Magic Kingdom is the classic Walt Disney World park – the one you think of when you think of the Disney parks with Cinderella Castle – and based on Walt Disney’s original concept at Disneyland, California.
The 7 areas of the Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is broken down into 7 distinct areas.
Main Street USA
When you enter the Magic Kingdom you come into Town Square which leads onto Main Street USA. This is an old style street, lined with shops and food-eries that leads you down and into the ‘hub’ of the Magic Kingdom, where the entrances for 4 different park areas are. I LOVE Main Street – it’s as equally as enjoyable as the rides and shows around the parks and I love the friendly, buzzing atmosphere. Almost every Walt Disney World fan will tell you that there is really something special to that moment when you stand and look down Main Street and see Cinderella Castle waiting for you at the end of it.
Key things you want to look out for on Main Street are:
- The Emporium – taking up the majority of the shops on the left hand side (as you face the castle), this is Magic Kingdom’s largest store, selling gifts and merchandise
- Plaza Ice Cream Parlour – on the right, towards Cinderella Castle end of Main Street. Mmm, they sell the best ice-creams!
- The Main Street performances – through out the day there will be mini performances along Main Street, from a barber shop quartet to a mini show, these are a great ‘extra’ to Magic Kingdom
- Harmony Barber Shop – yup there’s a barbers in Magic Kingdom and it’s become a tradition for many to have their kid’s first haircut there! In fact they’ll be awarded with a special set of mouse ears and a certificate. It has recently started taking appointments, so consider booking in advance if you fancy trying it out!
- Walt Disney Rail Road – the first of the stations is located ion Town Square, and its a nice way to get to Frontierland or Mickey’s Toontown Square (this latter station will be closing soon for the Fantasyland expansion).
Adventureland is the first land to the left when you reach the ‘hub’. Highlights are:
- Pirates of the Caribbean. This is based on the original Disneyland ride, and the famous films are based on this ride! It was renovated a few years ago to include Captain Jack Sparrow and you see him pop up through out the ride. It is technically a log flume kind of ride – you’re in little boats a bit like that and there’s one little dip as you go along, but its not a thrills ride like you might class a log flume to be.
- Dole Whips! Just opposite the Pirates of the Caribbean is Aloha Isle, selling pineapple and Dole whips and Dole whip floats – essentially soft whipped pineapple flavoured ice cream. I always thought these sounded disgusting and had always avoided them but on our last trip we had one and they are soo yummy – definitely give it a go!
- The Jungle Cruise – set sail on a boat with your Captain around the Jungle to see the animals. In Walt Disney’s original concept, the animals were going to be real. Sadly, that wasn’t to be with this ride and Walt never lived to see Animal Kingdom, which really brought his dreams to life. It’s still fun though, even without the real life animals – although not a thrill ride for those thrill-seekers among you!
Continue through Adventureland and you come to Frontierland, which has a sparse, cowboy type feel to it. You’re big reasons for a trip here is:
- Splash Mountain – the perfect way to cool down on a hot Orlando day – because you will get wet! It is a traditional style log flume, with dips and climbs building up to the big one at the end. Less traditional is that this ride is actually reasonably long – it makes you feel it was worth the wait to queue up for it, and it is based on the tale Brer Rabbit, telling his story on the way round. Watch out for Brer Fox!
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – a ‘run-away mine train’ style ride. This is a fun ride - a rollercoaster, but it doesn’t go upside down.
You can get into Liberty Square via Frontierland, from the main hub at the end of Main Street or from Fantasyland. Liberty Square is themed on Colonial America, and features a replica of the Liberty Bell. The big things here are:
- Liberty Square Riverboat – A big riverboat that takes you on a relaxing 12 minute journey around the Rivers of America
- Hall of Presidents – an animatronic show featuring all America’s Presidents, telling their history. Its actually really interesting and has been updated to include Obama.
- Haunted Mansion – this spooky ride is a favourite. Just be careful not to take any ghoulies home with you!
Right at the back of the Magic Kingdom, you can walk through Cinderella Castle to access it. If you’ve got young kids, this is probably where you’re headed and it can be one of the busiest areas. Highlights are:
- Snow White’s Scary Adventure – be careful with very little ones, it can be scary
- Peter Pan’s Flight – take a pirate ship and fly over London. The queues for this are usually quite long. From my experience in very buys times they speed up the ride and it’s not quite as good, so this might be one to head to early.
