This three-part series covers my family’s vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida in December 2017. Such a trip is the best Christmas present I could ever ask for! Don’t forget to read my other posts on EPCOT and the Animal Kingdom.
It can’t be a successful Disney trip without a visit to Magic Kingdom. It is the very heart and soul of what Disney is all about and I’ve been coming here since I was four years old. Yes, perhaps this is my sixth or seventh time visiting, but I still feel the magic. This time around was even more special because I got to share it all with Victor. All my Disney fantasy love stories are coming true!
We entered the park heading towards Frontierland. Fantasyland opens a bit earlier than the rest of the park so we had to wait until the official opening time. Finally, the rope dropped and we were on our way to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The weather was a bit doomy (as the photos show) so the ride was actually closed when we reached it. We were assured that it would open up again soon, but we took advantage of the time and headed to Splash Mountain.
As a kid I was terrified of Splash Mountain. I mean, think about it, a rabbit is about to be eaten and then you plunge into a dark tunnel of doom. I still get some jitters before climbing into the log boat.
Afterwards we were able to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The line had gotten a bit longer than we liked, but we decided it was worth doing it now rather than later in the day. This ride is the best of everything. It’s thrilling enough to appeal to teens and adults, but not too much so as to scare off small children. It has always been my first ‘big kid’ roller coaster and it is still a lot of fun. Since our last visit, they have improved the queue by adding some interactive mining gadgets. As a kid my brothers and I used to bring our Game Boys which was also a risky decision. I’m all for these intense, immersive queues because it makes the time pass by faster!
Frontierland was a success! We still had some time to kill before our first FastPass so we went to the Haunted Mansion, one of my dad’s favourite rides. It really is a great ride and I think it’s seriously underrated. My favourite holiday of the year happens to be Halloween so I love how the Haunted Mansion gives off spooky feels all year long.
FastPass time! We headed to Space Mountain for our 9:20-10:20am slot. Like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain is incredibly iconic. While the tracks of the ride itself are not that thrilling, because it is all in the dark it feels absolutely nuts. We took it chill at this point, grabbing some coffee, relaxing at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.
We left Tomorrowland to go onto Adventureland. We managed to get a FastPass for Pirates of the Caribbean. I remember coming here when the movie did not exist yet. How cool is it that a ride inspired a movie? We also went to the gift shop to purchase some pirate-related items for Pirate Night on the Disney Cruise. We’re so prepared (look how cute my mom looks).
It hit about midday and it was lunch time. Because we woke up so early and had breakfast at an ungodly hours, our tummies were rumbling by noon. I personally think Magic Kingdom is the most difficult park to find food. Most of the options are various versions of park food, which I generally abhor. We didn’t want something that took up a lot of time so we opted for Tortuga Tavern. It’s a Quick Service restaurant that serves short ribs, turkey legs, hot dogs, and pretzels. For dessert they even have rum cake! Ahoy!
If the Magic Kingdom is the heart of Disney World, then Fantasyland is really the heart of the Magic Kingdom. The fantastical world of Disney princesses and old-time Disney films makes everyone just really happy.
I was still a bit hungry after lunch (I only had a pretzel) so we stopped at Cheshire Café to try a Cheshire Cat Tail. It was super sweet but also delicious and my kind of way of getting energy for the rest of the day.
We continued to walk around Fantasyland just to enjoy the environment. If you haven’t been to Magic Kingdom in a while, then you’ll be amazed at all the new areas. Several princess-themed attractions have made their way into this magical world and I’m couldn’t be more thrilled. Sure, Cinderella has been around forever, but princesses like Snow White, Ariel, Belle and even Rapunzel now reside here.
Since opening the new areas, there are now different sections of Fantasyland. Many of the older rides are grouped into the Castle Courtyard, which is the area right behind the castle.
Before heading to some of the new sections of Fantasyland, we stopped at an old favourite: It’s a Small World. Now, many people claim this ride is creepy and extremely dated, but you have to remember that this one of the first rides to open at the Magic Kingdom. I think you could spend half a day alone just going through the rides in the Castle Courtyard, but we had bigger fish to fry.
The Enchanted Forest
One of the new areas/sections is called the Enchanted Forest which includes the new Disney princess spots as well as some old favourites like Mad Tea Party (my dad’s arch nemesis) and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
We first made our way to Snow White’s world where you can spot the dwarfs’ cottage. Next door is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a brand new ‘soft’ roller coaster. As it is a mining-themed ride, I immediately thought of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I know the lines can be really long, so try and get a FastPass for this one. It is a fantastic ride — we all loved it. We being a 63 year old, a 54 year old, a 26 year old, a 25 year old, a 20 year old, and a 16 year old.
We then ventured into the Beauty and the Beast area were you can see the Beast’s castle in the distance. Inside is a beautiful restaurants appropriately named Be Our Guest. We didn’t make reservations, so we weren’t able to inside, but I’m guessing this very, very popular. Next time!
One of the fun spots here is Gaston’s Tavern where you can try LeFou’s Brew. This is obviously competing with Universal’s Butterbeer, but it doesn’t matter to me. I tried it anyway! It is a frozen apple juice lightly flavoured with marshmallow, topped by a creamy, passion-fruit froth. I thought it was really yummy and definitely not as sweet as Butterbeer — I could barely drink that stuff.
The new attraction here Enchanted Tales with Belle, which is an incredibly inspired way of a character meet and greet. Instead of lining up to take a picture with Belle, you actually get to go through a little adventure with her. You go through Maurice’s cottage and workshop, and then you’re transported to the Beast’s castle. It’s adorable, it’s fun, and the little kids just love it (as do I to be honest).
Next door is The Little Mermaid area. I love how Disney built so many smaller castles! You’ll instantly recognise Eric’s castle, as well as the underwater theme all around. Not only is the area brilliantly done, but so is the ride here! Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid is a lovely kids ride reminiscent of The Seas with Nemo & Friends or Frozen Ever After in EPCOT. You step into your own clam and are whisked away through the story of Ariel.
And finally, the third section of Fantasyland is Storybook Circus. I think this is a great way of encompassing some of the more random bits and pieces of Fantasyland. I love Dumbo and so did the 5-year-old version of myself.
Main Street U.S.A.
And just like that, the sun started to set and it was time to make our way towards the front of the park. For dinner we treated ourselves by going to The Crystal Palace. My mom wanted to do at least one character dining experience, so I’m happy were able to make reservations for this one! The Crystal Palace is a buffet feast for you and all your Hundred-Acre Wood friends. Yes, many of the characters stop by your table: Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger too!
It was pretty entertaining as we are a group of adults (and one teenager) but we loved it. Disney World is all about reaching to find the inner child in all of us. The evening was perfect. We could even see the fireworks bursting around the castle.
After dinner, we stepped outside and just watched in awe as Cinderella’s Castle gleamed like no other. What a magical day indeed. This trip meant a lot to me, but it also meant a lot to my family. We never said it, but we knew this would be the last time we’d all be together at Disney World. It was the last time we could feel the magic at the same time. Thank you, Disney, for that special gift.
And this ends my adventure in Orlando, Florida! But not fear, there is still more Disney fun to be had on the Disney Cruise Line.