Disney

Ultimate Insider’s 101 Guide to Disney World – The Magic Kingdom

Ultimate Insider’s 101 guide to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World!

Nothing quite prepares you for the first trip to Disney World but what is really unexpected is the fact that you get the same feeling of entering another magical world no matter how many times you go or how old you are!  We took our kids when they were very young, (our little one Mimi was just 6 weeks old on her first trip, crazy I know…but it was a great vacation) the sense of happiness and magic never fails to come back year on year.  The Magic Kingdom is the heart of Disney World and is so huge that we’re still learning things each visit…

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Let’s start at the beginning in a land far far away…when you arrive at the Magic Kingdom the usual security precautions mean that all bags and buggies have to be searched. Moms need to be organized at the Magic Kingdom, so the best way to start is to get through security quickly. Simply hand over all bags (or put them on the stroller) to one of you and then the other can take the kids through the central “no bags” easy walk through and wait in comfort while the other struggles with opening everything, closing everything…I feel sorry for my husband at this stage as I elect to take the kids through! Once through security you have the ticket office or if you already have tickets you can go straight through to the automated barriers. If it is your first time visiting you will need to scan your finger to validate the ticket.  This does not apply to kids though, just adults and just the once per park.

Best rides…

The Magic Kingdom is special for so many reasons but let’s face it, the rides are the biggest of all attractions. For our family the classics are the way to go and are ever popular. Everyone agrees that Pirates of the Caribbean located in the far corner of Adventure land is the must stop. It is especially a great choice for rainy days (even in Florida!) as the wait in line is all indoors and the ride lasts quite some time…well for a ride! The trio of mountains are also popular with Space Mountain being Cam’s favorite (it’s a very fast pitch-black rollercoaster). The 44” height restriction for Space Mountain is the most of any ride and he was extremely proud to make it a few years back but be warned that kids that only just make it might be in for a rough ride as the harness of the single seats can push into tummies.  Splash Mountain is where the whole family get a little wet together – I’m the only one of the family that once tried a poncho (available to buy on site) although SPOILER ALERT – you still get wet…especially if you sit in the front row! Of the other rides It’s a Small World and the Jungle Cruise are perfect for little ones, the Tea Cup ride is essential for Alice fans (but not those that get nauseous) and the Speedway is lots of fun, just be sure that you get in the car behind the kids if they are driving, otherwise it is fender-bender time and you might not enjoy the experience so much!

Fast passes…

The most popular rides and events at the Magic Kingdom are (in our opinion, we have not cross-referenced with the official statistics!)…Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Meeting Elsa & Anna (5 hour wait times anybody?) and Big Thunder Mountain.  I recommend fast passing these rides although the Frozen meet & greet is often booked many weeks in advance so good luck getting that one – if you see it as an option on your My Disney (more on that in a future post) then take it immediately, you can always try and get a cancellation nearer the time but it is usually very very difficult and little princesses just HAVE to meet their Frozen idols!

Best show…

The Magic Kingdom is all about the rides but a newer addition to the park that must be visited (especially if you have a little girl in the party) is the Mine Train and Enchanted Story Time with Belle over in Fantasyland. Here you will get to see true magic (believe me, when you see the door open before your eyes you will mouth “wow” to yourself and try and figure out how the magicians at Disney do it!) In this wonderful attraction your little ones (and the occasional big one) get to volunteer to play a part in the retelling of Beauty and the Beast with Belle and a special guest appearance by Luminere (another “wow” moment)!

Meet and greet Character Spots…

Autograph books at the ready! As with all of the resorts there are a number of fixed spots to meet certain characters and also a few “pop up” meet & greets. Of the fixed areas, look out for Goofy and the gang at Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Toon Town, there is always an assortment at the Town Square near the entrance and head over to Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland to meet Anna & Elsa.  Pop ups occur at different times on different days but look out for Buzz Lightyear near the exit to his ride in Tomorrow land – he is one to meet there as he is difficult to find otherwise, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Peter Pan near their respective rides, Chip & Dale on the river crossing near Liberty Square (complete with cowboy outfits) and the cast of Alice in Wonderland near the tea cup ride.  A special mention also to keep a look out for dance parties with Mickey and pals near the entrance to Space Mountain – the music starts up and kids can dance with the characters, beware of Goofy though, he has two VERY BIG left feet!