- “its a small world” – this is a ride on a boat (but don’t worry you wont get wet) taking you around the World to a very catchy tune! I really do find this ride quite boring, but its a classic, it has to be done!
- Prince Charming Regal Carousel – its a carousel, there’s not much left to say, but I do love it. Look out for the sword and the stone right in front.
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic – a fun 3D film
- Dumbo the F’ying Elephant – this usually has the longest lines, mainly as it only takes a few people and takes quite a while for people to get on and off. But I love it – sit in Dumbo and have him fly you around, using the lever to go as high or as low as you like.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – fun Pooh themed ride
- Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – as spinning tea cups ride. Very fun, but don’t eat first!
Mickey’s Toontown Fair
This area of the Magic Kingdom is really aimed at little ones – it’s where you find the junior coasters (although I’m a fan of The Brainstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm, myself) and Mickey and Minnie’s houses – where you can stop by for an autograph. Disney have announced that they are planning to expand Fantasyland and the work on this has already started. It’s a great move but it does mean that some of the rides and attractions in Toontown Fair will be moving. Just be aware of this so you’re not disappointed if you happen to visit during this time.
Well it does what it says – it focuses on the futuristic. You can reach it from the hub or through Fantasyland. Here’s the key rides:
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – my favourite Magic Kingdom Ride (2nd only to Toy Story Mania in Disney’s Hollywood Studios). Sit two to a car, each with laser guns and shoot at targets as you go around the ride to be awarded points. I definitely don’t have the knack for this yet – my husband wipes the floor with me every time, but it’s so much fun. Your points are tallied up and you can rank yourself against a score board at the end. In low season (when it’s not quite so busy) we’ve been known to get right of this and join the queue again up to 5 times in a row!
- Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor – this is a really impressive comedy show that interacts with the audience. I do enjoy it but we only usually do it once as I’m a bit scared I’ll get picked on!
- Stitch’s Great Escape – If I’m honest, this really isn’t that great – Stitch tries to escape while you’re on a mission. Definitely give it a try but I think this is one of Disney’s very rare duds. But that’s just my opinion – it is quite popular.
- Tomorrowland’s Indy Speedway – race your cars round a track. There is a height limit, and i always see adults on it but we tend to think this is more for the kids (or maybe non-drivers) – you’ll definitely drive faster pulling out of your driveway!
- Space Mountain – an indoor dark rollercoaster – very fun!
- Astro Orbiter – not one for you if you’re afraid of heights! The ride itself is a breeze – you sit in space ships that raise up and go round in a circle. But it is set way up in the sky, in open air and gives you terrific views of Walt Disney World. Or it would if I could open my eyes.
- Tommorowland’s Transit Authority – a train ride around some of Tomorrowland’s attractions
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – a very traditional Walt Disney World ride – although to call it a ride is probably a push. Although its been updated, this is based on the ride Walt Disney brought to the 1964 New York World Fair. It essentially sees a family through the ages. If I’m honest it probably won’t attract the majority of people – I think to appreciate the ride you probably have to appreciate the history of the Magic Kingdom. Having said that, my husband thinks I’m a bit of a freak for being so Disney World obsessed, and its one of his favourite attractions.
Shows and Parades at the Magic Kingdom
One of the things that makes Walt Disney World so special is all the extras – no-one comes just for the rides, its the whole experience and the shows and parades are a big part of that. You can pick up a times guide to see what’s showing the day you’re there, or check out the Magic Kingdom calendars on the Official Disney World website before you go so you can plan which days to visit which parks. A few to look out for are:
- The Magic Kingdom opening show – if you get there early enough you can see a mini-show where Mickey and friends appear at the train station to officially open the Magic Kingdom. This is a great thing to see on your first day!
- Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade – this is the main daytime parade and focuses on dreams
- Dream a-long with Mickey – a show at the front of the castle, performed several times a day. Be a part of Mickey’s dream and see if good can conqueror evil (although I’m sure you can take an educated guess on that one!)
- Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Street Party – another day time parade that is a little more interactive, encouraging you to get up and dance along.
- Main Street Electrical Parade – this is a night time electric lights parade and is really amazing to see. It has recently been revived, having been a popular parade in the past (replacing SpectroMagic) and is definitely one to watch!
- Wishes – this is the night time fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. Generally this show alone puts our fireworks displays on November 5th to shame!