People often write them off as over-rated, or as “something you see in the commercials for free.” While it is true that there is much more to Walt Disney World Resort than the Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth at Epcot, the Tree of Life in the Animal Kingdom, and The Great Movie Ride in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, these world-famous attractions are not iconic for no reason.

When planning your Disney vacation, especially if it is your first, or if you haven’t been in a while, it is a great idea to incorporate these attractions into your planning. Even just a short stop at each of these iconic attractions adds scope to your Disney vacation, as they show, without words a long, rich history and world-wide adoration that does not go underserved by the theme park resort and its icons.

Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom

The Cinderella Castle is the iconic attraction at Walt Disney World. It’s not one of a few; it’s the one. That has a lot to do with it being used as Walt Disney’s logo, but seeing it in person is something else entirely. It is a real live fairytale castle. Just the sight of the sun glittering off its banners is enough to send your heart aflutter. Since it is located at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., its hard not to expect to see Belle waltzing around, her nose in a book, or a Prince riding his white steed to slay a dragon.

Cinderella Castle is probably the most iconic structure in all of Disney World.

Cinderella Castle is probably the most iconic structure in all of Disney World.

The construction, the artistry, the design that went into the creation of the Cinderella Castle in order to make it live up to – and surpass – the inevitable expectations it carries are extraordinary. The more you explore the castle, the more you will notice this, whether you take time out to enjoy the amazing mosaic murals on the ground floor, do the character breakfast there with the Disney Princesses, or hit up the Bibbity Bobbity Boo Salon for a Princess Makeover.  Disney did not miss a stitch in the baroque creation of the grandiose and whimsical icon – detail which is as essential a part to Disney’s image as Mickey himself. If the Castle itself isn’t enough to convince you, the fireworks cascading across the night sky behind it will be.

Spaceship Earth at Epcot

Spaceship Earth, or as you may be more familiar with it as, “the giant silver golf ball” is symbolic of all things Epcot. If you’ll recall, the two areas of Epcot are the World Pavilion Showcase and Future World. Walt Disney created Epcot to reflect his optimistic view of the future – which he hoped would be a world of togetherness and technological progress. Spaceship Earth reflects both aspects, the “Spaceship” to represent technology and “Earth” to represent the peoples united therein.

Spaceship Earth is the symbol of Epcot.

Spaceship Earth is the symbol of Epcot.

Another breathtaking way to appreciate an iconic Epcot experience is to check out the nighttime spectacular called IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. This is not as popular as the Wishes fireworks show over at the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, however, this show is almost theatrical in its artistic and stylized use of fireworks, lasers, and music to tell the story of the chaos becoming life and adventure, and a celebration of that process.

The Tree of Life in the Animal Kingdom

The Tree of Life is an awe-inspiring work of art located in the Discovery Island Area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. This sculpture stands 145 feet tall and is 50 feet wide. The message of this sculpture is that of animal conservation. The Tree has ornate carvings of all different species from around the world in its massive trunk. It is a perfect place to find your favorite animal, contemplate how many animals there are in the world, or just relax in the shade and take in a wondrous work of art. It is located at the center of the Animal Kingdom Theme Park, so it is easy to swing by, plus the Tree of Life is host to the 3D live theatre show, “It’s Tough To Be a Bug.”

The Tree Of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom is the latest Disney World icon.

The Tree Of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the latest Disney World icon.