Ahh, Magic Kingdom. That wonderful place where dreams comes true. It lies in a city called Orlando, somewhere in the upper central region of Florida, attracting about 17 million visitors annually. Even if you never visit theme parks, make an exception for the famous Magic Kingdom. Just once.
To get to the gates, hop into a car, a taxi or a shuttle service; then wait for a monorail that will carry you through the air to a dock by the man-made lake, where a ferry known as Joe Potter awaits to bring you to the other side.
Speedboats zooms past on the twinkling water as the ferry boat chugs along towards shore. Our anticipation grows as a white castle with blue-roofed turrets draws ever closer. Finally! the journey to Magic Kingdom draws to a close.
Look for a small white booth (if you don’t have pre-ordered tickets) upon disembarking. After you’ve handed over the admission fee – cash or major credit cards accepted – you’ll receive what you need to gain access to the gates of the Magic Kingdom. Scan your card-pass on the Mickey Mouse shaped sensor at the pale bronze turnstile and you’re in. As they say, let the magic begin!
Magic Kingdom is divided into six parts: Main Street, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, each one with their own signature rides and features.
Main Street USA
Coming to Magic Kingdom a day after Halloween is a big bonus! The place is awash with brilliant autumn colours and Halloween decor. All day, my friend and I were also pointing out our favourite characters – people walking around in superhero costumes, vampires and the like, especially in the Main Street area near the shops. I think took as many pictures of the visitors as we did of Cinderella’s Castle.
Hungry after an early morning flight from D.C., we found ourselves chili dog lunches and found a spot amongst a cluster of tables outside to enjoy it. Nearby, a piano guy vigorously (and somewhat annoyingly) playing a loud, merry tune, whilst ducks and a bunch of white birds sat on the fringes of the tables, watching for food scraps to fall as we ate. Despite a few large “do not feed the birds” signs, diners at nearby tables flicked the occasional French fry at the daring ducks that ventured right up to people’s ankles. Nobody seemed to mind this — until one of the ducks…pooped.
I think this was my favourite place in Magic Kingdom. We:
-Visited Gaston’s Tavern in Belle’s Village,
-Took a ride under the sea with Ariel the Little Mermaid,
-Rode on Prince Charming’s Carousel,
-Found a big store at Storybook Circus with lots and lots of funny hats to try on,
-Tried to win the kingdom of England by (unsuccessfully) pulling the sword out of the stone
-Pretended to climb up Jack’s beanstalk.
Love the futuristic atmosphere of Tomorrowland. Cars whizz past you on the “Speedway,” a driving circuit; an open monorail above buzzes as it takes visitors on a leisurely tour around Tomorrowland; the Carousel of Progress takes you on a journey through technology of the ages, and the Astro Orbiter will whirl you all around in the air, as you sit securely inside a closed pod. But the most exciting of them all is Space Mountain, a super fast roller-coaster ride illuminated only by flashes of light, twinkling stars and neon “laser beams,” with unexpected twists and turns that will keep you on your toes for the entire ride.
My second favourite part of Magic Kingdom.
As the name suggests, this is cowboy town! The day was getting late and we had to catch our shuttle back to the hotel, so we trotted around for just a little bit before heading back out. We sat in for the Country Bear Jamboree, a show by mechanical dancing bears, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a rickety clackety train ride up and around the mountains of the Southwest, in search of gold. None to be found of course, but it was a fun ride to end the day.
There was one section that we missed: Liberty Square. It would have been worth visiting the Hall of Presidents and Haunted Mansion, a ride that my mum had told me about when I was little. She’d been to Magic Kingdom with my dad long ago and found Haunted Mansion to be the most memorable for its illusions, flying “spirits” and caving walls. A shame I missed this one. (Note to self: make use of smartphone to look up tips!)
What wasn’t quite as fun was making the trip back to the spot where we were supposed to catch our shuttle back to the hotel. We boarded the ferry back with no trouble, hopped back on to the monorail which had additional stops on this trip, but none of them our stop, which is right at the entrance of Epcot.
Instead we were rerouted all the way back to Magic Kingdom, close to where we’d boarded the ferry, and this was extremely confusing — why did we have to take the ferry at all then? There was very little signage telling us where to go; if there was more, we missed it in the evening darkness. Luckily, a helpful attendant told us how to get to our stop and change trains for Epcot. Once again this is confusing, as we didn’t have to get off and change on the way to Magic Kingdom. And our troublesome trip wasn’t over yet.
When we finally managed to get back to the right stop to catch the monorail to Epcot, we found the entrance was chained up. Another attendant was yelling that people heading for Epcot should catch the shuttle buses waiting near the taxi stands, but when we got there, no shuttle buses were in sight. Nobody nearby seemed to know what we were talking about, so back up to the monorail stop we went. This time, we found an open entrance, but soon, an announcement could be heard overhead, informing everyone of technical issues. The next train wouldn’t be here for another 20 minutes. Everyone groaned.
As for my friend and I, there was no point in waiting. We had five minutes to spare before our shuttle arrived, and now we would miss it. Not having slept much the night before and after all the day’s excitement, we were exhausted. A 30-dollar cab ride back to the hotel was not the cheapest way, but the quickest.
Earlier that day, our very experienced shuttle bus driver had warned us to give an hour for the trip from Magic Kingdom to Epcot but despite heeding his advice, missing our shuttle became unavoidable. The next time he returned would have been closer to 11:00 p.m., but my travel companion Sally and I had no intention of staying till then. We were hungry, tired and wanted to go back to the hotel!
Yes, the monorail fiasco kinda took some of the magic out of our sails, but didn’t take away the fact that we had a grand old time at Magic Kingdom. Needless to say, I slept very well that night, with pleasant dreams of little mermaids, flying through space, fairytale castles and cheesy jungle cruise tour guides.