Magic Kingdom Attractions
Before describing the attractions in the Magic Kingdom,
I think it's necessary to point out some issues regarding small children
and the attractions in this park. Many people assume that any attraction
in the MK is suitable for all ages...and you need to understand that that
is NOT necessarily the case. For one thing, there are height and age requirements
that prohibit smaller children from riding some of the more wild attractions.
Also, many attractions are very intense. The Haunted Mansion, Pirates
of the Caribbean, Alien Encounter, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Mr.
Toad's Wild Ride, and others have images and sounds that can be downright
frightening for children.
There's a lot more information on this issue in the "Walt
Disney World With Kids" section of the trip planning guide, including
a complete list of the
height requirements and "fear
factors" that you will want to be aware of for the various attractions.
There's also a description of the "baby
swap" policy that will be helpful for families with smaller children.
If you have kids under the age of thirteen that will be going on your
trip, I encourage you to read through that information in detail before
leaving for Florida. For disabled guests, there's a brief amount
of information that you may find helpful on the page titled, "Touring
the Parks with Disabled Guests."
Click here to
take a great photo tour of Main Street!
Walt Disney World Railroad
The railroad is really a must-see attraction for any
railroad buff or Disney history aficionado. Walt himself was a very
big fan of model railroading. His home in the LA area had a huge layout
in the backyard. A full-sized railroad was in the plans for Disneyland
from the very beginning. Kids love this ride mostly because of the
thrill of riding on a real train (the engines are indeed steam powered).
Another tidbit is that, with some careful thought, the railroad can
be used strategically to move around parades and other shows. Also,
you can get some glimpses of the backstage areas as you ride around
the berm that surrounds the guest areas of the park.
Main Street Vehicles
If you're on a time budget, skip the trolley, the horseless
carriages, and the fire truck. You'll certainly get to the other end
of Main Street much more quickly on foot. On the other hand, these
can be fun to ride...and your kids might really enjoy doing so.
to take a great photo tour of Adventureland!
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
This attraction is very, very similar to the venerable
Dumbo ride in Fantasyland. The queue and surrounding area is
nicely themed, the two spitting camels (from the Aladdin parade that
used to run at the Studios and which were later placed in the Animation
Courtyard there) are props (one of them spits, too) and the bazaar
gives a nice backdrop for the area. If you take note, you'll
also find that the pavement has "jewels" embedded in the
concrete. It's a nice touch. The other main thing is that
the riders control both the height of their carpet flight as well
as the angle that the carpet flies at. Like Dumbo, this ride has very
little loading capacity. Unlike Dumbo, this attraction isn't
in the middle of a very busy area of the park, so although lines do
form on busier days, it's nowhere near as bad as Dumbo.
Tropical Serenade - Under New Management!
The Tropical Serenade was an audio-animatronic show
in which birds, flowers, trees, and Tiki totem poles all join in song
to entertain. As a Disney historical buff, it's neat to notice that
this was the first audio-animatronic attraction.
In 1997, Tropical Serenade closed due to mismanagement
and financial problems. In the Spring of 1998, though, the attraction
was bought out and is now being run by a new management team.
A couple of old birds, Iago (from Aladdin) and Zazu (from the Lion
King) are now responsible for running the place, and setting the creative
direction for the show.
Unfortunately, the avians disagree about how to do that.
Iago prefers a new, hip, updated approach. Zazu, though, is
concerned with the respect one must have for the Tikis. The
results are very amusing!
Pirates of the Caribbean
On this premiere attraction, guests are taken on a treasure
hunt on the Spanish Main. During the course of the ride, you witness
a cannonade between a pirate ship and a stone fortress on the shore.
Then you travel into the middle of a small town that is in the process
of being ransacked by the swarthy buccaneers. You do get to see the
pirates treasure, too, before the end of the ride. Just as a side
note, this is a much longer, and more detailed ride in Disneyland...but
it's still worth a line in Florida, too. The scenery is outstanding,
the effects are convincing, and the music is haunting.
