Friday, April 2, 2010

Top Ten Can't Miss In The Mouse: Magic Kingdom

Every once in a while we like to run a string of related articles here at Around The Mouse, as we did this past December with The Early Bird Gets The Mouse series. There, we talk about how getting to each park bright and early can help you more easily see all the things worth seeing and experiencing in that park without going insane. Well, in the Can't Miss series, we'd like to expand a little on what the truly "can't miss" attractions are in each park, starting with the Magic Kingdom.

To start off, this isn't easy. All four parks have a laundry list of attractions, shows, restaurants and other things that could be considered "can't miss." But if you have one day at each park, you may have some decisions to make. You may have to skip over a few things. We're here to help you decide what you really can't afford to skip over.

First, we must emphasize the main point of the Early Bird series: get there early for rope drop. You'll have a much better chance of experiencing all of these things if you do. Then, utilize Fastpass. Those two tips will be of great aid in attempting to see everything truly worthwhile.

Second, we know that everyone's goals are different. Depending on the make-up of your family, particularly the age and height of your children and the willingness of everyone to do big "thrill" rides, you may or may not be able to do every single thing on these lists. So what we are doing here, as we do with almost everything on Around The Mouse, is to give you our can't miss attractions and such at each park. And we hope this not only entertains you, but possibly helps you determine what you may not want to miss on your next trip.

Can't Miss at Magic Kingdom

Haunted Mansion
Location: Liberty Square

The Haunted Mansion is phenomenal. Not only is the idea behind it all a Walt original, but the theming (especially after the rehab from a couple years ago) is amongst the best in all of Walt Disney World, and that says a lot. It's not too scary, but scary enough. It's not too whimsical, but whimsical enough. Almost everyone of any age can experience it. Experience it at night for an extra boost to the atmosphere.

Space Mountain
Location: Tomorrowland

This Space Mountain is the original Space Mountain of Disney parks. And while it's an older attraction and not the biggest or fastest coaster around, it's still incredibly fun. Another great job of inventing an original theme out of mid-air, the 2009 refurb was also a big addition (adding a similar added flavor to the original like Haunted Mansion's 2007 refurb). Little touches like the classic soundtrack as you scale the long queue line (which now included interactive video games) and the fact that it's dark enough inside the ride to not see where you're going, making the thrill more thrilling, makes this place what it is: huge amounts of fun.

Location: way up high in the sky

Wishes is powerful. The first time or two you see it...or three of four times...can make you well up a little. It's a powerful and awe-inspiring show. There's something about combining the massive fireworks, the tall glowing castle, the beautiful music and the reactions of the crowd around you that just makes this a one-of-a-kind experience. My best spot to view it is right there on Main Street USA even with Casey's - provides a perfectly framed viewpoint of the castle/fireworks combination. But you can watch it from Fantasyland, the Railroad Station, the Poly beach, the Fort Wilderness beach and even the Ferry dock at the Ticket & Transportation Center...and it's all good. Make sure to make time in the evening for Wishes.

Splash Mountain
Location: Adventureland

This wonderfully themed ride with one huge moment of thrill - the big outdoor drop - is a rite of passage for kids in the Disney theme parks. For a lot of kids, it's the first "big" ride they ever do. We usually get a fastpass for Splash as soon as possible in the AM, then return later in the day to ride - it's hotter outside, so the potential of getting wet is more appealing, and you get to skip the ridiculously long lines. It's a long ride with a lot to look at, and it lulls you into a false sense of security as you ride gently by scene after scene. Little drops here and there gives you a reminder that that's not all there is to the attraction, but nothing - nothing - prepares you for the view on the top of the Big Drop. And no matter how many times you've done it, you still get that rush of adrenaline at the very top. Enjoy the view, then scream your head off.

Big Thunder Mountain
Location: Adventureland

Thunder is the other first "big ride" for a lot of kids. And while yes, it is a "kids" coaster, it's still a tremendous amount of fun for all ages. Like most Disney originals, the theming on Big Thunder is awesome. The fact that it's partially indoor and outdoor also adds to it's charm. I get a similar kick out of Thunder as I do from Space Mountain - it just forces me to laugh from the pure joy of it all.

Carousel of Progress
Location: Tomorrowland

For me, this selection was between Carousel and Small World. Both are odes to the man who made it all happen: Walt Disney himself. Carousel and Small World were his ideas and they both have that classic charm of yesteryear. But if I had to choose one, it would be Carousel. Charm is the key word here, and it's such a unique show. You can't go wrong with either and do both if you can, but I'd recommend Carousel above Small World in a close call.

Dole Whip
Location: Adventureland

A food item has to be particularly special in order to break into a list like this. The Dole Whip at Aloha Isle is that type of novelty, I believe. There is something about the experience of having a Dole Whip that goes above and beyond just its flavor (which is awesome). Try one in the middle of the summer as you stroll through Adventureland toward Pirates Of The Caribbean and it'll become a Magic Kingdom staple for you and your family.

Pirates Of The Caribbean
Location: Adventureland

There are several original Walt ideas on this list, and Pirates is one of them. It was great before its Captain Jack Sparrow refurb, but that refurb (like Haunted Mansion's and Space Mountain's) really added to its greatness. This is also one of the best themed rides in Walt Disney World, and considering its age that says a LOT. Another ride that's probably better at night simply because of its atmosphere, try it during the busiest of times when you have a fastpass for something else because it handles crowds very well.

Mickey's Philharmagic
Location: Fantasyland

The best 3D film in Walt Disney World. That says a lot because Muppet Vision 3D and Tough To Be A Bug are both great. But this one is magical. In my opinion it's really similar in feeling to Soarin' in that it's absolutely exhilarating. The combination of the songs, the smells, the visuals, and the audience reactions add up to an experience that really makes you feel good when you leave. This, like Pirates, is a great place to head to on the really busy days when you have a fastpass for something else. It too handles crowds well and the combination of AC and comfy seats are a welcome respite from the heat.

Stroll Mainstreet first thing in the morning
Location: Mainstreet, USA

This is the essence of Walt Disney World. Soft morning sunlight. Feeling of anticipation starting out your day. The smell of the Main Street Bakery in the air. The clip-clop of the horse-drawn carriage. The quaint, turn-of-the-century architecture of the surrounding shops. And the majestic Cinderella Castle waiting for you at the end of the road, leading to a whole park worth of thrills. The feeling this scene evokes is unique and can't be missed.

There's a lot here. Magic Kingdom is FILLED with attractions and there's a lot more that should belong on the list. But add in dining and rest time, and sometimes you'll have to make some choices if you only have one day to explore. I know that for families with smaller children, your can't miss list might include Dumbo, Peter Pan and Winnie The Pooh instead of the mountains. Or you might simply have to make time for SpectroMagic (or Mainstreet Electrical Parade this summer), Storytime with Belle or the Jungle Cruise.

With that said, I hope you found this helpful. Next up, our Top Ten Can't Miss In The Mouse: Epcot.


  1. I'm with ya on 6 out of 10 but I would take out Splash Mtn, Space Mtn (can you tell I'm not a thrill rider?), BTMR, and Wishes (I know, it's heresy) then add It's a Small World, Peter Pan, Main Street Confectionery (yum, fill-a-bag of taffy!), and strolling the water in Liberty Square/Frontierland/Adventureland.

    We leave in the morning for our shuttle launch trip. While we are staying at Pop, we are only planning one park day - DHS.

    I'm looking forward to more of your Top Tens!


  2. Getting there tomorrow?! Awesome! Have a great trip!

  3. IT IS A VERY NICE SUGGESTION, THANK YOU LOTS! ........................................