When I think of Disney World in Orlando, Florida my first thoughts are always of The Magic Kingdom and in particular walking through the entrance beneath the Railroad Station to Main Street USA and of Cinderella's Castle to which it leads and of course three rides - Space, Thunder and Splash Mountains. We visited Disney World at the beginning of August 2012 with temperatures from 34 to 39 degrees centigrade and daily thunderstorms in mid/late afternoon (apart from 3 days). It was a fantastic 2 weeks of which the Magic Kingdom has to be one of my highlights.
The Magic Kingdom was the first park we visited on a 14 day holiday of a lifetime to the USA staying on the Port Orleans (French Quarter) area of Disney's Riverside resort with 14 day Disney Ultimate tickets, 14 day Universal Studios tickets, 1 free Disney dining plan (entitling us to 2 main meals and 2 snacks each per day), car hire, a coach tour to The Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral and for 2 of our group the ultimate experience of swimming with dolphins at Discovery Cove. In all our holiday was in excess of £12,000 and was booked through Virgin holidays with Virgin Atlantic flights and use of their V Lounge at Gatwick Airport for the few hours before take-off - this was for a family of 6 (myself, my wife, our daughters (8 and 16) and my wife's son and his partner. Our Disney Ultimate tickets cost £265 (adults) and £235 (child). There are other tickets available including 7 day Premium and 21 day Ultimate and generally the longer the period the cheaper the daily rate. Alternatively you can buy tickets from parks or from a number of touts that were even at the airport when we left trying to purchase unused days left on your passes (which are extremely risky as they are linked to your fingerprint when first activated).
The Magic Kingdom is exactly what it says - magic, it is the place where dreams really do come true and its full of all your favourite Disney characters. It is also the place of imagination and despite two full days at the park there were still areas that we hadn't explored. With the exception of water parks, Disney parks are not for thrill seekers but have great family rides - thrill chasers will find Universal Studio parks more to their liking, they do have the odd rides of this type but they are few and far between.
From our resort The Magic Kingdom was only a 10-15 minute drive - in fact none of Disney's parks or resorts were any further. By staying at a Disney resort we had a free parking permit to all Disney parks - car parking normally was $14 per day. There was also the possibility of using Disney's free bus service operating between the resorts and all their parks, and additionally to Downtown Disney (which we did on our second visit). There is also a monorail that operates to EPCOT and to at least two of its resorts - Polynsesian and Contemporary (the latter located next to the Magic Kingdom).
Well, when I said 10-15 minute drive what I really meant to say was that was how long it would have taken if we had put the correct address in to the Sat Nav that was built in to our Lincoln Navigator that we had hired from the airport. Instead we spent another 30 minutes or so driving along the roadway between the car park and the walkway leading to the park and having to turn around in the members only golf course situated at the end of the road. Still it worked, so next time you want to tee off in Florida just say you're lost and hey ho! At least we were nearly there, it just took a while to re-program the route.
From the parking lot it was a good 10-15 minute walk just getting to the walkway that would lead to transportation to the park's main entrance. There are two ways from the car park to arrive at the park's main entrance - boat (ferry) or monorail and we decided to choose the boat which literally packs hundreds on board before setting sail with a short wait or monorail where you can be queuing for quite a considerable time. Either way you arrive at the same area (as you would by bus) to turnstiles which for adults are two step - put ticket in machine followed by the ritual fingerprint scan (children don't do the fingerprint scan) and bag search that are operated at all Disney and Universal Studio parks.
After the bag search you enter below the Railroad station into Mainstreet USA which is an area for photo and autograph opportunities (on our first visit Snow White, our second Goofy) and additional photo opportunities as you walk along the street with Victorian characters dotted around on either side. My wife had visited Disney World with her parents and son 20 years before and her first thought was of the cinnamon bun she had from the bakery on Mainstreet USA. Our first stop was to look for sunhats and within minutes Donald Duck was proudly attached to my head and my 8 year old daughter had a pink sunhat after trying on a variety of Mickey Mouse ears which had cost me around $30. The building continued into a candy shop which was highly colourful and packed with candy apples and yummy snacks that they were making on the premises. Despite this we didn't buy any sweets or snacks from the store. T-shirts across the site range from about $25-$30 (of the ones we were interested in), and generally the same, if not slightly cheaper with exchange rates to those sold in Disney stores in the UK (although not of the rides or parks).
Without leaving the building we walked in to an area selling various artworks which were beyond our price range and some in excess of $3000, and were followed by another shop area selling pens, badges and other momentos. We visited the shops on both visits and it was only on our second that my wife finally bought her cinnamon bun (although her son went out separately with his partner and our 16 year old daughter and brought her one back). Our personal visit to the bakery was to use our Disney dining plan - which included some very large quarter rolls with ham or turkey stacked inside and pinned in place by a wooden stake - well it should have been. We had some rather delicious snacks with cold drinks that cost around $20 (for myself, wife and 8 year old daughter).
We also looked in the shops on the opposite side of the road looking for Kermit ears for my stepson. Although disappointed at not finding the ears we were impressed by the range of gifts, t-shirts, hats etc that were in the shops and did buy Mickey ears for around $10.
We visited the park twice, the first was literally from about 10am until after 10.30pm and the second was to see bits we'd missed and to try to recover my 8 year olds glasses that she'd lost the day before on a dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom if you do lose anything it is held in a lost property building by the car park at The Magic Kingdom - in our case we did find them after being given a tray of over 30 pairs (prescription) glasses from one park on one day! On our first visit we must have walked at least 8 miles around the park and as it was only me, my wife and our 8 year old on the second we decided to get around part of the park using the railroad.
Parades and Fireworks
Our first experience of a Disney Parade was literally as my wife was heading towards her cinnamon bun at the bakery on Mainstreet USA at 11am. There was a sudden burst of music and there we go dancers on stilts, dancers and floats with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy, Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie all moving to "Celebrate a Dream Come True" along Mainstreet USA with music and dance to follow from the area in front of Cinderella's castle. We didn't watch for long as there was so much to do but when they reached the area by the castle the dancers were recruiting children to take part. The parade starts from an area to the left of the railroad station as you walk into Mainstreet USA.
We watched the 3pm parade from Frontierland near the Country Bear Jamboree attraction. It had been raining for an hour or so prior to the parade and had only stopped a few minutes before the start which is from and area next to Splash Mountain. This is a much longer parade and includes dancers, floats and characters walking - including Jafar who noticed my daughters crisps and came across to take some! Naught Jafar! There were Disney princesses, including Cinderella and villains and Aladdin's monkey (Abu) who high fived me and my wife!
I missed most of the fireworks display at 10pm because I was on Splash Mountain with my daughter - which was quite an experience in total darkness as you reach the drop! Still, we did see enough to realise that it must have been quite an experience from Cinderella's castle.
We were still in Frontierland just about to get on the Pirates of The Caribbean ride when we realised that we had only a short time before the Electrical Parade and when we came out rushed over to the area in front of the castle to watch it. Although we arrived in time, we and many other guests were asked to move back towards Frontierland to watch it. The parade started at 11pm and is a good 10 minutes before the first float reached us. To say they were magnificent, all brightly lit and glass like was an understatement. There were many of your favourite Disney characters and ended with Prince Charming, Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother. There were others like a caterpillar that spun around along the route so you could see it in its finery. I'm sure at one point we even saw Mickey mouse looking out from high in the castle.
The parades on their own were inspirational and I'd love to go back just to see them.
We did not visit all the attractions even with 2 visits but I think we went on most of the ones we would have wanted to go on. Rather than list them in the order we visited it is probably better in the order they appear on the map.
The Railroad begins from the Mainstreet Station as you enter the park and runs along the edge of the park stopping at Frontierland (near Splash Mountain), Adventureland (near The Barnstormer) and Tomorrowland (Space Mountain). Trains run every 7 minutes and were definitely worth the wait. They're not the most comfortable seats but as the journey was relatively short - even if you did a full circuit.
Pirates of the Caribbean is a gentle water ride which takes you on a journey to see life in the eyes of a pirate as you see them in action with what looked to be a full sized ship firing at battlements, running amok in buildings, setting buildings on fire and waiting at the gallows. There's even the odd appearance by an animatronics version of Captain Jack Sparrow (which was added after the films were produced). As with almost every ride there is a shop area - in this case pistols, swords, t-shirts and raincapes (which we bought on our second visit). To enter the water there is a very gentle drop - which scared the life out of my wife!
The Enchanted Tiki Room is quite fun. The building is designed with what I believe were hexagonal benches that form around a group of parrots on a box hanging from the ceiling. And then the fun begins as the parrots start singing and are soon joined by more birds, alligators drumming and stone statues humming. It was after looking around while the alligators were playing that I realised why the benches were designed this way - each wall of the building has exactly the same décor, birds, statues and alligators.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is literally the same as flying elephants with controls in both front and back that allow you to move up and down as the ride spins round and is great for young children - and their dads.
The Country Bear Jamboree, hmmm where do I start? There's blood, blood on the grownndd. Well it's the most memorable of the songs we heard. It's basically a theatre like production of bears singing out of tune and songs that at times are sick or odd, but the way they sing and how it's done makes it a really funny experience which I would encourage you to watch. My wife had heard of the film and she knew it was really naff, she just didn't expect this to be quite so bad - which is what made it so gooodddd!
Splash Mountain my favourite ride is a typical log flume with a 50ft+ final drop. The ride is based on Disney's 1946 film Song of the South featuring Br'er Rabbit who leaves his briar patch to look for his "laughing place" but is hunted by Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear who are both trying to catch and eat him. Br'er fox is caught by an alligator and Br'er rabbit escapes to a new briar patch (down the final drop). At the bottom you see Br'er Rabbit in his new home and a showboat with Zipadee Doodah ringing out. Splash Mountain is part indoor/part outdoor and you can see Thunder Mountain as you move slowly along one of the bends. It is named Splash Mountain in an attempt to market the film Splash. After riding this attraction during the day and darkness in the outdoor areas the dark provides a much better experience - especially as you come down the big drop! Again, as we left the ride you enter a shop selling t-shirts and other products featuring the ride.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the one ride I didn't go on. We had the opportunity on our second visit to choose between splash and Thunder Mountain and I have to admit the signs that were posted made me feel like this would be a really fast roller coaster - which I hate, although I like going on ones like the Runaway Mine Train at Alton Towers, and yes as we travelled along Splash Mountain and saw it briefly that's exactly what is was like. In fact, as I remember it the front looked just like a real train engine and they were only wearing lap belts! Still, with queues of an hour we had to choose one - which we would get Fast Track tickets for. (Fast track tickets can be obtained by anyone by putting your park ticket in a machine which allocates you an hour slot - sounds fun until you realise some of the Fast Track queues were actually longer than the standby one! I would have like this ride - so don't get put off by the signs.
