My Disney Top 5 - Magical Spots in the Magic Kingdom

by Chris Barry, contributing writer
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Welcome back to another Disney Top 5.

A few articles back, I started a series called Top 5 Magical Spots with an article titled my "Top 5 Magical Spots in Epcot’s World Showcase." I wrote that article as a direct result of some heavy longing for a return trip to Walt Disney World. I wanted to reflect on the particular spots that really envelop me in Disney magic, the spots that I think of most when I’m going through the Disney withdrawals, the spots that I can’t wait to see again.

Places like the gardens of the United Kingdom pavilion and the waterfalls in the Canada pavilion were on the top of my list. To me, they’re the spots where the Imagineers have really just outdone themselves. They’ve captured the essence of these places perfectly. It shows in the landscaping, the colors and the atmosphere. When I head to Epcot, these are the spots that I am drawn to and that I linger at the most.

This time, let’s head to what is certainly the heart of Walt Disney World: the Magic Kingdom. The original Disney World park has so many nooks and crannies crammed into its 140 or so acres that it’s difficult to choose five spots to top a list like this. Everyone has personal favorites. Certain places I’ve always loved and others have only recently begun to take on special meaning. These are the places where memories have been built. When life’s monotony gets to you, and your mind drifts off, these are the places that elicit the biggest smiles and draw you back to Walt Disney World…even if it’s just in your head.

So let’s take a look at my Top 5 Magic Spots in that most magical of places, the Magic Kingdom.

#5 – The bridge from Liberty Square to Adventureland


The bridge from Liberty Square over to Adventureland showcases flowers and plant life. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This is a funny little spot. It was presumably built to give guests another option to circumnavigate the park when the Liberty Square Bridge closes for parades. Practicality aside, it’s a beautiful bridge through a nicely shaded area that starts behind the Ye Old Christmas Shoppe where it crosses over the water and leaves you right by the entrance to the Adventureland Bridge. On the Liberty Square side we’ve seen character meet and greets like the Wicked Queen and Tiana. On the Adventureland side we’ve met Rafiki and Timon. In between there’s a great view of the Liberty Square Bridge through the trees. There’s amazing flowers and plant life. There are always ducks and other birds in the water underneath. It’s just one of those tiny escapes in the Magic Kingdom that most people overlook, but it’s always been one of my favorite hideaways.

#4 – The rocking chairs on Tom Sawyer Island


My daughter in my favorite rocking chair on Tom Sawyer Island. Photo by Chris Barry.

I’ve mentioned this spot in several of my articles. Once on Tom Sawyer Island, head towards Fort Langhorn and make your way down to the waterfront that looks out at Big Thunder Mountain. The Liberty Belle might paddle on by, or you might get really lucky and experience a sweet moment of total peace and quiet in the middle of the most popular vacation spot on the planet.


The rocking chairs on Tom Sawyer Island offer peace and quiet. Photo by Brian Bennett.

#3 – Main Street Station


Main Street Station gives you a great view of Main Street, all the way to Cinderella Castle. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Walt loved his trains and that’s why train stations are pretty much the “front door” to both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. This is another one of those places that people don’t seem to linger in, unless it’s parade or fireworks time. Then it’s jam-packed. Consider coming up to the platform and soaking in the view of Main Street, The Plaza, and Cinderella Castle when it’s not time to view Wishes or the various parades. Take a look at the vintage movie viewers and the old miniature soccer game while you’re waiting for the train to arrive. Or, don’t take the train at all—just climb the stairs and get above the crowds for the amazing views. You might have it all to yourself.

#2 – The Frontierland waterfront


The Rivers of America from Liberty Square. Photo by Brian Bennett.

When heading through Frontierland, I just about always opt for this “boardwalk” that starts in Liberty Square and follows the Rivers of America all the way around towards Big Thunder Mountain. There could be hundreds of people on the main thoroughfare and nobody at all walking down along the water. There are views of the Haunted Mansion, Aunt Polly's and the rest of Tom Sawyer Island, and Big Thunder Mountain off in the distance. If you turn back around, you can get a great view of the castle. There are streams and little waterfalls flowing into the river. There are always lots of ducks and ibises to see along the way. The kids always like running along the planks, but this is a place to casually stroll. At night when the lamps are on and reflecting on the water…and it’s really quiet…there’s nothing better.

#1 – The Plaza Rose Garden


The Plaza Rose Garden in the Magic Kingdom. Photo By Chris Barry.

I’ve always been a proponent of slowing down when you’re at Walt Disney World and soaking in the details—and sorry, I can’t resist…this beautiful garden truly is the best place to literally stop and smell the roses in the Magic Kingdom. It’s yet another spot that is only ever so slightly off the beaten path. However, I’m quite sure most guests never bother to take the short detour and stroll through this wonderfully enchanting garden. When you consider the fact that the Plaza Rose Garden is just steps away from Cinderella Castle, it is remarkable how uncrowded it can be at any given time.


