July 9, 2012

Magic Kingdom Overview with Tips

When people think of Disney World, the first thought is generally of Magic Kingdom. It is the iconic first theme park of the Disney World Resort. The history of Magic Kingdom could take up an entire post (or several posts) in and of itself but today we're just going to focus on some of our must-do current attractions and extras.

Oftentimes considered Disney's most child-friendly theme park, Magic Kingdom still has a lot to offer adult visitors; although, it should be noted that Magic Kingdom is the only dry park. All three of the other parks and all of Disney's hotel resorts are happy to pour you an alcoholic beverage but the strongest thing you'll drink at Magic Kingdom is a Dole Whip. 
(photo credit: disneyinsidertips.com)

Magic Kingdom is designed much like a wagon wheel with the impressive Cinderella Castle at the center of the theme park and various "lands" extending out from there. Circling the entire park is the Walt Disney Railroad. You enter the park by crossing under the Main Street Station. On the left you'll find the Harmony Barber Shop where many little ones have had their first hair cuts (less than $20 plus tip) and older brothers and sisters and some moms and dads have had colored hair gel (about $7) used to make some super fun designs.
*tip: Remember to call and book your appointment at the Harmony Barber Shop because although they take walk-ins, you'll spend valuable park time waiting your turn.

Across the way on the right side of Main St is the Town Square Theater which is where you can find Mickey in a magic show...or you can meet the Princesses who are temporarily set up there while much of Fantasyland is under construction during the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history. They're building the Beast's Castle from Beauty and the Beast-complete with a new Be Our Guest Restaurant, doubling the Dumbo attraction and adding a new meet and greet Princess Fairytale Hall, among other additions.

Anyway, as you walk down Main St, the quaint shops entice you inside where you're able to buy just about any Disney souvenir, candy, baked good or old fashioned ice cream your heart could ever desire. One of our favorite things is to stop just before the Castle at Casey's Corner and grab a hot dog (all beef, just fyi), cotton candy and watch a few old school black and white Mickey Mouse Cartoons while cooling off in the air conditioning.

Of course, at the end of Main Street is the Castle. It makes for a great photo op but it's more than that. It also houses the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique (aka just about every little girl's dream).

Before you get to the Castle, there are five streets that turn off. The first two on the left merge and direct visitors to Adventureland where you can take a ride with some shady characters on the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Another favorite is the Jungle Cruise, where, if you like corny jokes, you're in great company. Our must-do in Adventureland is most definitely the Pirate's League. The prices are more than reasonable and it's a blast for boys and girls. 
*tip: advanced reservations are a MUST for Pirate's League

If you turn on the last street on the left, you'll find yourself winding your way through the Liberty Square area-home to the ever-popular Haunted Mansion (another must-do) and ending up in Frontierland which in our house is a big favorite. Frontierland is home to two of the most iconic Disney attractions...not to mention our favorite rides! The Wild Wild West is brought to life with Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Runaway Railroad.

If instead of taking one of the roads to the left, you take the first right off Main St, you'll find yourself in Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland is an ever-changing image of what tomorrow may bring. Today, when you go to Tomorrowland, you're presented with the opportunity to battle aliens in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. It's certainly a must-do-especially if your family is like ours and you enjoy some healthy competition. If you're looking for some down time, go straight to the Monster's Inc Laugh Floor and be prepared to be "that guy."
*tip: have a joke of your own in mind when you visit Mike Wazowski...while waiting for the theater doors to open, you'll be presented with the opportunity to text your very own joke and if you're lucky, it'll be used in the show
Tomorrowland's big attraction is Space Mountain. It's also the attraction in Magic Kingdom with the tallest height requirement
*tip: be sure to measure and remeasure your little ones before your trip-knowing what they can and cannot do will be a life-saver!

*tip: keep your eyes open in all the parks for little bits of extra magic...in Magic Kingdom you might find "water painters" like the one shown above or you might even find a trash can rolling down the street chatting with park guests

The second star on the right....wait, wrong navigation...the second street on the right from Main Street will lead you to the dividing line between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland which as we said earlier is undergoing a pretty massive explansion which, when completed, will almost double Fantasyland. All the classic kiddie attractions are there...Prince Charming's Carrousel, Dumbo, It's A Small World and the Mad Tea Party Cups.
Just because Fantasyland is home to so many of the kiddie classics, don't let it stop you from visiting if you're kid-free and not really feeling the Tea Cups. Mickey's PhilharMagic is an amazing 3D experience and one of the best attractions at Magic Kingdom regardless of your age. 

Magic Kingdom has other great attractions, restaurants and more shopping opportunities than you could ever manage in a trip but the most important thing to remember is to just have a great time. Pick what you think will be the most fun for you and your group and make those the priority. Anything else is just icing on the cake.


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