At the heart of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is just that—magic! Guests visit because they want to experience something you can’t quite experience in any other way. And truly the Magic Kingdom delivers that! And while it isn’t entirely impossible to stumble onto that magic simply by making a casual visit, it can be more difficult to find—especially if you haven’t done a little planning. Yes, there are great rides, but they come with lines. Yes, there are great shows and attractions, but you need to be in the right time and the right place to enjoy them. Yes, there are great dining opportunities—but you need to know where to find them. So it really is worth the while to plan your visit, just to make sure that you are getting the best value possible.
The park is divided into several lands. Main Street, U.S.A. is a turn-of-the-century portal into the park. Most people think of it as the place to go shopping or grab a snack. Not only does the parade pass through this way, it offers other entertainment throughout the day like the Dapper Dans and the Main Street Philharmonic. Near the entrance Mickey Mouse plays host to guests visiting the park.
It can be rather daunting trying to get from one end of the park to another. That’s where the Walt Disney World Railroad comes in handy, as it conveys guests from the entrance of the park to locations in Frontierland and Fantasyland’s Storybook Circus. Most guests traverse the park in a circular pattern moving in one direction or the other. Let’s explore the park’s many lands by visiting clockwise.
Adventureland always seems a few degrees cooler with its huge vegetation and landscaping. Head down to the docks for the Jungle Cruise, navigated by skippers delivering corny jokes. It’s a signature attraction of the Magic Kingdom. Pirates of the Caribbean is another signature attraction, whisking you away to another world. It’s a perfect place to visit when trying to escape the heat of the day.
The gateway to adventure–Adventureland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Frontierland and Liberty Square merge together as you meander down the waterfront of the Rivers of America. The Rivers of America is a thread that joins together both of these lands. It holds two big bookends, with the Haunted Mansion on one end and Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain on the other. Between are audio animatronic shows like The Hall of Presidents and The Country Bear Jamboree.
Cinderella Castle is the gateway to Fantasyland. Favorites like Peter Pan’s Flight, The Mad Tea Party and “it’s a small world” can be found here. In recent years, much of this land was re-imagined to include new attractions. Always popular are the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Under the Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid. Storybook Circus is the home for Dumbo the Flying Elephant. It includes not one, but two spinners, as well as a big circus tent that allows youngsters to play and enjoy while waiting to board.
Tomorrowland is the home of Space Mountain, a roller coaster that careens through the darkness of space. Youngsters enjoy Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and taking the wheel at the Tomorrowland Speedway. It’s hard to understand what Monsters Inc., Laugh Floor has to do with the future. But it’s great fun and an enjoyable show.
Don’t let the size of this park and its crowds keep you from enjoying a few respites that let you get away from it all. A horse-drawn street car slows your pace to a level that lets you appreciate the gingerbread details of Main Street, U.S.A. The Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland is a great place to get away from it all, along with Tom Sawyer’s Island in Frontierland. Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland is a simple delight—a must with small children, and The Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover may not get you away from it all, but it does get you above it all.
It’s hard to imagine visiting the Magic Kingdom without taking in the parade and fireworks. Both are well done and worth lining up a few minutes beforehand to get a decent view.
As to the latter, the park takes on a beauty of its own at night. The Prince Charming Regal Carrousel is a music box of light at night. Taking a spin on the Astro Orbiter high over Tomorrowland’s neon courtyards is stunningly beautiful. Don’t be in such a rush when the masses are heading out of the park, as that is often when the magic of the Magic Kingdom is at its greatest. And magic is what the Magic Kingdom is about!
For more ideas about finding the magic at the Magic Kingdom, visit our Destination Magic podcast. Episode 1 is dedicated to this topic, and will explore great ways to experience the magic.