My Disney Top 5 - Magical Spots in the Magic Kingdomby Chris Barry, contributing writer
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
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
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.
#3 – Main Street Station
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
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
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.
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!