Part of Walt’s vision for Disney World is that you feel like you are immersed in the movies. Here are 20 must-see movies to watch before you go to Disney World and which attractions match it.
If you have never seen the movie, how can you fully appreciate the attraction? Disney puts so many details in the parks, it is really amazing to see how precise and into it they get. Make family movie nights with these movies by adding themed snacks and crafts. The possibilities are endless!
20 Must See Movies Before Going to Walt Disney World
These are my top picks because there are traces of almost every single Disney and Pixar movie at Disney World. These movies either have an attraction, character meet and greet, or show that I think should be added to your Disney World vacation itinerary.
Click here to get your free Disney Movie Checklist Printable.
Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out this post of 20 Movies to Watch Before Going to Disneyland from Six Sisters Stuff.
1. Avatar (2009)
A whole section of Animal Kingdom is dedicated to this movie. Flight of Passage has more meaning when you know the backstory. You can also check out how Avatar scenes are made with the FREE and highly rated Avatar: Making a Scene.
2. Tangled (2010)
You need to check out the detailed bathrooms (and surrounding area) in the Magic Kingdom New Fantasy Land area for all the Tangled touches. Rapunzel, Flynn, and the Snuggly Duckling gang make an appearance during Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. You can meet Rapunzel in Princess Fairytale Hall, and there is a Tangled float in Festival of Fantasy Parade.
3. Beauty and the Beast
You can see Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage in Hollywood Studios, Take part of the movie with Enchanted Tales with Belle in the Magic Kingdom, and meet Belle outside of France in Epcot (pre-princess attire).
4. Peter Pan (1953)
You can ride Peter Pan’s Flight in the Magic Kingdom, meet Peter Pan outside of his ride, and there is a very elaborate Float in the Festival of Fantasy Parade in Peter Pan’s honor. You can also meet Tinkerbell inside of Magic Kingdom’s Town Hall, she also flies from Tomorrowland to Cinderella Castle during the Happily Ever After Fireworks show.
You can meet Merida from Brave and see her elaborate float in Festival of Fantasy Parade. Be on the lookout for her three little bear brothers hiding on the float.
6. The Princess and the Frog
Princess Tiana has a Meet and Greet in the Magic Kingdom and the gang from the movie is in the new castle show Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire.
7. Cinderella (1950)
Her castle is in the Magic Kingdom. Make sure you check out several Cinderella references in Fantasyland, and meet her either in the Princess Fairytale Hall, lunch or dinner at 1900 Park Faire, or Cinderella’s Royal Table.
8. Snow White
You can ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride and visit Snow White at the Meet and Greet in the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. You can also dine with Snow White at Artist Point and meet the Evil Queen, Dopey, and Grumpy.
9. Toy Story 1, 2, 3
Toy Story Land is where you will meet Andy, Woody, and Jessie. Starting in Summer 2019, we also get to meet Bo Peep. You can ride Slinky Dog Dash, Aliens Swirling Saucers, and Toy Story Mania. There are characters from all 3 movies throughout this very fun, very themed land. You also ride Buzz Lightyear’s Ranger Spin in the Magic Kingdom.
10. Monster Inc. and Monster’s University
Take an active part in the fun with Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. Right now you can also visit Mike and Sulley at Hollywood Studios.
11. Star Wars: The Complete Saga
You can ride Star Tours, take part in the Jedi Academy, meet Chewie, Kylo Ren, and Stormtroopers at the Launch Bay at Hollywood Studios.
You may be thinking, which movies do I watch since there are so many. I would start at Episode 4. Watch 4-6. If you have lots of time after 4-6 and you really like them watch 1-3, then 7-9. I am someone who thinks it is best to watch the Star Wars movies in order of release.
You can skip Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Those aren’t really referenced in the parks. Solo does give you Chewie’s backstory though if Chewie is a character you love.
12. Alice in Wonderland
Character meet and greet areas in front of the Teacups at the Magic Kingdom and in Epcot. The teacups have so many movie details in and around the ride. I suggest watching the animated version as there are no references from the live version in the parks.
13. Mary Poppins
There is a super fun Character Meet and & Greet in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. She is very fun to interact with using bits from the movie. For this movie, it does not matter much if you see the original or Mary Poppins returns since she was her same charming self in both movies.
In Animal Kingdom, you can see Up! A Great Bird Adventure when Russell learns about all sorts of birds. Both Kevin and Carl make appearances during the show. You can also meet see Kevin wandering through Animal Kingdom. On Discovery Island there is a meet and greet with Russell, sometimes Dug is there as well.
15. The Little Mermaid
Enjoy the whimsical float in the Festival of Fantasy Parade, ride the Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid in the Magic Kingdom, visit Ariel’s Grotto where you can interact with Ariel. Ariel also has a part in Philharmagic. There is also the Little Mermaid Show at Hollywood Studios.
Frozen has a presence at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. In the Magic Kingdom, you can find her in the Castle Show Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire and in the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Epcot reimagined Norway and now it is Frozen themed. Visit Anna and Elsa in their Summer haus, ride Frozen Ever After, and learn about their culture in the Stave Church.
17. The Haunted Mansion
Instead of the ride-matching the movie, this is one where the movie was made because of the ride. Read my Haunted Mansion Movie review to see my thoughts on it.
18. Finding Nemo and Finding Dory
The Seas with Nemo & Friends in Epcot, Turtle Talk with Crush in Epcot. They added Bailey, Destiny, and Hank from Finding Dory to the Turtle Talk Show.
19. The Lion King
You can see the Festival of the Lion King in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and also see some of the characters around the park. You can also stay in a Lion King Suite at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
Oopening October 1, 2021, you can experience Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. In this 4D ride experience, you’ll join Chef Remy on a daring culinary caper that will captivate all your senses as you zip, dash, and scurry through the bustling kitchen, dining room, and walls of Gusteau’s famous Paris restaurant.
Other Movies to Watch
- If you are going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, I would watch Hocus Pocus because the stage show features the sisters from the movie.
- Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones Stunt Show at Hollywood Studios)
- Pirates of the Caribbean
I know there are other movie details in the park, but in my opinion, these are the best movies to watch before you go. Any other must-see movies you would include in this list? Let me know in the comments.
Looking for more great Disney Movies to watch?
- 10 Must See Classic Disney Live Action Movies
- Marvel Movie Marathon with Checklist
- Ultimate List of Disney Halloween Movies
Post Originally Published February 6th, 2015.