Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Magic Kingdom: First Time Visitors

As promised, here is the first of many blog posts outlining each Disney park. I'd like to begin with The Magic Kingdom, mainly because when you think of Disney World you probably think of this park. So what are the must-do attractions and events at this park? Read on to find out!

**Important side note: If you're celebrating ANYTHING while at Disney World, stop by Guest Services at each park at the beginning of the day. Tell them what you're celebrating and chances are, they'll have a button that fits your situation. This is especially important if you're a first time visitor! Guest Relations is located in the City Hall building at the Magic Kingdom (to your left when you enter the park).

Attractions
The Magic Kingdom is pretty attraction heavy, so you'll have plenty to do at this park. The Magic Kingdom is divided into different "lands" including Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Tomorrowloand, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Liberty Square. Until recently, Mickey's Toontown Fair was also an option, but they finally bulldozed that poor relic.

Main Street, U.S.A.
This "land" doesn't feature any attractions, but it's still loads of fun. When you stroll down Main Street, you'll have a fabulous view of Cinderella's Castle. Old-fashioned jitneys, trolley cars, and other vehicles make their way up and down Main Street all day long. If you have time, hop aboard for a unique experience. Main Street is also home to tons of gift shops and eateries. You can even get your hair trimmed at the Harmony Barber Shop! My personal favorites? Casey's Corner (excellent hotdogs) and Uptown Jewelers. Also, don't forget to take a deep whiff near the Main Street Bakery! Imagineers pipe in a cookie smell that is out of this world!

Fantasyland
Obviously, when you think of Disney World, you probably think of Fantasyland. Even the most jaded person will feel a little giddy when they pass by Cinderella's Castle and enter this land. Fantasyland is currently undergoing a $300 million dollar overhaul, so please pardon their pixie dust! Beginning in 2012, guests will be able to experience new attractions and eateries featuring Belle and Beast, Ariel, and Dumbo.
  • Prince Charming's Regal Carousel: This antique carousel is not only beautiful, but fun! Don't miss the Sword in the Stone directly in front of this attraction. It makes for a great photo op!
  • Snow White's Scary Adventure: Hold onto your Mouse Ears! This classic dark ride is a Fantasyland institution.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant: You'll wait a long time for this one, but once the Fantasyland refurb is completed, this classic will feature multiple ride sites.
  • "it's a small world": You'll have the song stuck in your head all day long, but there really is something beautiful about seeing all nations united in this happy little boat ride.
  • Mad Tea Party: Unlike Mission: Space, this ride does NOT feature barf bags. It probably should. If you're prone to motion sickness (like me) then you might want to skip this particular ride. Also, please don't feed your kids popcorn before letting them twirl around for 3-5 minutes. The results aren't pretty.
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic: A new classic that combines 4-D technology with Disney favorites. A must-see!
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: This ride replaced Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (RIP). Kids will love smelling honey with Heffalumps and Woozels and even parents will enjoy bouncing along with Tigger.
  • Peter Pan's Flight: This is one of my FAVORITE rides because I'm the nostalgic sort and I love Peter Pan (in all formats). You'll definitely want a Fast Pass for this attraction because wait times are always long.
In addition to these attractions, there are several eateries and shopping spot in Fantasyland. Worried about dragging around souvenirs all day? No problem! Just ask the Cast Member at the register about sending your prizes to your room or even have them shipped home!

Tomorrowland:
Some people say that Tomorrowland looks dated. I just think they don't understand what it's all about. Tomorrowland is what people of the past thought the future would look like. It's also home to some tasty treats and raucous rides!

  • Astro Orbiter: This ride is similar to Dumbo, but it's a little more intense. We usually don't ride this particular attraction, mostly because the lines are deceptively short and the elevator smells like feet.
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin: If you have a boy in the family (or a man) then you'll probably ride this attraction more than once! Along with the help of your laser gun, you'll battle Emperor Zurg, sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance! Try to rack up more points than your ride partner!
  • Carousel of Progress: With its catchy tune, this ride/show is my Dad's FAVORITE Disney attraction of all-time. Obviously, progress is the name of the game as you follow one family from the Victorian era all the way to the 21st century! This one is an oldie (designed but Walt himself) but it's definitely a goodie.
  • Stitch's Great Escape: In my opinion, this is one attraction that you shouldn't waste your time on. It's dark and the seats are uncomfortable, not to mention the fact that Stitch spits on you and burps in your face. And yes, it smells noxious.
  • Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor: It's well-known that I don't appreciate the Pixar infiltration of my beloved Magic Kingdom, but this show is really innovative and fun. For some reason, my Dad always gets picked on during this show, making it especially humorous for us. During the pre-show you can text jokes in and they might be used during the actual show!
  • Space Mountain: One of the "big three," this dark roller coaster is fast, fun, and a little bit scary. If you're the paranoid sort, don't put your hands in the air. Trust me.
  • Tomorrowland Speedway: The kiddos will love the chance to drive this real gas-powered vehicle around the track.
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) aka The Peoplemover: I love this ride. You get a bird's eye view of all the attractions featured in Tomorrowland and some great shots of Cinderella's Castle.
This land features one of my favorite eateries, Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. Give it a try!

