Must See's and Must Skip's: What Things To Do At Disney World, Magic Kingdom
As the number one theme park in the world, the Magic Kingdom leaves little to be desired. There are workers everywhere you look, everything is in perfect order, and you will be hard pressed to find the first bit of trash on the ground. With that said, there are always certain attractions you look back on and say, "that was a waste of time." This article will lay out for you which attractions at the Magic Kingdom you should not miss, and the others that, although you should visit them, you should not go out of your way. One of the main aspects of the park that you should understand prior to your visit is the Fast Pass, which will be discussed later in the article.
After opening in October of 1971, the Magic Kingdom soon became the vacation destination for families worldwide. Although similar parks have been built in other places, such as Disney Land in California, and the Disney park in France, Disney World's Magic Kindom still sails high above the others in masses of visitors. In 2010, the park had almost 17 million visitors. That is to the Magic Kingdom park alone, and that is also in an economic low period for both the U.S. and the world in general.
Along with this comes the issue of being in a crowded park. Every ride you try to experience at the park will be accompanied with a wait. Sometimes it will be a long one. Therefore, you will have attractions that you may not have time for, so have a plan!
#3 Disney Must See: Downtown Disney
Now, I know that Downtown Disney is not in the Magic Kingdom park at Disney World, but most families that travel to Disney to visit the Magic Kingdom could use place to visit when first arriving at Disney, to sort of ease yourself into the atmosphere, especially if arriving the evening before you go to the park for the day.
Downtown Disney is primarily a commercial area in which you can buy anything Disney. There is a large store at the entrance in which lies all things Disney from a stuffed Mickey Mouse to Tinkerbell earrings. Throughout the Downtown Disney area you will find many other attractions as well, such as a Lego store with huge Lego displays outside, including a huge Loch Ness monster in the lake across the walkway area from the store. You will also find a Harley Davidson shop, a hot air balloon ride, Planet Hollywood and much, much more.
Downtown Disney is the perfect place to either begin your Disney visit, or end it, or both. Yes, there will be plenty of shopping opportunities inside the actual Magic Kingdom park, but the last thing you want is to carry around 20 lbs of Disney while trying to keep track of your children (or your spouse).
#2 Magic Kingdom Must See: Experience Every Ride With Fastpass
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With Disney's Fastpass system, you can now bypass the long (long, long, long) lines of people that are waiting to get on a ride or see an attraction. Fastpass is easy to use and is free and available to everyone. So here's how it works:
At the entrance area for each attraction you will find a Fastpass printing area with a clock above it. This clock give you the time period in which you will return to enter with the Fastpass (usually an hour later). Under the clock you will find a machine that you will slide your admission card in and it will print out a Fastpass. You will need a Fastpass for each admission card in your party.
Here is the important tip: On your Fastpass you will see that you are not able to get another Fastpass until the beginning of your Fastpass window. What you will want to do is go by the next attraction and get a new Fastpass on the way to the one for which you are currently holding a Fastpass. For example, I picked up Fastpasses for It's A Small World at 9 am. The Fastpass says I need to return between 10:15 and 11:15 am. On the way to It's A Small World, I stop by Mickey's PhilharMagic at 10:15 to get Fastpasses for Mickey's PhilharMagic, then proceed to It's A Small World. Now when that ride is done, I already have Fastpasses for the next attraction.
You will not be able to go from ride to ride with Fastpasses due to the time you wait for your window, but it will cut down tremendously on your line time if you think ahead!
#1 Must See At Disney Magic Kingdom: Fireworks!
Nothing makes adults and children light up like fireworks, and Disney is the best at mesmerizing viewers with phenomenal light shows. Every night the Magic Kingdom lights up miles of Central Florida as they celebrate the end of another magical day at Walt Disney World.
The fireworks program starts about an hour after dark, just after the Main Street Electrical Parade. During the summer the fireworks begin at 10 pm, but in the late fall through late winter it begins at 8 pm. About two hours before, you will see people begin to grab spots along Main Street in taped off areas next to the street. Be sure to get your family a good spot as early as possible for the parade, because if you are outside the taped area you will have to keep moving.
Immediately after the parade, people will begin moving toward the circle in front of the castle to grab a spot. I recommend finding an area in which most people are sitting on the ground and follow suit. Have the camera or video camera ready and enjoy! It will last about 15 - 20 minutes and will be a lasting memory for you and your children!
#3 Thing To Skip At Disney World's Magic Kingdom: Midday Sun
Gone are they days when mom and dad had to drag the kids all over the Magic Kingdom for 10 hours straight so they could see everything before driving home. Today, most people stay in one of the nearby resorts, campgrounds or hotels. If you are going to the Magic Kingdom, don't stay too long in the hot Florida sun and grow too tired. If you do, you (and your kids) will be exhausted by the time you need to be ready for the end of the day at Disney (see Must See #1).
There are many things you can do to get out of the sun. You can go back to your room or campground and nap. You can enjoy some fun in and around the lake. Or you can experience some great indoor shopping in the park or at places like Downtown Disney. Plan ahead and get as many attractions in early, rest in the heat of the day, and live it up when the evening hits the Magic Kingdom!
#2 Must Skip At The Magic Kingdom: Bad Or Outdated Attractions
One of the things you will notice if it is your first trip to the Magic Kingdom is how clean and professional everything at the park is. With that in mind, Disney World is constantly in a state of updating and building in an effort to bring visitors back time and again for a new experience. However, although the Magic Kingdom has some of the greatest attractions and shows that you can find for children of every age, they still get it wrong occasionally.
I, personally, was thoroughly unimpressed by the Peter Pan ride. It had a wait time of 45 minutes (although we used the Fastpass and walked right in) and lasted 5 minutes. The characters were poorly laid out and the right felt nothing like flying. I am sure you will find a ride that strikes the same chord with you.
Outdated rides can be seen two ways, though. There are few things at Disney World that are as old as the "It's A Small World" ride. I am sure that the ride is very outdated. I was eager to take my children on it no matter how old it was, purely because I remembered riding on it when I was 5 years old and first visiting the park.
Saving time for the best rides, and skipping some of the worst ones all takes preparation! Which leads me too...
#1 Must Skip At Disney's Magic Kingdom: Not Being Prepared!
Nothing is more of a let down to your children, and more so to you, than leaving without experiencing the magic of Disney World to its fullest. If you are not prepared before arriving at the front gate, you will miss plenty!
For instance, we were scheduled to eat breakfast with Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. We were supposed to arrive 30 minutes prior to the park opening in order to get in and have plenty of time to eat, take pictures with the characters. Due to not knowing where the correct bus stops were or when the first ferry came, we arrived 25 minutes late and could not enter the park for about 10 more minutes. Less time with the characters = no pictures with Pooh.
There are websites that will give you updated information about ferry's, buses, ride construction, new rides, parade times, and starting times for fireworks. Take advantage of them all! Lay out which attractions you must not miss, such as fireworks and such, then fill in rides, meeting characters, and the like. You will also want to utilize smartphone apps that provide live wait times for rides and characters, along with where characters can be found and how long they will be appearing.
Make your visit to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World a memorable time and experience every bit of magic you can!
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