The happiest blog on Earth
Hello Disnerds and lovely readers of this blog!
Major apologies for the impromptu hiatus I took! Everything piled up at once, but now it is Spring Break and, save for finals, the school year will be winding down. Because I kind of ran out of idea of content to post, I've decided to take on a huge task that I have no idea if you guys will really care about: going through each Disney World park discuss the best attractions, entertainment, and dining options. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
For each section of each park, I'm going to try to choose the two best attractions, shops, and restaurants. I apologize in advance for going over that limit; the honest truth is that there is no bad choice at Disney World.
I would love to continue this series for Disneyland once I visit the park (hopefully soon if my travel plans are correct), so keep an eye out for that.
I thought I would start this long series with the park that most people start at: Magic Kingdom.
*A note about the map above: I apologize that this map is a little outdated so the new Fantasyland is not on it. I still put the locations there where they are now. If you want a better, updated map with every attraction, go here.
Main Street, U.S.A.
The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show: Wake up bright and early and get to Magic Kingdom when the park opens for the opening ceremony with Mickey and friends. If you are one of the people who wants to be the first at the park, this charming ceremony will wake you up and get your ready for the day.
The Walt Disney World Railroad: What would a trip to Disney World be without a quick trip on the train? While third or fourth time park-goers may skip it, the vintage train ride is a must for anyone's first visit, and anyone who loves the nostalgia.
Tony's Town Square Restaurant: In the mood for a sit down meal? What better place than the restaurant where Lady and the Tramp had their first kiss. Order off of the Italian menu (including the famed spaghetti and meatballs) for a delicious entree. Reservations recommended, but, depending on the season, not required.
Main Street Confectionary: Need a sweet treat to take back home or to give you some energy? There is no better place than the Main Street Confectionary. With every candy you can imagine, be careful not to buy everything! You can even watch them craft the delights in this old-time candy store.
Emporium: If you need a souvenir to take home, the Emporium has it. As the biggest gift shop in the park, you could spend hours looking at all of the wares in here. Housing clothing, Mickey ears, vinylmation, pins, toys, and more, everything Disney and Disney parks related lies behind the doors.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover: So many park-goers overlook this attraction and never realize what they have missed. If you're tired or just need a break from all of the commotion, hop onto the PeopleMover, a mass-transit system that will tour you around Tomorrowland, including inside a few of the rides. I love to hit up the PeopleMover after a long day of walking around the park, and it's fun to introduce the hidden gem to those who often walk right past it
Honorable Mentions: Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, for it's interesting look at the technological development of the century and its historical status.
Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe: For a quick service sit down meal with (live?) entertainment, try Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. Offering the standard American cuisine of hamburgers, chicken tenders, and barbecue, the Starlight Cafe will please anyone, no matter the age. Once you have your food, take a seat in the large restaurant and listen to music performed by Sonny Eclipse, an animatronic alien. It sounds crazy, but Eclipse's smooth tunes and banter is actually quite charming.
The Lunching Pad: If you're looking for a quick place to grab some grub, stop by The Lunching Pad. This quick service counter serves hot dogs, pretzels, chips, drinks, and more. The restaurant also gets bonus points for the punny name.
Merchant of Venus: For Tomorrowland themed goodies, check out Merchant of Venus (another great pun!). This shop specializes in Lilo & Stitch merchandise and space apparel.
Peter Pan's Flight: I don't know what it is about this ride (the animatronics? the beautiful sights of London? the nostalgia of Peter Pan?) that makes it so iconic and enjoyable. Nevertheless, Peter Pan's Flight is a must for the Fantasyland section of the park. Fly over London and into Neverland with Peter and the gang on a magical galleon; this experience is perfect for any age range.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: As the gem of the 2014 park season, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the mini-thrill ride the park was waiting for. Follow the dwarfs through their mine and race through the caverns while singing Heigh-Ho, stopping by Snow White's cottage on the way. Furthermore, the line waiting for the ride is interactive, letting you sort and wash jewels while you wait.
Honorable Mentions: Mad Tea Party for it's pure icon status, even if it can get a little sickening. Also "it's a small world" for the history and nostalgia behind the ride, as well as the representation of cultures (yes the song will be stuck inside your head for a while, but go ride it anyway).
The Friar's Nook: The best quick place to stop in Fantasyland is The Friar's Nook. Serving all the usuals (hot dogs, hamburgers) as well as some of the best macaroni and cheese in the world, this stop will delight all. Bonus points for the Robin Hood theme, as that's one of my all-time favorite films.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: Have a young child that longs to be a princess or a knight? Take them to this hidden boutique for a complete makeover, with hair, makeup, nail polish, and clothing. There are three different packages for girls and one for boys, with some variance in price (the cheapest starts at $19.95). They even introduced a Frozen makeover option. Reservations are VERY MUCH RECOMMENDED. To check out the packages, visit this link.
Big Top Souvenirs: Buy everything Fantasyland at Big Top Souvenirs gift shop. The store offers all kinds of merchandise, from Mickey ears to tchotchkes perfect for any fan.
Liberty Square Riverboat: If you're looking for a relaxing trip down the river, the Liberty Square Riverboat is perfect. The Rivers of America make for a great sight as you take a well-deserved break on this gorgeous paddler wheeler. Riders can view early American settlements, Harper's Mill, Fort Langhorn, and nearby attractions while listening to great American author Mark Twain narrate.
Columbia Harbour House: If you're craving tradition American fare (the best of comfort food in my opinion), stop by the Columbia Harbour House for a sit down meal sure to please. With a lot of fish and meat options, as well as vegetarian chili and a sandwich with hummus, this restaurant offers delicious options for everyone. Bonus: they make cobbler that is so good it is ridiculous.
Sleepy Hollow: In the mood for a sweet treat? Stop by Sleepy Hollow for a waffle sandwich or funnel cake. These are the perfect sugar rush for the midday slump you often find yourself in.
Honorable Mention: The Diamond Horseshoe, for the mouthwatering traditional American fare and their "campfire Brownies" (graham cracker crust, brownie on top, smothered with marshmallow. Yes it is as good as it sounds). One drawback: it's a little pricey.
Splash Mountain: Splash Mountain is a park favorite for all thrill-seekers. Featuring music and tales from the old Disney film Song of the South, the ride lets patrons take a log flume ride through the storyline of Br'er Rabbit, ending with a 5-story drop to the "laughing place." Full of Animatronics, original music from the film, and lots of water, this ride is perfect for those looking for big drops. Pro Tip: watching the fireworks from the top of Splash Mountain is the best view in the park. Beware: there is a 99% chance you will get wet.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: If you're in the market for another thrill ride after Splash Mountain, travel right next door to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Embark on another mine train adventure on a runaway train and explore the era of America's Gold Rush with the Big Thunder Mountain Mining Company, known for its haunted history. The rush will have you wanting to ride again and again.
Honorable Mention: Tom Sawyer Island, because I am a literary nerd. You used to be able to go on a search for his paintbrushes, but they took that out. Still fun.
Westward Ho: For a quick snack in Frontierland, head by Westward Ho. Their frozen lemonade is the perfect way to cool down, and they also serve chips, fountain drinks, hot cocoa, and coffee.
Frontier Trading Post: This trading post is your one-stop shop for Western and (vaguely offensive?) Native American wear. It is also a major center for pin shopping and trading, so if you're a lover of pins, stop by.
Jungle Cruise: A classic attraction (it was introduced in 1955), the Jungle Cruise is a requirement for any first-time park goers. Take a trip down rivers in Asia, Africa, and South America on this whimsical cruise, listening to the comedic narration and watching the animatronic animals pass by. This is a favorite among Guests for good reason.
Pirates of the Caribbean: How can you miss the ride that inspired the movie series? The ride is considered by many as one of the greatest attractions ever built, and its opening at WDW in 1973 was due to popular demand. Join some crazy pirates as you explore the world of swashbuckling and sing a hearty "Yo Ho!" Mixing audio-animatronics, water, and detailed storytelling, this ride will make certain that it is a pirate's life for you. Beware: the ride does take place in dimly-lit rooms and includes battles and the burning of a seaside town, but it's all in good taste and is catered to young audiences.
Honorable mention: Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, for it's iconic status as the first Audio-Aniamtronics show, beautiful sights, and catchy music.
A note about the Swiss Family Treehouse: Let me start off by saying that I don't remember this movie or the story all that well at all. Nevertheless, I do remember exploring the treehouse as a kid and being amazed by the technology as well as the beautiful views from up high. This attraction has lost a lot of its fan base in recent years as the movie (and the story, honestly) fades into the past and new rides offer greater thrills. I have an inkling that it might be replaced within the next couple of years and, as long as you're willing to do a little climbing, it really is a cool way to discover adventure. Don't skip over this one.
Aloha Isle: If you have read about must-visit dining options for Disney World, then you have for sure heard about this sweet treat: the Dole Whip. I cannot recommend the soft-serve enough. With the perfect mix of pineapple and vanilla, it truly makes you feel like you're chilling in the tropics and will cool you down on a hot day. The quick service counter also serves fountain drinks, pineapple spears, and frosties.
The Pirates League: if your kid would rather dress up as a pirate than a princess, take them to The Pirates League for a full makeover. The League offers four different packages: the First Mate (choose to be a zombie, Captain Hook, Captain Jack, or a Ghost Pirate), the Empress package, the Captain Hook package, and the Mermaid package. Each package comes with a variety of goodies for all ages. The League also offers pirate lessons and inclusion in the Parade of Pirates. This is an adorable experience sure to please.
Festival of Fantasy Parade: Newly added in 2014, the Festival of Fantasy Parade celebrates all of Fantasyland and your favorite Disney characters. Floats feature such loved characters from Tangled, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Brave, Sleeping Beauty, the Mickey Mouse gang, and more. Joining the characters are costumed dancers and performers on stilts. Make sure to check the time before you go, and keep an eye out for the amazing steampunk Maleficent in dragon form.
Wishes Nighttime Spectacular: The perfect end to any Disney day is watching the fireworks over Cinderella's castle. Catch the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular to see a host of fireworks, paired with Disney music and characters galore. With a detailed story (featuring the villains) and the flight of Tinkerbell, this is a celebration your surely won't want to miss. Make sure to check for the time before you go.
This concludes Kat's picks for the best of Magic Kingdom. Have any other favorites? Anything amazing I missed? Let me know in the comments.
Kat Shambaugh: photographer, graphic designer, wannabe Disney princess. Literature, Media, and Communications major at the Georgia Institute of Technology.