All imagery in this blog post is courtesy of Walt Disney World (link here) unless otherwise stated
If you've been following my Orlando, Florida Travel Tips series thus far (link to previous posts here), then this might very well be the instalment that you have been looking forward to the most. For many, Orlando, Florida equates to the happiest place on earth, aka. Walt Disney World so I thought that it was about time that I paid some attention to the Mouse and where better to start than the Magic Kingdom.
It might have been a few years since I last visited the park but when it comes to WDW and even Orlando, Florida more generally, it can be quite difficult to stay completely up to date with everything that is going on as new additions, both to the parks and the Orlando area itself, are constantly being built and introduced. But saying that, that doesn't stop me sharing some of my favourite rides and attractions at Magic Kingdom and hopefully it will be of some help if you have never visited the park before or if you are looking to reminisce about prior trips.
More so than my Universal Studios Travel Tips post (link here), I've decided to do more of an overview of what shouldn't be missed at Magic Kingdom instead of really focusing on my top 5 rides like last time. I think if I was to solely focus on rides then I would be missing out some of the most special things about the park itself.
So here it is. My Magic Kingdom Travel Tips, starting with a few of the must see rides;
Without a doubt, Splash Mountain has to be my favourite ride at Magic Kingdom. When we first visited Orlando, Florida when I was around nine years old I had no idea what to expect when it came to the Disney parks. Unlike nowadays when you can simply Google or type it into YouTube, everything was a brand new experience for me. I'm not the biggest fan of rides (despite visiting Islands of Adventure many times I've never ridden The Incredible Hulk Coaster and have no plans to in the future) but for some reason I was drawn to Splash Mountain. I remember loving it that much that I practically dragged both of my parents on it with me, on two separate occasions of course so that I could ride it twice that day.
Onto the ride itself, it's located in Frontierland just metres away from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the drop that you can see in the photograph above, well that is in fact a 52 foot drop. Oh and you will be taking that drop at about 40mph, which is even more terrifying when you see the thorns below. There are also some unexpected bumps and drops in the middle of the mountain before you even begin your ascent for the big finale. And I challenge you not to be singing "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" for the rest of the day after riding this.
TOP TIP: BRING A SPARE SET OF CLOTHES (OR AT LEAST TROUSERS): Be under no illusion, this is a log flume ride so of course some water is involved but if you're not a fan of walking around in wet clothes, or wet trousers more often then not, then you might want to bring a spare set of clothes or trousers with you. There's also an area of the ride where, if the boats are backed up, you might get more of a soaking than usual as that is where the waterfalls fall. This is just as the boats are waiting to return back to the start of the ride. It is Florida though so the chances are that you will get more wet from a midday torrential downpour than a ride on Splash Mountain.
This is a ride that had me won over before I even took a seat in my 'doom buggy'. The Haunted Mansion theme is carried throughout perfectly, so much so that even before the ride officially starts you will be mesmerised by the whole experience. And I hear that the queue is now much more interactive than it used to be which will really add to the atmosphere of the ride, I'm sure.
Once you get inside the Haunted Mansion itself the ride is preceded by something that still makes me smile even as an adult; the stretching room. You enter the stretching room to be met with several portraits encircling the room. As the room begins to 'stretch' you see that the portraits go on to reveal how each of the individuals in the portraits met their unfortunate ends. But of course the best part of the ride, in my opinion, has to be the part in which an extra 'body' joins your 'doom buggy,' as pictured above. When I first rode The Haunted Mansion, me and my dad shared a 'doom buggy' and both of us were absolutely spellbound by the ghost effect. And I hear that they now interact with you and the 'doom buggy' even more which sounds amazing. Take me back to Disney!!
TOP TIP: BE THE FIRST TO THE 'DOOM BUGGIES': You can ensure that you are one of the first to exit the stretching room for the 'Doom Buggies' by standing on the side of the room where the portrait of the lady with the parasol is.