The Hall of Presidents is America at its best (or worst as I saw it). It starts with a gallery of some of America's presidents and followed by a film of what made America great including its struggle for independence and through the American Civil War which included an animatronic version of Abraham Lincoln reading the Gettysburg address and inauguration of Barak Obama. There is an animatronic version of each president behind the stage curtain and each makes a movement (nod of the head etc) as a spotlight points to them as their name is announced. I'm afraid it just wasn't my cup of tea and something I would have avoided if I had known about in advance.
This area however is full of shops including a shop selling Christmas decorations - we acquired a couple at approximately $15 each featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse. There are also lots of stalls, sweet shops etc along the waterfront - including ones selling turkey legs and hot dogs.
The Haunted Mansion is an attraction I actually tried - or should I say my 8 year old and I went with my wife's son and his partner and queued for what was almost an hour and walking along the graveyard route where there are some quirky gravestones including a series of mysterious deaths of the whole family - suggesting they killed each other followed by witty poetic rhymes that were reasonably funny and a tomb where slabs started to slide in and out of it. Well, that's about as much as my daughter and I saw because as soon as we entered the building and the floor dropped she got scared and out we came. In fact, that was the scariest part as we were told later and apart from a funny bit at the end where your heads are all chopped off and put on someone else's body that was it.
It's A Small World is another gentle water ride with one continuous tune running through your head as you travel across countries around the world all singing the same song and playing a variety of musical instruments. This is animatronics at its best (or worst as you might say) because you literally will come off this ride humming the tune - in fact it's still ringing in my ear now - arghhhh! The ride finishes as it began saying it really is a small world - as when you die you still won't get away from this tune! If you want to hear it, I believe there are videos on YouTube - enjoy.
Mickeys PhilharMagic is a short 3D musical film with Mickey and Donald Duck. Donald tries to conduct the orchestra to devastating effect and ends up as usual in a lot of trouble. The music is good and I felt sorry yet again for Donald because he was trying his best. There are some very funny moments in this show which includes music from Aladdin and other Disney films.
There is a carousel (Prince Charming Regal Carousel) which we didn't go on - mainly because my 8 year old is now only interested in rides of 3000ft and 300mph. It looked just like any other and is located near to Pinocchio's house (restaurant).
Dumbo The Flying Elephant is just like The Magic Carpets of Aladdin except it has elephants and a rather increased queuing time - at least 30 minutes! Apart from that you control your Dumbo the same way. The attraction is that it's DUMBO.
Casey Jr Splash and Soak Station is basically just a fun way of getting wet and on our first visit after trawling through the park boy did we need it! There are water jets that randomly shoot at you and others that come up from the floor.
The Barnstormer is very similar to the runaway mine train - a relatively small roller coaster, which in roller coaster terms is nearly my limit.
Stitch's Great Escape is an odd attraction. You are transported to the future where you are greeted by a robotic prison guard on its first day and in control of the prison teleport and is overwhelmed by a high level prisoner - Stitch. You are taken to the main containment area where Stitch runs riot. My wife and I were rather worried when the head restraints came down - just like we were going on a really fast roller coaster. Well it wasn't a roller coaster but there are some "scarey moments".
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is a really fun ride where you sit in 4 seater cars (with 2 seats back to back). You have cannons that you fire at a range of targets that appear on walls in front of you each with its own points value with the aim to get the highest score. Your cars are capable of spinning which often makes scoring more difficult - especially if your daughter is doing the spinning! Be warned this ride is extremely popular and Fast Track tickets are advisable.
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress I have to say is the most boring and pointless attraction I have ever seen. It is a revolving theatre with the seating moving around the central stage area. Each area starts with the song "It's a great new beautiful tomorrow shining at the start of every day" which is followed by the main animatronic talking about new technology that has made life easier. This attraction was first shown at the New York World's Fair in 1964 and quite simply is out of date. There are lots of gadgets that are included as being modern for the time and finishes with what at the time was expected to be the future. What made this attraction worse was being part of 6 sections some guests became rather restless and started to get up - so each time it happened the section would start all over again!
Tomorrowland Transit Authority is a gentle ride around Tomorrowland and you can see inside Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and see Tomorrowland Speedway and look at imaginary city layouts and ride along the edge of the Carousel of Progress. You even get to go inside Space Mountain in darkness to listen to the screams. It is accessed by a travellator near the Astro Orbiter located in the centre of the main part of Tomorrowland.
Space Mountain is situated on the edge of Tomorrowland with the Railroad running behind it and as mentioned earlier the Transit Authority ride going through it. Surprisingly on our visit queue times were less than 30 minutes. Well after surviving my first ever flight (and being afraid of heights), I foolishly let my 8 year old talk me in to this! Being honest it isn't a very high rollercoaster but being totally in the dark it doesn't need to be. You are seated in 3 seater cars (1 behind the other) and are normally launched together. It isn't the various ups, downs or even twists it's more the fact that you do part of the ride and suddenly you're off again. Certainly my photo was not to be messed with! I absolutely hated this ride, but I am glad that I have experienced this ride - and I got the t-shirt ($25) to prove it!
These are not the only rides / attractions at The Magic Kingdom but are ones that we have experienced. Eateries are another story. There are plenty around the park, but it is not so easy to find ones selling food you want to eat. In fact, we had to split our lunch on our first day between a fast food café in Tomorrowland and Pinocchio's house in Adventureland. Our other problem (at the time) was finding somewhere we could use our Disney dining plan. Our second visit was much later in our vacation and by that time had much better understanding of where we could eat. In fact, we were amazed at what we could get and on our second visit we ended up buying massive turkey legs with chips (crisps), cookies and drinks which we could have probably eat between us and not had one each of. The other thing to note is tap water is not very nice!
When considering what we paid at The Magic Kingdom (in fact any Disney park or resort) with exchange rates their pricing is much lower than you might find at our top attractions like Thorpe Park or Alton Towers - granted that it's a lot of money to get there.
I would recommend The Magic Kingdom to anyone and I really would love to go to it again.
The most magical place on earth! Everyone dreams of being a prince or princess as a child and Disney let children (and adults!) of all ages experience this at their Magic Kingdom theme park. The experience starts as soon as you enter the parking area of the theme park where you board a small train styled vehicle to transport you to either the monorail or the paddle boats that will take you through the vast area belonging to Disney until ou reach the park gates. Once is the park you can walk down the middle of the famous Mainstreet USA and browse in the many gift shops that are along the way. From here the park is split into 'lands' which are all individually themed and have a range of entertainment for all the family which include everything from white knuckle rollercoasters to live performances of Disney classics. There are many stops along the way for food and beverages although these can be pricey within the park so it would be recommended to bring along some of your own if you can. Throughout the day there are several parades throughout the park with amazing dancers and music which are definitely worth seeing and at the end of the night make sure that you make it back to the Cinderella castle to watch the fireworks going off before the park closes for the night and watch out for tinkerbell making her appearance!
Magic Kingdom would be the theme park most people think of first when thinking about Disneyworld, the iconic castle is always the first thing to pop into my head. The Magic Kingdom park has been perfectly recreated as the centrepiece of various Disneyland resorts around the world.
Magic Kingdom is one of four Disney theme parks in the Walt Disney World Resort, Florida; the others being Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Magic Kingdom was the first of the four theme parks to be built back in 1971. There are also water parks, shopping areas, sports arenas and all sorts of entertainment going on in Disneyworld. The park is known as The Most Magical Place on Earth and it truly is, at the heart of the Disney resort, it certainly is a must visit attraction.
I have been to Disney, Florida twice now. The first time when I was 11 and the second time when I was 21, I remember little from the first time I went to be honest so I will just talk about my experiences from last year. I visited Florida in September/October which meant it was hot but not too hot and there were practically no queues. Most rides had a 5 minute wait, so much better than going in the height of summer. The longest queue was an hour and a half for Toy Story Mania (Hollywood Studios) as it was the new ride. If you go in summer, expect every queue to be an hour or two, it is quite ridiculous.
The theme park is split into seven 'lands', this gives the designers of the park to put in place many different themes, attractions and restaurants without it seeming a bit haphazard. It all comes together nicely and you get such a different experience in every 'land' that you definitely need more than a day to do the park properly.
Main Street, U.S.A.
When you first enter the park after having scanned your ticket and having your bag checked, you step through onto Main Street, U.S.A. As I visited Florida in September/October, everything was done up Halloween style at the Magic Kingdom for the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (excellent by the way). There is a train station (Walt Disney World Railroad) above the entrance, I haven't been on the train as I prefer to walk around the park but if you fancy it the train will drop you off at various points around the park.
As you walk down Main Street you will see the famous Cinderella Castle at the end of the street, it is quite an impressive sight and makes you feel like a little kid inside. The whole place has a magical feel to it, there are usually quite a few characters hanging around to sign autographs and take pictures with you (Chip N Dale are definitely the most common characters around all of the parks).
Main Street doesn't have any attractions but it does have plenty of shops and dining facilities. The shops have everything really, if you want a souvenir as you leave this is the best place to look. Although the shops appear separate from the outside, most are in fact joined together to make one massive shop which makes browsing easier. There are pin shops as well down Main Street; collecting and trading pins certainly made my trip more enjoyable (also made it a lot more expensive!), children love it too.
On to the food now, while I was there I visited the Plaza Ice Cream Parlour and I had a cola float, absolutely disgusting! I had never had one before so I don't know if this was how they were supposed to taste but it was really horrible, I ended up throwing most of it away. Wish I had just had an ice cream :(
I also went to Casey's Corner; this was the only place open late at the Halloween Party so there was no other option. They sell hot dog and fries and a few snacks. It was a nice hot dog and fries, but it was also a rip off. $6.59 for a hot dog and fries, blummin 'eck! Might be a good time to point out I was on the Disney Dining Plan (you basically pay for so many meals pay day before you go so you don't need cash); you cannot use one of your quick service (over the counter) meals at Casey's Corner so you have to pay cash. So when you're not used to actually handing over money for food, it is hard to pay over $6 for a sausage and chips. Grumble over.
