Magic Kingdom, Disney World, Orlando, Florida
It was late 2011 that my wife and I talked about going on holiday. Usually we go to her home country of Thailand, however this year we decided on a change of scenery. As our daughter was nearly five years old we wanted to visit somewhere that would interest her, so we chose to go to Orlando and visit the Disney theme parks.
We booked the holiday for the two weeks prior to Christmas. We flew from Manchester Airport in the UK and arrived in Orlando about 9 hours later. All in all it was one of the most pleasant and smoothest flights we have experienced. Once booked into the hotel, it was late evening and we were ready for bed. The following morning we were ready for our first theme park, which we decided would be the Magic Kingdom.
We travelled to the Magic Kingdom via coach, which picked us up at 7.30am from our hotel (Double Tree by Hilton at Seaworld). The coached stopped to pick up passengers from about half a dozen different hotels and the journey lasted about 30 minutes.
We were dropped off at the coach park, from there we followed the direction to the Monorail, which took us to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom, with the journey lasting less than five minutes.
We disembarked the monorail and eagerly made our way to the entrance of what was to be our first of many incredible days in the Disney World theme parks.
The Magic Kingdom covers an area of over 100 acres and was first opened in 1971. The park consists of 6 themed lands, these are:
- Mainstreet, USA
- Liberty Square
After a quick bag inspection (This procedure is in place at all Disney parks) we made a way inside just in time to see the Main Street Trolley Parade which took place in front of the Main Street Station.
A horse drawn trolley travels down Main Street stopping at various locations, where dancers get off the trolley and perform a song and dance show.
Mainstreet is where you enter the magic Kingdom is a primarily a collection of gift shops and cafes. Main Street leads to the other themed lands in this park. You can also catch the Main Street train here which takes for a slow ride all the way around the park.
As you walk down Main Street you will see the centre piece of the park 'Cinderella's Castle'. From this point you can choose your destination to one of the many themed lands, as they all lead of in a different direction, a bit like the spokes on a wheel.
Walt Disney DVDs
As we completed the walk up to Cinderella's Castle we decided to head off to Tomorrow Land. This is supposed to be Disney's vision of the future. Although I got the feeling some of the rides were a little dated, we still enjoyed this part immensely.
Of all the rides in this section we particularly enjoyed Space Mountain and the Indy Speedway. As our daughter was only 4 years old when we visited, we were limited to which rides she was allowed on as there are height restrictions.
Another worry we had was how long the queues would be, but we were quite surprised and we rarely queued for any length of time. However the week prior to Christmas was busier as many people had finished work and school for the holidays.
Other rides in this section include the Astro Orbiter, Buzz Lightyears Spin and Stitch's Great Escape. As with all sections there are various restaurants and cafes where snacks and refreshments can be purchased. I thought the prices were reasonable too, especially for a theme park where you kind of expect then to be on the expensive side.
Moving on from Tomorrow land we moved on to the section known as Fantasy land. This section can also be accessed by walking straight down Main Street, through and past Cinderella's Castle.
As many of the rides in this section are geared towards younger children, it was our daughters favourite section.
Rides in this section include Winnie the Pooh Adventures, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Prince Charmings Carousel and Mad Tea Party. There is also a film show called Micky's Philhar Magic which I can recommend.
We probably stayed in this section longer than most, as our daughter wanted to go on the rides time and time again.
Moving on to Liberty Square, it feels like a step back in time. This section is one of the smallest and low key parts of the Magic Kingdom.
There are three attractions here, The Riverboat Ride, The Hall of Presidents and The Haunted Mansion.
Of the three we only chose The Riverboat Ride, which was quite an enjoyable ride lasting for about 20 minutes. The ships captain provided narration as we slowly wound our way down the river.
Once the boat trip was over we were treated to a Disney parade that included all of the most famous characters such as Micky & Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Snow White and many more.
At various places dotted around the park there a designated areas, where you can meet and have you photo taken with the Disney characters. You can also purchase a photo and autograph book for this purpose.
Walt Disney Jewellery
The theme for Frontier Land is that of the wild west of America. Although we didn't go on the rides here, this section has two of the most thrilling rides in the Magic Kingdom, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain.
To beat the queues for the rides here, which can be quite lengthy, it is best to head for this section when the park opens early morning.
A quick tip is to catch the train which departs from Main Street Station (found at the entrance of the park), as it stops at Frontier Land as it travels around the park perimeter.
The final themed section we visited was Adventure land, which is home to the popular Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which we enjoyed. Also in this section is the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and the Enchanted Tiki Room.
Of these we decided to try the Swiss Tree House which was O K, but is something that most people would only try once.
Another ride we enjoyed was the Jungle Cruise, this involves travelling down river on a boat as you witness different animals (not real), waterfalls and different landscapes etc.
The ride is quite light hearted as the guides make the ride fun with a few jokes and quips. This is another ride where apparently the queue can get quite long, although we must have got lucky, as we didn't have to wait too long.
Dream Along With Mickey
The is always something happening in the Magic Kingdom, as there are various different parades and shows happening during the day.
One of the most popular shows is 'Dream along with Mickey', which takes place at the foot of Cinderella's Castle on the Castle Stage.
The show lasts for about 20 minutes and features some of the most popular characters, including Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Snow White and the evil Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.
This dream inspired music and dance show also features extra dancers and finishes off with a small firework display.
As were we there just prior to the Holidays were we treated to a special Christmas show, which featured snow men, elves and reindeer.
For the best view of the show it is better to arrive there a short time before the show begins, as there is an area just in front of the stage where everyone sits down.
This is great for small children to see the show, as if they were at the back where everyone stands they have to lifted up or sit on their parents shoulders to see the show.
Magic Kingdom Parade
Be sure to catch the Magic Kingdom Parade. This is a collection of floats featuring many of the most famous Disney charcters including:
- Mickey & Minnie Mouse
- Donald & Daisy Duck
- Beauty and the Beast
- Sleeping Beauty
- Cinderella and many more...
As the floats make there way along the designated route they play music from the speakers fixed to the floats. We were lucky being at the park at Christmas time as we were treated to a Christmas themed parade, with many of the characters dressing in seasonal costume..