A Twentysomething’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom
You might think Walt Disney World is for kids, but you are totally wrong. Disney is a magical place for all ages, but can be a bit much when going as a twentysomething. Fret not, I have created a 4 part series on surviving Walt Disney World in your twenties! Here, I present the perfect guide for to ensure your trip to Magic Kingdom is truly magic.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Ahh Magic Kingdom, with the stereotypical image of Cinderella’s Castle, amazing smells, and excited children running around dressed as princesses and pirates. This park has the most to do and will definitely take an entire day to get through. If you are wanting to experience everything in Magic Kingdom in a single day, go during the off-season – see Disney’s website for dates – as it is the least crowded during this time. If you are able to take your time, go during the Holidays. During the Holiday season, the decorations are breathtaking – especially Cinderella’s Castle, which “freezes” at night.
You can’t do Magic Kingdom without hopping on a few rides! Now that the new Fantasyland is complete, you can enjoy a variety of rides, both classic and brand new, chill and thrill, and rides that tell the stories of some of your favorite movies!
Adventureland is part jungle, part tropics, part desert, and all fun. It is home to two of the most popular rides in the park: Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise.
Pirates of the Caribbean is the boat ride that inspired the movie franchise! Sail through a shipwreck and into the ransacking of a Caribbean town by Barbosa’s raunchy pirates, sing along to “Pirates Life for Me”, and find Captain Jack Sparrow hiding around the town. This ride is definitely a “must do”.
If you’re looking to trek through the most famous rivers of the world, head on over to the Jungle Cruise. This boat ride is guided by a jungle skipper who tells you all sorts of bad jokes – some hilarious, some cringe-worthy, and some all too relatable. I have never had the same guide twice, so Jungle Cruise is almost a new experience each and every time I ride it.
Stepping in to Fantasyland is like stepping in to a real life storybook. Everywhere you look, you will see buildings, rides, and props inspired by your favorite Disney stories. Fantasyland is the largest area of the park and is home to the most rides. Here, you will find the classic rides like it’s a small world, Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and The Mad Tea Party.
There is hardly a long wait for it’s a small world or The Mad Tea Party, so don’t feel like you have to plan out a time of day to head to those rides! The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Dumbo the Flying Elephant have varying waits, depending on what time of year you go. These rides have “interactive lines”, i.e. things in the queue that are meant to entertain children. Peter Pan’s Flight always has an incredibly long wait, but is one of the coolest classic rides around! This queue walks you through the Darling’s house, showing you the various rooms before you board your flying ship to Neverland.
Fantasyland is also home to some of the newest rides in Magic Kingdom, such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, both of which are incredibly fun additions to a day in Magic Kingdom. Mine Train tends to have a long line, so be prepared!
Set in the wild west, Frontierland is home to two of Magic Kingdom’s most famous rides: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a rollercoaster that takes you around and through the mountain, having you encounter Thunder Mountain’s residents, dodge falling rocks, and even experience an earthquake. Be prepared to get wet if you ride Splash Mountain! This log ride has you chasing after Briar Rabbit and ends with a 52 ft plunge through the briar patch.
Ok so I need to start this section out by saying that I feel that Tomorrowland needs a major update; Tomorrowland is Disney’s vision for a future, but that vision of the “future” is now set in our modern-day past. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t enjoyable rides in Tomorrowland, though!
In Tomorrowland, you’ll find Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and the Peoplemover. Space Mountain is one of the few rollercoasters in the park. Set in the dark, this ride will have you blasting off into an other worldly adventure. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is great for the competitive spirits visiting the park, as it pins you head to head with a companion while you blast space minions of the evil Emperor Zurg! My little sister would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Peoplemover, a slow-moving tour of Tomorrowland that shows you some of the behind the scenes planning stages of the section of the park.
Liberty Square is home to my favorite ride in Magic Kingdom: The Haunted Mansion. This ride takes you through the mansion that is home to 999 ghosts, but has room for 1000. After walking through a stretching room, you’ll load your doom-buggy, experience a séance, and see the home’s 999 ghosts appear! You might even have a ghost appear in your doom-buggy while you cruise through the Hall of Mirrors.
If you’re a big ride person, check out your Fastpass options first thing when you get to the park. From my experience, the rides with the longest waits are Peter Pan’s Flight, Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Space Mountain. If you are able to Fastpass any of these, snatch them up!
While in Magic Kingdom, head over to Adventure Land and get a Dole Whip! This pineapple treat is a Disney staple at Aloha Isle in Adventure Land in Magic Kingdom. You will find your Dole Whip right by the Enchanted Tiki Room and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin ride. One of my favorite places for a quick bite is Casey’s Corner, which is on Main Street, U.S.A., and makes some of the best hot dogs on earth! You can get a pseudo-brew at Gaston’s Tavern, which is in Fantasyland by Belle’s Castle; make sure to check the character map and plan your visit around the time Gaston is greeting guests for a great photo-op!
If you’re in the mood for a larger meal, head to Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table. Both of these are pricier options, require reservations, and are located within the park’s castles. Both Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table are “character dining” at dinner, so be sure to bring a camera!
If character dining isn’t your thing, but you’re still looking for a sit down meal, a personal favorite is the Jungle Skipper Canteen. Here, you can get a plate of delicious meats, rice, and veggies for around $20. The best thing about the canteen is the bread that comes with your dish! If you’re looking for the Canteen, you’ll find it in Adventureland.
One of the things most twenty-somethings think they’re too old for is meeting the characters at Disney. I have some words for those people: you’re never too old to meet the characters! Meeting the characters has been the highlight of my past few visits! Meeting the characters is always a lot of fun and gives you the opportunity to act like a kid without facing judgement for it. Download the Disney app before you visit so you can see the list of character times for the day of your visit.
Peter Pan is always fun to meet and might even take you on a hunt to find your shadow. He is normally hanging out in front of a treasure map by Peter Pan’s Flight. Alice will tell you all about her latest adventures and her cute kitten. Find Alice in Magic Kingdom by the Mad Tea Party. If you don’t have time to meet Alice in MK, you can also find her in England in Epcot. When meeting Alice, be sure to ask for a silly picture and see the hilarious poses she comes up with.
Captain Jack Sparrow is the most fun character to meet as an adult, as he will act as belligerent as a frat guy during rush week. Captain Jack only comes out a few times a year, like during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Make sure to check the app so you don’t miss him!
Winnie the Pooh and Tigger inside a storybook setting near The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, one of the best character greeting settings; the atmosphere will take you back to your childhood.
The princesses appearing at Magic Kingdom are Ariel, Cinderella, the new princess Elena, Rapunzel, Tiana, Merida, Jasmine. Find Ariel in the cave next to her ride, Under the Sea. Cinderella, Elena, Rapunzel, and Tiana are in Princess Fairytale Hall, with two princesses on each side. Merida is at the Fairytale Garden. Jasmine hangs out with Aladdin and, on occasion, the Genie at the Agrabah Bazzar.
You can find the traditional Disney characters of Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Minnie at Pete’s Silly Side Show in Fantasyland; it’s worth it to go and see the fantastic costumes they’ve put on these characters! Finally, a trip to Magic Kingdom isn’t complete without meeting the one and only Mickey Mouse. You’ll find Mickey inside the Town Square Theater, where he’s always ready to greet his adoring fans.
The first time you get your picture taken in the park, the photographer will give you a Memory Maker card. While you can give the photographers your personal cameras for pictures, the Memory Makers are truly worth it. The photographers might even add a bit of Disney Magic to your pictures, like Pascal, Fairy Wings, and even Tinkerbell, to these professional photographs!
The Magic Kingdom recently retired the nighttime fireworks show Wishes and introduced Happily Ever After. Happily Ever After uses fireworks, projections, and music to give viewers a truly magical experience. After watching Happily Ever After, I am convinced that it was the best 20 minutes I have ever spent in a Disney park. You’ll laugh, cry, and be overwhelmed with nostalgia and love for all things Disney. Be sure to scope out a spot 20 minutes before the 9:00 nightly viewing so you’ll see the castle!
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you why visiting Magic Kingdom as an adult is worth it. Go forth and start planning your trip!
Planning on spending more than one day in the park or hopping? Check out my guides to Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot!