Must See & Do's at Disney World, Magic Kingdom
Oh, the magic of Disney! Have you ever felt an overwhelming sense of joy and belonging that it makes you want to tear up and at the same time frolic through a meadow while singing? Not to be too dramatic (yea right), but there is a reason they call this place the Most Magical Place On Earth. You might think that it's overrated and that people make too much of it, but that is just absolutely not true! I literally felt the magic all day. There are bubbles everywhere, so it's like walking through this glittery, sparkly, magic-land all day long. I do have to say that having a positive attitude throughout the day really helps, because there are tons of people, crowds, and lines. It is way too easy to get overwhelmed or cranky, so having a good outlook is key! Especially if you have little ones!
Growing up on Disney (in the era of the best movies and Disney channel shows + originals), I had all of these wonderful characters to look up to and invite into my imagination. As any 90's kid could tell you, we definitely had the best movies and they were all apart of our life. We had Buzz Lightyear bedrooms, Minnie purses, princess dresses, Tinkerbell pool bags, Winnie the Pooh plates and cups, and Aladdin sleeping bags. Disney was everything--and it still is! So I definitely felt the nostalgia of my childhood and upbringing while I was there. And let me tell you, it was enough to make a girl cry (especially the castle firework show at the end of the night). Disney World truly has something for all ages.
Today, I thought I would take you through the best things to do while you're at Magic Kingdom. You could spend all day here and not even get through half of it. We were there from 10 am to 10 pm (12 hours!) and I did not want to leave. We still had so much we could do! Of course this is just Magic Kingdom and not the other 3 parks--I'll get to those one day. However, I wanted to see the castle and Rapunzel (she's my main chick), so it was MK all the way!
1.) The Castle
This one is impossible not to do. It's so huge you can see it everywhere you go. Pictures in front of it are a must, and I got tons! You cannot go into the castle, but you can walk through it. It is beautiful from every angle, so try to get as many as you can. There is a suite inside the castle, the Cinderella Castle Suite, but it is not available to book. It is for invited guests (celebrities like Suri & Tom Cruise) and promotional winners only. Rumor has it, Disney has turned down numerous offers to pay for the suite--offers from $40,000+ a night! It was originally built for Walt Disney's family when they were in Florida, but the room turned into a telephone operator room after Walt died in 1966. This is, obviously, Cinderella's castle while Sleeping Beauty's castle resides in Disneyland.
2.) Happily Ever After-Castle Firework Show
This show was so unbelievably spectacular. I was so pleased, and it was so well done that I found myself crying. That's how incredible it was! Disney made a genius move when they bought, what has to be, ridiculously powerful projectors. Gone are the days of just a few fancy lights. These projectors cover the entire castle and turn it into any princesses castle! Not only princesses, but we even saw villain castles and Pixar character's castles as well (Toy Story castle, anyone?). It was incredible to see the gold shimmery line that signified the castle design change make its way up the castle. I particularly loved the Little Mermaid portion where we could see Ariel swimming up the building. Not only did the designs change, but we were able to see our favorite characters hanging out on the face of the building. There were love scenes featuring beloved songs (Tangled's "I See the Light" made me tear up), fight scenes with menacing villains, and the hero's victory at the end. Spoiler alert! But come on, it's Disney and it's called "Happily Ever After". This show is an absolute must-see, but start getting your spot at least 45 minutes before!
3.) Grab a Dole Whip or Mickey Bar
You've probably heard the buzz about Dole Whips at Disney, and it is well deserved. I did not get the original version this time. I got the Rapunzel version! It is sold at a little snack counter close to the Tangled area, past Peter Pan's Flight and Prince Charming's Regal Carousel, next to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride. This twist on the classic treat is sold in a purple cone, has a yellow sorbet (lemon flavored-my favorite), and is topped with edible flowers. Although my friend Stacy would beg to differ-edible flowers really just taste like a backyard. We bought our cones, and practically ran all the way back to the Tangled area so that we could enjoy them next to Rapunzel's tower. We probably looked like crazy people, but you have to do it for the 'Gram, right? (I think I just threw up at that statement). If Dole Whips aren't your thing, grab a Mickey Bar, take a bite out of the ear, and take a picture of it against the castle. That's a great picture, right there!
4.) Do at least one Mountain
The 3 Mountains include: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Thunder Mountain. These are the biggest thrill-ride type rides in Magic Kingdom. It was about 60 degrees the day we went, so the wait for Splash Mountain was about 1 minute all day. Too cold! I liked what we did: right after the night show, we legit ran all the way to Frontierland and got in line for Thunder Mountain. We did not have fast passes, hence the running, and the wait for these rides were constantly at around 2 hours all day. However, the park doesn't close until 9, so if you hurry, you can get in line before the cut off. The line moved pretty quickly (it was still long-others had the same idea) so we only had to wait about 25 minutes. It was completely worth it!
5.) See a show at the castle stage!
Right now, the show is called Mickie's Royal Friendship Faire and it is a really great show! We saw it by total accident. We were taking pictures up by the castle on the ramps, and the street party was ending. A cast member asked if we could step off the ramps, as they were getting ready for a show. We stepped down and took advantage of the opportunity to take pics right in front of the castle. Little did we know that the show was starting in 10 minutes and we had a front row seat! I got to see Rapunzel very close (I totally freaked out like I was 7 years old), and other characters like Tiana, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf! It was so much fun to dance and sing along with the princesses. This show is a must.
6.) Festival of Fantasy Parade
I can hear the music now in my head as I type this. This parade is a must, especially if you have kids. However, being a huge Disney fan, I absolutely loved it. More characters grace the parade like Cinderella, Prince Charming, Belle & Beast, Ariel, Merida, Tinkerbell, and all the characters from the Friendship Faire show. The songs, music, dancers, floats, and characters are all so extravagant! Disney definitely does not disappoint. The parade is scheduled for 3 pm everyday in the main area after Main Street.
7.) Haunted Mansion Ride
You have to go on rides while at Disney, right? Of course! Despite the name, this ride is not scary, and many children enjoyed this ride just as much as adults. I recommend a Fast Pass for this one! I was amazed at the attention to detail, and the desire to give every guest a true experience. The props, building, decor, mechanics, creatures & characters, lights, and music were particularly chosen to make this ride fully immersive. This was true for all rides we went on, but Haunted Mansion (and the next one) were ridiculously amazing. Just ride it. You won't be sorry.
8.) Pirates of the Caribbean Ride
If you don't like POTC, you might be crazy. I remember it was really the first movie of the pirate craze that happened a few years back, and everyone on earth loved this movie. My family still does! My particular favorites are the soundtrack and Captain Jack Sparrow. You can find both on this amazing ride! The figure for Cap looked incredibly like Johnny Depp--I even heard that he dressed up and acted out the beloved character on this very ride! Imagine riding in the dark and actually seeing Johnny Depp on your Disney ride. That would be so awesome. As I mentioned before, the attention to detail is remarkable on this ride, and it is highly recommended.
9.) Main Street
Ah, Main Street USA. You can't miss it, as it is the entrance. We totally hustled right through this area in the beginning to get to one of our Fast Passes. I recommend this, because everyone will be looking at this area right away. Plan some rides for the beginning, and then come back after most have already looked through this area. Main Street is lined with shops, confectioneries, and restaurants. It's a great place to pick up a balloon, some ears, and an ice cream cone. One of my faves: Starbucks! However, first thing in the morning, the line is forever long. Seriously. Try to get some coffee before entering the park, and go back around 1 pm for a refresher. The lines are much shorter.
10.) Tea Cups/ It's A Small World/ Purple Wall
I couldn't choose. But any of these would be a great way to spend your time. The teacups are a classic! The Small World ride was...disturbingly terrific. It's a ride where you sail through different parts of the world, surrounded by doll children singing "It's A Small World" in there native language. At first, I was freaked out. Think about it: a million dolls with painted smiles singing the most annoying song on planet earth at you while they dance and spin. But then, you start to feel it, groove with it, enjoy the costumes and colors, and toward the end, you are horrified again. You just have to go and experience it yourself. Lastly, the Purple Wall. It is kind of infamous for people standing and taking their pics here. You may think it's silly, but it is kind of a big deal. It's the thing to do.
I hope this post helps you plan your big adventure to Disney! Or maybe now you realize you really want to go. It's worth it, friend. Comment below on your favorite things about Magic Kingdom!
Thank you to my gorgeous friends Stacy Rovai and Arielle Puuri for being my guides and filling me with joy.