Nerds love Disney and Disney loves nerds. This adoration is so deep that Disney is willing to invest billions of dollars to make us happy.
The Shanghai Disney Resort, opening in June this year, is a bona fide nerd-topia.
Shanghai Disney’s Tomorrowland will feature a ride called TRON Lightcycle Power Run – based on the popular TRON movies – where a light cycle will take you through a huge, color-shifting canopy at high speeds.
Meanwhile, Adventure Isle’s Roaring Rapids will feature an ever-popular river raft ride like the Kali River Rapids in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom but these waters belong to Q’aráq, a crocodile-like beast.
Shanghai will also get their own version of the Star Wars Launch Bay that recently opened at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in California.
Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California are no different, adding fantastic new attractions in the next couple of years.
Disney World’s Animal Kingdom will be home to Pandora–The World of Avatar sometime in 2017. Both theme parks are also getting the newly-announced Star Wars Land with an unconfirmed grand opening in 2018.
With Disney’s busy season right around the corner, I thought it would be a great time to share some of my favorite nerdy things to do while at Disney World. We’ll start at Disney World’s Epcot.
Sample sodas from around the world at Club Cool, conveniently located in the center of Epcot’s Future World. Sponsored by Coca-Cola, this exhibit/store hands out free samples of pop from around the world and sells Coca-Cola merchandise.
There are 8 different types of soft drinks to sample:
- Fanta Pineapple
- There’s no better candidate for a world-wide soda brand than Fanta. They create 90 distinct flavors that can be found in 180 countries around the globe. Fanta Pineapple is caffeine-free and tastes like pineapple bubble gum with hints of coconut.
- If you’re not a fan of carrots, crack open a VegitaBeta to get that much needed beta-carotene. Originally introduced to Japan in 1992, I consider this apricot and passion fruit flavored non-carbonated beverage to be tame compared to other vending machine offerings from Japan. Canned bread, anyone?
- Melon Frosty
- Thailand is known for their sunny, tropical climate and breathtaking beaches. All of that heat makes Melon Frosty from Fanta the easy choice for cooling down and the No. 1 soft drink of Thailand.
- Another non-carbonated offering comes in the form of Bibo, a fruit flavored line of juice drinks from South Africa. Quench your thirst with fun flavors like Johnny Orange, Taka Strawberry and Paolo Peach.
- Oh my Sparberry, how I wish you were available in the States. Unfortunately, you can only get Sparberry in select countries of southeast Africa. Sparberry is a raspberry cream soda flavored soft drink. It’s as smooth and refreshing as it sounds.
- Guarana Kuat
- Brazilians love the taste of the local guarana berry, whose natural caffeine makes it a popular ingredient in many energy drinks. In response, Coca-Cola came out with Kuat. If you enjoy guarana flavored drinks like BAWLS, you’ll enjoy Kuat.
- Inca Kola
- Many people compare Peru’s Inca Kola to liquid bubble gum, and a little bit of bubble gum flavored soda goes along way. It reminded me of getting a huge scoop of bubble gum ice cream on a waffle cone. Unfortunately it was more enjoyable when I was young, and not so enjoyable now.
- No offense to the Italians, but taking a sip of Beverly is reminiscent of when you throw-up stomach acid. Its bitterness is overpowering and I didn’t find it the least bit refreshing. If I wanted something that tasted bitter, I would drink coffee.
Disney World strives to bring extraordinary experiences to their visitors. And as you can expect, only a select few will ever have the chance to take a trip to Mars. But when you take a ride on Mission: SPACE, you feel like you are one of them.
This ride is not for the faint of heart. You board the X-2, a futuristic spacecraft, and slingshot past the moon at 2.5Gs. A simulated hypersleep follows before you make your landing on Mars.
Motion sickness bags are always within reach if you start feeling queasy.
The Sum of All Thrills
Get a crash course in roller coaster physics when you design your own on a giant, interactive touch pad. Then take your masterpiece for a spin in a 4-D simulator.
The roller coaster tycoon experience is sponsored by Raytheon, a technology supplier for the military. Raytheon specializes in sophisticated weapons products and other defense systems for the military.
Raytheon believes if they can get kids interested in math and building at an early age, they’ll have a good chance at becoming the world’s next rockstar engineers.
This ride simulates the rigorous testing procedures that Chevrolet uses on its concept cars. You’ll take a Sim-Car that you design in the Chevrolet Design Studio through a digital testing ground called the SimTrack. You’ll even be able to see how your design is performing after each individual test.
The ride ends with a high-speed drive around the exterior of the building. During this outside drive, your Sim-Car will reach a top speed of 64.9 miles per hour, making Test Track one of the fastest Disney World attractions.
After the ride, you’ll be able to see how your car did overall. Then, take your MagicBand with your design and play games in the Chevrolet Showroom.
Situated in The Land Pavilion in Future World, hang glide over some of California’s exquisite landscapes in Soarin’. You will want to be in the front row for a totally immersive experience. An IMAX style video transports you to beautiful California locations.
Wind blows through your hair to give the sense of movement. As the video banks and turns, so will your floating seat. The lines are always long so plan ahead.
As part of Disney’s continuing efforts to surprise and excite their guests, Disney has currently closed Soarin’ for refurbishments for the first half of 2016. A new projection system and an all new high-definition film, Soarin’ Around the World, will bring a much needed upgrade to Epcot’s most popular ride.
