Walt Disney World Attraction Guide 2020

by Christopher E. Smith | Release Date: November 30, 2019 | Availability: Print, Kindle

Your E-Ticket to Ride

Every ride, every show, every attraction at Walt Disney World has a "backstory." Some of it you can glean from details left by the Imagineers, but much you can't. Why get only half the magic? Now you can have it all...

The most important (and FUN) part of any Disney vacation is riding the attractions. Walt Disney World has more than 100 different attractions that range from classic hub-and-spoke carnival attractions to advanced motion simulators that are on the very cutting-edge of theme park technology.

Even though attractions play a big part of every Walt Disney World vacation, most guidebooks only provide a few short lines of information about each experience. That is where this book comes in. Through research, interviews, and thousands of rides, Disney historian Christopher Smith has uncovered everything there is to know about Walt Disney World attractions, from heavy hitters like Star Wars: Smugglers Run and Avatar: Flight of Passage to the attractions you visit when the lines are too long everywhere else.

In this definitive attraction guide, you will find:

  • A complete walk-through of each attraction experience and queue
  • Fun “magical details” about each attraction
  • Touring strategies on how to best experience each attraction, including when to visit and which seats provide the best views
  • An easy-to-understand, user-friendly guide to FastPass+ and a game plan for getting the FastPass+ reservations you want

Whether you’re planning your next vacation to Walt Disney World, or you just want to learn new stuff about the parks until you’re there again in person, Chris Smith's Attraction Guide is your perpetual FastPass+ to the most magical place on earth.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1: What is an Attraction?

Chapter 2: About the Attraction Reviews and Descriptions

Chapter 3: Everything You Need to Know About FastPass+


Chapter 4: Attraction Overview and Strategy

Chapter 5: Main Street, U.S.A.

Chapter 6: Liberty Square

Chapter 7: Frontierland

Chapter 8: Adventureland

Chapter 9: Tomorrowland

Chapter 10: Fantasyland


Chapter 11: Attraction Overview and Strategy

Chapter 12: Future World

Chapter 13: World Showcase


Chapter 14: Attraction Overview and Strategy

Chapter 15: Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard

Chapter 16: Echo Lake and Grand Avenue

Chapter 17: Animation Courtyard

Chapter 18: Toy Story Land

Chapter 19: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge


Chapter 20: Attraction Overview and Strategy

Chapter 21: The Oasis, Discovery Island, Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Chapter 22: Pandora—The World of Avatar

Chapter 23: Africa

Chapter 24: Asia

Chapter 25: DinoLand U.S.A.

Walt Disney World is no ordinary vacation destination. Disney’s vast Florida property covers approximately 47 square miles, which translates into approximately 30,000 acres. In order to put that size into perspective, the city of Manhattan, in New York, is approximately 23 square miles, and San Francisco, California, is approximately 48 square miles. Yes, you are reading that correctly. Walt Disney World is twice the size of Manhattan and almost as large as San Francisco!

Both the quantity and variety of vacation options offered at Walt Disney World matches its sizeable geographic footprint:

  • Four major theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Two water parks: Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
  • Approximately 30 resort hotels with more than 30,000 hotel rooms
  • Over 100 restaurants spanning almost every conceivable cuisine
  • More than 300 retail shopping locations
  • A sprawling 220-acre multi-use sports complex
  • Four golf courses and two miniature golf courses
  • A myriad of entertainment options, outdoor activities and special events

The above amenities are a big part of any Walt Disney World vacation and each contribute to making this destination the Most Magical Place on Earth. Having said that…we all know that the most important (and FUN) part of any Disney vacation (for most guests, anyway) is the attractions! And boy…Walt Disney World has attractions.

Disney’s four major Florida theme parks collectively include approximately 100 different attractions. These attractions range from classic hub-and-spoke carnival attractions to advanced motion simulators that are on the very cutting edge of theme park technology.

For most Disney guests, time spent in the parks is a rare commodity. There simply is not enough time to do everything. In terms of attractions, guests face a series of difficult questions when trying to effectively utilize those precious minutes in the parks, including:

  • What are the most popular attractions in each of the parks and how can I effectively plan to experience those attractions?
  • What attractions will my family enjoy the most?
  • Is my child tall enough to ride a particular attraction?
  • Can I still enjoy the attractions if I have a vision, hearing, mobility, or other disability?
  • Are there particular seats on attractions that provide better views than others?
  • What in the world is FastPass+ and how do I use it?

The stress of answering these questions is compounded by Disney’s emphasis on making decisions early…very early. As I will discuss in more detail in Chapter 3, guests can make FastPass+ reservations (attraction reservations) for Disney attractions as early as 60 days prior to their arrival date. Guests who fail to do so could be forced to wait hours in line to experience, or even miss altogether, popular attractions like Avatar Flight of Passage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom, Frozen Ever After in Epcot, and Slinky Dog Dash in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The complex nature of planning a Walt Disney World vacation (including the vast array of attractions) has given rise to an entire industry of vacation guidebooks. These books come in almost every imaginable shape, size, and color. Although attractions are, for many Disney guests, the most critical aspect of any Walt Disney World vacation, most Disney guides only provide a few short lines of information about each attraction. That is where this book comes in. The Walt Disney World Attraction Guide is your definitive resource for the attractions in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In the pages that follow, you will find:

  • A complete description of each attraction experience
  • A walk-though of each attraction’s queue (which in many cases is almost like an attraction itself)
  • A description of each attraction’s ride vehicle and the boarding process for guests (including those guests in wheelchairs or electric conveyance vehicles)
  • A summary of the disability-related services at each attraction
  • Fun details about the attraction that will enhance your enjoyment of the experience

If you are planning a Walt Disney World vacation and want to experience the best that Disney has to offer in terms of attractions, this is the book for you!

