Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, Tokyo Disneysea
I could easily pick the entire park at Tokyo Disneysea for this list. There are so many intriguing shows and rides, and the immersive décor is like nothing else in existence. With that dilemma in mind, I’ve identified two attractions that are nowhere else and earn raves from fans. My first pick is obvious and the centerpiece of the park within a giant mountain. Journey to the Center of the Earth has been compared to Test Track and Radiator Springs Racers (which could also make this list), and most consider it even better. Not everyone loves Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, which has an It’s a Small World vibe. From what I’ve seen online, this leisurely boat ride showcases what Disney does best.
Tomorrowland in Tokyo Disneyland
There are plenty of worthy candidates at Tokyo’s original park, but I’ve chosen all of Tomorrowland because its white look feels like the ‘80s image of my childhood. They have the original Star Jets! Although the People Mover is missing, the general décor resembles the Magic Kingdom before the changes in the ‘90s. When you add that to a high-tech Monsters Inc. ride, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and Star Tours, you have a pretty amazing area with no low points.
Stay at a Deluxe Resort Villa at Disney World
Returning to the States, I’ve visited Orlando enough times to check out all the interesting attractions at those four parks. The Snow White Mine Train looks well-done, but I wouldn’t put it on this list. Instead, my attention is on the accommodations. We typically rent a condo outside the parks because of the space and convenience it provides. Even so, I would love to have the ability to stay on Disney property at a deluxe villa. Monorail resorts like the Polynesian offer a great location, but I might choose one of the EPCOT resorts due to their proximity to that beloved park. You can’t really go wrong.
Trader Sam’s at the Disneyland Hotel
I’m still kicking myself for not visiting this small bar at the Disneyland Hotel when I was there a few years ago. Its unique décor reminds me of the wonderful Adventurers Club, and it looks like the perfect place to hang out for drinks after a busy day at the park. I know they’re building another one at the Polynesian, but I’m still drawn to the original in California.
Future Contender: Ratatouille at Walt Disney Studios in Paris
Although it’s just opening this summer, the Ratatouille: L’aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy ride in Paris seems ready to join the ranks of the classic Disney attractions. It’s another example of an international park getting something exciting that I’d love to see in Florida or California. It will also be a trackless ride, and the scale of everything sounds very impressive.
This list includes just a small sample of what could be an extremely long list. I’ve been to Disney World plenty of times, yet there are still unexplored corners all over the property. The parks in Asia are the Holy Grail for me, but the time and resources needed to get there makes that trip very difficult. I did make it to Paris, so who knows? Either way, it’s fun to dream about catching the attractions that we’ve heard so much about from the fans that have made the journey. In the meantime, we can live vicariously through online videos, on-ride audio, and reviews that give an insider’s perspective on those amazing sites.
Big thanks to Jeff for providing the photos for this post.