FAQ Orlando

Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom Orlando

Cinderella's Caste at Disney's Magic Kingdom

April 2012: It’s not a stretch to say the Magic Kingdom is Orlando to most of the world. It was the first theme park and remains the best, at least judged by visitor counts. Of all the parks, the Magic Kingdom successfully comes close to true fantasy. Mature adults know, academically, that computers and a bunch of pulleys make the Peter Pan ride float over turn-of-the-century London. But if you can push down that reality, you can believe, for a second, that Neverland is just around the corner.

Clearly, kids can do this. Studies find that they have trouble believing that commercials aren’t real, so it’s not much of a leap for Disney to convince them that magic exists. Adults, however, don’t fall in line quite as quickly. If Dad just shelled out something close to $90 per head for admission, the “Disney magic” already took a hit that, many times, he won’t be able to brush off until at least lunchtime.

Creative people seem to take to the Magic Kingdom more than other people, perhaps because the special effects spur their imagination like manure nourishes crops. Non-creative people miss the magic, but most still like riding really, really fast on roller coasters.

While nothing beats a park map and schedule – grab one inside the gate – there’s a certain logic to getting around. You enter the Magic Kingdom at Main Street and must walk down Main Street to get to the other lands. (The word “theme park” itself derives from Walt’s vision to make different “lands.”) At the back of Main Street, facing the castle, think of yourself as the center of a giant clock. If the castle is noon and Main Street (behind you) is 6 o’clock, then Tomorrowland is 3 o’clock, Fantasyland is noon (behind the castle and expanding right to about 2 p.m.), Liberty Square is 10 o’clock, and Adventureland is 8 o’clock. Frontierland is about 9 o’clock, but it’s accessed only via Liberty Square or Adventureland.

There are two ways to visit the themed areas, and most people simply stroll from land to land. Because the different “lands” are also connected in a grand circle around the other side of the castle, you can turn right when you get there (into Tomorrowland) and circle counterclockwise, ending up on the far left (Adventureland). Or turn left and do it in reverse. Or go straight through the castle to Fantasyland, turn right into Tomorrowland, and then cross the hub to get to the three themed lands on the other side. Good luck with any touring plan, though. The timing of Fast Pass rides and show schedules will probably send you scurrying across the park more than once, messing up a simple-tour system.

For the most part, logic also dictates the location of rides. The Country Bears are in Frontierland, because it’s the country. Hard to imagine it in Tomorrowland. The Hall of Presidents is in Liberty Square; the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean are in Adventureland; Peter Pan is in

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Fantasyland. The one exception is the Haunted Mansion, which is in Liberty Square. (And, trivia freaks, it’s the only ride that is different Disney “lands” in Paris, Tokyo, and Los Angeles.

In my opinion, rides must be experienced, and I choose not to describe them here, though there is a separate “Ride Describe” guide for each park if you need full coverage. However, if you have an hour until park closing and four attractions to see, decisions must be made, so the importance of a ride is described below.

Years ago, Disney World issued tickets, A through E. “A tickets” were very simple rides, such as the jitneys that run down Main Street, while “E tickets” were top of the line. Here the rides are listed in the order you’d encounter them if touring the park clockwise.

One note: Some are Disney’s original ratings; others I made up. On a few, I suspect Disney would disagree. Stitch, for example, probably rates higher in the park’s mind than it does here. Also, don’t consider this a must-see list. Most kids would give Dumbo an “E”, and many people find the Hall of Presidents perhaps a “C” – amazing-yet-boring when compared to other rides. These ratings reflect the technology, size, and “wow” factor.

Main Street
C: Walt Disney World Railroad
A: Jitneys and busses

Adventureland
B: Swiss Family Treehouse
C: Aladdin’s Magic Carpets
D: Enchanted Tiki Room
E: Pirates of the Caribbean
E: Jungle Cruise

Frontierland
E: Country Bears
C: Tom Sawyer’s Island
E: Thunder Mountain
C: Walt Disney World Railroad
E: Splash Mountain

Liberty Square
C: Riverboat
E: Hall of Presidents
E: Haunted Mansion

Fantasyland
E: It’s a Small World
D: Peter Pan
B: Carousel
D: Mickey’s PhilharMagic
D: Snow White
D: Winnie the Pooh
C: Mad Tea Party
C: Dumbo’s Flying Elephants
C: The Barnstormer

Tomorrowland
C: Tomorrowland Speedway
D: Monsters, Inc.
D: Stitch’s Great Escape
D: Buzz Lightyear
C: Transit Authority
D: Carousel of Progress
C: Astro Orbiter
E: Space Mountain

Posted in: Chapter 6, Disney World, Travel Guide

4 Responses to “Magic Kingdom”

  1. […] • Read the general Magic Kingdom park-touring tips. […]

  2. […] Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World No park decorates for Christmas like the Magic Kingdom. Cinderella’s Castle has lights and huge trees tower over Main Street, USA, the most heavily decorated section. Some rides are re-themed for the holidays (the Country Bears sing carols in years where Disney makes that transition), parades have a holiday theme, and special plays – notably one in Tomorrowland – recreate Christmas. […]

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