Sunday, May 26, 2013

Top 10 Magic Kingdom Attractions

Magic Kingdom is the big park at Disney World.  Whether you think Disney World or Disneyland, this is where a lot of the icons are: Cinderella Castle, Dumbo, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.  Here’s a list of my 10 must-see attractions.

Note: I’ve marked attractions with a FastPass with an *.  This lets you skip the main line, and are normally worth using.

10. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad*: BTMR probably won’t impress the hardcore coaster enthusiasts.  However, it is an interesting ride in its own right.  Using 3 lift hills, Big Thunder is more of the family-friendly coaster that Walt Disney envisioned, and more of a ride experience than an actual roller coaster.  Perhaps not the ultimate winner, but a fun time.

9. Pirates of the Caribbean: The upgrade to Pirates which added Jack Sparrow in to several places still comes off a bit awkward, and kills some of the ride’s original dialogue.  However, it’s the fun voyage through a town being pillaged, with memorable scenes, and set to the ever-catchy “A Pirates’s Life for Me”, that makes this one still worth riding.

8. Wishes (fireworks show): I believe that Wishes will be changing its name and theme soon, but you can bet that there will always be a fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom.  It’s a nice cap to the day, filled with impressive moments.  The view around the castle is the ideal spot to see it.  Just watch out for the huge crowd of people leaving the park afterwards.

7. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor: The Laugh Floor uses a technology which lets the monsters actually interact with the audience.  This means that the show can change, and probably will change, depending on the people that they end up interacting with, and you can even send in jokes before the show.  No matter who they end up talking to, though, it always manages to live up to its promise of hilarity.

6. Jungle Cruise*: It can be hard to remember that the Jungle Cruise used to be taken seriously.  The dated animatronics certainly don’t impress much anymore.  Instead, the tour guides unleash a hurricane of puns about everything from waterfalls and cannibals to a family of lions “babysitting” a zebra.  This is also one of the longer attractions at Magic Kingdom, which means that, if you have to wait, you get a ride that’s worth it.

5. Splash Mountain*: I didn’t go on Splash Mountain for years until my last trip, and it ended up impressing me.  Splash Mountain is only half a log flume, with some huge drops and a warning that you may get wet, which might as well be a guarantee.  The other half is a great animatronics feature which sums up the Brer Rabbit sections of the infamous Song of the South, and for a movie that doesn’t get seen outside of bootleg DVD releases, it’s a nice voyage through funny moments and songs you don’t really get anywhere else.

4. Space Mountain*: The third mountain of Magic Kingdom definitely provides the biggest thrills.  With its unique coaster design that seats one person per row to its almost pitch-black darkness, Space Mountain isn’t really something you’ll see at many other places.  The darkness means that every drop and turn ends up as a surprise.  Beware, though: Space Mountain waits can easily go up to 90 minutes.  This is a FastPass that’s hard to avoid using.

3. Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid*: Magic Kingdom’s newest attraction can already go into the must-see category.  Under the Sea goes through the four big musical segments of Little Mermaid (Les Poissons is, probably wisely, left out), and the animatronics are some of the best you’ll see in Disney World.  In fact, it might even be worth going through the regular line at least once, just to get a good view at Scuttle.

2. The Haunted Mansion: There’s not too many scares over at the Haunted Mansion.  Instead, there’s some of the best special effects, plenty of great moments, and a ride that’s constantly being enhanced.  The new graveyard section in the queue is worth walking through, and the enhanced sound system in the ride means that Grim Grinning Ghosts has never sounded better.

1. Mickey’s PhilharMagic: With 3D now a regular part of movie theaters, the appeal of 3D movies at theme parks should’ve gone down a bit.  PhilharMagic proves there’s still some things you can only do at theme parks.  Featuring the world’s largest seamless screen, PhilharMagic has a restrained use of effects, a medley of some of the best Disney songs, and perfect 3D. 

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