January 8, 2014

10 Things You Need to Do at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Going to Disney World is a right of passage that many families go through. It’s a place where your dreams come true—if your dreams include having your photo taken with Rapunzel and spending $14 on a box of four tiny chicken nuggets. It’s also the happiest place on Earth, and here’s why.

Disney does everything right. They may take all of your money (and the deed to both of your kidneys), but they take careful care and consideration of the Disney Experience and really do give you an adventure that you can’t get anywhere else. That’s why I’ve put together the 10 things I think everyone needs to see or do or know about while at the Magic Kingdom. By doing these things, it's hard not to have a great time.

1. The Disney FastPass

Everyone who goes to Disney is eligible for a FastPass. FastPasses typically work like this: Instead of standing in long lines, you can sign up at kiosks around the park (and on your smartphone) and reserve a time to ride any ride that is eligible for the FastPass. The program lets you know what times are available to reserve (some rides book up quickly), and you get a limit of 3 per day day—which is amazingly fair if you think about it. Basically you’re cutting in line, but everyone is given the chance to cut in line a few times to make sure that everyone is able to ride what’s most important to him or her (and their family).

2. It’s a Small World

This classic Disney ride kind of encapsulates everything about Disney—its all-inclusive nature and how we can all connect with love, happiness and empty wallets. Seeing cultures represented from all over the world in a calming boat ride is a nice way to start your trip and introduce you to Disney. Also, I recommend only riding it once. The more you ride it and listen to that song, the more you get the feeling that the animatronic characters are going to murder you.

3. Watch Mickey’s PhilharMagic (& Any Other 3D Attraction)

We were blown away by how amazing the 3D technology is. In fact, it is so well executed that my middle daughter got scared and refused to wear the glasses because she was afraid Donald Duck was going to hit us with his flying carpet. The PhilharMagic is a must-see (and so is the Muppet Show in Disney’s Hollywood park).

4. Character Parade/Princess Parade

Officially called the “Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Street Party” and the “Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade,” these parades rotate throughout the day traveling up and down the main drag of the Magic Kingdom (the one leading up to it’s iconic Cinderella Castle). You .. er, I’m mean, the kids can dance with many of the Disney characters. So if you’ve ever wanted to shake it with Cinderella or line dance with Jessie the Cowgirl, this is your chance. I busted a move with Frozone from the Incredibles. It was awesome.

5. Enchanted Tales with Belle

Also known as Storytime with Belle, this event is one of the most impressive at the Magical Kingdom. Kids (and adults) get the opportunity to play the roles of the Beauty and the Beast characters and perform an (extremely) abbreviated version of the movie, and they get to interact with an animatronic Wardrobe and the famous Lumiere (both of which blew my mind). I offered to play The Beast, but apparently my acting skills were not up-to-snuff so they cast some fresh-off-of-naptime 4 year old to play the role. (I mean come on, that kid couldn’t even grow a mustache!)

6. Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor

This is an animated show where characters from the Monster’s Inc. movies provide stand-up comedy. They poke fun at audience members (yes: on screen characters make jokes about people in the audience, whom they show on a separate big screen). It’s pretty funny for kids and adults alike. Also, while waiting in line, you can text jokes to the Monsters and a handful get used in the live show. Though they didn’t use my, “A screwdriver walks into a bar. The bartender says, ‘Hey, we have a drink named after you!’ The Screwdriver responds, ‘You have a drink named Kevin?’"

7. Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney has made billions of dollars on movies based on this ride, so you really can’t go to the Magic Kingdom without exploring the pirate life. Plus, if you pay attention, you can spot Johnny Depp, er, Jack Sparrow.

8. Meet Mickey

You can meet all the Disney princesses and characters that you want—and our girls wanted to meet most of them—but none of them compare to meeting Mickey. He’s really the star of the show. His mouth moves when he talks, which endeared him to some of our kids and freaked out others, and you get to meet him in an individual room, so don’t feel as rushed with him as you do most of the other characters (where you can still see the line of impatient kids waiting behind you).

9. The Electrical Parade

The Electrical Parade is an evening parade that takes place a couple times a week, where they shut down the streets/paths of the Magic Kingdom and have beautifully lit floats caravan throughout the park. It’s almost like they’ve taken the most wonderfully decorated houses at Christmas Time and put them on wheels. The parade has been around since I was a kid and it’s just as mesmerizing now as it was then.

10. The Castle Show

Shortly before the fireworks close down the park, music starts to play and the iconic Cinderella Castle in the middle of the part begins changing colors. It’s unbelievable. Images of characters float on the walls, as if the castle is some kind of humungous plasma TV that has curve and angles that display in high-def. Really, it feels like a Pixar movie is happening right in front of your eyes and it’s breathtaking. We went back to see it a second time and I was just as amazed as the first time. This show sums up the entire Disney experience for me: Simply magical.

Editor's Note: To clear up some confusion, I was not paid in any way by Disney to write this. I genuinely had an amazing time at the Magic Kingdom and thought this list of "musts" would benefit my audience and other parents, many of whom probably have a trip to Disney on their radar.


Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

****** 
* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 
 

4 comments:

Karen Gough said...

Thank you for praising Disney rather than trashing it! Good article.

Robyn said...

I love Disney! But I'm afraid you've succumbed to paid advertising . . . ? Say it ain't so! Tell us that your love for Disney is genuine! ;)

Brian Klems said...

Disney did not pay me to write this (though I wish that they had after seeing my credit card bill!). I honestly loved the place and thought others would benefit (and smile) from my experience (which is the goal of my blog and my book).

Hope that clears things up.
Brian

Robyn said...

So glad to hear it!