Part of Walt’s vision for Disney World is that you feel like you are immersed in the movies. 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. Here area 20 must-see movies to watch before you go to Disney World and which attractions match it. Make family movie nights with these movies by adding themed snacks and crafts. The possibilities are endless!
Print this FREE Disney Family Movie Nights Movie Checklist!
20 Must See Movies Before Going to Walt Disney World
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.
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.
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).
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 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 to during the Happily Ever After Fireworks show.
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.
Snow White– You can ride the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride and visit Snow White at the Meet and Greet in the Magic Kingdom or Epcot.
Toy Story 1, 2, 3– Toy Story Land is where you will meet Andy, Woody, and Jessie. 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.
Monster Inc. and Monster’s University– Take an active part in the fun with Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. Mike and Sulley will be heading back to Hollywood Studios in 2019.
Star Wars: The Complete Saga – You can ride Star Wars Tours, take part in the Jedi Academy, meet Chewie, Kylo Ren, and Stormtroopers at the Launch Bay at Hollywood Studios. There is also a really neat Star Wars stage show during the day and Star Wars fireworks at night. Star Wars Land will be opening in 2019 for even more Star Wars adventures.
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 7-8. 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.
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.
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.
The Sword in the Stone– They have the sword you can try to pull out in front of Cinderella’s Carousel which is a great photo opp, plus sometimes during shows, you have your chance to pull the sword from the stone.
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. There is also the Little Mermaid Show at Hollywood Studios.
A Bug’s Life – Bug’s Life show in the Animal Kingdom, plus a meet and greet with Flik!
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.
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.
The Lion King– Festival of the Lion King in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Starting in 2019, Animal Kingdom will have a “Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party”. The party starts on January 18th, 2019 and lasts until September 30th. Also from Jan. 18 to Sept. 30, 2019, guests will imagine themselves in scenes from the film via new three-dimensional photo opportunities at the park. These backdrops will allow guests to re-create iconic “Lion King” moments ideal for sharing on social media platforms.
Song of the South– Splash Mountain. This movie is really hard to find because Disney pulled it. You can though see The Adventures of Brer Rabbit.
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.
I know there are other movie details in the park, but in my opinion, these are the best movies to watch before you go. I am guessing you probably have already seen Frozen. Any other must-see movies you would include in this list? Let me know in the comments.
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