Swiss Family Treehouse
You'll do alot of climbing in the tree house, but if
anyone in your party is a Swiss Family Robinson fan, you just have
to check this out. Usually, there's no line to speak of. Also, I'd
recommend that you rent and watch the film before leaving on your
trip. That will make this attraction much more enjoyable. Also, I'd
suggest that you visit the tree house when you're fresh and rested.
The jungle cruise is a waterborne adventure over many
of the rivers of the world. You'll see animals from all of the major
jungle areas of the world including Africa, India, and South America.
Actually, the ride was based in part on the Real Life Adventure documentary
"The African Lion". In my opinion, WDW's version has better
audio-animatronics than the Disneyland version, and includes a ride
through a far-Eastern temple. This is also one of Barb's favorite
rides -- especially when it's dark (the audio-animatronics are much
more realistic then).
Diamond Horseshoe Saloon Revue
Awhile back, lunch or dinner was served just before
the old west slapstick show began. Now, counter service fast food
is available if you want to snack. The show itself is a live music
and vaudeville thing. Entertaining, funny (some of the one liners
are killers). I'm told this is similar to the Hoop-dee-doo, but on
a much smaller scale.
Frontierland Shootin' Arcade
I've only spent a few quarters here, but it's a fun
arcade. Almost any target has some amusing thing happen when you hit
it, and the targets are so sensitive you might as well be shooting
at the broad side of a barn. I guess Disney did some market research
and discovered that hitting something is what makes shooting fun.
So much for gun control.
Country Bear Jamboree
This is another audio-animatronic show. This time, a
group of bears and other forest animals entertain with a show of country
music, hand-clappin', and foot-stompin'. The Vacation Hoe-down show,
which ran from the mid-80's, was replaced in 1995 with the original
Jamboree version of the show. I personally like the Vacation Hoedown
better, but that's just my opinion. Pay careful attention to the lyrics.
The music is ok, but the words are a hoot! There is a totally different
show at Christmas time, but I've never had a chance to see it.
Tom Sawyer Island
Make sure you read the classic "Tom Sawyer"
or at least see Disney's "Tom and Huck" before you head
to the island. You'll enjoy Injun Joe's Cave, the bridges, and the
other things on the island much more if you do. I can't wait until
Allan's old enough to bring here. I think just about any kid would
enjoy the fort and the other details. My own Dad had a really fun
time on the barrel bridge during our 1993 trip.
"The Song of the South" and Br'er Rabbit's
adventures with Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox is the basis for this ride.
The audio-animatronics are wonderful and the soundtrack, as is typical
with Disney, is marvelous. Only after watching Br'er Rabbit get into
a heap of trouble with the other main characters do you realize that
you're about to follow in his footsteps and escape the villains by
jumping (six stories) into the briar patch. I can't stand this big
drop, but I ride Splash Mountain every trip. The first time Barb and
I ever rode this contraption, it broke down just as we reached the
top of the big hill. No kidding, right at the top...and we had to
sit there until the thing started up again and dropped us to our deaths.
At least it seemed that way. Don't miss this one...unless you have
a clinical fear of six story drops into briar patches.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Indian legend says that Big Thunder Mountain is haunted.
The white men ignored the warnings of the local tribe, though, and
when they sunk their shafts in search of the mother lode, bad things
began to happen. During your ride, pay attention to the town that
is in the midst of several natural disasters. You can hear some of
the town folks inside the buildings as you whiz by. Big Thunder is
one of my favorite rides. It's a fun coaster-like ride, but not excessively
obnoxious. The worst thing about it is trying to catch the details
during the quick sweeps around the mountain.
The Hall of Presidents
This attraction is exceptional. It tells the history
of the Constitution of the United States and the role of the president
in the governing of our nation. After that presentation, a roll-call
of all of our presidents, from George Washington to William Clinton,
is made with each audio-animatronic president acknowledging his announcement
in turn. The presentation ends with a speech by Presidents Lincoln
and Clinton. Again, as a history lover, I enjoy it a lot. Barb enjoys
the air conditioning and the soft seats. Regardless of your personal
opinion of history, don't miss this attraction.
The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion is another wonderful Disney special.
It's filled with special effects and scenery that is top shelf. I
especially like the ghostly ball and the graveyard scene. It's in
the graveyard that the music is first heard. When you hear it, you
are instantly cursed with the "It's a Small World" curse....you
keep humming it over and over...until you ride "It's a Small
World" again and get hooked on that Sherman Brother's tune instead.
Now that's horrifying!!!
to take a journey on the Rivers of America on the Liberty Belle!
This paddle-wheeler takes visitors on a ten minute ride
around the "Rivers of America". It's a nice, quiet ride
and gives you a nice view of the scenery around the river. Like most
of the other transportation attractions, this is worth the time if
you don't have any higher priorities to take care of first.
As a bit of trivia, the riverboat used to be called
the "Richard F. Irvine" in honor of one of the Imagineers
that was prominent in the design and construction of Walt Disney World.
Mickey's Toontown Fair
The best reason to visit Toontown Fair is that there are
lots of characters to meet there. All around, Toontown Fair is OK, but
Disneyland's Toontown is far, far superior. On a time budget? Skip it.
No kids? A brisk walk through the area will about cover it.
This is a relatively tame roller coaster for the younger
set, based on Goofy's penchant for flying airplanes into and through
your local neighborhood barn. Each car of the train is shaped like
a plane, just to make the connection with the flying fairs of the
20's and 30's. The speed of the ride is sufficiently slow so all but
the most worrisome of mothers won't mind their kids taking a spin.
This is a water play area that toddlers just love.
Be aware that your kids will get drenched if you let them play here.
Also, don't forget to bring your camera! Those pictures will
You can meet Mickey after walking through his
house. You actually have to walk through to the "judge's
tent" in the back, where the country fair's vegetables and backed
goods are ostensibly being evaluated. After a brief queue (even
if it looks long, the line moves fairly quickly...if the whole tent
is filled, you still won't wait more than twenty minutes or so), you
will be ushered in to a semi-private audience with Mickey! This
is another photo-op that you don't want to miss.
Various characters, including some of the princesses,
Pooh characters, and others can be met at the Toontoon Hall of
Fame. The queues are labeled, so you won't be surprised as to
what character you'll be meeting. Also, be aware that various
characters are available throughout the day.
Each and every hand-carved horse on this beautifully
restored carousel is white so every rider is a prince or princess.
The carousel's calliope plays music from many of the Disney classic
films, not the least of which is Cinderella itself.
Mad Tea Party
The Tea Party is based on "Alice in Wonderland"
and the LSD-like hallucinations that pervade that movie. Don't ride
the Tea Party after a meal, or else... This is the ride that makes
Dramamine the official medicine of Walt Disney World. It's also highly
recommended for folks with bulimia and no spoons. With effort, it
is possible to keep your cup from spinning individually, but you'll
still spin around the center of the ride.
Dumbo is another midway-type of ride in which the guests
take Dumbo himself out for a spin. You can control the height at which
you spin around Timothy Mouse, but that's the extent of your power
on this ride. I finally rode this old standout in November 1995, but
due to the long lines that form, I probably won't do it again until
Allan is old enough to want to ride. Because Dumbo has very little
loading capacity, lines form early and only get worse as the day wears
on. If you or your child want to ride, get here pronto in the morning...or
be prepared to wait.
Legend of the Lion King
This show is now closed. A new 3-D movie attraction,
staring Mickey Mouse, will be opening in 2003 in this theater.
Peter Pan's Flight
Peter Pan is one of the classic Disney films. The music,
animation, and characters all work their magic as the story unfolds.
The fantasy of pirates, flying, and mermaids all play to the minds
of children. Hey, I'm in my 30's, but Peter Pan is still one of my
favorites. In this attraction, many of those magical moments are recreated
as you fly in a galleon through the Darling's nursery, over London's
Big Ben and the Tower Bridge, and off to Neverland. Of course, Peter,
Wendy, and the boys defeat Hook in the end. The crocodile shows up
towards the end, too. Personally, I love flying over London the most...although
the first glimpse of Neverland is always fun, too.
Peter Pan and It's a Small World sometimes forms very
large lines right after a performance of the Legend of the Lion King
ends. If you see a huge line, wait a few minutes. It's likely to dissipate
considerably. If the line is merely long, it's not likely to get better
until late in the day. Like most of the Fantasyland rides, you want
to do Peter Pan early or late.
It's A Small World
It's a Small World was originally developed by the Disney
Company as a pavilion attraction for Unicef at the New York world's
fair of 1964. It was one of four such projects that Walt accepted.
The original Small World can still be seen and ridden at Disneyland.
Walt Disney World's version has far superior audio-animatronics, and
WDW usually has a much shorter line. There's a good reason for the
shorter line in Florida. The building facade is incredibly plain and
boring compared with the crowd-stopping building that was built for
the New York fair, but otherwise the music's the same...
Snow White's Scary Adventures
Snow White's Adventures is a retelling of the story
of Disney's first full-length animated feature film. As you ride through
the scenes of the story, you'll see the wicked witch. Beware, as some
youngsters are frightened by the haggard appearance and sudden arrival
of the witch. You'll also pass through the forest in which Snow White
ran through after abortive attempt by the woodsman to murder her.
Although no mention of the woodsman is made on the ride, the trees
do appear as if they are about to grab you...just as they did to Snow
White as she ran in panic from the woodsman. Toward the end of the
ride, the Witch, chased by the dwarfs, climbs up the rocky cliff and
falls to her death. Fortunately, everything turns out all right
because the prince comes to give Snow White her kiss and release her
from the spell of the sleeping death.
This is a very intense attraction for younger children,
The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
Pooh bear finally has his own place in the Magic Kingdom!
This attraction, extremely well done, uses both sides of the former
"Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" building and has turned it into a
retelling of many of the best scenes from the Winnie Movie of approximately
the same name. There's actually a bit more to see here than
in the film, since the heffalumps and woozles make more than just
a cameo appearance. Also, the experience of bouncing with Tigger
is an exhilarating one.
Space Mountain is a Disney classic. It's not as high
as some coasters, or as fast as some coasters, or as steep as some
coasters, and other coasters run in the dark, but the combination
of sufficient speed and air-time along with the typical Disney atmosphere
make this ride fun. If you're a coaster fan, try it. It's not anywhere
near as intense as the Beast or the Magnum, but it's a passable coaster.
If you're not a coaster fan, try Big Thunder Mountain first. If you
enjoy Big Thunder, graduate to Space Mountain. Disney maintains a
story that both sides of the ride are identical...I don't buy it.
For one thing, they do admit that one side of the track crosses over
the other at one point in the ride...and I'm convinced there's an
extra bump in the left side (I suspect it's the cross over). Try 'em
both. Then you can tell me which side you liked better...
Luis A. Veras (firstname.lastname@example.org) emailed me
with the following update: "About the track legth.....the right
track of space mountain is 10 feet longer, this is due to the fact
that it has to move out of the way of the other track when they cross
each other. I came across this information on the show "Walt
Disney World Inside Out" on the Disney Channel. it's also in
the SOP manual, though, there it says it's only 9 feet longer."
This is very similar to Dumbo, perhaps a bit faster,
but very much the same. There's not much to the orbiter. It's very
appealing visually, but the ride is a very simply spin with minimal
height control at the driver's discretion. I think it's a fun ride,
but not worth a wait of more than just a couple of minutes. I've also
learned to not let Barb "drive"...she just won't change
altitude..just sits there and spins.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority
The TTA is the old WEDway peoplemover. It takes you
on a whirlwind tour of Tomorrowland via an induction motor driven
vehicle. The TTA is a nice break, usually doesn't have a big line,
and gives you an overview of the whole Tomorrowland area. Listen carefully
to the soundtrack...you'll hear some references to WDW attractions
that have long been dismantled...
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress
This is another of my favorites. In a 1995 refresh of
this attraction, the music "Now is the Time" was replaced
with the original "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow".
I think the "new" old music is better. The Carousel is a
rather unique ride. In it, the audience sees typical homes from several
different periods in time...the 1900's, 1920's, 1950's, and today
in the 1990's. After each scene, the seats of the theatre rotate around
the fixed stage to the next scene. It's fun to see how technology
has progressed over the years, without really affecting the fact that
people live pretty much the same was as we always have.
Progressland, the name of the General Electric-sponsored
pavilion that included this attraction, was another of Walt's four
1964 world's fair projects. It's a Small World, as stated above, was
another. The third was Primeval World, a project for Ford Motor company
featuring audio-animatronic dinosaurs (29 years before Jurassic Park).
The fourth was Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, produced for the State
of Illinois. Pieces of Primeval World can be seen during a ride on
the Disneyland Railroad. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln survives at
Disneyland, too. Furthermore, the Hall of Presidents is an expanded
version of Mr. Lincoln.
Younger kids will really enjoy the opportunity to drive
on a rather interesting road just like Mom and Dad do. Teens will
be bored with the fact that the center rail and the engine's governor
keep them from driving like a yellow cab in New York City (or anyone
in Boston, for that matter). This really is a very visually appealing
attraction, so you'll probably be roped into riding if you have a
child in Elementary school.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Help Buzz Lightyear, from "Toy Story", defeat
the evil hordes. You'll enjoy trying to beat your partner's
best score as you journey "from infinity and beyond."
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
In this attraction, you are introduced to the intergalatic
company called X-S. "We do everything in X-S" is the company
motto. According to the story, X-S is a company headquartered in a
distant part of the Galaxy that just recently discovered Earth and
found it to be a wide-open market for it's new technologies. After
the brief introduction and a demonstration of one of it's newest projects,
a long-distance non-vehicular transporter system, you are invited
to enter a laboratory chamber to witness the first real attempt at
transporting a humanoid creature across deep space. Chairman Klench,
the head of X-S's board of directors, is beamed from his planet to
Earth. Almost. Actually, a series of errors cause the inadvertent
transit of a nasty looking alien kind of creature into the lab. The
lights go out...and you're alone with IT. You hear and feel his breath
on your neck, you hear a scream across the lab -- and then the alien
touches you on the head with its' tongue. I'll leave the rest of the
experience to you. Have fun!
Jay Smith (email@example.com) provided me with this valuable
comment: "In early '96 we were in line for the Alien Encounter
near a family with two girls who seemed to be 10-12 years old...the
CM at the entrance told the parents that the attraction was "very
intense" and might be too much for the girls, but the parents
said that they could handle it...during the "very intense"
encounter the girls were crying and screaming hysterically (not "this
is scary" screams like everyone else there, but genuine screams
of terror. this continued through the rest of the show...and they
were led sobbing out of the room by their parents at the end. Not
only was it a horrible experience for the girls (I bet they're still
in therapy)...but for the rest of the audience as well....I would
advise parents to think twice or 3 times about allowing pre-teens
to view this attraction. I thought it was pretty scary myself, and
I'm positively over 21."
Robin Williams performed the voice role for the audio-animatronic
character, the Timekeeper. This is another advanced technology attraction.
This time, a time machine is the device being demonstrated. Perhaps
learning from the mistakes of X-S across the street, the Timekeeper
is a bit more conservative in his testing methods. Instead of sending
a humanoid as a guinea pig, he sends a robotic device, called Nine-eye,
back in time. Nine-eye is able to fly and hover at will...and is equipped
with nine video cameras, so we can see everything he sees. Before
we're done, Nine-eye goes both back and forward in time and meets
up with some interesting people along the way. This attraction is
very entertaining. I wish that we'd done more time traveling and spent
less time with the thin storyline. Williams holds back a bit on this
one, but the overall attraction and the way it is presented is a tremendous
improvement over a "typical" circlevision presentation.
Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide