10 August 2012

Where in Walt Disney World: The Magic Kingdom

I am a HUGE Disney buff, and my specialist subject would be Walt Disney World. I've been lucky enough to visit Disneyland in California and the one in Paris, but WDW is by far my favourite and in my opinion the ultimate.

After many years of travelling to the Sunshine state of Florida, and visiting Disney World i thought i'd impart some wisdom, tips and tricks, the best things to do and maybe what not to, just in case any of you are ever thinking of taking the trip or maybe i can intrigue you to do so. So, get ready for a the ultimate guide to Walt Disney World and the surrounding area while i'm away at the same destination.
Walt Disney World covers 30,080 acres and holds four theme parks, two water parks, 23 on-site Disney themed resorts and 8 resorts that aren't Disney owned. You can even find a campground, two spas and physical fitness centres, five golf courses and a plethora of other recreational activities and entertainment. Walt Disney developed the resort in the early 1960's but sadly died in 1966 before his original plans were fully recognised and before it's completion in 1971. Disney World opened on October 1st 1971 with only the Magic Kingdom but EPCOT was added in 1982, Hollywood Studios - formerly MGM Studios - in 1989 and Animal Kingdom in 1998.

It's a place where dreams are made. Come with me and explore the ins and outs of the happiest place on earth.
We'll start with the epicentre; the Magic Kingdom has again been awarded most visited theme park in the world, with an estimated attendance of 17,142,000 guests which is an increase to the previous year. There is so much to see and do in this park and as well as being any little princess' dream there's plenty for the savvy pirates amongst your family too.

Despite being such a busy hub, you never really feel like you're overcrowded or claustrophobic, thanks to the acres and acres of space this park is sat on. The only time you ever feel the amount of people visiting the park is in the form of queues, however there's always the option of a Fastpass for the rides you're desperate to test. If you visit a ride and the queue is longer than you're willing to wait - because the queues at Walt Disney World can be 100 minutes plus - you simply head to the nearest Fastpass machine, all the busiest rides have them, enter your park ticket and you are produced a Fastpass ticket stating a time slot for you to come back. When your time slot comes around, all you do is show your Fastpass to the WDW steward or stewardess and join the Fastpass line that will, more often than not, let you straight on the ride. However, if you're riding at peak times, on a particularly busy day or when other rides are closed you may have to wait a few minutes to get on.

When you enter the Magic Kingdom you're met with the Town Square, complete with City Hall (Guest Services) and Fire Station. Here you can often find some of Disney's best loved characters - Donald and Daisy Duck, Pluto, Goofy, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Belle, Cinderella and her Mice have all been spotted here. Next to the Fire Station The Harmony Barber Shop can be found, offering genuine haircuts, beard and moustache trims and baby's first haircuts with a certificate to remember the magical moment. Also to be found here is the main train station for the Walt Disney World Railroad, that circles the park and has stops in many of the other corners of the park. Leading off from the square is turn of the century American Main Street USA, lined with quant little shops and town staples such as a bakery and cinema. If you check out the windows above these stores, you'll see the names of Disney Executives, contributing artists and family members. There are many ways to travel down Main Street, the obvious choice is to walk so you can pop in and out of all the little stores on offer, selling Disney merchandise from toys to watches, clothes to dressing up attire and all sorts of beverages and food, however you can also travel by horse drawn trolley, fire engine, omnibus, jitney or horseless carriage, depending on what's available each day.

Right in the centre, seen on the horizon from miles before you've even entered the park, in the hub of the Magic Kingdom and at the end of the Main Street is Cinderella's Castle. Towering high above the park reaching 189 feet tall is this iconic fairytale castle. It acts not only as the gateway to Fantasyland and the central icon of the Walt Disney World Resort, but also of the Walt Disney World Company. A variety of real and fictional castles served as inspiration for Cinderella's Castle including Fontainebleau, Versailles and the chateaus of Chenonceau, Chambord and Chaumont. The chief designer, Disney Legend Herb Ryman, also referenced the original design for the castle in the film Cinderella and his own well-known creation Sleeping Beauty's Castle at the Disneyland Park in California.

Cinderella's Castle is the hub and marks the centre of the spokes design of the park. For the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney used the spokes method to keep everything in it's own land and yet keep everything connected. The design works with Cinderella's Castle in the centre and then a spoke off into Adventureland, one to Frontierland, one to Liberty Square, one into Fantasyland and one into Tomorrowland. These lands, and Main Street, are what makes up the Magic Kingdom.

Each land is pretty self explanitory, for example in Tomorrowland you'll find the futuristic, intergalatic style attractions and in Fantasyland you'll come across magic and princess' galore. I couldn't say i have a favourite land as there are rides and attractions across all of them that i love. Everywhere you'll find rides appropriate for all ages; Dumbo the flying elephant in Fantasyland and the Arabian flying carpets in Adventureland are perfect for the littleuns in your family, whereas Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain between Adventureland and Frontierland, and Space Mountain in Tomorrowland will be loved by the thrill seekers amongst you.

One of my personal favourite rides is the Jungle Cruise in which you board a boat that'll take you on a month long (not really) grand tour of the world's most exotic rivers. Along the way you'll be taken through an elephant bathing spot, be attacked by pygmies and told some truly awful brilliant jokes! Two other all time favourites are the previously mentioned Splash and Big Thunder Mountain. Splash is, obviously, a water ride and you're seated in a classic log flume type boat. You're teased with a few minor ups and downs, splashes and sprays before you're taken to the Laughin' Place at the top of Chickapin Hill, where you meet Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Bear & Br'er Fox and a lot more colourful characters along the way but it's not until you're being thrown down into the Briar Patch that you leave your stomach at the top of the Hill's 52 foot drop. It's over fairly quick, but that doesn't make it any less heart pounding and you'll get a little more than wet when you hit the bottom. Big Thunder, however, is a runaway steam train that takes you on a wild ride through a mountainous terrain. It's fast and furious, but take the warning that it's a little jolty and strenuous if you have any back problems or are pregnant, etc.

The Jungle Cruise

Splash Mountain

Something maybe better suited for the entire family is Mickey's Philharmagic. This is a 3D show in which you watch Donald Duck entirely disobey Mickey. You're transported through a multitude of Disney movies, from the Lion King to Fantasia. You can sing along to some of your favourite hits and watch out for diamonds, forks and hands coming at you! Another family friendly ride is It's a Small World, it may seem a little soppy and there isn't really a point to it like some of the other major rides at WDW, but it's a lovely way to get out of the sun and it's constantly moving so the line goes pretty quickly. It's full of singing children and sights of the world, you'll be amazed by the amazing set design and beautiful colours.

It's A Small World

Ahoy matey, why not take the swash bucklers and buccaneers in your family on an adventure on the high seas. Join Cap'n Jack Sparrow pillaging and spotting your favourite sights from the films on the Pirates of the Caribbean boat trip. You'll get stuck in the middle of a crossfire between the Black Pearl and it's enemies and don't forget to keep an eye out for the famous Jack Sparrow, he's a good hider, savvy! If you want something a little more frightful take a trip on a doom buggy inside Disney's Haunted Mansion. You'll enter a room with your Ghost host and learn how other guests exit the building, and it isn't pretty! You'll see seances, singing grave yards and be invaded by hitchhiking ghosts - be careful, they'll follow you home!

Pirates of the Caribbean

There are also some real hidden gems in the Magic Kingdom that perhaps don't get as much love, and especially for a newbie would be a lovely sight to see. In Adventureland stands the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. If you've never seen the film Walt Disney Film, it's based around the Robinson family that are sailing their way to New Guinea and are chased by Pirates into a storm leaving the family shipwrecked on a deserted island. The family build a new life on the island from things salvaged from the ship as well as building a treehouse. A replica of this treehouse now stands in Adventureland, Walt Disney World, and it's a wonder to see and roam around. You can take your time wandering round, looking in all the rooms and it's a short break away from a lot of the crowds. There's so much more to see that this often gets overlooked as it's not fast or thrilling, but it is a pretty sight. Something else there's rarely a queue for is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover. This is a leisurely 10 minute, elevated tour of Tomorrrowland. It's pollution free and is supposed to be eco friendly, and all about the future. It takes you through Space Mountain, it shows you a model of what the future could look like if we looked after the world and spent good amounts of time working, but also leaving time for play. Again, this is just a nice break to sit down and away from the crowds.

Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse

Of course there are plenty of other rides and attractions, but maybe i should leave those up to you to discover for yourself.

Eating in Disney isn't cheap, but it is delicious and there certainly is something for everyone. Down Main Street USA is the Main Street Bakery. This is a quick service menu, great if you want something yummy for breakfast or just a midday snack. You can grab coffees, cakes, cookies and pastries amongst other things. Too hot? Why not head to the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour for a sweet treat! One of my favourite snack joints is the Sleepy Hollow just to the left of Cinderella's Castle, it has a great view and a great selection of all American treats! My family go for something different each! I'm partial to a Coca Cola Float, my Mum loves a Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich and my Dad a Funnel Cake. Delicious! If you're after some character dining for your little ones, or the big kid in you, take a trip to the Crystal Palace. This is a little pricier but not awfully and you get the full experience complete with an all American buffet and their famous Sundae Bar. Winnie the Pooh and his Hundred Acre Wood pals have been known to frequent these parts, so be sure to check in here if you're fans. It may also be a good idea to book in advance because the queue is often out the door. If you're looking for something extra special then why not dine with Disney's Royal Family at Cinderella's Table in the Castle. You will definitely have to pre book a table here as people book months in advance just for the honour. There have been many a proposal in here, so if you're looking for the perfect spot to pop the question to your Princess this is the very place! You'll have an enchanting meal in an elaborate Medieval setting, perfect for Princess' of all sizes!

Something that is going to make a great addition to the Magic Kingdom is new Fantasyland extension, including Journey of the Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, the Be Our Guest Restaurant and finishing with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train being opened in 2014, with openings along the way. Once completed this will expand Fantasyland considerably bringing some of the classic movies to life.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster Artwork

There's so much to see and do here, i could write for days. I'll leave it here to wet your appetite and hope i've done enough to tempt you! Check back soon for low downs on the rest of the parks, and resort!


All images sourced from Google Images.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Very wonderful! Thanks for sharing Disney world, reading your post makes me more excited of my Disney trip on Christmas.


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