It’s the quintessential Disney park. While Epcot and Hollywood Studios are great, Magic Kingdom is the park where you experience the most Disney magic. It also holds the most attractions, so to get through everything in the park in one day is nearly impossible. While we planned our Epcot and Hollywood Studios days as we went, I knew we would need at least a loose plan to get the most our of Magic Kingdom.
We grabbed a park map on our way out of Hollywood Studios the night before and I marked out a rough plan of action for the next day. We knew from our previous days that getting there early would be key. We found that the best time to get in the popular rides was as soon as the park opened. The lines are still short and you don’t have to use the Fastpass option. For us, that meant starting with the mountains: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Unlike at the other parks, we did not stick to general areas at the same time. We are good walkers, especially compared to anyone with a stroller, so we bounced around quite a bit. For the sake of simplicity, though, I’m going to walk through one “land” at a time here.
If you take a left when you get to the main juncture of Magic Kingdom, the first “land” you’ll enter is Adventureland. We skipped the Magic Carpets of Aladdin (it’s just standard amusement park ride where the carpets go up and down in a circle), the Enchanted Tiki Room show (no need or desire to see singing birds telling corny jokes), and the Jungle Cruise (I went on this as a child and don’t remember anything but corny jokes. Besides, the line was always pretty long.). Instead, we spent our time in Adventureland paying homage to a few of our favorite movies.
First stop, the Swiss Family Treehouse. Turns out we both loved this movie as children. In fact, upon arriving at home, we immediately put it the classic on our Netflix queue. It’s on its way to our house as I type this.
We also rode the attraction that inspired the highly-successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Of course, since the movies, the ride has been updated to include Captain Jack Sparrow. I remember riding this as a kid, though, and he was nowhere to be found. This underground boat ride may not be the most exciting Disney has to offer, but it’s a classic.
As you continue on through the park, Frontierland is the natural next step. We skipped the Country Bear Jamboree at the recommendation of dear friends who visited Disney for their anniversary last year. We experienced everything else in the western-themed section of the park. Splash Mountain, which we expected to be a quick up and down log ride, turned out to be a long journey through the folktale of Br’er Rabbit. We rode it early in the day, which gave us plenty of time to dry off. Unfortunately, the soaking we got caused my makeup to run and stain my new favorite tank top. If that was the low point of the day, though, which it was, I can’t complain.
We took a short raft ride over to Tom Sawyer Island. There is very little to do there other than explore some cave tunnels and other landmarks related to the Tom Sawyer story. It was a quick trip for us and soon we were back on the mainland riding one of the only real roller coasters at Disney, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I specifically remember riding the coaster with my dad as a child. If you had told me then that the next time I would be on that ride would be with my wonderful husband, I never would have believed you.
Right next door to Frontierland rests Liberty Square, the smallest section of the park. While we passed on the riverboat ride, we checked out the rest of Liberty Square in the afternoon. I really enjoyed the Hall of Presidents, despite an overenthusiastic docent. After a short video, there is a short show featuring an animatronic version of every president on stage together. Very cool for history nerds like me. The only real ride in Liberty Square replicates the featured building from the Eddie Murphy movie The Haunted Mansion. Neither of us had ever seen the movie, so we did not know what to expect. Turns out, any fears I had of the ride being scary were unfounded. It was a cheesy, goofy ride through a story we did not understand, having never seen the movie.
If you continue in this clockwise motion, your next stop would be Fantasyland. However, for the moment, we are skipping to Tomorrowland. Make sure you come back to hear about Fantasyland, though. Our experiences there included one of the Top Ten Most Magical Moments of My Life.
Tomorrowland contains quite a few attractions and we hit all but one. We passed on the Astro Orbiter because, again, it seemed like a standard amusement park ride. We rode Space Mountain immediately upon entering the park; we knew we could face super long lines later in the day. It’s a great indoor roller coaster and a total classic.
The Tomorrowland Speedway was actually our second stop of the day before we left Tomorrowland for Splash Mountain. We saw a racetrack and expected a go-kart experience. Yeah, not the case. The Speedway has nothing speedy about it. Basically, it’s like those old time car rides at amusement parks, but in a small race car instead of a Model-T. In retrospect, we could have skipped this one. It did give me a chance to take some pictures, though. See what an enthused driver Kevin is?
We enjoyed the remainder of Tomorrowland in the afternoon as the rain misted on and off. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover (a glorified train ride overlooking Tomorrowland) proved to be one of our favorites. It offered some great views, including a jaunt through Space Mountain, and a wonderful way to get off our feet for a few minutes. Kevin said that if he were an old man here with his family, he would just ride the People Mover all day long.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress made its first appearance at the World Fair in 1964. It made its home at Disneyland until the 70s, when it moved to Florida. The attraction highlights how changes in technology have affected families over this centuries and imagines what life could be like in the future. The Carousel was last updated in 1993, so its “modern” family life really should get a few adjustments. Still, it’s fun to see what parts of the predicted future really came true and which remain elusive or irrelevant.
The rest of Tomorrowland featured less exciting rides. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin clearly meant to be a shooting game like Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios. However, the ride broke down several times while we waited in line and once while we were on it. The scoring was a mess and you could not really see where you were shooting. Still, the blacklighting was cool.
Stitch’s Great Escape played along with the story of Lilo and Stitch, a movie Kevin had never even heard of. The idea was that Stitch had been brought as a prisoner back to the alien world he came from and then escaped in the room with you. The standout moment from this attraction was the simulation that Stitch had burped his chili dog breath in your face. It was vile. Across the street, the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor was a live show inviting people in the audience to participate with some animated monsters telling jokes with the aim of getting energy from our laughter. This was a fun one, mostly because it picked on people in the audience. I’d be interested to see how they end up integration the new movie Monsters University even further than they already have.
While I have covered a lot of Magic Kingdom ground in this post, I have yet to hit on some of our favorite parts of the day. Make sure you subscribe to or bookmark Napp Time so you don’t miss out. For those of you tired of Disney, I promise it’s ending soon! We’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming before you know it. We’ve been having a great summer and can’t wait to share with you about it! In mean time, enjoy one last Disney pic for the day! Look how cute that boy is!