Dumbo The Flying Elephant
For as long as I can remember, elephants have been my favourite animals and as a result Dumbo is one of my all-time favourite Disney movies. The part where Dumbo is rocked to sleep in his mothers trunk still makes my eyes well up and I'm in my twenties. Hehe. This really is a ride that is perfect for children and adults of all ages and the Dumbo theming really is so spot on.
Back when I visited the Magic Kingdom, Dumbo The Flying Elephant was located right as you walked out of Cinderella's Castle at the back of the park but I have now been reliably informed that it has been relocated to the New Fantasyland, where there are now two spinners.
Pirates of the Caribbean
I remember first riding this before any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies had even been made or released in cinemas (god that makes me feel old!) and it's definitely a ride that everyone should experience at Disney, even if you just ride it the once. This should be a ride that most will enjoy, however I would be weary of taking very young children on this ride as it is one of the dark rides and there are a few bumps and dips in the water, as well as some gunfire. And yet again, this is another ride that I left with a song well and truly stuck in my head for the rest of the day.
What I really love about this ride is the amount of detail that it goes into. And despite being relatively unchanged, well until now apparently, it still works for a 2015 audience. As a result of the success of the movies, Captain Jack Sparrow was instated a good number of years ago but it appears that more change is on the horizon at Pirates of the Caribbean. The ride will be having a summer-long refurbishment starting on the 10th of May this year. So that might be something to consider if you are planning on visiting this summer.
Take A Stroll Down Main Street
Okay, so when you visit it might look quite as idyllic or quiet as it does in this photograph and you might want to expect throngs of fellow park-goers but that doesn't make your first stroll, or excited skip, down Main Street any less special. Seeing Cinderella's castle in the distance and knowing that you are finally where you've been dreaming of being, really epitomises the Walt Disney World experience for me.
And Through Cinderella's Castle
Okay so technically this is just a tunnel or a corridor, since you can't actually access the inside of the castle unless you are dining at Cinderella's Royal Table restaurant on the second floor. But the reason that I recommend checking it out is the fact that it just adds to the Disney experience and again makes you stop and think, 'I'm here! I'm inside Cinderella's castle!' The incredibly intricate mosaics that cover the walls are so unbelievably beautiful.
You should be able to walk through the castle, apart from when there are shows on in front of it. Back in the day we used to walk through the castle and out to Dumbo The Flying Elephant but I'm not exactly sure what ride or attraction is there now. Anyone feel like enlightening me?
Watch the Parade(s)
For me, a parade is a big part of the Disney experience. I remember the sheer excitement of seeing the daytime parade on my very first visit to the park all those years ago. There are currently three parades, which take place at various times throughout the day and night. There's the Festival of Fantasy Parade which celebrates New Fantasyland with nods to many Disney movies, songs and characters. Then there's the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party which involves lots of guest participation and remixes of classic songs. And last but not least is the Main Street Electrical Parade, as pictured. Just look at it!
TOP TIP: NOT A FAN OF THE PARADE? THEN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE QUIET IN OTHER AREAS OF THE PARK: If you've already seen the parade or aren't as interested in it as you might be the rides, then you might want to take advantage of the shorter lines and waiting times that will ensue around the park as a result. And even if you've sat and watched the parade and are at the start of the procession line, then it might be worthwhile for you to battle against the traffic of the parade in the opposite direction to make your way swiftly to rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Jungle Cruise as they should be much quieter than at other times during the day.
Obviously there are so many other rides, attractions and goings-on at Magic Kingdom but these are just a few of my personal favourites and things that I think everyone who visits should experience at least once. If you'd like to see more of my Walt Disney World recommendations and suggestions then I have a Pinterest board dedicated to all things WDW (link here). And on top of that, I am also planning a similar post to this one on Downtown Disney and Epcot as the year progresses.
Have you visited Magic Kingdom before? If so, what were your favourite rides or attractions? I'd also love to hear what you would like me to discuss in next month's blog post. I'm thinking of doing another shopping post and instead of focusing on the malls like I did in a previous Travel Tips post (link here), I would be sharing more general shopping trips as well as sharing shops that we don't have in the UK that are definitely worth a visit whilst you're there. What do you think? Or what would you like to read next?