Take a look at this breathtaking sneak peek of the filming of Soarin’ Around the World.
Originally known as Star Jets, this ride became the Astro Orbiter in 1994 as part of a massive Tomorrowland renovation project. Much like the Dumbo ride in Fantasyland, this is a simple spinner attraction that sends you around in circles.
The Astro Orbiter is unique because it offers one of the best views of the Magic Kingdom. You will have to take an elevator up to the top of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, where you will board your space shuttle ride vehicle.
Ride at night for a great view of the fireworks happening at Cinderella’s castle!
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Everything at Disney World has to have a story and I love it! In Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Evil Emperor Zurg is stealing batteries of the Little Green Men’s space vehicles to power a new weapon.
Travel through alien worlds accompanying Buzz Lightyear in his battle. Take aim at the Z-shaped targets littering these worlds. Blast the targets with your laser cannon to collect points and win the battle.
This ride is much like Toy Story’s Midway Mania ride that I’ll touch on a little later.
This space-themed indoor roller coaster is a classic Magic Kingdom ride. Originally opened in 1975, Space Mountain has successfully stood the test of time with minor enhancements here and there.
Disney Land also has a Space Mountain that recently became Hyperspace Mountain for Disney’s Season of the Force. Hyperspace Mountain is a seasonal Star Wars overlay for Space Mountain where guests join a battle between X-Wings and TIE fighters.
Little changes like this are great for Disney. It keeps older rides fresh by providing guests with a new experience.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
Most rides at Disney World stay the same year after year. Not Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. It’s a Star Wars-themed ride at Hollywood Studios and it changes each time you ride it! One time you might visit the underwater realms on Naboo, and another might be the Death Star.
Even the characters you encounter are random. Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Admiral Ackbar are just some of the Star Wars characters you might encounter.
The ride was recently updated with locations and characters from the new movie Star Wars – The Force Awakens.
Star Wars Launch Bay
Disney is, for lack of a better word, scrambling to bring great Star Wars experiences to their guests. So Disney decided to create the Star Wars Launch Bay to help guests get their fix while Star Wars Land is being developed.
Personally, I think Star Wars Launch Bay is a miss. I haven’t had a chance to experience it firsthand, but from what I’ve seen it’s a Star Wars museum with a couple character meet-and-greets and some playable video games. A museum is so far outside of the box of what Disney World traditionally does with its attractions that this one seems misplaced in any of the Disney parks.
If you are into museums and have a love for Star Wars, absolutely check this out. Or if it’s stifling hot out, it makes for a great place to cool down.
Toy Story Midway Mania!
Walt Disney Imagineering went all out for Toy Story Midway Mania! You start off in a queue designed to make you feel like you’re the size of an ant. Huge toys and games litter your way.
If that’s not enough to get you in the Toy Story mood, you’ll pass an animatronic Mr. Potato Head that likes to remove his ear and replacing it. You might be interested in knowing that the Mr. Potato Head animatronic is able to say more lines of a dialogue than any other animatronic created by Walt Disney Imagineering.
Lastly, grab your 3-D glasses and board on one of the spinning vehicles that will take you through many mini-games based on classic carnival midway games. You’ll be armed with a pull-string cannon that’s fixed to your ride vehicle. Don’t forget: You’ll be scored on your performance, so bring your A-game.
If you’re riding as a group, it’s always fun to see who comes out with the highest score.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
DINOSAUR is an older Disney movie from 2000. In the movie, you follow the story of an iguanadon named Aladar and his odd family of lemurs. The once green oasis where they live comes under strike from meteors and is transformed into a desert wasteland. Aladar and his family have no choice but to search for the “Nesting Grounds,” where there is plenty of food and water.
The movie performed poorly in the theatres and with critics, which makes it surprising that Disney decided to create a ride for it at all. Luckily, DINOSAUR the ride turned out better than the film.
On DINOSAUR you’ll take a trip back in time to save an iguanadon before the meteors strike. You’ll board on a jeep-like vehicle, called a Time Rover, that looks as if it came straight out of a Jurassic Park movie. The ride does a great job reminding you what it feels like to be on the lower end of the food chain, even bringing you close to a fearsome beast called a carnotaurus. The ride is very dark and includes loud noises, so be aware if you have small children with you and use your best judgement.
What was once known as Downtown Disney is now Disney Springs. After a long day at the parks, there is nothing more refreshing than a stroll through Disney Springs. You can tour the largest Disney character store at the World of Disney, eat at the beautiful new upscale restaurant called the Boathouse, or enjoy some live music.
Star Wars Galactic Outpost
Anything and everything Star Wars can be found at Star Wars Galactic Outpost in Disney Springs. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.
Toys, board games, video games, clothes, hats, purses, jewelry…and the list goes on. It’s a shame Disney doesn’t offer an online shop for the Star Wars Galactic Outpost, but I guess that’s because they want you to experience the real-deal firsthand.
Bonus Uncommon Knowledge
While it’s not a ride, this is still super cool! Did you know you can have dinner with an Imagineer? Imagineers are the creative masterminds who have made Disney World the amazing phenomenon that we’ve all grown to love. This is recommended for ages 14+, but I’m 34 and still want to do this.
Wrapping It Up
That’s my not-so-short list of all the Disney World attractions any nerd would enjoy. Did I overlook your favorite nerd-topia at Disney World? Comment below about your favorite Disney feature and why it holds a special, nerdy place in your heart.