Ranking All the Sitcom Disneyland and Walt Disney World Episodes

In 1987 the first instance of the now-iconic phrase “I'm going to Disney World” was proclaimed by New York Giants quarterback and that year's Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms. A promotional idea from the mind of then Disney CEO Michael Eisner, the phrase “I'm going to Disney World” or “I'm going to Disneyland” has been exclaimed by every Super Bowl MVP since, including a commercial that would air after the said game, except for one year.

It has become one of the most iconic and steadfast connections to Disney Parks. Similarly, the other constant since the early 1990s is the obligatory family sitcom episode with its characters taking a trip to either Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth in Anaheim, California, or Walt Disney World, the Most Magical Place on Earth, in Orlando, Florida. Many of these even titled their episodes after that quintessential phrase.

In the heyday of family sitcoms, it seemed like every show featured an episode in the Disney Parks, with many of these airing on the Disney-owned ABC network. There are a few surprising exceptions. Did you know there was almost a Friends Walt Disney World episode? Eisner was keen on the show doing an episode there, but when the writers sent the script, it was deemed too risqué and never came to fruition.

Looking back on the episodes, they are equally delightful, fascinating, heartwarming, and humorous, with varied results in terms of quality, believability, and re-watchability. Overall, one of the most incredible things these episodes do is give us a glimpse into these parks at different periods, each acting as a time capsule for fans of Disney nostalgia.

Of course, they include things the biggest fans will know to be impossible, but one cannot help but sit back and enjoy. Here is the definitive ranking of every Disneyland and Walt Disney World sitcom episode.

The Big Bang Theory (Season 6, Episode 18 “The Contractual Obligation Implementation”)

I almost did not include this episode on the list, but ultimately decided to because it is hilarious. But I ranked it last because technically, the show did not film the scenes meant to be in Disneyland in the actual park. Given that the series aired on CBS and nowadays Disney is all about synergy and cross-promotions, that's not surprising.

The Disneyland aspect of the episode involves Penny, Amy, and Bernadette trying to give Raj advice about an upcoming date but get sidetracked when Disneyland is mentioned, and the three decide to head there the next day. On the car ride, they talk about getting Princess makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and argue about who gets to be each Princess.

We then cut to them sitting on some benches enjoying popcorn dressed as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella. Of course, this is inaccurate as adults cannot get makeovers in this shop. It is strictly for children, and adults can only dress in costume for special ticketed events like the Halloween parties.

But seeing them dressed up is funny, especially when it's juxtaposed against a moment later when they receive a phone call from Sheldon. He asks them to encourage some middle school girls about women not being taken seriously in typically male-dominated fields.

It's meant to be funny, but it's also a pretty clever commentary on how women can embrace their beauty and brains and be respected for both. The episode ends adorably with each couple engaging in some saucy role play that will make adults smile.

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (Season 2, Episode 23 “Disney World”)

The weakest of all the official Disney Parks episodes, this episode of Sabrina was clearly made as a promotional tool. Featuring Disney's Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World, this episode aired just two days after the park opened on April 22, 1998.

The episode focuses on the school trip Sabrina, her classmates, her Aunts, and Salem (who stows away) take to Florida, with Sabrina trying to collect all the ingredients she needs to make a potion to pass her witch's exam. Of course, chaos ensues as her Principal, Mr. Kraft is suspicious as always, Harvey magically becomes a tour guide on the animal Safari ride, and her friend Valerie and rival Libby are accidentally turned into zebras.

There's also a subplot where Aunts Hilda and Zelda discover ancient fossils and turn them into their former self- a caveman. Unfortunately, the whole thing is silly and doesn't showcase much of the actual park. It's a pleasant viewing for those who want to watch every Disney Parks episode, but not the best.

The Goldbergs (Season 7, Episode 1 “Vacation”)

Similar to Sabrina, not very much of the actual Disney Park, Disneyland in California, is seen in the episode. It's only in the last few minutes that the Goldberg family reaches the Happiest Place on Earth. Instead, it's all about the journey, which is hilarious and heartwarming.

