Disney’s Magic Kingdom – Orlando, Florida

Jocelyn Murray January 30, 2013 No Comments

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Magic wands, fairy godmothers, evil witches, dashing pirates, princesses, kingdoms and enchantments galore: Disney’s Magic Kingdom is the place where beloved fairytales and a host of other amusements are transformed into thrilling rides and interactive experiences to delight children and grownups of all ages.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, or with Disneyland in California, it is definitely worth a visit. But be forewarned: these Disney World parks are popular, drawing large crowds, which translates into long lines.

 

Park Areas

Cinderella's Castle - Disney World

Cinderella’s Castle rising in regal splendor to greet expectant guests

The Magic Kingdom is organized into six exciting themed areas complete with rides and attractions, dining, shops, and plenty of fun-filled entertainment. Fantasyland, Adventureland, Liberty Square, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, and Main Street USA all entice guests with their dazzling appeal and the promise of enchantment. And rising above them with resplendent majesty is the iconic Cinderella Castle with its vaulted ceiling, columned walls, jeweled lighting, and stunning mosaics in shimmering glass, gold and silver illustrating the story of Cinderella with such exquisite detail befitting any royal palace. It’s charming to see the expression of wonder on the many children visiting the park with their families, and especially on the little girls bedecked in their princess finery and eager to experience the magic of Disney.

If you plan to visit with little ones, the smaller rides are a great choice, and usually have shorter waits. Things like Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan’s Flight, the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, the Mad Tea Party, the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh are perfect.

 

Fastpass Advantage

Something to help speed the wait along is the “Fastpass” which lets guests reserve a time slot on a popular ride, allowing them the freedom to go and explore other rides until it is time for them to return to the attraction. While Fastpass does alleviate the long waits on those rides for which it is used, it can only be used for one ride at a time.

 

Notable Rides & Attractions

It's a Small World - Disney World

The detail on It’s a Small World’s cheerful attraction is beautiful

My own personal favorite attractions include the ever-popular child-friendly It’s a Small World where guests ride on a musical boat tour that glides through an amazing collage of dancing and singing characters dressed in their native costumes from a host of countries around the world. They sing the classic “It’s a Small World” song in their own languages, and usually have onlooking guests singing along or at least humming the tune long after the ride is over.

Pirates of the Caribbean - Disney World

Beware of plunderin’ pirates dear landlubbers!

Another must-see is the Pirates of the Caribbean made even more popular by the hit movie starring Johnny Depp. His character Jack Sparrow can be seen hiding in many of the cleverly-enacted scenes throughout the ride. One drifts through the life-like exhibits with the overwhelming desire to hop out of the boat and explore the seaport towns, fortress alleyways, battling galleons, cobwebbed catacombs, and hidden grottos with mounds of treasure glittering in the shadowy light. Although it might be a bit dark and spooky for very young children, it is lots of fun for anyone interested in pirate tales brought to life with all the robust hardiness of a barrel of rum. And while dead men may tell no tales, these life-like characters spin the imagination with their boisterous serenades and plundering antics that make one want to escape on a 17th century spellbinding quest.

Haunted Mansion's colonial architecture

The Haunted Mansion’s colonial architecture is as beautiful as it is imposing

For those intrigued by ghostly adventures, the Haunted Mansion makes for a fascinating visit. The colonial manor is as beautiful as it is imposing, with its intricate architectural details, long corridors, fancy wallpapering, pallid light glowing from cobwebbed chandeliers, painted portraits and carved busts of stern-faced subjects staring out from their niches with ominous all-seeing eyes that seem to watch passersby wherever they go.

Hitchhiking Ghosts - Disney World

Beware of hitchhiking ghosts…

Guests sit in a “doom buggy” as they tour the mansion that is home to 999 reveling ghosts. The mansion has over 15 rooms including a grand ballroom and a graveyard where spooks and spirits reside in haunted splendor. And unlike some of the other rides beckoning throughout the park, I am decidedly not gripped by an overwhelming desire to jump out of the buggy and explore the imposing house on my own, but rather prefer to marvel at its mystery while huddled in the safety of the buggy itself, no matter how many times I might have toured the mansion’s ghostly grandeur.

The nature of this spooky attraction makes it more suitable for older children and adults, and can be enjoyed even while waiting in the line outside. Guests walk through a graveyard where witty epitaphs are inscribed on the tombstones and creepy crypts that line the interactive queue. Things like

Haunted Mansion Tombstone - Disney World

The tombstones are inscribed with haunting humor

Dear Departed Brother Dave
He Chased a Bear Into a Cave

–or–

Here Lies Good Old Fred
A Great Big Rock Fell On His Head 

An interesting piece of trivia is that the people mentioned in the epitaphs are named after the real imagineers, as they are called, who had a hand in the creation of the Haunted Mansion project. This macabre attraction is laced with dark humor but is not bloody, gruesome or grotesque. And like the attention to detail that is so meticulously executed throughout the manor, the accompanying music dominated by the dramatic strains of an organ creates an appropriately chilling mood that will have you staring wide-eyed in morbid fascination.

 

Tips for Parents

Magic Kingdom - Disney World

This dreamy park makes for a memorable family visit

Being “the most magical place on earth,” Disney’s Magic Kingdom might also seem like the most crowded place on earth. So come prepared to wait in lines by having some toys or activities to keep your youngsters occupied, as well as refreshments to keep them hydrated and comfortable. Strollers are a must for tots, as they are the first to tire out after walking around. Larger fast-paced thrilling rides are most popular with the longest queues, while the smaller rides are just right for pint-sized guests, have shorter waits, and offer a memorable experience that is sure to stay with them for a long time.

Visiting Disney’s Magic Kingdom provides an unforgettable time for the whole family. It is an entertainment hub that draws people from all around the world, making it a fun place to people-watch as you explore its exhilarating attractions. And like its classic theme song from It’s a Small World suggests, a visit here brings one to the marvelous realization that “though the mountains divide, and the oceans are wide, it’s a small small world…”

 

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Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

Tags: , Reviews, Sharing Experiences, Travel Excursions

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