Home » 10 Walt Disney World Experiences That Will Make You Feel the FEELS

10 Walt Disney World Experiences That Will Make You Feel the FEELS

Kid meets Chewbacca

Nostalgia is the real secret of Disney magic.

Disney imagineers are masters at captivating the senses to seal memories. A Walt Disney World vacation can be a distinctly emotional experience, and I’m not talking about frustration with crowds. Disney is a place where you can get swept away by imagination and powerful sensations. From the beginning, Disney seized upon the central tropes of classic storytelling to draw guests into experiences they’d never forget.

If you grew up visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World, some experiences at the Most Magical Place on Earth immediately inspire “The Disney Feels”. It’s the warm fuzzies, the giggles, the tear-jerking moments that you try to fight but just can’t, not because you’re sad but because you remember. Even if you didn’t grow up at Disney parks, a visit to Walt Disney World can still stir this whirlwind of emotions.

Missing that once-upon-a-time magic? Here are ten of the top experiences we’ve noticed at Walt Disney World that always make us feel the Disney-feels.

1. The start of the Main Street Electrical Parade

Video: YouTube (User: WML95)

The air is cool and still in Magic Kingdom. Guests line Main Street from the entry plaza all the way to Splash Mountain, anticipation rising. A single low note fills the air, and the crowd erupts as synthesizers fill the air. As quick as the roar of applause rises, the crowd stills as an entrancing digital voice makes that famous announcement…

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the Magic Kingdom proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination in thousands of sparkling lights and electro-syntho-magnetic musical sounds, The Main Street Electrical Parade!”

The music swells, joined quickly by an enthralling chorus of dancing keys, tambourines, drums, and electric melodies. The crowd claps as the rhythm seizes all, and dancing faeries adorned in dazzling lights lead the way for storybook characters brought to life to claim Main Street.

I joke sometimes that my German tear ducts shriveled long ago, but it only takes about five seconds listening to the Main Street Electrical Parade soundtrack to cue the waterworks for me. It’s almost a Pavlovian response. It is not difficult to find fans who visited Walt Disney World or Disneyland as children who get the Disney-feels upon hearing or seeing the Main Street Electrical Parade. It’s an institution so iconic to the Most Magical Place on Earth (and the Happiest Place on Earth) that when the parade was revived in 2019 at Disneyland, untold amounts of people tuned in live just to watch it return.

While we’ve yet to see this Disney classic return to Magic Kingdom in recent years, we’ve no doubt that the day will come when the Main Street Electrical Parade returns to Florida again—and until then, there’s always YouTube!

2. Rope drop at Magic Kingdom

Video: YouTube (User: WDWPOV)

Waking up for opening gate at any Disney park might feel like a tall order for a family, but for those who dare to brave the early hours on a Disney day, heaps of nostalgia await.

Rope drop at any Disney park is a time filled with emotion and anticipation, but nowhere is this more pronounced than at Magic Kingdom. The excitement alone of seeing Cinderella Castle standing majestic at the end of Main Street and hearing music fill the air stirs many emotions, but Magic Kingdom has topped this with some seriously amazing welcome shows. My favorite remains the old version where Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and the gang all rolled into Main Street station on the railroad, waving to guests to welcome them to the park. I had my four year old niece with me the first time I saw this, and I just lost it—the feels had me.

The welcome show for Magic Kingdom has changed somewhat over the years, but the effect is still there. There’s still no doubt that rope drop remains one of the most emotionally exciting moments of a Disney day.

3. When you (or someone else) meets their favorite character for the first time

Adorable child meets Chewbacca

Image: Disney

Every Disney fan has a favorite Disney character. Maybe you’re a purist who prefers Mickey and the gang. Maybe your heart leaps at the idea of meeting one of Disney’s hero princesses like Belle or Rapunzel or you just can’t help by break into song upon finally laying eyes on the legendary Gaston (after all, no one fights like Gaston?). Meeting characters is great fun, and there’s something truly special about meeting your favorite for the first time—or even better, seeing someone else light up at the same experience.

Kids make everything more magical at the Most Magical Place on Earth, especially meeting beloved characters. As adults, we might know that R2-D2 and BB-8 are remote controlled robots, but when kids meet these iconic droids, the excitement on their faces is contagious. I watched a little girl blush and giggle like she’d just met Prince Charming when R2 cooed at her recently in Galaxy’s Edge. She then ran up and hugged the droid like he was Mickey Mouse himself.

The feels don’t just get stirred when kids meet their favorite characters. Our favorite moment of that insane opening day at WDW’s Galaxy’s Edge was watching an encounter where Rey approached a random twenty-something girl who had been standing on one of the walkways in the Black Spire Outpost. The woman hadn’t even realized who Rey was, but when realization hit her, she clasped her hands to her mouth and started to cry for joy, overwhelmed by emotion. Rey was so sweet, all smiles and gentleness. The woman could hardly speak, she was cry-giggling so much as Rey invited her to join the Resistance on a secret mission. It was one of the sweetest moments we witnessed all day!

4. Fantasmic’s opening and ending

Sorcerer Mickey spraying fireworks

Image: Disney


While the Main Street Electrical Parade and fireworks shows usually take the cake for most nostalgic Disney experiences, there is one show that has been inducing the Disney-feels in guests for decades. Fantasmic is one of Disney’s finest achievements in entertainment storytelling to date. While we’ve dived into differences between the Walt Disney World and Disneyland shows before, two things remain the same in both—the show’s opening and closing. When the lights go down and the air whispers of fireflies and magic, every guest leans in. Lights rise and in a burst of spotlights, Mickey Mouse appears to thunderous applause.

This reveal alone is a hugely emotional moment, and Fantasmic as a show never lets up on this intoxicating nostalgia. Especially in the Disneyland version, Mickey’s journey through the weird and wonderful, through marvels and nightmares is a non-stop storm of emotion.

Fantasmic captures the wonder of the war of good verses evil more hypnotically than any of Disney’s other shows to date. Whichever version you prefer the end result is the same: the dragon and her league of evil allies are vanquished by the power of imagination and hope. The good guys win. Disney characters from across generations are united in one celebration, and it all leads up to Mickey Mouse embracing the power of dreams in a display of lights, dancing fountains, and spectacular fireworks. His excitement is contagious, and you can’t help but smile when he finally vanishes with a cheeky parting comment: “Some imagination, huh?”.

Whatever may come for this show in the years to come, we hope Disney never changes the roots of Fantasmic—one of their most incredible stories to date.

5. Seeing the Millennium Falcon the first time

Millennium Falcon at dusk

Image: Disney

I feel a disturbance in the Force…

It’s no secret how over-the-bright-suns excited we have been for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Despite a rocky summer opening at Disneyland, the land is proving to be an overwhelming success at Walt Disney World, which is very good news.

For a Star Wars fan, there are few experiences at Walt Disney World that can top the moment when you first see the Millennium Falcon parked in the Black Spire Outpost. It is very easy to forget that you’re tucked into a corner of Disney’s Hollywood Studios when you see it. The scale of the thing is staggering, and Disney put together one of their most gorgeous backdrops to date tucking the Falcon underneath Batuu’s towering spires.

If you grew up loving Star Wars, you likely grew up dreaming of being able to see the Millennium Falcon is real life. Disney brought that dream to life and it’s just as exciting as many eager fans hoped for. Take a random picture of the famous ship and you’ll certainly spot a dozen fans gawking just like you are. For those who’ve always dreamed of jumping to light speed on the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, there’s nothing like experiencing the Falcon up close. Speaking of which…

6. Taking flight

Soarin' Over the World gliders full of guests

Image: Disney

Some of Disney’s most feels-inducing attractions all share one thing in common: you can fly, you can fly, you can fly…

Whether you’re floating past that second star on the right straight on to Neverland or gliding on a banshee over the exhilarating heights of Pandora, the sensation of flight has become something of an area of expertise for Disney. Even feeling zero gravity for the first time on Mission: Space Orange team can prove a profoundly emotional experience.

Other than Avatar: Flight of Passage, Soarin’ Over the World is probably one of Disney’s biggest emotion-stirring flying attractions thanks to its incredible combination of dramatic views, intoxicating smells, and an inspiring soundtrack. It makes you want the world to be this way, a world where people live at peace celebrating life, not trying to destroy or harm or belittle each other. Soarin’ captures the beauty of planet earth in a way that can’t help but stir emotion.

Oh, and back on the subject of Star Wars, if just seeing the Millennium Falcon is enough to fire the thrusters on your emotions, piloting the ship is an even more profound experience on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. While this experience is somewhat replicated on Star Tours, you can’t suppress the surge of excitement that comes with pulling that lever on the Falcon’s pilot console to send the ship blasting into hyperspace!

7. Tasting the magic

Tonga Toast from Kona Cafe

Image: Disney

There are some tastes at Disney that just inspire the feels like no one’s business, to the point that Disney guests will defend the honor of these items fiercely. A Mickey Mouse Ice Cream bar might appear unimpressive at first appearance—it’s basically a not-quite-Klondike bar– but the taste and feelings associated with biting into one can’t be denied for many guests. It’s Disney magic on a stick, the taste of nostalgia, the taste of family and relaxation and childhood.

Disney brims with incredible dishes that carry guests to another world. Maybe it’s the fresh-baked scent and taste of a warm cinnamon roll on Main Street or the Boardwalk. Maybe it’s the juicy smokiness of a dripping turkey leg while you’re watching Big Thunder Mountain Railroad barrel by or the cool, frothy flavors of a Dole Whip Float enjoyed along the Rivers of America. Whether the taste of Disney magic for you is sweet and buttery as spiced school bread or robust as a freshly grilled burger at the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater, food is both half the fun and half the feels at Disney parks.

8. Taking in the view

Spaceship Earth

Image: Ricardo’s Photography, Flickr (license)

There are so many great views to take in at Walt Disney World, from overlooking the Magic Kingdom along the peaceful track of the Tomorrowland PeopleMover to enjoying a cup of hot tea (or ale) while gazing out over World Showcase from waterside at The Rose and Crown Pub. Who can deny the sense of wonder when you see animals grazing across the savannah on Kilimanjaro Safaris or stare in awe taking in the floating islands of Pandora?

A trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth can feel like a whirlwind of activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Stop and enjoy the view. Take the elevator to the viewing decks on the Contemporary Resort or enjoy a stroll through the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Take the ferry to enjoy the sights over Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon or find yourself a rocking chair on Tom Sawyer Island to watch Big Thunder Mountain. Let yourself get lost as you watch birds fly over the spires of Batuu. Take your time and enjoy.

9. The fireworks

Happily Ever After Fireworks Rendering

Image: Disney

There’s one Disney experience we’ve hinted at that will always inspire the feels for fans young or old.

Magic Kingdom fireworks.

While Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Epcot all have excellent fireworks shows, Disney just keeps outdoing themselves with Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks spectaculars. The current show, Happily Ever After, is one of the most wonderfully eye-boggling spectacles they’ve ever come up with. The show features a hypnotic blend of elaborate projections that pair with fireworks, lasers, and lights to magically transform Cinderella Castle into a living fairy castle, complete with stunningly realistic depictions of Disney characters and iconic scenes.

The show is a parade of one tear-jerking, hide-the-snot-coming-out-your-nose nostalgia fest after the other. Characters that haven’t gotten attention in years are celebrated alongside favorites like Moana, Aladdin and Jasmine, Simba, and so many more. Quasimodo sings of freedom while swinging from a bell tower in the castle’s spire. Rapunzel and Flynn Rider declare their love as lanterns rise into the sky. The Genie sends a spire blasting into space like a rocket, the Incredibles fight off supervillains to defend the towers, and Prince Philip bravely faces Maleficent’s dragon perched on the spire. It’s an insane hodge-podge of Disney cinematic history that should feel forced, should feel like too many IP’s in one show, but it doesn’t…

You just smile the whole time, and every new reveal ushers a fresh wave of cheers from the enchanted crowd.

Happily Ever After certainly won’t be Disney’s last fireworks spectacular, but there’s no question in our mind that it is definitely one of their finest. As long as fireworks blaze over Cinderella Castle, guests will keep feeling-the-feels every time Disney lights up the sky.

10. Watching kids experience the magic

Adorable little girl hugging Cinderella

For kids, the magic of Disney is real. They don’t struggle to imagine. They don’t over-analyze (and if they do, it’s usually adorable). There are so many things we quickly dismiss as adults that are utterly captivating for kids. Rides become adventures, characters become heroes, princesses become true royalty, and a youngling not even four feet tall can lift their chin and stand toe to toe with Kylo Ren.

Whether its your kids or just random kids in the park, its seriously heartwarming to watch kids revel in Disney magic. Forget collectibles, crazy fan disputes, grumbling about budget cuts, or frustration over IP usage—when kids do Disney, they do it right. They dive headfirst into the waters of imagination and don’t look back. They don’t have to be asked twice to help Rey save the Resistance. They know they can be the one who pulls the sword from the stone. The little things become fresh and alive and marvelous to them, and you can’t help but jump on the feelings train when you watch little heroes experience Disney as it was meant to be.

What Disney parks experiences cause you to feel the feels?