In the first of our new series, Carl takes a land-by-land trip to find the best rides in Magic Kingdom.
Good Morrow, Carl here! I haven’t contributed much to Walk in the Parks for the past year or so. To be honest, I’ve been in a mega Orlando funk.
Having no trip planned really sucks and I didn’t cope with it very well. I stopped watching vlogs on YouTube, I stopped interacting with people on twitter and had ZERO motivation to write.
Now that might not be a big loss for the world. Charlotte is by far the superior writer – it’s a good thing it’s her actual day job – but I do kind of miss putting my random and sometimes controversial opinions out into the ether.
Thankfully I’m over the funk and now, and I’m ready to dive into a new series of blogs.
My idea is to go through each Orlando park, land-by-land, and state my favourite ride in each area. I’ll give a brief history of the ride (probably using Wikipedia to fact check, it’s never wrong right?) and share why I love it.
I’d like this to be as interactive as possible, so please do share your favourite rides with me in the comments or over on Twitter @witp_blog. The thing I love most about the Disney and theme park community is that we all have different opinions.
But anyway, that’s enough chitter chatter from me, let’s get this series started with the best rides in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
I’m counting the lands here as: Adventureland, Frontierland. Liberty Square, Fantasyland (doing it as a whole) & Tomorrowland.
I know Main Street U.S.A. isn’t on the list, but the only ‘ride’ is the Walt Disney World Railroad. That technically goes in three lands and we’ve not had the chance to ride it so we’ve decided to leave it out for now. It’s a must do on our next visit though if it’s open.
Anyway, here we go…
The best ride in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland
Pirates of the Caribbean
A bit of Pirates of the Caribbean history
Pirates of the Caribbean opened in the Magic Kingdom on December 15th 1973. The attraction is impressive from the minute you enter the queue line, which leads you through an old Spanish fort called Castillo Del Morro.
Whilst queuing you pass by many a pirate thing such as supplies, cannons and a pair of skeleton swashbucklers sitting at a chessboard. The ride itself lasts around eight and a half minutes and has a great throughput thanks to the 50 boats running through the ride.
Jack Sparrow was added to the ride in 2006 to tie in with the release of the Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. The ride is also well know to be the inspiration of the Ron Gilbert classic Monkey Island game series. Infact, a scene from the game includes the protagonist breaking out of a jail cell by getting a key from a dog using a bone. Clever stuff.
Why I love Pirates of the Caribbean
I’ve spoken many times about my love for this ride and I stand by my comments. Despite the Disneyland Paris version being superior, there is just something about the Magic Kingdom one. The feeling I get once I leave the ride is always of awe. Charl has said before that she watched my face during my first ride, and it was a face of pure wonderment. I love pirates with a passion.
The best ride in Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland
A bit of Splash Mountain history
Splash Mountain opened in October 1992 on the Magic Kingdom’s 21st birthday. Based on the much maligned (we won’t go into that) 1946 Disney film, Song of the South, this water ride tells the story of our hero Br’er Rabbit.
Br’er Rabbit is trying to find his laughing place while the dastardly bad guys Br’er Fox and B’er Bear (boo hiss) chase his tail. The ride has an incredible five drops and lasts nearly 12 minutes.
Not only do get you soaked – which by the way is great as an Englishman in the Florida heat – but you also get to listen to one of the most catchy on ride soundtracks there is.
Lap Bars were added to Splash Mountain in 2011 and the ride has a height restriction of 40inches (102 cm). In 2018 they started handing out little water proof wallets to keep your phones nice and dry.
Why I love Splash Mountain
We didn’t get to ride this on our first trip together in 2017 as it was down for maintenance. So the anticipation when we headed off on our trip in 2018 was intense.
I was worried Splash Mountain wouldn’t live up to the hype but oh my God my friends, I needn’t of worried. It’s a simply beautiful ride with a wonderful story. I guarantee you’ll leave singing the soundtrack for the rest of the day.
I love that the ride is is 12 minutes long as it lets you totally immerse yourself in the story and the entire theming of the ride is just perfect. A 10/10 ride for me.
The best ride in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square
A bit of Haunted Mansion history
I wrote about the history of Haunted Mansion here but I’ll share a quick fact file for you now:
- It opened with the park on October 1st 1971
- The ride holds 2–3 passengers per vehicle
- The ride lasts 5:50–8:20 minutes
Why I love Haunted Mansion
Well firstly, what’s not to love? The theming here is impeccable. The stretching room is a very cool yet simple trick and The Doom Buggies are fantastic ride vehicles. The Dancing ghosts are a wonderful effect too.
The only downside to this ride is the long boring outside queue which really knocks your socks off in the heat. But even that wasn’t bad for us as we never had to queue that far back. It also looks stunning at night, especially during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
The best ride in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland
Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
A bit of Little Mermaid History
Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid opened on December 6, 2012 after soft opening in October of the same year. Located in the beautiful New Fantasyland section of Magic Kingdom, this ride based on the Disney classic Little Mermaid takes you on a journey under the sea. Sharing the main plot-points of the film, it lasts just over six minutes and features the songs from the original.
It’s another Omnimover – like Haunted Mansion – but this time you’re seated in a clamshell. The throughput is generally good but there can be a long queue if you have annoying kids in front climbing on all the beautiful scenery… trust us.
Why I love Journey of the Little Mermaid
The little mermaid is one of my top five Disney films and a classic I remember well from when I was a kid. Though its fairly debatable now I’m a grown up, I still can’t help but love this story.
The animatronics in the ride are fantastic (although the one of Ariel dancing is a bit odd) and you can’t help but sing along to the great songs from the film as you make your way slowly through the ride. A must ride for any fan of the film.
The best ride in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland
Carousel of Progress
A bit of Little Carousel of Progress history
This masterpiece was created by Walt Disney and WED Enterprises and was, of course, a part of the famous 1964 New York World’s Fair.
It was first based at Disneyland in California before opening at in Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom on 15th January 1975. It’s now the longest running stage show in the entire history of the American theatre.
In Carousel of Progress, John and his Family, and their pet dog Rover, take guests on a journey of the evolving technology through the 1900s, 1920s, 1940s and into the 21st Century.
240 people can fit into the theatre per show, and it last for 21 minutes. The soundtrack is of course ‘There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow’ written by the genius Sherman Brothers and it’s epic.
Why I love Carousel of Progress
This was a total surprise to me. I didn’t even know it existed until Charlotte dragged me on it. I remember her telling me it lasted 20 mins and me complaining that the time would be better spent queuing for an ‘actual attraction’. How wrong was I? I adore it.
There are no words for just how brilliant it is. The song is catchy as heck and the story is funny and charming. Yeah, it’s a bit tired and needs to be updated but if Disney ever announced that it’s getting removed I would happily fly to Florida and chain myself to John.
The other thing that makes it so special is Walt. Walt created this. Walt adored it. Rumour has it is was his favourite attraction. How amazing is that? For me I could happily sit and watch this for 20 mins on every single visit to the Magic Kingdom, and that’s what I plan to do when I go back.
Frankly, if you prefer Space Mountain to this then we need to have words.
So there you go, my best rides in Magic Kingdom, land-by-land. What are yours? Tell us either on here or on twitter.