The family takes what they believe will be their last family vacation together before Barry and Erica are off at college, with their mother Beverly and father Murray acting like their typical selves. ‘Vacation” is fashioned very much after the film National Lampoon's Vacation, complete with zany antics, luggage trouble, and a car crash.

There are also fun cameos by Christy Brinkley revisiting the same role as a sexy driver who catches the eye of Pops, and Anthony Michael Hall, who steps into the part of the man who told the Griswolds that Wally World was closed.

In this case, the Goldbergs merely arrived early, and we get to see them enjoy the park in the episode's final minutes, after a surprising intervention from their father that uncharacteristically showed him being sweet and loving. We don't get to see much, but the homages are clever and humor self-referential.

It is especially amusing to see Adam excited that the Star Tours ride had just opened, joking that an entire land dedicated to his favorite film is merely the stuff of dreams. All of these elements make for an entertaining episode.

Blossom (Season 3, Episode 9 \\”the Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men\\”)

As stated before, while almost all Disney Parks-themed episodes aired on the Disney-owned ABC network, it's worth noting that not all have. The first episode of this sort was this series, which aired on NBC in 1993. The plot of the episode is typical of the series- an innocuous teenage romantic drama that is resolved by the episode's end.

Specifically, the Russo father gets a last-minute job as an Elvis impersonator for a show at Disneyland, and his kids and their friends go along for fun. Blossom and her boyfriend Vinnie, who is acting strangely, get into a fight when she sees him embrace another girl while riding the Skyway (it was actually his cousin, and he was acting oddly because of a fear of heights and roller coasters).

Six meets a friend who is a new Jungle Cruise skipper and takes over for him to amusing if completely unbelievable results. Anthony gets upset when all the characters seem to be flirting with her girlfriend, and Joey gets a crush on Sleeping Beauty but ends up spending the day with a different kind of woman- a nun.

Ultimately, Blossom and Vinnie make up, and everyone is astonished when they see Mr. Russo as the King himself. The episode itself may be typical, but it's still fun. The best thing is that this started a trend for other sitcoms to have similarly themed episodes, much like how they began the “very special episode” trend.

Moreover, it gave Disneyland fans a chance to see how the park looked in the early 1990s, with many things looking much different than they do now. We get to see the long-gone Skyway, the People Mover, and more, with a special appearance by the Mickey Mouse Club group The Party, which I am sure Gen-Xers and Millennials will remember fondly. It's fun 90s nostalgic all around.

Step By Step (Season 5, Episodes 22 & 23 “We're Going to Disney World Part 1 & 2”)

This two-part episode of this Brady Bunch-style sitcom is a bit zany with completely unrealistic antics that, despite everything, are a joy to watch. Several plots occur for the Lambert-Foster family trip to Walt Disney World. Parents Frank and Carol hope to have some quality time together for their anniversary.

Fun in the parks halts for sisters Dana, Karen, and Al when Karen decides to enter a country music contest at the family-friendly nightclub the Neon Armadillo on the long-gone Pleasure Island (which is now the shopping center Disney Springs). JT and his friend Rich meet some girls, and they pretend to be part of the Disney family to impress them, spending all their money in the process.

And lastly, Mark, Brendan, and newcomer Flash embark on a mission to break a record previously held by a Russian man to experience every attraction, eat at every restaurant, and shop at every gift shop in the resort.

All the storylines feel typical for the series' tone and are enjoyable even if they lack believability. As a viewer, I know I thought it ridiculous that anyone would choose to enter a singing contest and waste precious vacation time, while the record Flash attempts to break lacks any sense of actual plausibility in how it is portrayed.

And despite that, the best aspects of the episodes involve these storylines as they provide us with a unique and varied view of many restaurants, rides, and shows that Walt Disney World had to offer at that time. The best of these is Flash standing in for Indiana Jones in his stunt show so a little boy wouldn't be disappointed.

The record-breaking moments are enjoyable, as fellow theme park enthusiasts will know that this would be next to impossible these days, but also that some of these attractions are long gone. Plus, the idea of bringing a record back to America, the birthplace of this magical world, is inspiring.