The following are the other available dining options on Main Street:
Tony's Town Square Restaurant (pasta, paninis)
The Plaza Restaurant (sandwiches, burgers)
Main Street Bakery (sandwiches, snacks)
The Crystal Palace (character buffet)
I assumed The Crystal Palace buffet had Disney princesses much like the Cinderella's Royal Table buffet (the one in the castle) but I found out recently it is a buffet with Winnie the Pooh characters, so much better in my view! This is booked up very quickly so you will probably have to make a reservation before you get there, this can now be done online. It's definitely somewhere I want to go next time, but be warned, there are a lot of kids in there so if you don't like screaming, maybe stay away from character dining places.
So moving on to the next land, Tomorrowland. I'm sure Tomorrowland once looked futuristic but if I was going to be harsh, it is looking a little dated. That said, I'm sure kids will still be wowed and the contrast between the look of Tomorrowland and Main Street is huge.
Tomorrowland has several attractions, I experienced the following:
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Dreadful ride. I must say I do have a memory of enjoying this ride when I was 11 but I'm not sure why. This ride seems obsolete now that Toy Story Mania is in Hollywood Studios. On Space Ranger Spin you shoot targets with a gun whilst you spin around (hence the name), the problem with the ride is that you can't see where you are shooting. Each gun produces a red dot but you can see everyone's dots so you have no idea which is yours. I suggest skipping it and waiting in the massive queue for Toy Story Mania-quality 3D ride.
Stitch's Great Escape
I enjoyed this one; you're strapped in to a seat in the dark when Stitch is on the loose. Young kids may find this scary and there is a height restriction in place. The only thing I would say about this ride is that it hurts a bit. They push down shoulder bars onto you and as Stitch is supposedly jumping on them, it can hurt, I think it depends how tall you are as to how much it hurts. If you have an injury or are elderly, I would skip it. I don't want to sound all negative though, it really is a good ride but just stung a little after.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
Kids will love this; it essentially involves picking on people in the audience and making others laugh. Typical American humour, not brilliant but puts a smile on your face anyway.
The rest of Tomorrowland's attractions are:
Tomorrowland Indy Speedway (drive a racecar)
Space Mountain (roller coaster-this was closed when I went)
Astro Orbiter (fly a spaceship in a mechanical up and down fashion)
Tomorrowland Transit Authority (take a slow train ride around Tomorrowland's attractions)
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress (audio-animatronics show through time)
I haven't been to any of the dining options at Tomorrowland but this is what's on offer:
Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe (burgers, ribs)
Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies (ice cream, smoothies)
The Lunching Pad (turkey legs)
Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station (noodles)
Mickey's Toontown Fair
This is the little kids area of Magic Kingdom so I didn't stay around here too long.
The only attraction I went on was:
The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm
Surprisingly fast kids rollercoaster, I actually thought I was going to lose my head. Obviously that's not possible as Disney is extremely safe but I wasn't expecting it to be fast! I thought it would tootle along but oh no, it is over in a jiffy as it's a nippy little thing. Worth a go if queues aren't long.
The other attractions are:
Minnie's Country House (walk through)
Mickey's Country House (walk through)
Toontown Hall of Fame Tent (meet Disney princesses and fairies)
Judge's Tent (meet Mickey)
Walt Disney World Railroad
Donald's Boat (water play area)
The dining option is:
Toontown Farmer's Market (drinks and snacks)
Fantasyland is perhaps the biggest land in the park and has some attractions that are a must see/do:
"it's a small world"
Probably one of the most famous attractions at Disney World, I personally find it creepy but others love it. You go around on a little boat watching little mechanical kids dressed up in different cultural dress, while they sing it's a small world. It's one of those rides you go on every time you visit but you're not really sure why. Give it a go, you might like it, you might not.
Amazing. I went on this about 5 times (partly due to my girlfriend's slight obsession with it and partly because I loved it too). I guess it would be classed as 4D not 3D as you can smell food etc. (don't want to ruin it). If you like the music of Disney, you will love this, it has most of the classics (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin...). This is a definite must, I was expecting it to be a bit average but it is excellent!
Snow White's Scary Adventures
The story of Snow White in the dark, decent, nothing new. Will be a little scary for young children.
Cinderella's Golden Carrousel
I was forced to go on this, I hate carrousels. Definitely not my thing.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Another version of the classic ride that moves you up and down whilst moving in a circle. Although these are meant for kids, I do enjoy them.
Pooh's Playful Spot
This is a kids play area, I didn't actually play there (I think it would have been frowned upon at my age), but I did meet Tigger and Pooh here yey!
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Similar to the Snow White ride, most of it isn't in the dark though. Once again, worth a spin around.
Peter Pan's Flight
Similar to the Winnie the Pooh/Snow White rides.
Mad Tea Party
Teacups! Who doesn't like teacups? Probably lots of people but I enjoy them, until that dizzy sicky feeling sets in.
Other attractions at Fantasyland:
Dream Along With Mickey (musical stage show)
Fairytale Garden (storytime with Belle)
Ariel's Grotto (meet Ariel)
For a bit of grub, I visited the Pinocchio Village Haus. This sells chicken pieces and chips, pizza, salad. Excellent food, yes it is just fast food but they do it so well! The setting was nice as well, the house made me feel like I was back in ye old days.
Other dining options:
Cinderella's Royal Table (character meal in the castle)
Scuttle's Landing (frozen Coca-Cola)
The Village Fry Shoppe (hot dog, fries)
Mrs Potts' Cupboard (ice cream)
Enchanted Grove (drinks)
There had to be 'patriotic land' in Disney World and this is it: Liberty Square. It's only a small part of the park, attractions are as follows:
The Hall of Presidents
Audio-animatronics show going through all the past Presidents right through to Obama. The animatronics are pretty dreadful to be honest but I still found it quite interesting. Some visitors may feel it is a little self indulgent but I don't think there is anything wrong with Americans being proud of their heritage and history. I learnt some stuff, and then forgot it straightaway but it was alright.
The Haunted Mansion
One of the classic Disney rides. I would prefer it if it was a bit scarier but it is a kid's ride/park so I can't really complain. They have some nice effects which will keep kids impressed.
The other attraction in Liberty Square is:
Liberty Square Riverboat
I was very impressed by the food on offer in this part of the park. I will point out here that I did visit the Magic Kingdom on more than one occasion, I didn't eat at all of these places in one day!
I ate lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern, I had the Pilgrim's Feast: roast turkey, mash, stuffing, veg, gravy. Amazing. You might think it's a bit hot for a full on roast but when you're in the lovely air conditioned restaurants everything is tempting. Salads be gone. It was top quality, $15 may seem a lot but it is a good sized portion (as you would expect in America) and it really was cooked to perfection. Getting the Dining Plan really is the best way to budget your food (more info at the conclusion of the review).
I also had a massive, and I mean massive, Mickey Waffle with strawberry compote and whipped cream from Sleepy Hollow. Brilliant, I do love Mickey Waffles. My girlfriend had the funnel cake dusted with cinnamon, absolutely huge and really tricky to eat but nommy. They know how to do snacks in America, I'll give them that.
Other dining options are:
Liberty Square Market (fruit)
Columbia Harbour House (fish, chicken)
The wild west! This part of Magic Kingdom has some of the bigger rides in the park:
Log flume, as with carrousels-I don't like them but I was forced on. Most people enjoy them, I think I'm gonna fall out and die so not that much enjoyment. I survived, so that was good.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
OK roller coaster, blummin noisy if memory serves me correctly. Worth a short queue.
Country Bear Jamboree
Awful. Another one of Disney's favourite audio-animatronics shows that are kind of sucky. Young and old may be impressed, those of us in the middle-not so much.
Other attractions are:
Walt Disney World Railroad
Tom Sawyer Island (walk around)
I didn't taste the food in Frontierland but this is what's on offer:
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (burgers, sandwiches)
Golden Oak Outpost (chicken, fries)
The attractions in Adventureland are:
Swiss Family Treehouse
Walk through attraction that I don't really see the point of. Kids seem to enjoy walking around a giant tree but not one for me.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Same as the Dumbo ride in Fantasyland. This one has camels that have water squirting out of their mouths. Wasn't too impressed as it went right in my ear, bad times :(
Disney describes this as "silly safari boat tour" and they hit the nail right on the head. Awful jokes that may keep kids entertained, may being the optimal word there.
Pirates of the Caribbean
You can see the familiar face of Captain Jack Sparrow as you take the voyage around the ride. It's a decent ride and kids will enjoy spotting Sparrow around the attraction.
The other attraction in Adventureland is:
The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management (audio-animatronics show)
The dining options here include the following:
Aloha Isle (Dole pineapple whip)
El Pirata y el Perico Restaurante (tacos)
Sunshine Tree Terrace (ice cream, coffee)
Worth a Visit?
I think so! It's worth many visits in my opinion, if you want to do it properly make sure you have at least two days to go around. Be sure to check out the parades and firework displays at Magic Kingdom, you can find out the times when you enter the park.
There is something for all ages, it really is magical!
If you want to have a glimpse at full restaurant menus and prices, check out this link:
If you are staying at a Disney Resort I would recommend the Dining Plan, it does seem expensive but it's so much easier when you are there. You do save money by being on the plan; the amount you save depends on what Dining Plan you choose. Pick the expensive items like me and you'll save a packet ;)
More information can be found here:
Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating.
I've been to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida numerous time, both as a teenager, and more recently as a family with my own kids. To see Disney throught the eyes of your kids is truly a magical experience, a one which I would hope to repeat.
The 'world' as it is fondly known opened on 1st October 1971 and was a much smaller place than it is now. The world now covers approximately 47 square miles (the same size as Greater Manchester) and houses 4 main parks, The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. As well as the 4 parks, there is a shopping and entertainment district, Downtown Disney that encompass a cinema, restaurants, shops and surprisingly a Cirque du Soleil show, La Nouba. As well as Downtown disney for recreation, the world has 2 waterparks, mini golf, 5 championship courses, speedway and Disney's Wide World of Sport complex. In addition to this impressive line up are some of the worlds best spa's and hotels. To stay 'on site' at a Disney hotel is a real treat an offers an aray of benefits only open to those at a Disney Resort, such as Extra Magic Hour where certain parks open earlier or stay open later only to hotel guest. Also available to Disney hotel guests is the Disney Dining Plan, where for a flat rate per day you get to have your meals at Disney restaurants, which offers great value.
The Magic Kingdom is the generally the first Disney Park guests choose to visit as it embodies everything that is fantasy, imagination and is essentially Disney. The appeal of this park is that it is ageless and universal, it manages to blend what seems to be ordinary with the unusual and makes it magic. There truly is something for everyone at the Magic Kingdom. The park is made up of a number of wonderful lands, each with their own style and theme, these lands raidate from a central hub which is where you will find the magnificent but elegant Cinderalla Castle.