Best shops…

For the most part Main St is the place to shop with the Emporium being full of all things Disney that you could want, toys, plush toys, apparel, collectibles etc. Art of Disney across the road has some nice collector pieces of art. The Confectionary sweet shop is there too (freshly made candy apples anyone?) as is one of my favorites – the Crystal Art shop.  Stop by to watch the glass blowing and have a bespoke piece made or take one of off the shelf, just remember that this shop may be a little stressful if anyone in your family is under the age of 4…for us this is time for the husband to step in and give mommy a little retail time..! In addition to Main Street, you have Mickeys Star Traders for pins and odes to Star Wars while the shop at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride has all things yo ho ho. The Ye Olde Christmas shop on the bridge between the centrum and Liberty Square is awesome and we still have some family baubles that were personalized here, we always stop by for a keepsake…yes, I do love the Holidays! Behind Cinderella’s castle you can find Sir Mickeys for boys toys just on the right as you walk through the castle while on the left just past Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (more about that in another post) is Castle Couture for all things Princess and a little sprinkling of fairy dust!

Places to take a time out and recharge…

If you want a break from the hustle and bustle then you are going to be hard pressed to find one. Rides like The Jungle Cruise are quite relaxed as is “Its a Small World” which give a few minutes reprieve. The other option to take a load off is to jump on the Walt Disney World Railroad train that circles the whole of the Magic kingdom. The ride all the way round is about 1.5 miles, about 20 minutes while the kids will still enjoy the views and are engaged. One warning is that it is not stroller friendly, so park up near to a station (there are four around the park) and then just stay on the train until you get back to where you left it.

Top tips (completely random recommendations)…

GalleryV1_MK_Fireworks-44Pineapples at 11am. In Adventure land just over the bridge from the centrum on the right hand side opposite Swiss Family Robinson’s Tree House. I say Pineapples, and you can get them, but what I really mean is Pineapple Dole Whip Ice Cream, Yum..!  Timing is just a suggestion, you can eat this all day long..!

Strollers – Dedicated parking is not as good at the Magic Kingdom as at other parks. The best place we think is to park up next to It’s a small world or outside Mickey’s Philaharmagic to access all of Fantasyland.

Snow cones – just around the back of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Prince Eric’s Village Market is the Shaved Ice which is more like a snow cone to us, lots of flavors to choose from, seating can be hard to find.

View the parade and fireworks from the centrum (near the statue of Walt Disney at the end of Main Street) just on the Tomorrow Land side near the Plaza ice cream parlor. Good spot as the fireworks go over the castle in front of you and also because you are on the turning circle you get to see everything from the parade really well. An additional bonus for this spot is that it is pretty close to the exit for when the fireworks are done – you can make the monorail or the boats are pretty quick and relaxing after a busy day….

GalleryV1_MK_HalloWishes-22If it rains – head for the Pirates of the Caribbean or It’s a Small World rides as both have queues indoors and take a while to go round…otherwise the Emporium on Main Street can keep you occupied with some shopping or Mike’s Laugh Floor is a show with a good wait time.

Best places to eat…

A tough one. It is not known for culinary options – if you can wait then we would dine at a resort, but if not then the best spot for character dining is the Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger although it is fairly pricey and even with a reservation is a bit of a wait. Otherwise you can grab a quick bite at Casey’s at the end of Main Street for hot dogs and fries and conveniently the Plaza ice cream parlor is just over the street….yes…the ice cream is good…

Ones to avoid if you don’t have time…

While we find it difficult to fault much at Disney, which is why we keep going back, here are our picks for things to only do if you have lots of time, if you are only spending a limited time at the park then we would skip:

    1. Toon town generally, although Goofini’s rollercoaster is great if you have little ones who cannot get on the bigger rides.
    2. Tom Sawyer Island. Its fun to do once in a while but it takes time to get over there and time to get back, so try to factor this in.
    3. Be Our Guest. A nice feature restaurant but the wait times really are too much for what it is (even if you have a reservation). Only go if you have plenty of time or are REALLY big Beauty and The Beast fans.
    4. Stitch’s Great Escape this is one that can be quite scary for the little ones and pretty uncomfortable for them as well.
    5. Cinderella’s castle. Ok this is controversial. Little girls will want to do it, there you get to eat with the princesses, pictures with Cinderella and YOU’RE IN THE CASTLE. Downsides are that it is fairly overpriced, the food is quite poor compared to other character venues and it takes ages for service and to meet all of the princesses. Wait times to actually get in with your reservation are also high. If you decide to do it then book way in advance and go early for breakfast so you can get in to the park earlier. You can find Cinderella and the other princesses at different restaurants but they are not together but are mixed with other characters. For example at 1900 (Grand Floridian) at dinner, you get Cinderella and the key cast of the film including Prince Charming and her sisters and dancing is involved! The castle is much more rushed then the other spots so if you have the time to visit different locations to see them all then great. On the flip side, it has to be said the castle does get that autograph book filled out for any princess you might be taking. Epcot is also popular for princesses but that’s another post!

Best advice when visiting the Magic Kingdom – don’t stress and give in to your inner child…you’ll all have a Magical time! If you do go or have been I would love to hear about your trip! x♥x

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