What to Watch Before Going to Disney World

Because being caught up on your Disney princesses makes the experience better

Let’s face it. Nobody wants to wait in line for an hour to ride Toy Story Mania if they haven’t even seen Toy Story or can’t remember what happens (um…actually, yes. Yes, I do. But still).

Disney World is where Disney movies come alive.

So do yourself (or your inner child) a favor, and binge watch all your Disney favorites before you head to the most magical place on earth.

What Movies to Watch:

The Obvious Ones

All the Classic Animated Movies

Preferably on VHS (for nostalgia purposes).

I actually lost my Disney VHS collection when my apartment flooded WHILE WE WERE ON VACATION AT DISNEY WORLD!

But I found someone who was selling 100 VHS tapes for $5, so I got them back. No worries.

What ride are you most looking forward to (Or what character do you most want to meet)?

Really want to ride the Little Mermaid ride in Magic Kingdom? Make sure you watch The Little Mermaid before you go.

Looking forward to singing along with The Lion King characters at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Brush up on your song lyrics with a Disney movie night.

Obviously there are too many classic animated movies to watch them all (or are there??). So I would pick out the movies from the attractions you are most looking forward to and make sure you re-watch those ones (or watch for the first time, if you had a deprived childhood) before you go.

The Lion King show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The Less Obvious Choices

Saving Mr. Banks

The first time I saw this movie, I’ll admit, I was a little bored (and I just couldn’t stand Mrs. Travers!). But now I absolutely love it.

It’s a beautiful depiction of what it would have been like to actually work with Walt at his studios (#dreamjob), as well as a touching human interest story.

My favorite part is when they visit the park. It just gives me all sorts of Disney feels, and really puts me in the mood for a Disney vacation.

Walt Before Mickey

This is not a Hollywood blockbuster film, but if you love Disney and Disney history, this is a good one to check out.

It’s all about how hard Walt and his brother Roy worked to build up their company despite so many hard times, and will definitely make you more interested in the “Walt Disney Presents” museum at Hollywood Studios.

As long as you can get over the fact that Walt’s brother is played by Napoleon Dynamite.


Just one of the many movies that weren’t made by Disney but are now owned by Disney. I mean, really, I don’t watch Avatar and get the Disney feels.

And I almost forgot to watch this before our trip to Disney World!

But luckily Jason reminded me, because you definitely want to watch Avatar before you delve into Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

The “Hallelujah Mountains” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, from the movie Avatar.

Star Wars

Anything Star Wars. Because once again, they are now owned by Disney.

Although the Star Tours ride at Hollywood Studios has been there for years, even before Disney owned the rights. And yes I did ride it (and enjoy it) when I was 13, and couldn’t care less what the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars was (I was a different person then).

With Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, its presence at Hollywood Studios has grown infinitely. So if you’re going to spend a day at the Studios, at least familiarize yourself with the Star Wars universe before you go to explore all the props, memorabilia and new rides they now have.

  • “The Void” has an epic Star Wars virtual experience at Disney Springs, which is definitely worth checking out.

Marvel Movies

Another Disney acquisition (and pretty good movies too!).

I actually watched Avengers Infinity War at Disney World on my honeymoon (thanks Jason for getting me into this!), which was awesome.

Marvel hasn’t infiltrated Disney World as much as Star Wars (yet), but there are still Marvel related attractions that you just will not appreciate if you haven’t seen the movies (plus they’re just really good movies).

I’m really excited for the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster coming to EPCOT!

Indiana Jones

You pick which one. Or any good old fashioned action movie, really.

Because if you’re at Hollywood Studios, you can rest your feet a while at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! See how they film an action sequence, fight scenes and explosions!

You may even get picked to join in the excitement.

The “Ride” Movies

Pirates of the Caribbean

The classic Disney movie based on the ride (I am talking about the original movie!).

Since the movies came out, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World has been updated to feature Jack Sparrow and Davey Jones (you may even see Jack Sparrow wandering around the area).

But even before these characters were added, a lot of scenes from the movie, such as the dog in the jail and the town of Tortuga are based on the actual ride. It’s so much fun to ride through and see a scene that looks exactly like the movie!

The Haunted Mansion

The classic, cheesy Eddie Murphy movie. Good for a fall movie night, or a pre-Disney movie night.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

This is an old 90’s movie that tells the story behind the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

If you just go on the ride without watching the movie, you get a bit of the background story, but this definitely adds a lot. And it’s just a fun watch.

Jungle Cruise

Unless you don’t appreciate corny jokes. Then you definitely don’t want to watch this one! Just like the ride, the movie is packed with them.

So either before or after you cruise down the river in Magic Kingdom, be sure to check out the new movie for a good laugh.

How to “Properly” Have a Disney Movie Marathon:

If you’re getting geared up for going to the World, ooooorrrrrr if you’re stuck at home with no Disney magic (#quarantine), this is a great way to get you in the Disney mood!

Listen to (and sing along with!) some Disney Tunes!

Before you even begin your Disney movie marathon, get yourself in the mood with a Disney sing along.

There are so many options of Disney songs to listen to; I even have the soundtrack to Soarin’ on my ipod!

  • Fun Fact: During quarantine my nerdy sister and brother-in-law made a “March Madness” bracket for the best Disney song of all time! The Circle of Life won.

Wear Disney Themed Clothing

If you have a Disney t-shirt, hat, Mickey ears, or even a full-length princess costume, put it on! Nothing puts you in the Disney mood like a headache from those adorable Minnie ears (but really though!).

Eat Classic Disney Treats

You can find all sorts of Disney Parks recipes online, mostly of things in Mickey shapes. Step one of the Mickey waffle recipe is to plug in your Mickey shaped waffle iron…

Even if you don’t have a Mickey shaped cookie cutter or waffle iron, there are still a lot of recipes you can try (or you can just make Mickey pancakes—no equipment required!).

You can even find Mickey head ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches at many grocery stores…although honestly they’re not really that good. Save money and go with the normal ice cream sandwiches instead!

You can never have enough Disney!

Any more suggestions?

Got any other suggestions of movies to watch for Disney World (or land)? Leave them in the comments below!

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Check out these ideas of free (and cheap) things to do at Disney: