Friday, February 8, 2013

Where it all begins, The Magic Kingdom

If you haven't read our post about visiting Disney World, I recommend that you start there.

Disney World in Florida began with the Magic Kingdom, as do most peoples travel plans. It is the iconic setting, complete with castle and all. Just glancing at a map of the park and seeing all that it has to offer can be daunting, which is why I recommend beginning with a touring plan.

If you happen to be staying at a Disney resort and the Magic Kingdom is the park offering extra magic hours, I definitely recommend taking advantage of them. Being at the park an hour before they officially open offers a much lower crowd level and the chance to quickly get through a few attractions within that first hour. The park always opens with a show, and it is one that is not to be missed. Mickey and friends ride up to the rail station on the train, complete with musical numbers, fireworks and confetti. They even choose a family to help them open the park by randomly selecting them from the crowd, but you have to be there up to an hour early for this. Once the park opens, the crowd moves down Main Street USA. Don't get swept up with the photo pass photographers or other cast members along the way, they are there as a distraction to slow the crowds down. Pick a path and keep moving to your first destination. Come back to Main Street to wander through the shops at a later time, when it is less congested. Just be careful it is not close to a parade time.

The park is set up with the hub and spoke design that Disney has made famous. Each area of the park has its attractions, but you can read about those just about any where.

I will touch on Fantasyland, since it has been and is currently being expanded. The Snow White ride has been closed, but is being replaced (in a different location) with a roller coaster ride set up like the Seven Dwarfs mine. It was still under construction in January 2013, and still has most of a year until it is completed. Enchanted Tales With Belle is a new interactive storytelling experience. This is highly recommended, but because of how it is setup, the line can take forever. We got in line first thing when the park opened, waited in line until 9:30 for them to open, and then had another 20 minute wait until we were inside. They will take groups of about 45 at a time, and it lasts about 20 minutes. I don't want to spoil it, but believe me, as a grown man in his 30's, I loved it and so did my kids.
Next door to Belle, they have opened the Be Our Guest restaurant. It is a counter service for lunch and table service for dinner. Once again, new so lines can be long, but o so worth the wait. They are trying some new things with things in regards to ordering. Each guest uses a touch screen to place their order, and then your order is associated with a magic rose. You place the rose on your table, and then the food finds you. There are 3 rooms to sit in, I recommend the West Wing. It is the smallest of the 3, but you can watch the petals fall off of the rose and a picture of the prince turn into the Beast.
We also visited the Little Mermaid ride. It is similar to Nemo and Friends in that you sit in a shell and it is a continuous loading ride. You travel under the sea and pass through several scenes from the story. I thought it to be an enjoyable break with nothing to dramatic or scary for the little ones.

Enjoy exploring the rest of the park and attractions. It would get boring if I hit on every thing in the park. What I do want to share are some of the more hidden items.

Once you have spent a few days exploring the park and are looking for something more to do, stop by the fire station on Main Street USA on the west side of the square after you pass under the train station. There you can pick up information on becoming a sorcerers apprentice by finding hidden things around the park.
Should you want to catch a parade, be advised that a lot of seating is staked out an hour or so in advance. I recommend trying to hang out around the square by the train station for the afternoon parade. Our favorite spot for the evening Electrical Light Parade is in Liberty Square right outside the Hall of Presidents. Here you have a great and open spot for the kids to see, a planter for anyone to sit on if they choose, and the funnel cake stand is just around the corner so that you have something to munch on while waiting for the parade to come by. If you want to be more away from the crowds and don't care about seeing the parade right in front of your nose, there are some paths between the hub and Adventure land that offer some great sight lines.

As for getting around the park, don't even think of renting a stroller. A single is $15 for the day and a double is $31. There is a whole black market stroller swap buying program where someone will take over the stroller from another person for a reduced cost. The win win of this is both parties essentially get the stroller rental at a reduced cost. Our preference is to bring our own umbrella stroller. It is easy enough to find one at Target or Walmart for a cheap enough price, and even less if you hit up a children's consignment shop or thrift store.

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