As hard as it is to believe there are actually those out there who, for whatever reason, do not like Walt Disney World. In many cases preconceived notions like “Disney is only for kids” or other half-baked ideas about Disney not catering to the interests of older guests fuel such untrue opinions. But the reality is that most Disney-haters have neither a clear nor accurate idea about what the true Disney World scene is all about, and are therefore living with a blind, narrow-minded misconception they only “think” they hate. Here’s a list of experiences just in Magic Kingdom Park alone that we feel will convert even the most hardened Disney-haters.
1. The wonderful world of FastPass+
Disney came up with an ingenious response to increasingly lengthy wait times and long lines. The answer took the form of a revolutionary new advanced ticket reservation system known as FastPass. Over the years FastPass was enhanced even further. While some other theme parks have tried to mimic their own versions of this clever concept, several factors cannot be denied. For starters, the Disney way is still the best way. Secondly, while some other parks may have observed the method for advanced passes, it is still a novel concept that most places do not utilize. Therefore, many people in general are still largely unfamiliar with the idea of making reservations in advance for enjoying specific rides and attractions within a slated time frame.
So, imagine the surprise of a first-time visitor to Magic Kingdom Park who comes here expecting crowds to spoil any chance for enjoying those classic and iconic must-do attractions they’ve heard so much about only to discover that there is in fact a way to enjoy up to three advanced reservations at a time! It’s enough to make even the most cynical park attendee blink a few times and secretly choke down a bubbly feeling of glee and gratitude.
2. Traveling through the park
Any visitor will quickly discover they don’t have to shuffle around Magic Kingdom Park all day long on foot. Disney has devised plenty of unique methods for traveling, not only to and from this iconic park, but for traveling within it as well. For starters, there is the awe-inspiring Walt Disney World Monorail System, which is a convenient way for Magic Kingdom Area Resort guests to venture here. It’s also an excellent way to make it back and forth to the Transportation and Ticket Center (or continue on to/return from Epcot). While the monorail isn’t an inside park attraction, plenty of Magic Kingdom visitors can’t resist riding the loop around Seven Seas Lagoon to take in the scenic marvels along the way. Then within the park there’s the Walt Disney World Railroad, which runs through the Magic Kingdom with various departure and boarding points if you so choose to utilize this method for making rounds within the park. But you are welcome to stay onboard if you’re just along for the ride.
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, or more commonly called “The PeopleMover” is another excellent ride-through attraction that allows guests high-in-the-sky overhead vantage points overlooking some of the Magic Kingdom’s greatest marvels and attractions. It’s also very informative and allows for a few moments of rest and relaxation to sit back and soak in the surrounding sights. The Liberty Square Riverboat, also known as Liberty Belle, is another excellent option for combination relaxation, sightseeing, and taking in one of Disney’s more docile attractions—narrated by Mark Twain, no less. And on that note, there’s nearby Tom Sawyer Island waiting to be explored, only accessible by another unique in-park method of transportation. For this you must be being ferried across via raft. All in all, Magic Kingdom Park is laden with plenty of unique methods for traveling about. And for an inexperienced Disney-hater making their first visit here, it can be a pleasant surprise to uncover so many extraordinary options, sure to fuel undeniable feelings of admiration and appreciation.
3. Seeing where fact meets fantasy in theming
There is nothing messy or off about the theming within Magic Kingdom Park. In fact, even the most scrutinizing sticklers for detail will find themselves unable to criticize the design choices Disney has executed within the different lands here. Why? Because they all work so well together, and are all so accurate—even the fairytale elements, like the beanstalk growing through Sir Mickey’s, for example. And don’t forget about the liveliest dead touches ever and all those supernatural elements at work in Memento Mori, which makes this Haunted Mansion-themed store so much more than a regular shopping experience.
On that note, we could list hundreds of other ways Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction in general offers exceptional touches to theming with interlaced references and fascinating tidbits. What it all comes down to is that the Magic Kingdom’s theming is precisely woven into its many different lands with accuracy and precision, including all the necessary shops, attractions, characters, décor, and other designated touches that never overlap or are out of place. There are reasons, references, and methodologies around every turn in the many diverse lands. Any Disney-hater would be hard-pressed to find something to complain about in this category.
4. Attention to history and architecture
On a similar note to our previous point, we now turn our attention to Disney’s architectural design marvels and accuracy regarding history at play in all the theming and design choices within Magic Kingdom Park. And for the Disney-hater, who just happens to have an interest in historical facts or knows a thing or two about building and architecture, these considerations may deliver on an unexpected added thrill. Just consider the scene on Main Street, U.S.A. and it’s turn-of-the-20th-century design with all its signature works in both architectural building and décor styles along with other nicely themed touches like the barbershop, Dapper Dans, horse-drawn carts, and so forth.