Although just steps away from Cinderella Castle, the Plaza Rose Garden in the Magic Kingdom feels peaceful. Photo by Chris Barry.

The garden has come to mean a lot to me and my wife, Diane. Three years ago, right around this time of year, after a particularly difficult stretch in our lives, we went on our first adult’s only trip to Walt Disney World. On our first night, right there in the Plaza Rose Garden just slightly above the old Swan Boats pavilion and only moments before Tinker Bell flew over our heads during Wishes…well, let’s just say that it was a very special and romantic occasion for us. It was something that changed us forever and it was a moment that we’ll never forget. A handful of other guests were there in the garden with us, but for the most part, it was just the fireworks, the castle and the two of us, surrounded by hundreds of roses. It was the most romantic moment of our lives for sure and obviously…this place will forever be etched into our memories as the spot where true magic really did take place.

The next time you're in the Magic Kingdom I encourage you to seek out these wonderful spots. Create your own memories, stop and smell the roses, and find your own unforgettable spots while you’re in the most magical place on Earth. It’s easy. They’ll be everywhere around you. You just have to slow down a little, open your eyes and let them in.

I don’t expect everyone to have a romantic story like mine…but I bet a lot of you probably have your own magical spots and your own tales to tell from the Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney World is a place where, as Diane, has so eloquently stated, “You just believe… that anything is possible.”

That's my Top 5. What's yours? Click on the "Discuss this article on MousePad" link below and share your list!

 

Comments

  1. By Roberta618

    Quote Originally Posted by MousePlanet AutoPoster View Post
    My Disney Top 5 - Magical Spots in the Magic Kingdom by Chris Barry

    Chris Barry returns with another Disney Top 5 list.

    Read it here!

    What a wonderful article! Like many others, my first trip to Disney World and the Magic Kingdom was a frenzied blur. But, I did manage to slow down and enjoy the waterfront in Frontierland. It was a wonderful moment in my vacation. We don't get ibis where I live in California so to see so many at one time strolling around Frontierland was a real treat. When I return to the World in 2013, I will take this list with me and remember to smell the roses and slow down a bit. Thanks so much for the suggestions, Chris.

  2. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by Roberta618 View Post
    What a wonderful article! Like many others, my first trip to Disney World and the Magic Kingdom was a frenzied blur. But, I did manage to slow down and enjoy the waterfront in Frontierland. It was a wonderful moment in my vacation. We don't get ibis where I live in California so to see so many at one time strolling around Frontierland was a real treat. When I return to the World in 2013, I will take this list with me and remember to smell the roses and slow down a bit. Thanks so much for the suggestions, Chris.

    Thank you Roberta. The waterfront in Frontierland is always a surprise isn't it? The main drag of this land can be so congested and just a few feet away...empty and quiet. There are no ibis here in New York either and to see them everywhere when you're in Walt Disney World is always very cool, I agree. Thanks for "bringing me with you" in 2013!

    Chris

  3. By CaptainEO7

    Great article again Chris - you always seem to hit upon something "different" with so many of your Top 5's & frequently manage to inject a little genuine magic into an otherwise regular day.

    When I got to thinking about my own "private" little spots I invariably linked a place to a particular time of day - I wonder if this is something that others also find ?

    Ok, in terms of personal magical spots I'd have to say there's something truly enchanting about taking 10 minutes out of an afternoon to eat an ice cream or cookie & soda in the small street "off" Main Street - I think it's Market Street ? Last year on Honeymoon we did exactly that & my new bride noticed a window display of none other than a bridal theme which was a nice touch. In the same manner as your own Top 5, it's another of them beautiful little spots where one can escape the crowds & become totally captivated by a place & overall sense of atmosphere that only Disney can truly create when it comes to theme parks.

    Another favourite of mine has always been "The Enchanted Grove" in Fantasyland near Tomorrowland. I understand it's now called "Chesire Cafe" which I truly don't like - it reminds me too much of a nearby county here in the UK & subsequently evokes a far less magical notion of relaxing with a cookie & frozen lemonade around late afternoon so it will always remain "The Enchanted Grove" to me.

    I'm personally delighted to announce that a relatively recent addition to my own list has been created by my wife. I've been heading to Florida, Anaheim & Paris for over 30 years & whilst my wife has grown to love trips to the Disney Parks, it's far more "my" passion but as recently as the last few trips to both Stateside parks, it's become tradition to grab a portion of chilli-cheese fries & soda in Frontierland & settle early for a spot for an evening parade. To many it may seem far from magical but with the sun setting & the anticipation of a night-time parade & a few post-parade rides still left in us, this has become a favourite "spot" so to speak.

    One of my other personal magical places is very close to one of yours - Sleepy Hollow, just off the main route in Liberty Square. Even during parade time, this spot can be a lovely little haven where you can take in beautiful views toward the castle in one direction whilst looking over your shoulder at the main street - wll the while enjoying a funnel cake (notice how food permeates this thread !)

    Last but one is Tomorrowland Terrace. I used to love this area before it became a noodle station & was perhaps my favourite "dinner" spot to grab a snack whilst the sun went down. Similar to the above you could look in one direction to the futuristic lights of tomorrow or stare ahead to the stunning castle vista. We always managed to grab a quiet spot away from the majority of diners & I felt like I was in my own little slice of the Magic Kingdom where I often found myself thinking wistful things about being back "home" in my favourite place on earth.

    Finally I have to go predictable ... smack bang in front of the castle mid-fireworks. Yes, it's crowded & once or twice it's actually been rather unpleasant (don't mention the time it was so busy we just got herded to Fantasyland & our hot dogs got cold & missed the show itself from trying to find an alternative perfect spot) but on the whole - there's little to compare to being centre-front of the castle when Walt's vision is perfectly captured in simply the most glorious fireworks display & setting imaginable. It's perhaps top of many other people's lists but there's a reason for it - it's truly magicial & manages to evoke emotion in us that we very rarely get elsewhere, if anywhere on earth.

    Enough waffling from me but thanks Chris for taking me back to the Happiest place on Earth for this lunch break !

  4. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainEO7 View Post
    Great article again Chris - you always seem to hit upon something "different" with so many of your Top 5's & frequently manage to inject a little genuine magic into an otherwise regular day.

    When I got to thinking about my own "private" little spots I invariably linked a place to a particular time of day - I wonder if this is something that others also find ?

    Ok, in terms of personal magical spots I'd have to say there's something truly enchanting about taking 10 minutes out of an afternoon to eat an ice cream or cookie & soda in the small street "off" Main Street - I think it's Market Street ? Last year on Honeymoon we did exactly that & my new bride noticed a window display of none other than a bridal theme which was a nice touch. In the same manner as your own Top 5, it's another of them beautiful little spots where one can escape the crowds & become totally captivated by a place & overall sense of atmosphere that only Disney can truly create when it comes to theme parks.

    Another favourite of mine has always been "The Enchanted Grove" in Fantasyland near Tomorrowland. I understand it's now called "Chesire Cafe" which I truly don't like - it reminds me too much of a nearby county here in the UK & subsequently evokes a far less magical notion of relaxing with a cookie & frozen lemonade around late afternoon so it will always remain "The Enchanted Grove" to me.

    I'm personally delighted to announce that a relatively recent addition to my own list has been created by my wife. I've been heading to Florida, Anaheim & Paris for over 30 years & whilst my wife has grown to love trips to the Disney Parks, it's far more "my" passion but as recently as the last few trips to both Stateside parks, it's become tradition to grab a portion of chilli-cheese fries & soda in Frontierland & settle early for a spot for an evening parade. To many it may seem far from magical but with the sun setting & the anticipation of a night-time parade & a few post-parade rides still left in us, this has become a favourite "spot" so to speak.

    One of my other personal magical places is very close to one of yours - Sleepy Hollow, just off the main route in Liberty Square. Even during parade time, this spot can be a lovely little haven where you can take in beautiful views toward the castle in one direction whilst looking over your shoulder at the main street - wll the while enjoying a funnel cake (notice how food permeates this thread !)

    Last but one is Tomorrowland Terrace. I used to love this area before it became a noodle station & was perhaps my favourite "dinner" spot to grab a snack whilst the sun went down. Similar to the above you could look in one direction to the futuristic lights of tomorrow or stare ahead to the stunning castle vista. We always managed to grab a quiet spot away from the majority of diners & I felt like I was in my own little slice of the Magic Kingdom where I often found myself thinking wistful things about being back "home" in my favourite place on earth.

    Finally I have to go predictable ... smack bang in front of the castle mid-fireworks. Yes, it's crowded & once or twice it's actually been rather unpleasant (don't mention the time it was so busy we just got herded to Fantasyland & our hot dogs got cold & missed the show itself from trying to find an alternative perfect spot) but on the whole - there's little to compare to being centre-front of the castle when Walt's vision is perfectly captured in simply the most glorious fireworks display & setting imaginable. It's perhaps top of many other people's lists but there's a reason for it - it's truly magicial & manages to evoke emotion in us that we very rarely get elsewhere, if anywhere on earth.

    Enough waffling from me but thanks Chris for taking me back to the Happiest place on Earth for this lunch break !


    Hey there Captain,

    Thanks so much for the kind words. They really are appreciated. My goal is always to inject a little magic into a reader's day, so it's very gratifying to hear when I've been successful. I also always love having readers abroad! These are some great spots you have picked out and I definitely agree to the whole idea of places being linked to a certain time of day. Mornings remind of town square as we enter the park for the day and the rose garden will forever mean more to me at night than in the day. I also love being in Tomorrowland at dusk as the lights begin to turn on and the whole place transforms.

    There's nothing predictable about your number one spot. While we always watch Wishes from the rose garden...right in front of the castle is certainly one of the most magical spots anywhere.

    Thanks for the great response!

    Chris

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