bonus, WDW Planning

Planning a WDW holiday | part 4

This post is going up a little later than I had wanted. Trying to collate all the information for the most popular of the parks took a little longer than I had anticipated. Our trip countdown is now in double digits and it’s getting very real now. Time to change up a gear with the planning.

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photo by me: Cinderella’s castle

This post looks at the Magic Kingdom, home of the iconic Cinderella Castle. This park comprises of five ‘lands’ arranged around a central plaza. If you want to see and do most, if not everything in this park you will have to allow more than one day. In the past, we’ve allocated two days purely to this park, and perhaps another half day later in the trip. Although so we don’t get so overwhelmed, we usually separate those days and visit other places in between.

The majority of Magic Kingdoms headliner attractions are in Fantasyland. At the time of writing, there were more attractions in Fantasyland that offered FastPass+ than in the rest of the park combined. The family friendly aspect of this section of the park means that some of the seemingly tamer, smaller rides actually attract a large line and without FastPass+ you could be looking at a standby wait of two or more hours.

The direction you move around the park to avoid crowds will depend on the age range of your party and which rides you have on your ‘must-see’ list (see the first part of my series for information on this). I’ll list my recommendations in an anti-clockwise direction, as that’s usually the direction we take around the park.

Tomorrowland

The theming in this section of the park is futuristic, but in the way that 1960s TV shows thought the future would look. It’s home to one if the three ‘mountains’ in the park, Space Mountain, along with a mixed bag of other attractions.

My must-see here are:

  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

There are other ‘big’ rides here, including Astro Orbiters, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor and the Tomorrowland Speedway. The reasons these don’t make my list, but the Carousel of Progress does is purely for the nostalgia. Be warned, Space Mountain is a dark ride and is pretty fast. If you’re not a fan of coasters, you may be able to give this one a miss.

Fantasyland

Fantasyland expanded a few years ago and now contains three smaller sections. The Storybook Circus, the newer Beauty & the Beast themed area, and the centre section.

If you love all the classic Princess movies or have smaller children, be prepared to spend most of your time in Fantasyland.

My must-sees here are:

  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • it’s a small world
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid

Honourable mention should go to Enchanted Tales with Belle. I’ve not experienced this before, but from reading various reviews, I shall make sure to get FastPass+ for my daughter and me to see this. I’ve not been on Seven Dwarfs either, but I’m told it’s pretty good, and also gets quite busy, hence it goes on my list. The presence of Under the Sea on this list shouldn’t surprise anyone, based on my blog name. Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan are two of the slower rides that attract a huge crowd. Make sure you get your passes for these in advance as there may not be many Same-Day passes left when you want them later.

Liberty Square

This one of the smaller lands in the park and is home to The Haunted Mansion, along with a few other attractions. If you’re interested in colonial America, this is a great place for you. This land is actually home to one of my favourite shops on Disney property, Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. It sells a wide selection of Christmas ornaments and stockings all year round. We invariably come home with at least one or two new ornaments.

christmas shoppe
Not my picture

As I mentioned in the first part of the series, Haunted Mansion is an attraction I will only go on if the line is short enough and my son insists. It’s not a ride I would use a FastPass+ slot for, but if you’ve never been to WDW before I’d recommend you ride it at least once. Parts of it can be a bit spooky for smaller children, but it’s not supposed to be full on scary (the way the Alien Encounter used to be).

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photo by me: Haunted Mansion

Frontierland

Themed to look like the Old West and Frontier era America, this land is home to the other two ‘mountains’. They both make it on the must-see list:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Splash Mountain

Thunder Mountain is a runaway train type ride and is quite fast and bumpy. Splash Mountain is beautifully themed on the controversial 1946 movie Song of the South if it weren’t for the final big drop it would be a lovely ride to take smaller children on. Most of the attraction is a slow boat ride through scenes from the movie accompanied by the most famous songs.

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photo by me: Splash Mountain

Adventureland

This land packs a lot of attractions into a relatively small space, all of Adventureland is on a single walkway through from the central plaza to the back of Frontierland. Themed somewhere between a safari feel and Caribbean island.

My must-sees here are:

  • Jungle Cruise
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Pirates of the Caribbean

A trip to the Magic Kingdom would not be complete without a visit to Pirates of the Caribbean and with the fifth and final instalment in the movie saga being released at the end of May, why wouldn’t you pay a visit to one of the most famous attractions here. On our last visit to WDW Jungle cruise was not operational and our ride on Magic Carpets was cut short, both due to the ‘inclement weather’ that plagues central Florida during the summer season.

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photo by me: Pirates of the Caribbean

The Magic Kingdom is about much more than the rides, of course. There are also the wonderful live shows, parades and firework shows to take in. When you arrive at the park, make sure you grab a Times Guide along with your map. This will have the schedule for that day’s parades, shows and character greets so you can plan around them. Make sure you stake out a spot for the parades and firework shows well in advance. Recently WDW removed the nighttime parade Main Street Electrical Parade and there are currently no plans to replace it (although this may change). The firework show is also planned to change. If you visit before May 11th you’ll see Wishes, which has run since 2003, if you go after then you’ll see the all new show Happily Ever After

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photo by me: fireworks behind the castle

Dining and shopping

In the past, we’ve never made dining reservations and have got by on the various quick service food outlets dotted abut the park, usually The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland or Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland. This year, however, we’ve made our reservations for Be Our Guest and The Crystal Palace. Two of the most famous snack foods in the Magic Kingdom are Dole Whip and the jumbo Turkey legs. You can find Dole Whip served at Aloha Isle in Adventureland, and the turkey legs are served at Liberty Square Market in Liberty Square.

Shopping in the Magic Kingdom is great. All the lands have souvenir shops themed to match their location. The shops that line Main Street USA are linked and you can get a wide variety of merchandise without stepping back outside.

I apologise that this post was a lot longer than the previous ones, but this park, while not the largest by area, certainly has a lot of attractions. The next post will be about EPCOT.

If you haven’t already, you can check out the first parts of this series here 1 | 2 | 3

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