Liberty Square has plenty to take note of, from the replica Liberty Bell to its famed “Liberty Tree” Southern Live Oak, laden with 13 hanging lanterns, no less, to symbolize the 13 original colonies. Another cleaver detail includes the crooked shutters on the houses here—in direct relation to the American Revolution when England ceased the shipment of metal to the colonies, creating the need to melt down hangers and hinges for ammunition. And if you happen to notice the two-digit numbering on the different houses here you might observe the slight progression through time in style and the structural medium that was used. Just add an “18” to the two-digit number to find out which historical year is being represented by that house’s particular style.
And on that interesting note on progression, you will find that the style within Liberty Square seems to shift when you start bordering other surrounding lands as well. Where Fantasyland ends and Liberty Square begins, for instance, you start to see the transition from English to early American, while the central theme at Liberty Square seems to reflect on old Pennsylvania, with the area toward the Haunted Mansion taking on a more Hudson River Valley feel.
Then there’s Tom’ Sawyer’s Island to represent the Mississippi, the Country Bear Jamboree’s Grizzly Hall transition toward Frontierland to denote Colorado in the 1840s, and onward towards the American West Coast. Two other things to mention about Liberty Square include the interesting reference to no plumbing as depicted by the golden brown street pattern, and the fact that one of its signature attractions—the Hall of Presidents, is the only place in the nation other than the White House where you will find an authentic display of the Presidential Seal.
There are many other points for avid historians and architects to admire and appreciate all throughout Magic Kingdom Park as well, including the scaling perspectives at work when looking at some buildings. Cinderella’s Castle is an excellent example, as it is made to look taller than it is by the reduced proportion density instilled in its design progression toward its topmost point.
5. Well-balanced thrills and moderation
One particularly frustrating fact that most theme parks tend to share in common with each other is a limited style and degree designation to the thrills (or underwhelming thrills) in the attractions that that particular park houses. Whether a park is themed with all-too juvenile interests or caters to more extreme thrill-seekers in ways that limit the participation of certain members of your party, more times than not it’s usually an all or nothing deal when deciding to visit a typical amusement park. But Disney Parks are not typical in any way, shape, or form, and they truly do succeed in offering something for everyone.
Even Magic Kingdom Park, admittedly the most kid-oriented of all of Walt Disney World’s mesmerizing parks, offers the perfect balance of thrills and moderation. It doesn’t matter if you’re a toddler, elderly park-goer, or adrenaline junkie, because there’s something for everyone here, including the Disney-hating cynic who may have come harboring one of two possible assumptions (one being that Disney attractions are all “kiddie rides” or two, that Disney is just like any theme park “and I already know from experience that I hate theme parks.”). Well as we just mentioned, neither of the above assumptions are true. In fact, even those who don’t come to Disney as haters per se, but are inexperienced visitors nonetheless find the mix of attractions unexpectedly satisfying.
From the thrills of Space Mountain to the gently gliding “it’s a small world” boat ride, and all the outstanding visual effects, imagery, and animatronics featured in many attractions, Disney Parks truly are for everyone. What’s more, you can balance out thrills and moderation quite well throughout the day, even taking in more sedentary attractions that incorporate visual entertainments, like shows such as Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room or Mickey’s PhilharMagic, for example. As we said before, there’s something for everyone to find joy and contentment with here, even amongst the most ardent Disney-haters.
6. Cleverly hidden placements
You may never have realized it, but Walt Disney World Resort is a great place for uncovering secrets and finding hidden references. And for those need-to-know-everything Disney-haters, who get more joy out of digging up the how and why behind everything rather than just taking the magic as it comes, this can be an unexpected and nonetheless pleasant surprise. You can make an entire experience out of scavenging for all those hidden yet significant placements throughout all the parks and even within the various resorts.
Magic Kingdom Park is an excellent place to start with, laden with fun facts to find. Seeking out Hidden Mickeys is on the top of every Disney Scavenger’s list, as it is a virtually impossible undertaking that’s sure to challenge your keen levels of observation. Yet there are plenty of other exciting opportunities for seeking out secrets within the Magic Kingdom as well. These include name references on the windows of Main Street that are not there by accident. And if you want to know more, just make it a goal to research these references as you pass by.
There are also plenty of uniquely hidden sounds you may only discover on a quiet day—like the Citizens of Main Street going about with their lives. If you see a phone, don’t just assume it’s an idle prop; seize the opportunity to find out who may be on the other line. While we don’t want to give everything away, the point is that there are plenty of clever hidden references to find fascination and amusement in while out and about Magic Kingdom Park, and by extension, Walt Disney World Resort in general. Even haters tend to lose themselves in the unbeatable quests for finding so much in-park excitement.
7. Behind the scenes tours and extras
There’s so much more to Disney Parks than what you see on the surface. And for some hardened Disney-haters, a chance to see beyond may be just the thing that prompts them to turn the corner from cynicism and enter onto a new path leading to underlying respect and appreciation for what makes Disney magic so magical. To dig deep into Disney secrets we recommend taking one of many behind-the-scenes touring extras that are available to sign up for. And for the Magic Kingdom, options span from lengthy nearly daylong opportunities to more condensed guided group outings that cover the basic wow factors. One of the best fully immersive tours to take at Magic Kingdom Park is the famed Keys to the Kingdom Tour, which spans five hours and covers every nook and cranny…literally, including Disney’s legendary underground facilities.
The Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour is another great suggestion, which encompasses a three-hour duration in which you will learn fascinating lesser-known facts and details about the man behind the mouse, his upbringing in Missouri, inspirations and participation in the 1964 World’s Fair, and other fascinating behind-the-scenes secrets at work in the Magic Kingdom. Other exciting tours, catered to specific interests, include Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour and Disney’s Family Magic Tour—a unique scavenger hunting experience that takes you throughout the park. If you liked the aforementioned point on making an experience out of finding hidden placements then this tour may just what you’re looking for. Other beyond the surface extras to consider include the Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour, the Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour, and Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park.
8. Delicious Dining
It isn’t often that you expect to find scrumptious quality dining within the limits of any theme park. But as we have by now established, Disney World isn’t just any theme park. So it may come as a surprise to the inexperienced visitor that Disney’s in-park dining options go above and beyond those typical carnival snacks and sometimes poorer-quality junk food options that are far too often the norm in such environments. Sure you can still get all those joyful guilty pleasures if that is really what you’re hankering for, but keep in mind that these aren’t the exclusive offerings for food you will find here.
All of Disney’s four parks, resorts, and Disney Springs boast a bountiful host of enticing, decadent table service restaurants and eateries. Many are even award-winning dining destinations with notable reputations, masterful chefs, stellar kitchen staff, and a commitment to using the freshest wholesome ingredients. The Magic Kingdom alone is home to several unique restaurants worth mentioning. Cinderella’s Royal Table, for example, is perhaps one of the park’s most popular picks. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, this experience includes both signature dining and character dining in one, with Disney’s favorite princesses onsite to meet and mingle with guests.
Other renowned restaurant favorites include bountiful family-style dining to put you in mind of Thanksgiving at Liberty Tree Tavern, a lavish buffet with Winnie the Pooh and other friends from Hundred Acre Wood at Crystal Palace, casual Italian-style dining inspired by Disney’s Lady and the Trampat Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, and humorous puns and platters that come with a side of witticism at the Disney’s Jungle Cruise-themed newer sit-down restaurant, Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen. But for many, it’s the Beauty and the Beast-inspired Be Our Guest Restaurant over in Fantasyland that is currently the Magic Kingdom’s arguably most unique newer must-experience dining endeavor.
While breakfast and lunch are considered casual quick service, and only dinner is deemed a signature upscale dining experience, there is nothing standard or casual about either breakfast or lunch—from the stunning décor, multiple dining rooms, and magic that comes when your enchanted entrées find their way to your table. All in all, dining at Disney World is always a premium experience, whether you choose a quick and casual option or a more refined table service designation. What’s more, Disney is committed to taking care of all your needs, including allergies and other dietary specificities. So if you happen to be a diehard foodie but not necessarily a fan of Walt Disney World Resort, just experience the dining for yourself. We guarantee you’ll be won over.
9. Pleasant attitudes
Perhaps the simplest, yet in many ways, most meaningful experience sure to thaw the ice in any hardened Disney-hating demeanor is good old kindness. Disney employees, more commonly referred to as “cast members,” are not your usual theme park/resort workers that go around with tired, sullen looks and an unapproachable moody disposition. These people have been hired specifically to work at the Happiest Place on Earth for a reason—to emanate the happiness, helpfulness, and ever-pleasant vibes Walt Disney himself built his dream around.
While people are people everywhere you go, there is something truly remarkable about the warm friendliness and approach-ability of Disney cast members. You never have to feel nervous or degraded when asking anything of them, from something was simple as inquiring where something is located to getting advice on how to do something. Their kindness and commitment is commendable, especially when compared to other employees at different theme parks.
Disney cast members, on a whole, are among those who truly demonstrate hospitality. So a cynical Disney-hating visitor stepping into Magic Kingdom Park for the first time would have a difficult time keeping a hardened face in response to the cheerful greeting smiles, the friendly hellos, and sincere questions on how someone may help them. It’s a way to stop them dead in their tracks, giving new meaning to the concept of “killing with kindness.” After experiencing such lethal doses of positivity, even the most hardened Disney-hater will lose their rough-around-the-edges veneer.
Disney magic has the potency to convert anyone willing to take the chance to experience the Magic Kingdom for themselves. And as we said before, there are plenty of other undertakings within Disney’s other parks, resorts, and affiliated local destinations as well. With all that a visit to Walt Disney World Resort on a whole can offer, we assure you that you will succeed in your quest to change any Disney cynic into a fellow Disney fanatic.