Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Lisa Fritscher November 11, 2010 1 Comment

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Cinderella Castle Disney World Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle is one of the most iconic images in the world

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park in the world, drawing an estimated 17.2 million people in 2009. Even if you have never visited, Cinderella’s Castle, Mickey Mouse and Space Mountain may be indelibly etched in your mind. Make a loose plan in advance, but remain flexible. The Magic Kingdom is filled with small details that are easy to overlook, but add a bit of magic for those who happen to find them. 

Main Street, USA 

Main Street USA Disney World Magic Kingdom

Main Street USA bridges the gap between the real world and the fantasy realms

Main Street, USA is the bridge between the real world and the fantasy realms of the Magic Kingdom. This replica of an early 20th century town is filled with shops and restaurants, as well as the main support buildings for the Magic Kingdom. Guest Relations, located inside City Hall, is your one-stop solution for any issues that may arise during the day, and is the place to register any compliments or complaints you might have. If anyone in your group is disabled, stop by to learn all the ways that Walt Disney World can make your visit a little easier. 

Across the street is the Stroller/Wheelchair rental office. Disney prices are high, so it is always best to bring your own or rent from an outside company. Still, it is nice to know that strollers, wheelchairs and ECVs are available in case your child suddenly refuses to walk or someone twists an ankle. Length-of-stay rentals, in which you prepay up front for your entire vacation, are always cheaper than individual daily rentals. 

The Hub 

The Hub Disney World Magic Kingdom

Themed lands extend from the Hub like spokes on a wheel

At the end of Main Street, USA is Cinderella’s Castle. Upstairs is a very expensive but highly worthwhile character meal called Cinderella’s Royal Table. If your kids are into princesses, consider booking an appointment for princess makeovers at the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boutique followed by a meal with Cinderella. Both the Boutique and the restaurant generally book up six months in advance, so make your reservations early! 

The area in front of the Castle is known as the Hub. Seven themed lands (including Main Street, USA) extend outward from the Hub like the spokes on a wheel. Most people turn right, so beat the crowds and start by turning left to visit Adventureland. 

Adventureland 

Adventureland Disney World Magic Kingdom

Adventureland features pirates and jungle adventures

Themed as an exotic visit to far-off lands, Adventureland celebrates cultures from Africa to Polynesia. Pirates, a jungle cruise guided by a wisecracking skipper, a massive tree house, singing birds and even a ride on a magic carpet are among the highlights here. All attractions in this land are family-friendly and appropriate for all. Go ahead and take everything in when you arrive, but try to return after dark if you have the time. This is my family’s favorite place to wrap up an evening, when the jungle feels a bit more real. 

Frontierland 

Frontierland Disney World Magic Kingdom

Explore the Wild West in Frontierland

Frontierland recreates the American Old West. The focus is on rough and tumble fun, from cave exploration to a runaway mine train. Schedule plenty of time to play on Tom Sawyer’s Island and watch the street performers along the main paths. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a relatively mild roller coaster, while Splash Mountain is a long, themed flume ride with a steep final drop. The height requirement for both attractions is 40 inches, and both participate in the child swap program. In child swap, one parent stays with the child while the other rides, and then the adults switch without standing in line again. Ask for more details at the ride entrance. 

Liberty Square 

Liberty Square Disney World Magic Kingdom

Look for the dangling shutters in Liberty Square

You will definitely feel like you stepped back in time in Liberty Square, a recreation of a small Revolutionary-era town. Look for historically accurate details including the sagging window shutters. During the Revolutionary War, all available metal was melted down to make bullets. This included shutter hinges, which were replaced with leather straps. As the leather aged and stretched, the shutters began to sag. 

The Haunted Mansion Disney World Magic Kingdom

The Haunted Mansion is more silly than scary

Besides a riverboat ride, Liberty Square offers two main attractions. The Haunted Mansion is filled with 999 happy haunts, and is more silly than truly scary. Easily frightened children, however, may have a different opinion! Preview this one first if you have any doubts. 

The Hall of Presidents was sort of a running joke for decades, due to extremely old technology and a somewhat boring storyline. However, a recent renovation moved the attraction firmly into the 21st century. With speeches by President Lincoln and President Obama, and a stirring storyline, this is a must-see for kids old enough to begin studying US history. 