Main Street USA
When you enter the park for the first time, prepare to have your breath taken away as you witness Main Street USA, a bustling street designed in the style of the early 1900's America with its quaint shops selling olde worlde sweets, and ice cream parlour, an old timers barber shop and a historic looking City Hall.
Down Main Street you will find balloon sellers, cafes, gift shops, trolley's pulled by horses and an old fashioned fire engine on which you can hitch a ride. There is also Main Street Railway Station, where you can catch an old fashioned train that circles the Magic Kingdom and makes stops at most of the lands, a great way to see a different view of the park.
From Main Street you head towards the hub and Cinderellas Castle, here the hub branches off into the various lands, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Mickey's Toon Town Fair and Tomorrowland.
Adventureland is a mixture of pirates, crocs and camels, quite diverse but with great humour. Here you will find the hilarious Jungle Cruise, where you board an opentop boat and your skipper navigates the vessel along the river, narrating as he/she goes. Along the way you are subject to cheesy one-liners and a whole host of animatronics, all tongue in cheek and very well done.
Also in Adventureland you'll find a carousel style Magic Carpets of Aladdin ride, where you board a flying carpet and try to avoid the spitting camel, aimed specifically at kids.
My favourite ride in this part of the Park has to be Pirates of the Caribbean, with the new Johnny Depp update, where you join Pirates as they plunder and pillage across the seven seas.
Other attractions at Adventureland include Swiss Family Robinson, a treehouse style attraction where kids can climb and blow of a bit steam.
Here you will find two of the three mountains that make up Disney's thrill rides at this park. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad where you board a run away train through a wild western landscape. It's quite a tame coaster so is great for the whole family to enjoy.
The second mountain is Splash Mountain which is based around Brer Rabbit and his Briar Patch. Its definitely a stomach churner as you hurtle down a drop that is about 5 storys tall! Eat lunch after this ride, certainly not before!
Frontierland is also home to a few lower key attractions such as Country Bear Jamboree, where animatronic bears dance and sing, not the best attraction but since it is indoors, it makes a nice cool rest from the Florida sun. Tom Sawyer Island is a great place where kids can let loose and explore caves and tunnels and Fort Langhorn.
This land is home to the spooky dark ride, The Haunted Mansion, which inspired the Eddie Murphy movie of the same title. You board a doom buggy and travel through a world full of ghosts and ghouls '999 Ghosts ... alway room for one more', is the motto here.
I've always wanted to take a trip on the Libery Belle Riverboat, but unfortunately has always been on rehab (closure for updating) every time I have visited the world. Basically it is a steam-driven sternwheeler, that circles Tom Sawyer Island, the ride is approximately 20 minutes long and the boat is really pretty and has amazing detail.
The Hall of Presidents is a show in which every US President is represented by animatronics and is rather patriotic, something I've not really been interested in, but if you have an interest in that sort of thing, then its worth a look.
This land is like no other in the park, here dreams really do come true. Kids of all ages have at one time or another fantasized about meeting their favourite Princess, or pulling the sword out of the stone, or flying over the roof tops of London like Peter Pan.
Here you will find yourself immersed in a real life fairytale as you ride Cinderella's Golden Carousel, a traditional style carousel with the most beautifully painted and restored horses. Take a ride on Dumbo the Flying Elephant another carousel type ride. A Small World is one of the strangest rides I have been on, with over 280 animated dolls from all over the world, you will be humming the tune long after the ride has ended.
Fantasyland is also home to Mickey's Philharmagic, a 3-D movie experience where Donald borrows Mickey the sorcerer's hat and all sorts of mayhem ensues. The film is great fun for the whole family and the 3-D effects are amazing.
There are also some opportunities for kids to collect autographs from their favourite characters at Ariel's Grotto and Pooh's Playful Spot. Snow White's Scary Adventure is well, scary, its basically a ride through the pages of Snow White, but its quite intense in some places. Peter Pan's Flight is a wonderful dark ride where you board a pirate ship and fly over the roof tops of London on a journey to Neverland.
There are also a few lower key attractions which are still worth a look, the spining cups at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Story Time with Belle.
Mickey's Toon Town Fair
The Barnstormer is my favourite attraction at Mickey's Toontown fair, its essentially a kiddie coaster but its quite nippy as it swoops through a crazy barn, all done Disney style. Its a favourite of my daugher too. Here you will have the opportunity to go inside Mickey and Minie's house and explore the rooms, that are stuffed with oversized furniture and knick nacks.
Again there is more opportunity to mingle with the stars themselves at the Judges Tent, you can get autographs from the Mouse himself, queues are very long though.
Home to the last of the three mountains in Disney's mountain range, is Space Mountain, I've not had the courage to try this ride so I just have to rely on my partner's view for this. He thinks its over too soon! Men eh! Its another coaster, but in the dark, it has sharp drops and sudden turns but doesn't go upside down, it must be good because he's been on a few times.
My daughter's favourite here is the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, all kids want to drive a car, and here they get the opportunity, though guide rails, bumpers and the maximum speed of 7 mph make it very safe.
Other attractions include Stitch's Great Escape, you'll either love it or hate it, and I loved it, he hated it. Stitch is on the loose, you have to help detain him, but he escapes and plays tricks on you, he also burps chilli hot dog which stinks!
Go for a spin on Astro Orbiter where your ride vehicle is in the style of a two seat rocket high above Tomorrowland. This ride is often mistaken for a sculpture, you can get quite dizzy on this ride, my daugher enjoy's it but we try to give it a miss.
Other attractions include Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin which is a great hit, you have to beat the evil emperor Zurg and fire your space gun at electronic gadgets to rack up your score.
Tomorrowland also is home to Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority and a few others I'm yet to experience.
Some of the rides can get quite busy depending upon the time of day or time of year, holidays especially. Here is where Disney excel, they introduced the Fastpass. Fasstpass is basically a way to secure your place on the ride, you insert your park ticket into the fastpass kiosk at the entrance to the ride, it then gives you a ticket with a time on, that is your designated time to ride. You can then go off and do other things, come back at your time, join the fast pass queue (which is generally really short or nonexistent) and enjoy your ride. It a great idea, you don't want to spend your whole time at Disney waiting about in queues, you want to limit the time spent in line, while you can go off and enjoy other attractions.
There are tons of places to eat in the Magic Kingdom, some are counter service, some are restaurants with table service. I'm not going to go into detail but of the fast food counters I recommend trying either Pecos Bills Cafe for bbq pork sandwiches or nice burgers, or try Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe for the best choice of chicken, sandwiches, soups and hotdogs.
The best place for table service is either Cinderella's Castle, served family style, its a Character Dining location and a chance to interact with your favourite princesses, with spectacular views over the park, or try the Crystal Palace, another character location where you can dine with Pooh and the gang, buffet style.
Don't forget to check the information boards inside the Park, it gives times of Parades, fireworks etc and details of wait times for attractions and any closures. Pick up a park map to help you navigate your way around the kingdom.
Another thing to keep in mind when planning a day at the Magic Kingdom is to arrive early, just in time for the opening ceremony. This way you get to see the gang along with Mickey open the park for the day, they arrive by railroad and sing the opening song. This also ensures that you are one step ahead of the crowds, its amazing how getting there a little early can get you on to the rides with little or no wait. After a few hours, the park starts to fill, then the queues begin to get unbearable.
At the end of your day don't miss Wishes the firework spectacle, done in time to a chorus of Disney music, I assure you, it's very moving, my eyes fill with tears every time.
For me a trip to Disney is a get away from the trials and tribulations that life throws at us, a chance to forget our worries and our cares and spend quality time with loved ones, if only for a few hours, and immerse ourselves in pure fun and fantasy.
Visiting the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Florida is a dream come true for many children and adults alike. The whole experience can be magical but it can also be very overwhelming so it is a good idea to take time to find out as much as you can about the park before you visit to ensure that you can get the best from your trip. We have visited this park many times over the last few years and in that time we have learnt how to get the best out of our days. If you are going out of high season then check opening times as entry charges are the same regardless of the hours open and all the parades and fireworks are not performed everyday.
Make sure you plan some rest-time into your day, normally the park is full of grouchy, crying children by about 5o'clock as they are exhausted and really dont look like they are in The Happiest Place On Earth! My children are older and we usually manage to arrive before 9 and not leave until 11 or 12 at night but we do have amazing stamina for Theme-parks!
Arriving very early is recommended. Car-parking is quite a way from the park entrance and unless you are staying on Disney you will need to take a boat or monorail to reach the park entrance. The park will often open at 9 o,clock and we normally have our car parked by 8.15 so we can avoid the crowds. Although the monorail is usually quicker the boat trip affords a wonderful first glimpse of Cinderella's castle and an indication of the magic to follow.
Bag searches are carried out before approaching the turnstiles. Coolers are not allowed and it is said that Disney frown on picnics being taken in. We always have backpacks stocked with water bottles, Pringles, fruit and cereal bars and no-one has ever said anything to us. Tickets cannot be purchased at the Magic kingdom entrance, they have to have been purchased (or vouchers exchanged) at the Transportation Centre before you boarded the boat or monorail. Maps are available and now is a good time to look at the show times and also work out where you and your family want to visit first.
Arriving early allows you to watch the arrival of Mickey and friends on the railroad and to witness the opening of the park with heart-warming songs and a cascade of pixie dust. The gates then open and it is time to enter Mainstreet USA. This happens about 10 or 15 minutes before the official opening time. The crowds entering the park can seem a little overwhelming which is why it is good to already have an idea in your head about which direction you should be heading. Mainstreet is very attractive with lots of shops but it is better to ignore them for now and to head back here later in the day when the crowds have lessened. Do not wait until the end of the day as the crowds getting out of the park after the fireworks makes this impossible to look at.
Photographers abound and are ready to capture your first photo with the castle in the background. You will then be given a Photopass which enables you to collect all your photographs on the card and then view and order them at your leisure when you have returned home via the website, unfortunately most ride photos cannot be added to the card. Take advantage of these photographers whenever you see them, you are not obliged to purchase anything and last year I was able to e-mail lovely Christmas Snowglobe messages to all our family from the Photopass site free of charge.
---Where To Go First---
If the futuristic excitement of Tomorrowland appeals then take a right, if traditional Disney is your thing then head past the castle to Fantasy land, the big thrills of Frontierland beckon to the left of the castle and Adventure land with its Pirates is directly left. The rope drop for each area happens several minutes after the gates open, cast members will WALK people to the most popular attractions to prevent racing resulting in falls and injuries, but you can walk very fast!
