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Finding Disney: The Essence of the “Magic Kingdom® Park”

Extraordinary Magic in Everyday Life 


Magic KingdomThis column is typically about finding those little glimpses of Disney magic in daily routines. Whether it’s at work, in our car, or even at the grocery store, sometimes reminders of our favorite place find their way into our day. For the next four weeks, though, we’re taking the phrase “Finding Disney” and turning it on its head by asking this question: How do you find Disney when you’re in Disney? Everything experienced on Walt Disney World® property has ties to Disney in some way, obviously, but some attractions, atmospheres, and elements permeate with a deeper sense of embodiment for what the Disney name truly means to all of us.

So here’s what we’re going to do: we’re traveling through each of the four parks and identifying those experiences, those special things that, in every way, stand testament to the essence of their respective theme park, and, by extension, the Disney name itself. Since magic is measured in different ways, we’ll have three categories: the grand magic (that pull-out-all-the-stops mega-production that Disney knows good and well is going to make you cry), the fun magic (that thrilling, throw-your-hands-up kind), and the simple magic (those overlooked happenstances that, small as they are, might be the best part of your day). They’re all so different, but they each serve their purpose as a beacon of what Disney magic is and the emotions it prompts.

Let’s start with the big ’71: Here are the attractions that embody the Magic Kingdom® Park, the park that I like to call the quintessential Disney experience.

The grand magic: The 3 o’clock parade. I’m a sucker for a good parade. To me, there is nothing more fantastic than seeing every single one of my childhood heroes explode out of the gate and walk by right before my eyes, together, set to enchanting music and bursting with wow-worthy floats. There is something very special about the concept of a parade in general, and as wonderful a show that Disney puts on, it’s always a glorious new memory. As the years go on and the specific program changes, Disney knows the value of parades to guests and delivers every time.

The fun magic: Pirates of the Caribbean®. Does it even need explaining? Pirates is a joy start to finish, and out of all the Audio-Animatronics extravaganzas throughout the park, this one arguably hits all the notes best. If the Magic Kingdom® Park is all about telling timeless stories well, then Pirates is its crown jewel.

Dapper DansThe simple magic: The Dapper Dans. What a class act. These staples of the Magic Kingdom® Park elicit smiles wherever they roam. There’s nothing high-tech or big-budget about four men singing together, but their magic is just as effervescent as anything. Stumbling upon their performances on Main Street U.S.A.® is an unexpected part of many families’ day in the park, but the way The Dapper Dans engage their audience never fails to be charming.


Where do you find Disney most in the Magic Kingdom® Park? What experiences would you classify in grand magic, fun magic, and simple magic? Share your memories below!

 (Images © Disney.)

Blake studies Electronic Media and Film at Appalachian State University. He enjoys making his family of six watch the parade in Frontierland and then sprint to Main Street in time to see it again. You can find him on Twitter @olddirtyblake or at BlakeOnline.com.