Christopher E. Smith

Christopher E. Smith is a lucky husband, a proud father, and a blessed son. He is also a Disney historian, author, and corporate attorney practicing law in Huntsville, Alabama. Chris has written four books (in addition to this one), all published by Theme Park Press: The Walt Disney World That Never Was: Stories Behind the Amazing Imagineering Dreams That Never Came True (2016), The Backstories and Magical Secrets of Walt Disney World, Volume 1 (2017), The Backstories and Magical Secrets of Walt Disney World, Volume 2 (2018), and The Walt Disney World Attraction Guide 2019 (2019).

Chris graduated from the University of Alabama in 2001 with a bachelor of arts degree in history and political science. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama School of Law in 2004 where he was awarded the M. Leigh Harrison Award, the law school’s highest academic honor.

Chris first visited Walt Disney World in 1984 at the age of 7. That inaugural trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth forever shaped his outlook on life. As a child growing up in rural Speake, Alabama, Chris was accustomed to seeing cow pastures, barns, and cornfields. He certainly did not know what to make of the “magic” of Cinderella Castle, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But that Disney magic did put a smile on his face that has been there ever since. Chris has visited Walt Disney World countless times with his family and friends over the course of the roughly 34 years since that initial trip. During that time, he has realized what so many other Disney fans already know, that Walt Disney World is so much more than bricks and mortar, attractions and shows, and hamburgers and hotdogs. Walt Disney World is truly a magical place where dreams really can come true.

Chris lives with his wife Alexis, his sons Dakota and Samuel, and his daughters Scarlett and Alice Anne in historic Mooresville, Alabama, the oldest incorporated town in the State of Alabama and the primary filming location for the Disney live-action film Tom and Huck (1995). In his spare time, Chris enjoys going on dates with Alexis, watching movies with Dakota, playing sports with Samuel, getting kisses on the cheek from Scarlett, sharing a cupcake with Alice Anne, watching his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide with his father Edmon, running much farther than he should, eating cheeseburgers and his wife’s world famous carrot cake, and occasionally sipping bourbon on his front porch.

You can learn more about Chris at chrissmithbooks.com and follow him on twitter @csmithdisney.

About Theme Park Press

Theme Park Press is the world's leading independent publisher of books about the Disney company, its history, its films and animation, and its theme parks. We make the happiest books on earth!

Our catalog includes guidebooks, memoirs, fiction, popular history, scholarly works, family favorites, and many other titles written by Disney Legends, Disney animators and artists, Mouseketeers, Cast Members, historians, academics, executives, prominent bloggers, and talented first-time authors.

We love chatting about what we do: drop us a line, any time.

Theme Park Press Books

The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion The Ride Delegate 501 Ways to Make the Most of Your Walt Disney World Vacation The Cotton Candy Road Trip The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney Disney Destinies Disney Melodies The Happiest Workplace on Earth Storm over the Bay A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World: Volume 1 Mouse in Transition Mouseketeers Down Under Murder in the Magic Kingdom Walt Disney and the Promise of Progress City Service with Character Son of Faster Cheaper A Tale of Two Resorts I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand The Adventures of Young Walt Disney Death in the Tragic Kingdom Two Girls and a Mouse Tale Ears & Bubbles The Easy Guide 2015 Who's the Leader of the Club? Disney's Hollywood Studios Funny Animals Life in the Mouse House The Book of Mouse Disney's Grand Tour The Accidental Mouseketeer The Vault of Walt: Volume 1 The Vault of Walt: Volume 2 The Vault of Walt: Volume 3 Who's Afraid of the Song of the South? Amber Earns Her Ears Ema Earns Her Ears Sara Earns Her Ears Katie Earns Her Ears Brittany Earns Her Ears Walt's People: Volume 1 Walt's People: Volume 2 Walt's People: Volume 13 Walt's People: Volume 14 Walt's People: Volume 15

We're always in the market for new authors with great ideas. Or great authors with new ideas. Whichever type of author you are, we'd be happy to discuss your book. Before you contact us, however, please make sure you can answer "yes" to these threshold questions:

Is It Right for Us?

We specialize in books that have some connection to Disney or theme parks. Disney, of course, has become a broad topic, and encompasses not just theme parks and films but comic books, animation, and a big chunk of pop culture. Your book should fit into one (or more) of those broad categories.

Is It Going to Make Money?

There's never a guarantee that any book will make money, but certain types of books are less likely to do so than others. They include: hardcovers, books with color photos, and books that go on forever ("forever" as in 400+ pages). We won't automatically turn down these types of books, but you'll have to be a really good salesman to convince us.

Are You Great to Work With?

Writing books and publishing books should be fun. The last thing you want, and the last thing we want, is a contentious relationship. We work with authors who share our philosophy of no drama and zero attitude, and the desire for a respectful, realistic, mutually beneficial partnership.