If you are near the front of the ropedrop you can usually ride your desired attraction immediately. You can then come out and decide if you want a Fastpass to ride it again or do you want to get a pass for something else. The Fastpass is a brilliant system that puts you in a "virtual-line" for a ride; you are given a time to return and you will enter the shorter Fastpass queue. Once you are holding a Fastpass for a ride it will tell you when you are able to get another for an alternative attraction. Being smart with the fastpass system lets you do a lot of riding but you may find that it also involves a lot of walking as you keep crossing the park. You just need to use your park ticket to get a Fastpass, there is no extra cost.
---The Main Attractions---
Magic Kingdom has something to please everyone and because of its enormous variety it is much easier to plan a less exhausting day than at some other parks.
Magic Kingdom has three Mountains that offer their best thrill rides:
Space Mountain- brilliantly atmospheric queuing leads to a high speed coaster ride in the semi-darkness amongst the stars.
Big Thunder Mountain- high speed runaway train whisks you through a mine collapse and out safely. Look out for the Hidden Mickey at the end.
Splash Mountain- follow the story of Brer Rabbit in this log-flume attraction but be ready for the breathtaking plunge into the briar patch, rain ponchos recommended.
There are plenty of slower attractions that are very popular with all the family:
Pirates of The Caribbean- this ride was revamped a few years ago and now has the most amazing animatronic Captain Jack Sparrows. They are so life-like and gave new attention to the ride. You travel on a journey past pirates in a gentle boat-ride but it is dark and may scare younger children.
Indy Speedway- this noisy and smelly attraction enables children to "drive" cars around quite a long track, parents be warned- you will get a stiff neck when your little one is in charge of the steering! This is really good fun in the dark.
Haunted Mansion- after a chilling introduction you enter a carriage to take you through the mansion, lots of spooky effects and great music will terrify and thrill the whole family, watch out for your extra passenger as you leave, this is very popular but I know that as a young child it would have terrified me( perhaps I was just a wimp!)
It's a Small World- A classic Disney ride, travel calmly around a musical world whilst in a boat. This is charming and will have you singing the theme tune for the rest of the day. A perfect attraction to allow you to rest your weary feet.
Buzz Lightyears Space-Ranger Spin- everyone gets to compete by shooting targets as you battle against the evil Zurg. You will ride this again and again whilst trying to beat your previous score. I love this and I can get very competitive!
When you are really in need of a rest it is time to head for one of the shows:
Monsters Inc. Laughter Floor- A partly interactive experience that will amuse the whole family, think of some good jokes before you go as you can text them in.
Mickey's Philharmagic-this is a musical magical 3D adventure with great effects, try to sit in the middle. To do this make sure you hold back a bit as the doors open as you are made to move right across the rows of seats to fill all the spaces, if you wait a little then you end up in a prime spot.
Disney's Carousel of Progress- the moving theatre takes you on a journey through time watching a family embracing new technology as it arrived. This is a lovely way to spend a quiet 20 minutes and there is rarely a queue. Be warnes, this is another attraction that will leave you with a song buzzing around your head.
The rides that are particularly popular with younger guests are in Fantasy land and they do tend to get very long queues so it is worth getting fastpasses, particularly if Peter Pan or Winnie the pooh are your childrens favourites.
---Word of Warning---
Special mention should be made of Stitches Great Escape, this has a fastpass system that is rarely used as it is probably the worst attraction in MK. Children are frightened by the long time in absolute darkness and parents are bored and then made uncomfortable by the shoulder harnesses pressing down and the revolting smells. This is the only attraction that I would suggest you avoid at all costs and I would not be surprised if this disappears very shortly. I have never met anyone who enjoyed it, Stitch is my sons favourite Character and he wont ride this again!
Magic Kingdom has lots of dining opportunities but many are booked up a long way in advance so if the Character meals are important to your family it is worth checking the website for booking details. If you are quite happy to eat on the go there are plenty of snack places and a great fast-food outlet in Tomorrow land with lots of variety. Water is expensive to buy so it is worth bringing your own bottle into the park and then using the water fountains to fill it up again. As I mentioned, we usually take a lot of snacks in with us so manage with one fast-food type meal as the prices are quite high.
The Dreams Come True Parade is not to be missed. The best viewing spots are taken a good hour before the parade starts but you should be able to find somewhere to view it if you walk the route a while before it starts. Pay attention to the sun and try to pick a spot with shade as you can get quite uncomfortable waiting in a hot position. The marshals are very strict so you will not be able to hover in an unsuitable spot, they will move you. The magnificent floats carry all the most loved characters with plenty of others dancing and singing alongside. If you really dislike parades then this is the time to ride the major rides as the lines are shorter but getting around the park is more difficult.
When the evening falls the Magic kingdom becomes even more special. Thousands of lights produce a dream-like quality and the Wishes firework display is not to be missed. This firework and music extravaganza can be enjoyed from most areas of the park but avoid being behind the castle as it is far less effective there. Some nights there is also the Spectromagic parade. This is so magical it will bring a tear to your eye as you watch children enthralled by the ever changing lights on the costumes and the floats, a truly magical end to a wonderful day.
---At The End of The Day---
Unfortunately getting out of MK at the end of the night is not a dream, more a nightmare! Your best tactic is actually to get an ice-cream or cofee and just wander around looking at the lights whilst thousands of people surge down Mainstreet. After about 20 minutes you can walk out with ease and will find the monorail and boats much emptier and you can have a peaceful trip back to your car. In this way you will leave enchanted and will be planning your next trip as soon as you get home.
The Magic kingdom was opened on Oct 1st 1971. The theme park was the second park that the Walt Disney Company built. The first was Disneyland in California.
The park was design in much the same way as Disneyland. 5 themed lands and Main Street USA.
The park is accessed by either by Boat, Bus, or Monorail from one of Walt Disney Worlds many hotels or the parking lot across the Seven Seas Lagoon.
When you look at the park from out side you would think that the park it built on one level. In fact, the Magic kingdom you see is actually the second floor. Below the park are many tunnels that connect all the different lands for staff to use.
As you walk through the turn styles you will pass through the arches and on to Main Street USA. From here you can shop, get on the Walt Disney World rail road or make your way up to one of 5 different lands.
The parks icon and centre piece of the park is Cinderella's Castle. This is a sight that even one must see. It makes you fill with happiness and joy.
The 5 lands you will go through are, Tomorrow Land, Toon Town fair, Fantasy Land, Adventure Land and Liberty Square
Each Land has so many Rides, Activities, shops, restaurants than you could want.
Some of the notable rides in the Magic kingdom are:
Space Mountain - An indoor roller coaster that is based around (Like the title explains) Space. This is a great ride. Not good for people who do not like the dark. The ride is not like the modern day roller coasters so you don't have to worry about going upside down etc...
Big Thunder Mountain - Another roller coaster theme around a run away mine train. Another great ride. Does not go very high but has some great bends and small drops. (Tip - go on this ride in the dark. It's great)
Splash Mountain - A log flume right with a great story. If the right did not have a big drop at the end it would be great for little kids. If the like big drops this is the one for you.
Pirates of the Caribbean - This ride came before the film and now stars Captain Jack Sparrow and friends. Great for all ages.
Do you ever wonder when Mickey, Minnie, Donald and friends live? Wonder no more. The live here in the Magic Kingdom. Come visit there houses in Toon Town Fair.
The park also has many parades staring all the Disney characters, be sure not to miss them.
Close the day with a wonder full fireworks show "Wishes" I won't tell you anymore as this is on you must see.
This is a great day for all the family and I highly recommend it. The prices are not too bad either around $50 a ticket for some much fun
Of all the Disney Parks, the Magic Kingdon has to be my all time favourite! This is, as far as I am concerned, proper disney - all Princesses and Mickey and Minnie.
This year we took our children to Magic Kingdom for the very first time - they had been to Magic Kingdom in Disney Land Reosrt Paris but never in Walt Disney World Florida. Before we went I spent ages researching the Park and checking the rides out for height restrictions as neither of my daughters are particulalry tall.
On arrival it blew me (oops sorry meant to say them) away! There is no better sight than Cinderellas Castle to make you fell all gooey inside.
As you go along Main Street, the atmosphere gets in your veins and starts the WDW infection! It has to be the only infection in the world which I love to catch.
First we went straight to 'Its a small world' (I loooove this ride!) in Fantasy land and had it been up to me, we would never have left Fantasy land at all. Whislt we were there Space Mountain was closed so there was only Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain as the thrill rides. These were more than enough though as there is so much else to see and do in Magic.
The parades are fabulous and if you don't get to see Spectromagic then you are really missing out. All the floats are beautifully decorated in lights and it really is stunning. One tip is to stand to the left of the Hall of Presidents to watch the parades as it is the least crowded spot and you will get some fab pictures.
In order not to tire out little children I would suggest you get there for when the Park opens and leave in the afternoon. The parking tickets are valid all day so you can come back later if you are not too exhausted!
The whole Disney experience cannot be beaten for quality - other parks try but they do not compare!
The Magic Kingdom was the first Disney park to be opened in Florida and it is exactly what you'd expect. A Giant castle. Your favourite characters everywhere and smiles on the faces of everyone's children.
The park is split into 5 seperate areas each with it's own theme & attractions.
You enter through main street USA. This is the shopping district where you are able to buy all the merchandise you want like cuddly toys. I recommend the Taffy in the sweet shop.
Tomorrowland takes you on a journey into the future with high tec rides & shows. Buzz Lightyear & Space Mountain are possibly my favourite rides in the park. Both are lots of fun.
Fantasy Land is where you will find your favourite fairy tales. Peter Pan's Flight & the Winnie the Pooh ride stand out in here. I love bouncing!
Adventureland will take you on a Jungle Cruise which is mildly entertaining & on a journey with the Pirates of the Caribbean. This one is pretty cool. Especially he begining.
Last & not least is Frontier Land. Take a drop down Splash Mountain or board the Runaway Train on the Thunder Railroad. Sit at the back for extra speed.
This is definetly one of the parks to come to Florida for. Brilliant for all the family. Kids will love it. So will the big ones.
We have now vistied park on probably ten occasions and it really is magical.
Make sure you get there early, they even have the park opening by Mickey and Minnie themselves, which is great to see. The park has some stunning buildings and scenery and is based upon seven separate lands surrounding the magical Cinderella's castle.
Make sure you take avantage of the Fast pass system for the most popular rides, particularly Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain, as these are very popular and queues build up early.
