by Caitlin Corsello
One of the first things that most people picture when thinking of Disney World is the Magic Kingdom attractions. Classic Disney down to every last detail, the park is a place where most kids (and kids at heart) dream of being every day. Opened in October 1971, the park was based on Disney’s original Disneyland in Anaheim California. While the Magic Kingdom greatly reflects Disneyland, it definitely holds its own in charm, detail, and fun. Over the years, the Magic Kingdom has evolved greatly into the spectacular place it is today. Whether you are looking for fantasy, futuristic gadgets, or adventure on the high seas, look no further than the Magic Kingdom!
While there are over thirty attractions in the Magic Kingdom, I have broken them down into several categories which may interest you depending on your preferred style of attraction: thrill, classic, and must see.
If you are looking for thrills, there is only one word you should think about in the Magic Kingdom: mountains! The “mountain range” of thrills consists of Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Space Mountain, and they offer the biggest adrenaline rushes in the park.
Splash Mountain in Frontierland takes riders on a trip through the world of Br’er Rabbit, a guy just looking for more adventure in life- and he definitely finds it with you along for the ride! A log flume based ride, you are definitely going to get wet. Be careful of those pesky water cannons when the ride first begins! With multiple drops, the last measuring five stories into the Briar Patch, Splash Mountain is sure to get your blood pumping! Not feeling brave enough to ride, but still wanting to get a little splash? Be sure to stand on the bridge in front of the attraction where splashes occur occasionally as logs plummet down to the Briar Patch.
Planning on stopping by Big Thunder Mountain? Well hold onto your hats and glasses, ‘cause this here is the wildest ride in the wilderness! Located right next to Splash Mountain in Frontierland, it’s easy to end up spending a lot of time in this corner of the park riding these two attractions over and over! A runaway train that zips you through an old fashioned mining town, Big Thunder offers thrills around every bend and curve. With gorgeous scenery based on Monument Valley, you’ll want to (try to) keep your eyes open to observe every prop and view.
The final mountain in the range is Space Mountain, a high speed attraction through outer space. Located in Tomorrowland, Space Mountain is situated on the opposite side of the park as the other two mountains. Taking place almost entirely in the dark, riders truly feel as though they have been launched into space on a super fast tour of the galaxy! There are also two separate tracks (Alpha and Omega) which each offer unique ride experiences, so make sure to experience both.
Now that you’ve conquered the mountains of the Magic Kingdom, there is one more thrill attraction that offers wall to wall creeps and hot and cold running chills…welcome, foolish mortals to the Haunted Mansion. Located in Liberty Square, the Haunted Mansion has been scaring riders ever since opening. Within the mansion, you will experience the 999 happy haunts which call the place home, and will even be offered a position to be the 1000th resident. Any volunteers? With both scary and comical elements, the attraction offers a thrilling and unique experience that is a must see while in the Magic Kingdom. And don’t worry, once you get on there’s no turning back now…
Once you have survived the Haunted Mansion, there are several other attractions throughout the Magic Kingdom which I consider to be classics for various reasons. I recommend experiencing these attractions as they offer unique and fun experiences that the Magic Kingdom is so well known for.
On top of the classic attractions list is Pirates of the Caribbean. One of the most well-known and beloved attractions in the Magic Kingdom, you can experience sailing the high seas and looting towns for treasure right alongside the pirates. For those who are fans of the recent Pirates of the Caribbean film series, audio-animatronic figures of Captain Jack Sparrow have been added throughout the ride. (I’ll admit I love this attraction just a little more based on its red head love…We wants the red head!!) No visit to the Magic Kingdom is complete without a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean.
Another classic Magic Kingdom attraction is the Jungle Cruise. Located in Adventureland right next door to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise is where you can experience almost every major river in the world, terribly corny jokes, and the backside of water- all in one day! Experience head hunters and animals galore on this wonderful classic attraction. While the Jungle Cruise is a more slow paced experience, it is definitely a must see and a Magic Kingdom classic.
Finally moving to Fantasyland, there are two beloved classic attractions that most people always associate with the Magic Kingdom: Peter Pan’s Flight and “it’s a small world.” Peter Pan’s Flight has been capturing the hearts of many Disney fans since opening through its flight over the nighttime streets of London and eventually through Neverland. Alongside Peter himself, you will face Captain Hook and experience your own dousing of pixie dust as you fly.
“it’s a small world” was one of the results of Disney’s attractions built specifically for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Becoming a Disney icon ever since, the attraction takes you on a boat ride around the world allowing you to experience many different cultures and countries while reminding us that “it’s a small world, after all.” This attraction is one of the most loved in all of Disney World, and while riding be sure to note the unique styling done by Imagineer Mary Blair.
In addition to the thrills and classic attractions in the Magic Kingdom, there are several other attractions that I think fall into the “must see” category. The first is Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland. A live animated and interactive show, corny jokes are abundant and audience members are even offered the opportunity to text in their own jokes before the show starts (just keep it PG). This attraction is a must do as it always generates a laugh and is a different experience each time. Just try not to be that guy.
Also in Tomorrowland, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is an attraction where you are provided with your own laser to help shoot targets and defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg. As this experience is based upon points, it’s where the competitive side of most people comes out. Boys become men…that kind of thing. Don’t be surprised to hear the trash talking start before riding, and to have to ride again and again to see who can get the highest score and claim bragging rights as the ultimate space ranger!
I think that every twenty-something should also experience Mad Tea Party, an Alice in Wonderland themed spinning tea cups attraction. While the tea cups spin on their own floor tracks around the attraction, riders can control the speed their tea cups spins, creating either a laid back or seriously dizzying experience! For those looking for an extra bit of thrill and speed, definitely see how fast you can spin on this exciting attraction.
Finally, I would suggest going to watch Mickey’s PhilharMagic. The attraction is a 3D experience of songs from numerous classic Disney films, all on one of the largest screens ever created for 3D. For every twenty-something that grew up on The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast, this show is a must see to revisit memories from your past in stunning 3D. Be sure to keep a nose out for the unique smells of pastries in the Beauty and the Beast scene!
While I have mentioned a lot of attractions here, there are still plenty more to be explored and experienced in the Magic Kingdom. If you have the time, I think that you should definitely use it to try and experience every other attraction and really get the full experience that the park has to offer.
What is your favorite attraction in the Magic Kingdom and why? Think I left something off of my list? Leave it in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.