What to Watch Before Disney World

What to Watch Before Disney World

While it’s entirely possible to plan a last-minute fantasy vacation to the Disney World Resort in Orlando, most families spend months or even years planning and saving for their Disney World trips. Last year I started planning my September honeymoon visit in April, and the six months of waiting I had to endure was agonizing.

One idea I had to while away the weeks was to watch all of the films and TV shows which inspired – or were inspired by – attractions at the four major Disney World theme parks. I didn’t end up committing to this last year as I was too busy planning my wedding, but I think it’s a great way to get amped for a Disney visit, and it’s the perfect excuse for a marathon of Disney’s best!

Depending on how long you have until your trip, try watching one or two films per week. Movies that aren’t already in your home video collection can be rented through Netflix.com or purchased on Amazon.com. Films that are currently in the Disney Vault may be tricky to get your hands on without paying premium prices from online dealers selling used copies. If you’ve been to the parks before and have a soft-spot for attractions that have previously closed (Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, etc.), challenge yourself by watching those films too, in homage to the rides that once were.

New and old rides at the Disney World Resort are included in the chart below! Rides that have closed are designated with an asterisk(*), rides that have yet to open are designated with an up caret(^), and rides that are scheduled to close are designated with a number sign(#).

Magic Kingdom sign at the Disney World Resort

Attraction Film/TV Show
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea:
Submarine Voyage*
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
Ariel’s Grotto^ (2012) The Little Mermaid (1989)
The Beast’s Castle^ (2013) Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin Toy Story (1995)
Cinderella Castle Cinderella (1950)
Country Bear Jamboree The Country Bears (2002)
Davy Crocket’s Explorer Canoes* (1994) Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955)
Dumbo the Flying Elephant Dumbo (1941)
The Enchanted Tiki Room
(Under New Management)*
Aladdin (1992)
The Lion King (1994)
The Haunted Mansion The Haunted Mansion (2003)
Jungle Cruise The African Queen (1951)
Mad Tea Party Alice in Wonderland (1951)
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin Aladdin (1992)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Mickey’s PhilharMagic Aladdin (1992)
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Fantasia (1940)
The Lion King (1994)
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Peter Pan (1953)
Mike Fink Keel Boats* (1997) Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956)
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride* (1998) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Peter Pan’s Flight Peter Pan (1953)
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
Pirates of the Caribbean PotC: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
PotC: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
PotC: At World’s End (2007)
PotC: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Pixie Hollow* (2011) Tinker Bell (2008)
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel Cinderella (1950)
Princess Fairytale Hall^ (2012) Cinderella (1950)
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Tangled (2010)
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train^ (2013) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Snow White’s Scary Adventures# (2012) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Splash Mountain Song of the South (1946)
Stitch’s Great Escape! Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Swiss Family Treehouse Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid^ (2012) The Little Mermaid (1989)

Spaceship Earth at Disney's Epcot theme park

Attraction Film/TV Show
Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable The Lion King (1994)
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros The Three Caballeros (1944)
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience* (2010) Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure Kim Possible (TV – 2002)
The Seas with Nemo & Friends Finding Nemo (2003)
Turtle Talk with Crush Finding Nemo (2003)

The Sorcerer's Hat at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Attraction Film/TV Show
The American Idol Experience American Idol (TV – 2002)
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Disney Junior – Live on Stage! Handy Manny (TV – 2006)
Jake and the Never Land Pirates (TV – 2011)
Little Einsteins (TV – 2005)
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (TV – 2006)
Doug Live!* (2001) Doug (TV – 1991)
Fantasmic! Aladdin (1992)
Fantasia (1940)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
The Lion King (1994)
Pinocchio (1940)
Pocahontas (1995)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
The Great Movie Ride Alien (1979)
Casablanca (1942)
Fantasia (1940)
Footlight Parade (1933)
Mary Poppins (1964)
The Public Enemy (1931)
Raiders of the Lost Arc (1981)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
High School Musical 3 High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008)
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Set Adventure Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Musical Adventure* (2002) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Arc (1981)
Jim Henson’s MuppetVision 3D The Muppet Show (1976)
Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show Cars 2 (2011)
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Toy Story Midway Mania! Toy Story (1995)
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Tower of Terror (1997)
Voyage of The Little Mermaid The Little Mermaid (1989)
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – Play It!* (2006) Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (TV – 1999)

Animal Kingdom sign at the Disney World Resort

Attraction Film/TV Show
DINOSAUR Dinosaur (2000)
Festival of the Lion King The Lion King (1994)
Finding Nemo – The Musical Finding Nemo (2003)
It’s Tough to be a Bug A Bug’s Life (1998)
Rafiki’s Planet Watch The Lion King (1994)

One Response to “What to Watch Before Disney World”

  1. Tiff says:

    I love the films on this list! I think I’ve seen all of them. I can’t wait for my trip to Disney world this summer. I found this great article featuring the top ten animated Disney films of all. Check it out and see if they match yours. http://thecelebritycafe.com/feature/top-10-disney-animated-features-07-25-2011

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