Adventureland has an amazing Swiss family tree house, he fun Jungle Cruise, best seen at night, and Pirates of the Carrabean, which is a great adventure. Frontierland has Splash Mountain, which is a scenic logflume ride, (our favourite) and Big Thunder Mountain.
In Tommorrowland, Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress and Space Mountain along with Stitches Great Escape are all superbe.
These are some of our favourite things to do, the list is endless.
Take a trip around the park on the Walt Disney's Railroad to avoid the crowds and rest your legs. We always try to go home for a few hours after midday as it is at its busiest and hottest, but definately go back in for the evening fireworks and parade, these are memories you will not forget.
This is the main park in Disney World Florida, the one most people think of and probably want to see most when they think of Florida. It's a Disney overload and has the fairytale feeling you expect from Disney, plus the rather lovely Cinderella castle as the main focal point.
The park is split into 7 main areas:
Main Street USA - essentially just a long street full of shops but you'll find almost anything you want here. Very easy to spend loads more cash than you expected on things you probably don't really need but when in Florida...
Liberty Square - the main thing here is the Hall of Presidents; like a small museum full of info on past American presidents (not really of much interest to me I must confess)
Toon Town - this is where the characters "live". Mickey, Minnie, Donald etc. have their houses here and tiny tots can go inside them and have a look around.
Adventure Land - full of various rides including the flying Dumbo elephants.
Tomorrow Land - a futuristic feel, you will find Space Mountain here and a train that goes around the whole area giving you a good overview and a little rest!
Frontier Land - one of the best rides is here, Big Thunder Mountain.
Fantasy Land - lots of little kids rides including Peter Pan's Flight over London and Snow White's Story Book boat ride.
There's tons to do in the Magic Kingdom, I can't imagine anyone ever being bored. There are two parades daily: one at 3pm (people start gathering along Main Street from about 12-1 to ensure they get a good view; personally I've never bothered. Florida is just too hot to stand around for any length of time in the sun.) Also, when the parade is on, this is a very good time for going on the most popular rides as there will be much shorter queues.
There is a night time parade which is better I think. They dim the lights of the whole park and the floats and characters come past and they're all covered in lights. It looks and feels quite magical, a proper 'bit' of Disney!
The finale just before they close the park for the night is always a fireworks display. Tinkerbell flies across the park from the castle and then the fireworks start, making all the adults 'ooh' and 'aah'. The kids don't seem as bothered!
I don't think this is my favourite park in the Disney World Resort but it's a classic and simply got to be done!
We returned from America last year and of all the parks we visited the magic kingdom is the one we loved the most.
While i think it would appeal to people with children, there is plenty for the adults too.
There was ten people in our group, six adults and four children and we all loved it.
For me its is disney world, you park in the huge car park and hop on the little bus trams that take you to the gate, you pass through security where they check your bags and then your in!
It was such an awesome sight as you look down the main street and see cinderella castle in all its glory.
The park is split into five different themed lands which you can walk through with ease and all the rides range in ages from three years and up.
On busy days its great if you can get the fast pass as this prints you a ticket with a time on for the most popular rides so that you dont spend hours queing, although you can only have one of these at any one time.
You can also meet and greet the disney charcters at different places throughout the park and the kids love having their photos taken with them.
I would also suggest that you dont miss the evening firework display, which is based around cinderellas castle and lasts about thirty minutes, it really is a sight to behold and kids and adults alike will love it.
The parades are also fab and they do an night time one and a day time one with all the disney characters.
There is also lots of shops to buy things and the kids are drawn to them, i actually found that the prices were quite reasonable.
There is also lots of places to eat although the choice is not great if you dont like chicken, hotdogs or burgers!
You can take you own water and the have lots of fountains all around the park so you can fill up.
I can not wait to go back and i am 33!!
What trip to Florida is complete without a trip to Disneyworld? You could argue that Orlando IS Disney, and that Florida itself owes a lot to the gigantic presence that Disney has on the landscape. Most travellers to and from the UK will pack their bags and their kids and head to Florida especially for the Disney experience, whatever that may be. I always envision the current Disney enterprise like the faceless lawyers in the Simpsons, only after the big bucks and to hell with the rest.
Disney World itself occupies a huge amount of land and comprises of two water parks, MGM Studios and Epcot. There are also huge hotel complexes and resorts as well as a a large Monrorail network. Originally seen as 'the Florida Project' by Uncle Walt himself, Disney is HUGE, with the main focus being The Magic Kingdom.
The Magic Kingdomis the centrepiece of the Disney Empire and is built around Cinerella's Castle. For 10 year old girls, it's a dream come true. But there are also lots of things to do for everyone in the family.
One thing that really grates me about Disney is how saccharine and sickly sweet it all is. Everything is 'cute' or 'happy'. I'm not a party pooper at all, but I don't like what Disney has become and what has happened to the characters in the Disney World. For instance, look what they've done to the classic AA Milne 'Winnie the Pooh' characters - they've become Disney-ised to such an extent that they are almost unrecognisable from their original creations.
Some of the best rides are the ones that have recently been made into movies. Pirates of the Carribean and The Haunted Mansion were giood fun and really very well done. Pirates of the Carribean in particular was well constructed and not all scary. There were also a couple of white knuckle rides in the form of a mountain runaway train and a plunge boat ride.
The park also boasted a Railway track that circled the entire park, this was well worth doing - even though the views weren't that great (it was mostly woodland). The park was very well done out - very clean and tidy - but also very fake.
The best thing to see at The Magic Kingdom is the nightime parade and fireworks. The fireworks were set to music from Fantasia and was narrated by Jimminy Cricket. The fireworks were excellent and were a great show. The castle did look really great at night, as did the night time parade. The whole show was very, very good - lots of dancing fairies and Disney characters from the past and present - all good stuff. Disney at night is definitely better than Dinsye during the day.
The Magic Kingdom is highly recommended to anyone that goes to Florida - I mean you can hardly go there without visiting Disney. It's a bit sickly for some tastes but it definitely appeal to young kids who will be captivated by the 'magic' cough cough. I much preferred Universal Studios and Hollywood Studios to be honest which was much more accessible to the older traveller.
This park is the main park for walt disney world in florida. The park consists of 5 "lands"; tommorowland, fantsy land, toon town , frontier land and adventure land. Each land is themed as you can probably gues from the names.
Tommorrow land: this land is based on futuristic characters and things of the future. The main characters in this section are buzz lightyear, stich (from lilo and stich) and the charters from the lilo and stich film. This section is really well done and includes two out of 4 star attractions of the park, space mountain and buzz lighter space ranger. Space mountain is basically a roller coaster in the dark and is like being launched into space. Buzz light year is a shooting game where you compete with your partner to get the highest score whilst trying to defeat Zurg (the enemy of buzzlightyear).
Fantasy Land:this land is more for the younger children with rides like dumbo the flying elephant, snow white's scary adventures and peter pan's flight. The land does tend to get very busy as this is really the only place in the park that tolddlers are able to get on any rides.
Toon town:is right next to fantasy land is where you go if you want to meet the different characters. there is a large "tent" which houses all of the different characters and you have to line up to meet them. This section also includes mickey's house and minnie's house which you can explore.
Adventure land: this home the 2 other star attractions BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN AND SPLASH MOUNTIN. bIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN IS BASED ON A RUN AWAY TRAIN and is quite tame in my opiion compared to other roller coasters within the parks. Splash mountain is a 10 minute journey through the story of how brer rabbit escapes from brer fox and bear and ends with a 60ft plunge into water, a little tip:those that sit in the front too seats WILL get wet.
The final land frontierland:houses the pirates of the caribbean and the haunted mansion. The pirates of the caribbean has recently been up dated to include jack sparrow which is surprisingly life like, and is an inside boat journey through the story of the pirates of the caribbean, dont worry though you a very unlikely to get wet in this ride. The haunted mansion is also an indoor ride taking you through the story of bride who was murdered in the house. The special effects in this are very good and you are even joined by a ghostly being in your cart at the end of this ride.
Magic is a very magical place and has a wide variety a dining options (advanced reservations needed for most sit down meals). For british visitors there are a number of options availbale to you for buying tickets, the best value for money option is the 14 day ultimate ticket which gives you unlimited access for 14 days into all of the disney parks including the water parks and disny quest (large in door amusement area) loacted at down town disney!prices start for this ticket from about £244
Many apologies in advance for the length of this review - I just had so much to say! It will probably be of most use to anyone planning a visit.
When many people think of Florida theme parks the one that springs to mind first is often Magic Kingdom, the oldest of the Orlando Disney parks.
Magic Kingdom first opened its gates to the public in 1971. Apparently it is the most visited park in the world so don't expect it to be quiet! Visitors to Disneyland Paris will find this park familiar as it has a very similar layout and many of the same rides. Like many of the Disney parks, it has a long narrow corridor entrance, then several lands which can be accessed via a central hub.
This very much depends upon where you're staying. Visitors staying at the Disney hotels, the Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian can get there directly via the monorail. Guests from the Wilderness lodge and Villas or Fort Wilderness Campground can either take a boat or bus. Other Disney guests can catch a bus directly from their hotel. If you're not staying on Disney territory you need to park in the Magic Kingdom Transport and Ticket Centre; from there you can catch a monorail or ferry to the park gates. We took the ferry. It might have taken slightly longer but it was a lot calmer and provided a nice extra experience for the children. Just a word of warning, the car parks are huge; a good tip I've heard is to take a photo of the name and number of the block where your car is parked on your phone or digital camera each morning, then just delete it at the end of the day.
**THE DIFFERENT LANDS**
**Main Street USA**
Main Street USA is built to look like an idealised USA town around 1900. At the entrance to Main Street you will find the train station where you can catch a train that goes round the entire perimeter of the park. This is probably one of the worst places to catch the train though as queues can get pretty long and people don't tend to get off here unless it's later in the day so there aren't many places available on the train when it stops. I would advise if you want to ride the train - and it's lovely for younger children or just if you want to rest your feet - then catch it at one of the other stops.
As you pass into Main Street, watch out for Park Guides and entertainment schedules. These are invaluable for providing a map showing where all of the rides, restaurants and toilets are, plus they give information about what time parades and meet 'n' greets are. Don't forget to pick one up or you will definitely miss a lot of the attractions!
On the left is City Hall where you can make restaurant reservations, book a guided tour or pick up park maps if you forgot to get one. On the opposite side is Exposition Hall where you can see old Disney films and pictures. This isn't an area that greatly interests my family; they just want to get on and find the rides.