Frontierland
If you hear the sounds of banjos picking and smell tasty turkey legs, you're probably in Frontierland. This land is home to two of the "big three" and also features some great Disney classics.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: This runaway mine train turned roller coaster is fast and fun! Definitely a Fast Pass attraction for sure! This is number two in the "big three!"
  • Country Bear Jamboree: This Disney class features animatronic bears that love to pick a banjo and entertain. If you're visiting at Christmas, check out their special Christmas show!
  • Splash Mountain: The last of the "big three," this water ride is entertaining and fun. If you can get a hold of a bootlegged copy of Song of the South (easy enough out of Asia), it's a lot easier to understand what's actually going on. If not, check out anything written by Joel Chandler Harris.
  • Tom Sawyer Island: If you have time, ride a raft over to this island and explore the caves of Tom Sawyer. Find a paintbrush? Turn it into a Cast Member for free ice cream!
Adventureland
This is probably my favorite land in the park. It features some great classics and it's the best place to find a Dole Whip.

  • The Enchanted Tiki Room: I loved this attraction as a child. Then they changed it, adding in Iago from Aladdin and Zazu from The Lion King. Meh. The "Under New Management" show has never been really popular with guests, especially Disney purists. Right now, the Tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki room is under construction. Hopefully it will be restored to its former glory so that the birds can sing words and the flowers can croon!
  • Jungle Cruise: This is one of my favorite attractions. Journey through four major rivers (the Nile, the Congo, the Amazon, and the Mekong) and experience the sights, sounds, flora, fauna, and animals that the world has to offer. Corny jokes abound! Kungaloosh!
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin: This ride is similar to Dumbo. Watch out for those camels...they spit!
  • Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse: This is one of my favorite live-action Disney films, so obviously I love this walk-through attraction. I suggest renting this movie on DVD before you visit!
Liberty Square
This colonial-themed land is light on attractions, but still really fun. Check out the giant oak tree featuring thirteen lanterns to represent the thirteen original colonies! There's also a really great Christmas store that sucks away all of my hard-earned money.

  • The Hall of Presidents: This twenty-minute show features lots of education information and air conditioning. What more could you ask for? If you time it just right, you can be exiting the show just as the afternoon parade passes by!
  • The Haunted Mansion: This is my most favorite attraction of all time. It's just spooky enough to be scary, but not so scary that children will cry. Once you board your doom buggy, watch out for those ghosts! They may try to come home with you!
  • Liberty Square Riverboat: I love riverboats. Mostly because they make me feel like Scarlett O'Hara. You'll board this boat for a 17-minute ride through the Rivers of America.
This land features my FAVORITE quick-service restaurant, Columbia Harbour House! Josh loves their fish and chips. Me? I love the tuna sandwich and a cup of clam chowder!

Parades

Parades are a great way to see and interact with characters. The Magic Kingdom currently features two daytime parades and one evening parade. All are worth seeing, especially the Main Street Electrical Parade (featured at night). The Celebrate a Dream Come True parade is a great chance to see Disney classics while the Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Parade is a neat way to see new favorites.

Fireworks

As a child I was terrified of fireworks. My dad and brother are both fireman (with Josh in training...yikes!) so candles were a no-no growing up. Fireworks seemed even worse than candles! Now I love fireworks and the Magic Kingdom's Wishes Nighttime Spectacular literally lights up the sky. If you're visiting during a holiday season, expect a themed fireworks display specifically tailored to fit the occasion!

Whew, I'm exhausted just from typing! Obviously, the aforementioned attractions, parades, and shows only scrape the surface of things to do at The Magic Kingdom. I completely forgot to mention the current castle show, Dream Along With Mickey. This show is featured throughout the day and is a great way to see Mickey, Minnie, and all of their pals. I hope your visit to the Magic Kingdom is magical!

If you're an old-timer and think I've forgotten something, sound off in the comment section below! We love feedback!

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