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. Flight of Passage is the best ride ever and very much worth the Individual Lightning Lane purchase.
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 Magical Royal Friendship Faire. You can meet Rapunzel in Princess Fairytale Hall, and there is a Tangled float in the Festival of Fantasy Parade.
3. Beauty and the Beast
You can see Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage in Hollywood Studios. Take part in the movie with Enchanted Tales with Belle in the Magic Kingdom and even eat in the Beast’s castle at Be Our Guest! You can meet Belle in her village dress, and sing along to the movie’s songs at the Beauty & the Beast Sing-along in France in Epcot.
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. Tinker Bell flies from Cinderella Castle to Tomorrowland during the Enchantment Fireworks show.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
The newest ride in Epcot is the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. In this ride, you take off on an intergalactic chase through space and time with the Guardians of the Galaxy. While you could just watch the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I would really suggest watching both of them.
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 castle show Mickey’s Magical 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 (currently closed), or Cinderella’s Royal Table.
8. Snow White
You can ride the 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. 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
Knowing at least something about Star Wars will help you enjoy Galaxy’s Edge to the fullest. In Galaxy’s Edge, you can see Stormtroopers, Rey, and Chewbacca, ride the Millennium Falcon and join the Resistance on Rise of the Resistance.
Outside of Galaxy’s Edge, you can ride Star Tours.
You may be thinking, which movies do I watch since there are so many. I would start with Episode 4. Watch 4-6. If you have time after 4-6 and you really like them watch 7-9 since those are the characters you encounter at the park. If you have even more time and are becoming a Star Wars fan, I would watch The Mandolorian on Disney+ since you can get a Magic Shot with Grogu (aka Baby Yoda).
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 and see Kevin wandering through Animal Kingdom. On Discovery Island there is a meet and greet with Russell, sometimes Dug is there as well.
Plus, you can conquer the Wilderness like Russell does and become a Wilderness Explorer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
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.
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. Over at Hollywood Studios, you can learn the history of Arrendale from the Royal Historians while you sing your favorite songs from the movie.
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.
At Epcot, 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?
- Best Disney Movies from the 90s
- Marvel Movie Marathon with Checklist
- Ultimate List of Disney Halloween Movies
Post Originally Published February 6th, 2015.