There are quite a few shops in Main Street, or so it looks from the outside. In actual fact they are all joined together instead and all mostly contain Disney merchandise, especially clothing, cuddly toys and highly expensive ornaments. On our first visit here we had a good look all along the shops as we entered. Don't make the same mistake! The shops are there all day. Rides without queues aren't! If you're there fairly early in the morning, make the most of the fact that the queues haven't built up yet and get to the rides early.
Make sure to listen carefully though; the floors above the shops are supposed to be businesses and if you listen you can hear sounds from the "dentist" and "music teacher". If you have time, pay attention to the names printed on the upper floor windows; they are all real people who have been somehow involved in the creation of DisneyWorld. Some people may not be interested in such things, but for me it's the little details that make a trip to Disney so fantastic!
The only rides available in Main Street USA are horse drawn carriages or old fashioned fire engines that you can ride to the end of the street on. We've never bothered with this. You can walk there just as fast and there are far better attractions to experience. Unless you have a real thing about horses or fire engines, give these a miss!
At the end of Main Street is a large circle. This is part of the parade route and forms the central hub whereby you can access all other lands. Cinderella's castle lies at the end of this hub and is a quite impressive building.
During our first visit to Magic Kingdom we travelled around the park in an anti-clockwise direction visiting each ride as and when we came to it. On later visits we adopted a bit more of a strategy in order to reduce queuing time but I will describe the park in the order we used on that initial visit as the second option involved lots of zig-zagging around and would be utterly confusing.
Tomorrowland was the first land that we visited. Disney wanted this land to look like a vision of the future, however the problem with this is that the future keeps catching up! Currently Tomorrowland is styled to look like the science fiction future envisioned in the early 20th Century. The scenery doesn't really appeal to me and it would probably be one of my least favourite lands if not for the fact that it is home to a couple of my favourite rides.
The best of all of these is Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, an interactive ride through a futuristic landscape. At the beginning of the ride a huge Buzz Lightyear asks for your help to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg before you take your place in a two person carriage with laser guns on the front. All through the ride you need to aim at targets to get a high score. Our family are quite competitive and we tend to go on a few times to try to beat each others' scores and it does take a little while to get used to the lasers and targets. Certain shaped targets give more points (I think it's the triangle and diamond shapes that give the best points but don't quote me on it). Also my son swears the way to get a high score is to keep your finger on the trigger all the time. To be honest, we're all fairly average at the game so if anyone has any tips? It is a lot of fun though and a ride you'll probably want to repeat.
Another popular ride in Tomorrowland is Space Mountain. If you've been on this ride in Disneyland Paris it's not the same ride but it is still a rollercoaster in the dark. I have read that it only travels at 28 miles an hour but it feels as if it's a lot faster. The big downside to this is that we queued...and queued...and queued and by the time we got on the ride it didn't feel worth it. Most of the family would go on again, but we would definitely go really early in the day, but my husband wouldn't ride ever again. He's not much of a coaster fan though. This ride has height restriction (3ft 8).
An unexpected favourite ride was the Carousel of Progress. This ride appears to be a theatre when you go in and sit in the audience to watch an animatronic man talking about technology through the ages. The twist is that as you move through the years the audience seats move while the stage stays still. It was quite an interesting ride - not nearly as boring as it sounds - and an escape from the sun. The song played as the seats change is quite catchy too!
Other rides in this area are a slightly less than impressive. Tomorrowland Indy Speedway is a track with small cars on that you can drive yourself, although this is a bit misleading as the cars are actually on a rail and all that can be controlled is the speed - even this is not really fast. I would probably skip this unless you have someone who is desperate to ride. Also, you are quite likely to get bumped from behind so the ride is not recommended for pregnant ladies.
A second attraction that's not really worth it is Stitch's Great Escape based on the film Lilo and Stitch. The basic premise of this attraction is that you are joining a space prison service and are helping transport Stitch who is a prisoner. Unfortunately he escapes and due to special effects it appears that he is all around you. Some of the effects are quite unpleasant and much of it takes place in the dark so not a ride for those who are afraid of the dark or claustrophobic. Although this ride doesn't throw you about at all it still has a height restriction (3ft 2) probably because of the possibility of small children being scared.
Two rides that aren't especially thrilling but are suitable for smaller children are the Astro-Orbiter, which is basically a set of rocket shaped carriages that go round and round. Riders can control the rockets and make them go up and down. Think Dumbo ride but high in the sky. A final ride is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority which is a slow-moving ride high in the sky. It wouldn't be very exciting for older children or teenagers but there generally isn't a queue and you do get to peep inside Space Mountain.
Since we visited a new attraction based on Monsters Inc has opened which is some kind of comedy show but I can't comment on whether it's worth seeing.
After leaving Tomorrowland we came across Fantasyland which is a huge attraction for small children. The whole area looks like a pretty fairytale and most of the rides are aimed at under ten year olds. We sampled them all as our daughter was only six at the time. Without smaller children I would definitely still visit but it wouldn't be the first land I went to. This land can also be accessed by going through Cinderella's Castle at the end of Main Street if your family want to visit there first.
The best attraction in this area was a 3D film show called Mickey's Philharmagic. I don't want to give away the plot but it has a lot of clever special effects and features scenes from all of the favourite Disney films. The whole family really enjoyed this one and my daughter begged to go back the whole holiday.
Many of the other rides in this area are the usual sort of fairground rides given a Disney twist, including a Cinderella's carousel, Alice in Wonderland's spinning teacup ride and Dumbo's ride which though only a rotating ride in flying elephants that go up and down is inexplicably popular and soon has enormous slow-moving queues! Other rides in Fantasyland are basically rides through scenes from famous films such as Snow White, Peter Pan (another popular one!) and Winnie the Pooh. All of these rides are great for little ones - although the witch pops out in Snow White... a lot! - but they were a big yawn for our ten year old.
The final ride in Fantasy land, It's A Small World, is quite unique; a boat ride through animated singing dolls dressed as all the different nationalities who sing one of the most irritatingly catchy tunes known to the modern world. Again, my older son hates it, but it's an iconic ride and a trip to Disney wouldn't be the same without a trip on it.
Other attractions in Fantasyland are a little less well-known and tucked away where you might not come across them. Ariel the mermaid can be found for photos and autographs in her watery grotto; little girls tend to like this attraction... as do Dads! Also Belle from Beauty and the Beast tells her story in a little walled garden. What's nice about this is that she chooses children to come and help and as there aren't usually a lot of people there they have a good chance of being picked. Our ten year old was mortified when she asked him to join in and dress like Gaston; our six year old was devastated not to be asked to join in. You can't win!
**MICKEY'S TOONTOWN FAIR**
The newest land in Magic Kingdom can only be reached on foot via Fantasyland, although it does have a train station. Again this is a land primarily aimed at small children and features Mickey and Minnie's homes where visitors can walk through and see where they live, plus a mini roller coaster which is ideal for a child's first experience on a roller coaster. If they don't like this, they won't like any other coaster in the park. A further attraction is Donald Duck's boat, where children WILL get wet - great for hot summer days but not so nice in winter. Despite having younger children we didn't spend a lot of time in Mickey's Toontown Fair as our family felt there was a lot more fun to be had elsewhere in the park.
Moving back through Fantasyland you come to Liberty Square. This is a fairly small area that has three attractions. Our family favourite is the Haunted Mansion, one of two Disney rides where the ride spawned the film (the other being Pirates of the Caribbean). Not as scary as it sounds this is a clever twist on a ghost train. On first riding our six year old was scared but the anticipation is more frightening than the actual ride. A second attraction is the Hall of Presidents, a film of US history followed by a roll call of animatronic Presidents. Although the robotics are very clever a lot of this went over our heads (not being American) and it was incredibly boring for the children. I think I probably still would go back though, if only to see what they do with President Obama.
A final ride in this area is the Liberty Belle riverboat, a peaceful ride on a mock paddle steamer. A good ride for older people or those with very tired feet!
Ah, finally, into my husband's favourite land where he can indulge his fantasies of being a cowboy and enjoy the toe-tapping country music. Frontierland is themed like a western town and is the setting for two of Magic Kingdom's most popular rides. Splash Mountain is a log flume ride through the setting of Brer Rabbit stories, culminating in a huge splash at the end. Don't let that put you off though; the drop looks worse than it actually is. The final "mountain" in Magic Kingdom is Thunder Mountain, a fast paced ride on a runaway mining train. Again, it looks scarier than it feels and is a ride that my non-roller-coaster-loving husband is more than keen to ride. Also from Frontierland you can catch a raft to Tom Sawyer's Island where children can run about and let off steam to their heart's content. Finally, you can visit the Country Bears Jamboree, where animatronic bears deliver a whole host of country and western songs. We didn't visit this attraction but apparently it's good for toddlers so it'll definitely be somewhere we go when we visit again.
Adventureland is one of the most exotic areas of Magic Kingdom, with a jungle like atmosphere and an Arabian market area. It hosts one of the most famous of all the Disney rides, Pirates of the Caribbean, a water ride through scenes of pirates rampaging and pillaging. It's a great ride but the darkness of it scared my little one the first time she rode. It has an excellent song though and you'll be Yo-ho-ho-ing for ages afterwards. Another favourite is the Jungle Cruise, a boat ride that miraculously takes you down several of the world's most famous rivers. It's worth it for the banter from the boats' skippers which is corny but amusing.
If you have younger children, Adventureland also hosts a Dumbo-esque ride The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, where children are in charge of making their magic carpet fly up and down as they spin round and round. Watch out for the camel - he spits! Finally, pay a visit to the Enchanted Tiki Room, full of singing birds, but with a twist as it's been taken over by Iago from Aladdin and Zazu from the Lion King. If you're feeling really energetic, try climbing the treehouse from the Swiss Family Robinson, but be warned, there are lots of steps - not suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs or anyone not entirely fit.
**What else is there to do there?**
If all that isn't enough for you, there are always characters to be found. In Magic Kingdom there a variety of characters that are always there, for example Mickey Mouse can almost always be found in the judging tent behind his house. At the entrance of Mickey's Toontown Fair there is a large shop, inside of which are three character lines to meet various characters, usually on a theme. When we went, my daughter several of the Disney Princesses and the characters from Winnie the Pooh all in one fell swoop.
Other characters can be found periodically in places associated with them, such as Alice in Wonderland characters around the Spinning Teacups, Brer Bear and Brer Fox lurking around Splash Mountain and we had great fun meting Captain Hook and Mr Smee at the entrance to the Pirates of the Caribbean. My daughter was wearing a Tinkerbell hat which was promptly stolen and turned inside out by Hook so we couldn't see Tinkerbell. My daughter was very much tickled by this and still talks about it now. The characters I like finding best though are the ones just randomly wandering. We leaped off the train when we saw Cruella de Vil in Toontown even though we'd been planning on going to Main Street USA.