Fantasyland 

Fantasyland  Disney World Magic Kingdom

Fantasyland brings classic stories to life

The most iconic land in the park, Fantasyland is the stuff of children’s dreams. Plan to spend a lot of time here, especially if your kids are small. All attractions in Fantasyland are designed with children in mind, although there is a lot to see for adults as well, so there is no need to split up the group. Snow White’s Scary Adventures has been significantly toned down from its first incarnation, but some scenes are a bit frightening. If your kids have seen Snow White, just let them know that the Witch makes several appearances. Or preview the ride if you have any concerns. Don’t miss the Cinderella fountain, located just to the right of the Castle. Keep an eye on the mural behind her as you make a deep bow to the Princess. 

Mickey’s Toontown Fair 

Mickey's Toontown Fair Disney World Magic Kingdom

Mickey's Toontown Fair is undergoing a major renovation in 2011

Originally a temporary expansion known as Mickey’s Birthdayland and later renamed Mickey’s Starland, Mickey’s Toontown Fair is a wonderful place to meet characters. Both the classic characters and the Disney Fairies can be found here along with walk-through character houses, a child-sized roller coaster that’s surprisingly fun for adults too, and a wonderful farmer’s market with healthy snack choices. Mickey’s Toontown Fair is scheduled for demolition in 2011 to make room for a massive expansion of Fantasyland, but most of the elements are expected to return in a newly upgraded form.

Tomorrowland
 

Space Mountain Disney World Magic Kingdom

Space Mountain is a high speed roller coaster in the dark

Highlighting “The Future That Never Was but Always Will Be,” Tomorrowland is a bit thematically confused. The land was originally designed to showcase futuristic technology, but the 1982 opening of Epcot’s Future World made Tomorrowland obsolete. For decades the land seemed frozen in time, languishing in a bright white 1970s vision of the future. A retro makeover in the 1990s resulted in the current theme, but the introduction of characters such as Stitch and Buzz Lightyear muddled the concept. Nonetheless, the land delivers a great deal of fun. 

Most Tomorrowland attractions are appropriate for the entire family. Kids must be 54 inches tall to drive alone on the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, but there is no height requirement when accompanied by an adult. If your child can reach the pedals, he is welcome to drive. The only ride that may be a concern for families with small children is Space Mountain. 

An indoor roller coaster in the dark, Space Mountain is too much for many kids. The ride is themed as a rocket ship trip into space, and the effects are quite realistic. The rocket cars seat passengers one in front of the other, making it difficult for a parent to comfort a frightened child. On the other hand, the ride is a favorite for many brave, coaster-loving kids. If your kids meet the 44 inch height requirement, consider previewing the ride before making a decision. 

Magic Kingdom by Night 

Wishes Fireworks Disney World Magic Kingdom

Wishes is an extremely popular evening fireworks show

Evenings are especially magical at the Magic Kingdom, when the crowds thin, the weather cools and the park is illuminated by fanciful lights. Debuted in 1977, the Main Street Electrical Parade was the original nighttime parade at the Magic Kingdom, but it was replaced by the new high-tech Spectromagic in 2001. In 2010, the Main Street Electrical Parade returned to the Magic Kingdom for a special summer engagement, but it proved so popular that it was retained indefinitely. Stake out your favorite curbside seat early, as the parade is extremely well attended. After the parade, stay put for the fireworks. In 2003, Fantasy in the Sky was replaced by the extremely popular Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, which utilizes light effects on the Castle to enhance the fireworks display. 

Disney World Magic Kingdom at Night

The Magic Kingdom is especially beautiful after dark

When the fireworks are over, hang back and relax. The shops and restaurants along Main Street are open for at least an hour after park closing. It is a lot more pleasant to snack on ice cream or popcorn and let the crowds clear than to get caught in a stampede for the exit!

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avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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One Comments to “Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom”
  1. avatar Walt Disney World - Off the Beaten Path Details Easily Overlooked says:

    [...] into the park, slow down and take your time. Notice the red tint to the street? Walt Disney saw the Magic Kingdom as his guests’ opportunity to step inside a motion picture. The red street represents the red [...]