Family Matters (Season 6, Episodes 22 & 23 “We're Going to Disney World Part 1 & 2”)

This two-part finale of the sitcom, which became best known for the nerdy character Steve Urkel, has an interesting dichotomy that was employed in the series as a whole. We have wholesome and earnest family antics and conflicts contrasted against what is essentially science fiction.

It's still unclear why the show took this route, but at some point, Family Matters decided to have a storyline in which Steve invents a machine that can alter his DNA and turn him into a different person. The nerdy, awkward, high-pitched voiced Steve becomes the suave and deeper-voiced Stefan. And the two “different” people love two different women. Steve loves Myra, while Stefan loves Laura.

This continued fantastical and romantic plot is the focus of these Disney World episodes when Steve is invited to a contest to showcase his invention. Laura tampers with the machine so he can stay as Stefan, who then proposes to her. But in the end, both realize they are being selfish and unkind towards Myra.

What's interesting about this story is that as absolutely ridiculous as it is (this machine can also somehow change his clothes), it is played with such earnestness and, in the end, sweetness that it's still enjoyable to watch.

But the best part of the episode involves the show's parental figures, Carl and Harriet. Carl, reluctant to take this vacation, is preoccupied with the cases he was working on. But when he lets that Disney magic in, he rediscovers the child within as we see them explore the parks with great delight. But he goes a bit too far and wants to quit his job and move to Orlando.

That is until Harriet helps him course correct and realizes it's about balancing the importance and pride in his work as a police officer while still taking time to enjoy some good old-fashioned fun.

The George Lopez Show (Season 3, Episode 24 “George Goes to Disneyland”)

A TV show rarely breaks the fourth wall, but this episode does so in its first moments as a tie-in contest they held when this aired. Talking directly to the audience, they are told to pay close attention, count how many Mickeys they see throughout the episode, and send the answer in to win a trip to Disneyland.

I did not count, but they are laughably everywhere. The actual plot of the episode is straightforward but very amusing and heartfelt. George promises to take his son Max to Disneyland, but when the time comes, he makes up excuses, so Angie takes him as well as their daughter and a few other family friends.

George and his mother are left at home, and he admits to her that he doesn't want to go because it would only remind him of what he missed out on as a child.

Of course, George and his mother get to the park, and soon the bitterness turns to absolute glee when their attempts to meet up with the rest of their family are delayed by all the fun they are having together. Seeing so much of Disneyland's best, we can't help but feel the joy they are experiencing.

The highlights include a trip down Splash Mountain, a spin on the teacups, and a drop-down of the new at the time Hollywood Tower of Terror, which has since become Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. Overall, the episode is an excellent example of how we should never let wonderful opportunities pass us by out of resentment but instead seize any moment of joy possible.

Roseanne (Season 8, Episodes 18 & 19 “We're Going to Disney World”)

One of the best episodes of the series, this two-part installment is also one of the best in this list at remaining true to the characters and concept of the show while still bringing in that particular kind of Disney magic to the Conner family.

After being laid off from his job, Dan gets a decent severance. After joking about wisely investing it, he and Roseanne decide to take the whole family on the type of vacation they've never been able to take as a lower-income family.

They consider places in Europe but ultimately realize they can simply go to the place that has everything: Epcot. And while there, they can enjoy all the other parks. And the results are incredibly funny and surprisingly heartwarming without losing that biting and sarcastic comedy the series was known for.

After marveling at the joys of the luxuries of the hotel, the family splits into different groups, each with its own agenda. Dan just wants to find a place to enjoy a nice beer and finds that and then some at the World Showcase In Epcot.

Roseanne and Jackie delight in cast members who remain kind no matter what. Becky tries to convince her husband Mark that he doesn't have to be jealous of characters she seems to be charming at every turn. And DJ and David have fun while Darlene sulks. That is until she meets her childhood love, Winnie the Pooh, and reverts back to a giddy little kid.

While one could nitpick at how they jump from park to park with no time constraints (something that most of the episodes do), Roseanne's trip to Walt Disney World is delightful.

Boy Meets World (Season 3, Episode 21 “The Happiest Show on Earth”)

If you are of a certain age, chances are one of the first television couples you found yourself rooting for was childhood sweethearts Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence. Well then, you must thank this season 3 episode that brings our characters to Walt Disney World, and after Cory tries to prove himself to Topanga, brought them back together for good.