Every day in Magic Kingdom offers parades, including the afternoon Dreams Come True parade and the evening Spectromagic, which is more characters and a LOT of lights! People seem to start waiting for parades quite early so if parades aren't you're thing take adventage of the fact that the queues at rides are smaller. A word of warning - if you're planning on leaving close to parade time, go early. You can't cross a parade route to get out of the park and it's a long, long walk going all the way round, believe me!
Each evening ends with the Wishes fireworks display, which isn't your average fireworks display combining pictures and music from Disney films with the fireworks. Be warned it is VERY crowded when leaving just after the fireworks. Keep tight hold of children or lurk around the shops for a little while until the crowds die down!
If you're really interested in Disney, there are a number of behind the scenes tours you can take, ranging in price from the tour hour Family Magic Tour for $27 to the $199 Backstage Magic tour that goes behind the scenes at three Disney Parks (not Animal Kingdom) . This tour is only suitable for over sixteens. We haven't been on any of these tours but I would love to!
Parks open and close at different times throughout the year, opening later in summer months. The Disney website lists opening hours a few months in advance.
Eating at the park can be as expensive as you want to make it. You can buy cheap snacks at a variety of places or if you really want to push the boat out, dine at Cinderella's Royal Table in the castle. This will need to be booked well in advance though. Information on places to eat and a guide to prices ($, $$ or $$$) is available from the park guides found at the park entrances.
Character dining is also available which is a chance for your child (or you!) to meet their favourite characters while having a meal which can be time saving but costly. Some character meals need to be booked in advance so check before you go.
It's supposedly not permitted, but it is possible to take in your own food which works out even cheaper. Also remember to take empty water bottles an d fill up at the many water fountains around the parks.
**What else might I need to know?**
Consider visiting over more than one day. All the main rides can be done in one day (we did it - once!) but it's fast paced, tiring and makes for a long day.
If things are getting too much for anyone, consider going back to the hotel for a swim or a nap. Early starts and late nights can take their toll and we saw more than one child being yelled at. Call that a holiday?
Use FASTPASS. This is a brilliant idea. Feed your park tickets into a machine near a Fastpass ride and receive a ticket with a stated time to come back. Come back at that time and get on the ride with a much smaller wait. You are only supposed to get one fastpass at a time but can usually get another one a couple of hours later, or when the first one has been used. Fastpasses run out early on the most popular rides so don't wait too long.
To avoid the queues, eat earlier or later than normal lunchtimes, then you can ride while others eat and eat while others ride!
If it's your birthday while you're there, take your passport and show it at customer services for special park perks.
**Would I recommend going?**
Yes, yes, yes and yes! I can't recommend it enough, though I am a huge Disney fan. There's something there for the whole family, whether it's rides, shows, parades or just the scenery. There are plenty rides for all ages, although none of them are ultra-scary thrill rides. A factor that I really like is the fact that everything is so clean and the attention to detail is fantastic. Customer service is exceptional and nothing is too much trouble for staff. Queues are well managed and even when there is a bit of a queue, usually the queueing area has so much to look at that you don't notice the wait. The only problem is that once you get home, none of the theme parks you visit, including Disneyland Paris ever seem to live up to it. Plus some people just don't like things to be so Disney perfect, though that isn't a problem for us. If you get the chance, just go!
The iconic park. Based around Cinderella's Castle, this is still the park that you want to see the most and will come back to time and time again.
Allow plenty of time to get to the park. Arriving at the car park entrance is just the start. You'll then be directed to a space, catch a tram to the Ticket and Transportation Centre (TTC) and from there catch either a monorail or a ferry to (near the!) the park entrance.
I stayed offsite in a villa approx. 15 mins drive to the WDW entrance sgins, but needed to allow a good 45/60 mins door to door to actually get into the park.
You can see the Castle from the ferry and the monorail and it really is a lovely sight, as are the nearby hotels.
From the main entrance you go up Main Street and then have a choice of lands to visit.
Best for the little ones - many people head straight here to go on the Dumbo ride before it gets too busy. I don't quite understand this as it's a bog standard go up in the air and round and round thing, but if you do want to ride it you have to go early as the queues get huge. There are other similar rides in the park (Magic Carpets, Astro Orbiters) and also in many other parks as well.
Not to be missed in Fantasyland:
Mickey's Philharmagic. This is a 3D movie that should really be called Donald's Philharmagic as he's the star, and it is just awesome. The sort of thing that only Disney can do. If there was one thing that I would take a newbie on to show them what Disney is all about it's this. Nobobdy else could do this like Disney. Having said that it's a good one to save until later in the day when the park fills up as I've never had to wait more than 10/15 minutes to see it.
Peter Pan's Flight. A lovely, gentle ride around the world of Peter Pan. Gets very busy so one to do early.
It's a Small World. Goes on a bit too long, and the song gets stuck in your head, but the little ones love the cute boat trip aroud the world.
Cinderella's Carousel. A gentle horse roundabout. Good when the park is busy as the queues are always pretty quick.
Ariel's Grotto. A meet and greet with Ariel, but the queue goes much slower than you think.
Pooh Ride. Train ride around Pooh's Grand Adventures. Perfect for the little ones. This does have fastpass but it's only really worth it if the queue is 30mins+ as the fastpass queue is often as long as the normal queue. One to ride early if possible.
Apparently the first person into the Tinkerbell treasure shop gets to wake Tink up. Didn't experience this as there seems to be a bit of a scrum to do it.
Isn't supposed to open until 10am, although it actually opened at 9:45am when we were there. That was a pain as sometimes Goofy will ride the Barnstormer with the first rider of the day, and although we thought we were getting there early we were actually too late :-(.
The later opening does mean that you can do some rides and still be at Toontown to be the first ones there though, which helps with the queues.
Not to be missed in Toontown:
Goofy's Barnstormer. A kiddie coaster, but don't be fooled - it's pretty whizzy and is too much for a lot of the kids. It's over very quickly though. If your little one is adventurous they'll love this - get there early to ride it several times before the crowds come.
The Judge's Tent and Mickey and Minnie's houses have character and Princess meet and greets. These are in private rooms, which is nice, but again get there early to beat the crowds. As you can't see who's there ask a cast member first to make sure you're not disappointed.
Where most people go first as it's the home of Space Mountain.
Not to be missed in Tomorrowland:
Space Mountain. Showing it's age a bit now - the one in Paris is much whizzier - but I love this one as it's fast but doesn't have any big drops. As a ride it's probably tame enough for most kids, but it's in the dark which can be daunting for them, and you have to ride behind each other rather than side by side. This is one that it's definitely best to fast pass - send someone off to get them first thing while you meet somewhere else (probably Dumbo!).
Buzz's Space Ranger Spin. Good fun, shooting at the Z's. Can be fast passed if needed, but early on it's a fast moving queue.
Indy Speedway. Let's the kids steer a car which they always like. Can be pretty slow offloading.
Tomorrowland Transport Authority. A monorail around Tomorrowland and through Space Mountain. A nice way to relax and queues move quickly.
This side of the park can be pretty quiet for a while as most head off to Fantasyland or Space Mountain initally.
Not to be missed in Adventureland
Pirate of the Caribbean. Can be a bit dark for some smaller kids. I have always found the queues here to be very small, so don't rush to do it.
Magic Carpets. A Dumbo alternative that can be ridden with lttle ones while the bigger ones do Pirates
Jungle Cruise. Cheesy jokes from your cheery cpatin, but it's worth doing at least once
Home of the other two mountains - Thunder and Splash.
Not to be missed in Frontierland:
Splash Mountain. Beautifully themed, three ever increasing drops, the last one is pretty impressive. Be prepared to get wet. Perhaps one to fast pass and then do on your way out.
Thunder Mountain. A very tame coaster, good for little ones but does have dark sections and can be noisy.
Became one of my favourite places for one thing - riding up front with the captain on the riverboat.
Not to be missed in Liberty Square:
Haunted Mansion. Do this during the Halloween party if possible. It's a very well done and atmospheric ghost train at any time, but during the Halloween party (which is an additional fee party that takes places on certain nights from Sept-Nov) there is an extra eerie atmosphere that is superb.
Liberty Square Riverboat. This is a gentle cruise around the lake, but if you ask to ride with the captain you can go into the Captain's Quarters and help him ride the boat. My kids actually steered the boat with the big wheel and blew the whistle (the boat is on rails, but don't tell them that). One of the highlights of the holiday.
You can ask to ride up front on the TTC Monorail - best in the afternoon when it's quiet. There's a special waiting area at the front and if there's no-one there then you can ride up front (max 4 people). The monorail drivers can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to people skills!
Try and get to the park as early as possible. As 8:45am there's an opening show where Mickey and others officially open the park with Magic Dust. A family (I think of 4) is chosen to help every morning.
The steam train has stops in most areas and is a good way of getting from one side of the park to the other.
The afternoon parade was less impressive than Paris I thought, but worth seeing all the same. Get to the beginning or end of the routes for quieter spaces, around the Castle is crazy busy.
The evening parade is an electric one and is very pretty. The same advice for finding space applies.
The evening fireworks are fantastic. Anywhere in front of the castle gives a good view, but if you go to the bridge to Tomorrowland you get to see Tink fly overhead. If the fireworks are the last thing before the park closes then it's pandemonium getting out. You can wait a while for Main Street to ease but there will still be queues for the Monorail (try the resort one instead of the TTC one in this case) and worst of all for the trams. Another advantage of getting there early (if you're going to stay all day) is that you might park close enough not to need a tram.
I did try watching the fireworks from the TTC ferry to be the first out, but wouldn't recommend this - they're not the same without the music. A spot at the end of Main Street may be best to get away early.
Restaurants. There's plenty of them, but I can only comment on the Crystal Palace breakfast which is a character interaction with the Pooh gang. This was fantastic and highly recommended. My daughter made Tigger a card and he was wonderful with her.
I'd recommend doing the last placing (10:30am) as it's quieter then, you get a chance to do some bits in the park first and you can fill up for an early lunch. Cost was approx. £50 for a family of 5 plus tip.
Parking is $12 a day if you stay offsite. This covers any park if you're hopping.
One final bit of advice. If you get there early then it's generally possible to go everything you want by the afternoon parade. You can then leave and have a break /food and return again on the evening for the evening parade and fireworks.