FAQ Orlando

Ride Describe: Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's castle Disney Orlando Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's Castle is a restaurant, not a ride

October 2011: This Magic Kingdom Ride Describe covers ride details and includes info that will ruin the fun for guests who want to be surprised. It’s ideal, however, for visitors who want a complete overview before deciding what to see – and what to avoid. For a quick ride overview without a description, go directly to the Magic Kingdom Ride Guide.

The descriptions assume you ride the first thing inside the Magic Kingdom gate and work your way around the park clockwise – at the end of Main Street, take a hard left into Adventureland. If turning right into Tomorrowland, follow the Ride Describe in reverse. To reach Liberty Square first, take a gentle left. To visit Fantasyland, go through or around Cinderella’s castle

Main Street

Walt Disney World Railroad
The train stops above the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom in a traditional station – you can’t miss it. The train circles the entire park, and while hopping on it immediately gives you a quick overview of almost everything, it rarely has a long line and is a good mid-afternoon choice when crowds grow thick. The train currently makes one stop in Frontierland too, so if you choose to start your day at Splash Mountain or Thunder Mountain Railroad, it offers an easy commute. A third train station in Fantasyland is currently closed for construction.

Town Square Theater
Meet Disney characters and princesses when you first enter the park. Princesses will relocate to the Fantasyland expansion area eventually.

Jitneys and busses
Main Street has transportation that provides atmosphere as much as convenience. Because it’s not a major ride, you can sometimes hop on a streetcar or antique roadster without a wait – look for a sign near the train station. They don’t get you down Main Street faster, don’t operate on slow park days, and aren’t generally worth a lengthy wait.

Adventureland

Aladdin’s Magic Carpets
A country-fair-style ride in Disney clothing, Aladdin, Dumbo, and Astro Orbiter feature cars that rotate around a central spoke, with a control stick inside each carpet/elephant/spaceship that empowers guests to fly high or low. Lines tend to get long because it takes time to load and unload passengers.

Enchanted Tiki Room
In 1963, Disney introduced its first audio-animatronic characters (robot-like creatures) in the Tiki Room. Guests never saw talking birds before, and it blew them away. However, the big thrill in the Tiki Room – the moment the ceiling comes alive – is lost to today’s audiences who get to see singing country bears and chewing dinosaurs. Still, the music is fun, the line short, and the Tiki Room air-conditioned, making it an ideal afternoon respite on summer days.

Pirates of the Caribbean
Changed slightly to add Johnny Depp’s character from the movie franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean remains true to its roots as a boat glides past pirate fights and Caribbean villages. At one point, the boat slides down a ramp in complete darkness. While the action shouldn’t deter most people from riding, it may be a deal breaker for anyone with a falling phobia. For those who want to prepare: The fall comes when the skeletons and caves end and right before the pirate villages begin.

Jungle Cruise (Fast Pass)
Walt Disney envisioned the Jungle Cruise as a small zoo with real animals, but designers talked him out of it. As entertainment, fake animals are more reliable. The trip itself is gentle, with minor non-scares from hippos (fake), snakes (fake), and other animals. A few guests may get hit with a minor spray of water. The guides don’t pretend it’s a real cruise and tell jokes from an approved list, making each trip somewhat different.

Frontierland

Country Bear Jamboree
The Country Bear Jamboree appeals to everyone, including people who don’t generally care for American bluegrass music. It’s a straightforward theater show without the extras found elsewhere, such as a spray of water in your face. The singing and jokes make the fake bears seem almost real.

Tom Sawyer’s Island
Kids love this one. Rafts depart from the bank and travel to an island in the middle of “rivers of America.” The island is a hands-on place, with caves to explore, barrel bridges to navigate, and a fort with guns to shoot. For parents, a handful of rocking chairs on the far side face Liberty Square, making it a good spot to relax if your kids can be trusted.

Thunder Mountain Railroad (Fast Pass)
As a coaster, Thunder Mountain exists somewhere between the junior coasters and the killer coasters outside Disney. It doesn’t go upside down; instead, it hugs the rocks to imitate a train out of control. The caves, saloons, and fake Western rocks provide half the fun.

Walt Disney World Railroad
The train entrance is tucked away on the right side of the Splash Mountain entrance. The train circles the entire park and stops next at the Main Street station before returning to Frontierland. Between Frontierland and Main Street, the train passes scenery (fake) and Native Americans (also fake) from the American West. A third train station in Fantasyland is currently closed for construction.

Splash Mountain (Fast Pass)
Best description: float and drop, float and drop. The worst fall can be seen from the walkway for those who want some idea of what to expect, but there are smaller drops along the way. Beyond the action, lush scenes and lots of animated characters sing, dance, and do conniving things on a ride that lasts shy of 15 minutes. A must-see if you can stomach the plunge.

Liberty Square

Riverboat
A huge riverboat plies the “rivers of America.” It adds atmosphere to Frontierland and Liberty Square, and guests can see Tom Sawyer’s island and Western scenes along the way. Beyond sights, nothing much happens, and movement is so smooth that it doesn’t feel as if you’re afloat.

Hall of Presidents
On one level, this theater show is a must-see. When all U.S. presidents move and some speak, it’s impressive on a grand scale. It shows how much America has changed and how much it has stayed the same. Still, a lot of guests find it boring, and more than a few doze off in the not-that-comfortable chairs. The line is short, and it’s a good option for busy afternoons. Shows start on the half hour.

Haunted Mansion
A must see, Haunted Mansion wallows in special effects that make the dead seem alive. It has no gore, blood, and guts; instead it focuses on spooky atmosphere, lighting, and occasional humor. Still, young kids who can’t separate Disney magic from reality won’t enjoy it. It starts as a short walking tour into a foyer and room that stretches. Guests then line up to ride in cars that run at a slow, constant speed with a few gradual hills.

Fantasyland

It’s a Small World
Small World is a must-see for first-time visitors impressed with both the scale of the ride and its message – that people are more alike than they are different. Of all Disney’s big-ticket rides, however, Small World is the first one returning visitors tend to skip. Compared to other rides, the line is relatively short.

Peter Pan’s Flight (Fast Pass)
The sizzle to Peter Pan comes from the fake boats that seem to fly because they’re attached to a rail overhead and nothing below. The ride has gentle ups and downs – suitable for everyone – and it’s one of the most popular Fantasyland attractions. If a must-see, consider a Fast Pass or ride early in the day.

Carousel
There’s nothing different or special about Disney’s carousel, except that it’s well kept, clean, and picture perfect.

Dumbo’s Flying Elephants
A country-fair-style ride in Disney clothing, Aladdin, Dumbo, and Astro Orbiter feature cars that rotate around a central spoke, with a control stick inside each carpet/elephant/spaceship that empowers guests to fly high or low. Lines tend to get long because it takes time to load and unload passengers.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic
A theater show of a 3-D movie, the attraction throws in a few extras. Smells sometimes accompany the picture and water sprays in your face when it fits the scene. It’s a must-see for guests who love Disney songs, including selections from “The Little Mermaid,” “Lion King,” “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Fantasia.”

Snow White’s Scary Adventures
The movement here isn’t scary as a slow-moving car winds its way through scenes from the movie, but the witch from Snow White appears frequently and seems to follow you. With low lighting, it can scare younger kids. Disney currently plans to close the ride when it debuts the Fantasyland expansion now underway.

Winnie the Pooh (Fast Pass)
Cars move through famous scenes from Winnie the Pooh, such as the flood and Pooh’s everlasting search for honey. While the ride vehicles move slowly, they also move up and down independently. It’s mild stuff. One of the two most popular Fantasyland rides, Winnie the Pooh has long lines. Consider a Fast Pass or ride early in the morning.

Mad Tea Party
Another ride featured at country fairs under less clean and fantastic conditions, the Mad Tea Party sends “cups” back and forth along four big circles, but guests also can spinthe cars themselves by turning a wheel in the middle. Aggressive kids get a car rotating quickly, which can produce nauseous adults who assumed it was a tame ride. Lines can get long on busy days because it takes a long time to load and unload guests.

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland Speedway
The cars along the Tomorrowland Speedway are essentially riding lawnmowers, though they have no blades to cut grass and they look like racecars. Guests control the speed – though they can’t go fast – and while told not to bump the car in front of you, many people do. A central track gives each car some left-and-right leeway, though not a lot. Kids not old enough to drive love it. Adults burned out from the trip to Orlando? Not so much.

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
Disney created a fake comedy club, complete with a host on stage and guest comedians – in this case, monsters from the movie Monsters, Inc. While the stage is a screen and the performers cartoons, it’s interactive, meaning the show is only partially pre-recorded, and some of the cartoon monsters interact directly with guests. The laughs are G-rated and many times, but not always, funny.

Stitch’s Great Escape
Disney struggles with this ride. Guests sit theater style in a circle facing a transporter that brings Stitch here. On the one hand, Stitch, while mean, springs from a heart-warming, family-friendly film. On the other hand, this ride is a bit dark, and it scares guests by plunging them into complete darkness and making it feel (and sound and smell) as if a wild alien is running amuck. Small kids who love Stitch want to go, but that could be a mistake.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers (Fast Pass)
A popular Tomorrowland ride, Buzz’s cars come equipped with guns, and guests shoot laser beams at targets and try to rack up the highest score. The ride itself is smooth. Each car has two guns and a knob in the center that allows riders to pivot the car left and right to get a better shot. Scores are tallied at the end. Parents with children addicted to video games will lose, and they’ll lose badly.

Tomorrowland Transit Authority
A great ride to save for busy afternoons, the TTA (Tomorrowland Transit Authority) is not a must-see if time is limited. The TTA provides a grand tour of Tomorrowland and winds around buildings and through Space Mountain. Anyone may ride providing they can make it up an ascending, moving staircase.

Astro Orbiter
A country-fair-style ride in Disney clothing, Aladdin, Dumbo, and Astro Orbiter feature cars that rotate around a central spoke, with a control stick inside each carpet/elephant/spaceship that empowers guests to fly high or low. Lines tend to get long because it takes time to load and unload passengers.

Space Mountain (Fast Pass)
Disney’s classic coaster still delivers scares because you ride in the dark. An occasional light provides a glimpse of a hill or dip, but the unknown provides a thrill more than the speed of the coaster. Guests never go upside down or even bank to the side very much. Fast Pass recommended.

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