Monday, 7 May 2012

Magic Kingdom

It was the first day of our vacation in Orlando and after a good nights sleep, we was eager to visit our first theme park. After a quick discussion we decided it would be Disney's Magic Kingdom.

We checked the bus time table and the first pick up time for this park was 7.30am. So off we went to the pick up point at the front of the hotel. The bus arrived promptly on time.

cinderellas castle
Cinderella's Castle is the symbol of The Magic Kingdom
We stopped at several hotels to pick up other passengers. It took us about 20 - 30 minutes to reach our destination.  After a quick ride on the monorail we reached the entrance of the Magic Kingdom.

Prior to entering the park there is a quick bag inspection, this is routine with all of the theme parks. Once we were in the park we grabbed our selves a park map (these are available in many different languages). these maps are essential for planning your day here.

Magic Kingdom Map
A map of the Magic Kingdom - click the map to enlarge
Push chairs, buggies and mobility scooters can all be hired at the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. One thing you quickly learn about America is that no stone is left unturned and the service provided here is second to none.

The Magic Kingdom is over 100 acres (40 hectares) in area and it feature 6 different mythical lands for you to explore.
  • Main Street USA
  • Tomorrow Land
  • Adventure Land
  • Frontier Land
  • Liberty Square
  • Fantasy Land

Everyone will have their favourite section and there is always something for everyone, no matter what your age.

You enter this park on Main Street, from there you walk towards Cinderella's Castle, which is the main focal point and the centre of the park.

tigger and pooh
You never know who you might meet here!
From here you can choose your next destination as each different land can be accessed from this point as they branch out like the spokes on a bicycle wheel.

Tomorrow Land

tomorrow land
Tomorrow Land
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.

Fantasy Land

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.

dumbo the flying elephant
The 'Dumbo' ride is one of the most popular rides in Fantasy Land
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.

Liberty Square

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.

riverboat ride
Time to "take it easy" on the Riverboat

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.

Frontier Land

big thunder mountain railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is great for thrill seekers
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.

Adventure Land

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
dream along with mickey
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.

The special Christmas show featured a different storyline with special characters and the dancers in seasonal costume.
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 area is great for small children to see the show, as if they were at the back where everyone stands they have to be hoisted up on to 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 characters including:

  • Mickey & Minnie Mouse
  • Donald & Daisy Duck
  • Goofy
  • Pluto
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Ariel
  • Cinderella and many more...
Aladin is just one of the many stars in the Magic Kingdom parade
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..