Welcome back! Today I bring you the second post in my Disney World 101 Series! This series of posts is designed to teach you the absolute basics of Disney travel. Even those who have never been to Disney parks before can become Disney experts from this series. My first post dealt with the differences between the four Disney World theme parks. Today, we’ll be diving more in depth to the grandest of them all and my personal favorite – the Magic Kingdom!
The Magic Kingdom was the first park at Walt Disney World, opening in 1971. Walt sadly passed before the park opened, and the rest of construction was overseen by his brother Roy. While being very similar to Disneyland Park in California, it is also extremely different. The castle is much larger and built using forced perspective, making it seem taller than it actually is. The overall style is still the same, with magical “lands” surrounding a wheel shaped hub in front of the castle.
Main Street USA
When you first enter the Magic Kingdom park, you will be walking down Main Street USA. Modeled after the old streets of Missouri, where Walt grew up at the turn of the 20th century, your journey begins here, with Cinderella Castle standing at the end of it. The castle is not Cinderella’s personal castle, hence no “s” at the end. Rather, it’s named after the princess, just like Sleeping Beauty castle is named after Aurora in Disneyland.
Main Street USA does not contain any rides or attractions (aside from the train stop). Rather, it is composed mostly of shops and restaurants. Characters are often out in front of the train station, and guest relations and lockers can be found here as well. The “Hub” which is the grassy area in front of the castle is an excellent place to take a break or watch one of the many parades that make their way down Main Street.
Don’t forget to stop and get a pic in front of the castle or the “Partners” statue!
If you head to the left when you reach the Hub, you’ll find yourself in Adventureland. This tropical hideaway is home to Disney classics such as The Jungle Cruise and The Enchanted Tiki Room. This land is themed around the 1920’s idea of traveling and exploration in the rainforests. This magical place is also home to The Enchanted Carpets of Aladdin. The great Prince Ali himself and Princess Jasmine can be seen wandering around here from time to time. As you venture further in to Adventureland you can find a Caribbean square, where Pirates of the Caribbean makes its home. Jack Sparrow is also wandering around the square every once in a while!
As far as food and dining go, the new Jungle Skipper Canteen restaurant broke the mold by offering alcohol in the Magic Kingdom for the first time. If you’re looking for one of the famous Dole Whips, head to Aloha Isle near the Aladdin ride. Finally, if your little adventurers are looking for something fun and unique, head to the Pirate’s League and let your little ones get transformed in to pirates!
Settled next to Adventureland is Frontierland, where you’re transported to the days of the wild, wild west. At the far end of Frontierland, you’ll find Splash Mountain. This is a classic water ride starring our favorite Br’er animals as they search for adventure. The next mountain just across the way is Big Thunder Mountain, a runaway train ride that’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!
If thrills aren’t really your thing, take some time to hang out at the Country Bear Jamboree. This Disney classic show will have its goofy songs stuck in your head all day! If your kids need somewhere to burn some energy, let them run around Tom Sawyer Island for a while, or grab some food at the Diamond Horseshoe. Frontierland is also a great place to catch the parades as they go by! It’s often less crowded than Main Street and has some great spots to hang out while getting pictures. Check out my guide on how to capture great parade photos here!
Take a step back in time to do the days of the Founding Fathers in Liberty Square! This land is unique to the Magic Kingdom (meaning it isn’t at Disneyland park in California). Liberty Square is where you’ll find 999 happy haunts at the Haunted Mansion, a classic ride and one of my personal favorites. Across from the ghostly manor is the Hall of Presidents, where animatronics of all 45 presidents reside in this short show.
If you’re looking for a great way to relax, jump on the Riverboat. Take a little cruise around the lake surrounding Tom Sawyer Island. Liberty Square is also home to one of my favorite restaurants, Liberty Tree Tavern, as well as some great shopping! Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe provides Disney Christmas decor all year round. Finally, the Liberty Square Portrait Studio provides a place to grab a very unique souvenir!
Fantasyland is where magic reigns in the Magic Kingdom! Disney Princesses have all made their home here. Both Ariel and Belle have their castles stretching over the landscape of Fantasyland thanks to a HUGE expansion in the early 2010’s. It isn’t just the princesses you can meet here. Peter Pan and Wendy, Gaston, Alice and the Mad Hatter, and so many more characters are out and about in this land on a daily basis!
Here you can find many classic rides such as Peter Pan’s Flight, it’s a small world, Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel and Mad Tea Party are some of the attractions most people think of when they think of Fantasyland. Newer additions such as The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and another Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride have been added in recent years. Another one of my favorite 3D shows, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, also makes its home here and a great place to take a break from the hot Florida heat.
As part of the large expansion, Snow White’s Scary Adventures was closed and a new roller coaster, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was opened. This is the first roller coaster that combines animatronics AND a rocking coaster as you ride through the mines where a million diamonds shine! Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid and Enchanted Tales With Belle are new additions as well. The Little Mermaid attraction is your classic ride through dark ride. Enchanted Tales with Belle allows you to get up close and personal with your favorite book worm as she tells the story of Beauty and the Beast!
With these new additions comes lots of FOOD options for you as well! Be Our Guest Restaurant allows you to eat in the Beast’s castle. You can even meet the master of the castle himself during dinner time! Gaston’s Tavern and Storybook Treats provide delicious drinks and slushies for all your sweet tooth cravings. Finally, don’t forget to stop by the Cheshire Cafe to grab a famous Cheshire Cat tail pastry!
Finally, we’ve come to the land of Tomorrow, where innovations and technology meet space exploration! This is where you’ll find the famous Space Mountain dark coaster, and the Tomorrowland Speedway. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, one of my favorite underrated attractions about all the success we’ve made in technology can also be found here. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is a fun competitive game based dark ride that the whole family will love! Did you know you can also travel to Monstropolis via Tomorrowland?? Head over to the Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor for a fun interactive attraction starring our favorite Monster of Ceremonies, Mike Wazowski!
Tomorrowland Transit Authority is a simple attraction spanning the area. This tram takes you on a tour of the skies of Tomorrowland and even inside some of the attractions. Astro Orbiter is at the center of Tomorrowland. This ride allows you to fly your own spaceship in a similar fashion to the Dumbo attraction. In the next few years, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of construction on the newest Tomorrowland attraction – a TRON themed roller coaster!
Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies and Starlight Ray’s Cosmic Cafe are two amazing places for quick service lunch or a small snack between meals. Don’t forget to stop by Mickey’s Star Traders for some galactic themed merchandise!
With thrills around every corner and magic in the air, the Magic Kingdom is the best place to start your Disney adventure. I could personally spend DAYS at this magical park. When people think of classic Disney, they think of the Magic Kingdom. What’s your favorite attraction at the Magic Kingdom? Let me know in the comments!
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