The concept of this episode is twofold: showcase the Most Magical Place on Earth in a fun and creative way, and bring these two kids back together in a romantic, Disney kind of way. It also shares a unique distinction with one other show on this list: Step By Step. That episode and this Boy Meets World aired back to back on the famous TGIF ABC lineup on the same night.

Step By Step actor Staci Keanan even did a crossover guest star role, helping Cory open up about his feelings when encountering a dolphin being cared for at Epcot, who is suffering from loneliness because she is separated from her mate.

The plot is simple: Cory, regretting that he has broken up with Topanga, plans to let her know, but she, as well as a group of other students, wins an essay contest that takes them to Walt Disney World. So, Cory follows her there, trying everything to prove how much he loves her, with obstacles thrown every which way.

His search for her once arriving, and all his attempts to prove himself, with his best friend Shawn right there with him, are not only funny but also fit that good-natured humor for which Boy Meets World was known.

We also see a great deal of the parks and their varied attractions, seen in creative ways such as waking up in Splash Mountain, scuba diving on the Living Seas Lagoon, and the beautiful fountains and fireworks that provide the romantic backdrop for when Cory and Topanga come back together. And results are sweet and adorable.

Black-ish (Season 3, Episode 1 “VIP”)

This Walt Disney World-themed episode gives us one of the most unique, heartfelt, and worthy lessons to the audience. When Dre takes his entire family, including his wife Rainbow, his four kids Zoey, Andre Jr., Jack, and Diane, and in-laws Ruby and Pops on vacation to The Most Magical Place on Earth, this trip is not like most.

This trip is a VIP experience where a tour guide takes you around the resort, and you get front-of-the-line privileges at all the attractions. Dre is excited to be able to give his family something special he never got to experience as a kid. But soon, his kids, who at first were embarrassed at walking past the other people in line, begin to act like celebrities breezing by all the regular guests who have to wait.

They eventually need a hefty serving of humble pie when their tour ends, and they must wait in line with everyone else. Frustrated with his kids, Dre leaves them in anger, but in the end, both the kids and their father learn a lesson in humility and how you can have fun whether you're a VIP or regular guest.

Meanwhile, Rainbow cannot ride most things because she's pregnant, and her parents, who complain about the heat, are decidedly grumpy. Wanting to pack it in and return to the hotel, that Disney magic suddenly hits them, and their attempts to leave are continually “hindered” by amazing rides, gift shops, and even being asked to ride on a parade float. Overall, the adventures of this family are hilarious and heartwarming to watch.

Modern Family (Season 3, Episode 22 “Disneyland”)

The best of all the Disneyland-centric episodes, the trip to the Happiest Place on Earth for the Dunphy and Pritchett family, has every character acting as they usually do, with the episode playing out in the usual way. But that is not to say that it is a bad thing.

On the contrary, we get one of the best episodes of the series because we are brought the steadfast warmth and hilarity that Modern Family is known for, married with Disneyland fun and heart that never feels too saccharine or packaged. Every family member has a unique story. Jay is excited to visit with his family because the last time he did, he had a fight with his ex-wife and took the kids alone.

Claire is trying to play matchmaker for Hayley by inviting an upstanding college boy, but she's only interested in her ex-boyfriend Dylan, who she finds working at the park as a Dapper Dan. Phil and Luke are excited to ride all the roller coasters, but Phil soon learns he can't handle them like he used to.

Also, Mitchell and Cameron are excited to bring their daughter Lily but argue about putting a leash on her to stop her from running off, Manny is preoccupied with his stock market school project, and Gloria stubbornly wears her high heels and is soon in great pain until Jay sweetly buys her a pair of Minnie slippers.

What makes this one of the best Disney-themed episodes, as well as in general Modern Family episodes, is that it seamlessly blends its particular style and comedy with park surroundings, showcasing so many of Disneyland's attractions.

These include the beauties of Main Street, fun-filled Toontown, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Dumbo, Splash Mountain, and Jay's favorite Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which ends the family's visit to the Happiest Place on Earth. The episode is sweet, sometimes hilarious, and uses the park not only as an excuse for a fun episode but as a way of showcasing how much their family dynamics mean to them all.

The Middle (Season 5, Episodes 23 & 24 “Orlando” & “The Wonderful World of the Hecks”)

Probably the most relatable episodes on the entire list, the Walt Disney World trip for the Heck family does not go off without a hitch. Not only are they some of the funniest entries, but they are also ones that families of limited means, families who always seem to have things go wrong, and families who don't always get along and bicker often, will relate to.

They will undoubtedly see themselves on screen and even have their heartstrings pulled. Sue, the eternally hopeful and diligent girl she is, wins the trip for her family, but after a detour to visit Brick's girlfriend, the Hecks finally arrive at Walt Disney World in Florida, only to be told their tickets are for Disneyland in California.

Of course, the cast members are accommodating and not only transfer their tickets but give them a luxury suite, much to the Heck's exuberant delight. Anyone not used to such things will bust a gut laughing at their excitement over every inch of their amazing room.

But this is the Hecks, and things do not go as planned, including oversleeping, two trips to emergency care for Sue, Brick spending too long choosing a font for his Mickey ear hat, and bickering amongst the kids, making dad Mike decide to take his wife Frankie to Epcot because he knows he'll never be able to take her to Paris for real.

They leave the three kids to argue amongst themselves, who eventually start to get along and have a great time together. The episode ends in that traditionally heartfelt way with all of the family together again, enjoying the fireworks. Things may not have been perfect, but that doesn't mean it wasn't worthwhile.

Full House (Season 6, Episodes 23 & 24 “The House Meets the Mouse Part 1 & 2”)

It should not be surprising that the beloved family sitcom's Walt Disney World episodes are at the top of this list. In “The House That Meets The Mouse,” Jesse and the Rippers are invited to play at the Magic Kingdom in the first show to do a big two-part episode and the first to air on ABC.

But instead of just a romantic trip for him and Becky for their anniversary, Danny decides to bring the entire family too, and the results are just what you would expect: a little crazy, hilarious, wholesome, and heartwarming in the end. While there are times when the family is all together, they also split up, with each group having its own storyline.

Becky is upset that Jesse can't spend as much time with her and their twins as promised but makes it up to her with a romantic serenade. Additionally, Joey visits his friend, real-life Disney animator Mark Henn, and Danny keeps trying to propose to his girlfriend Vickie but is continuously interrupted.

Meanwhile, DJ, Stephanie, Kimmy, and Michelle explore the Magic Kingdom, with Michelle winning a contest and being crowned “Princess for the Day,” granting her three wishes. But Michelle soon grows a big head and goes off by herself, leaving her sisters scared and frantic.

Of course, Full House wouldn't be the show that it is without a lesson learned and the family coming together for a good talk and some hugs. That is one of the reasons these are the best Disney-themed episodes of the bunch- because, like the films and shows that Disney produces, we see sweet-natured and wholesome entertainment with a bit of moral wisdom thrown in.

Moreover, it's also the characters and what they go through, as well as the vast amount of the Walt Disney World Resort we get to see showcased, such as the Living Seas Restaurant and the Grand Floridian Resort Hotel, that make these episodes special.

There are also wonderful scenes where DJ imagines her boyfriend Steve everywhere she goes, including Aladdin (a clever inside joke because actor Scott Weinger was the voice of the animated character), as well as Indiana Jones in the Stunt Spectacular Show, which is just plain fun to watch.

The episode ends in spectacular fashion when the Tanners get to ride in the parade, giving us a look at the 35th Anniversary Walt Disney World “Party Gras Parade,” and Danny is finally able to propose to Vickie in fireworks form.

As Jesse and the Rippers sing “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” right in front of Cinderella Castle, the whole family looks on finding their own happy moment. It is just how you would expect this episode to conclude, making it all the more lovely and wonderful.

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Marianne Paluso is a freelance artist and writer inspired by her favorite films, television, theme parks and all things pop culture. She especially loves Disney, classic films, fairy tales, period dramas, musicals, adventures, mysteries, and a good rom-com. She also partakes in the occasional Disneybound, cosplay, and YouTube video.