The Magic Kingdom is quintessential Disney. As soon as you step through the gates and onto Main Street USA, you are instantly transported to charming early America via magic and fantasy.
Main Street USA
Strolling down Main Street USA, you will find quaint shops (chock-full of all those fun and overpriced souvenirs). My favorite stop on the street is The Confectionery candy shop. I challenge you to NOT go inside after walking by and smelling the sweet fragrance outside the door. The Exposition Hall directly to your right after entering the gates often has a lot of character meet and greets inside, so be on the lookout there. For a quick bite, grab a hot dog at Casey’s Corner, or for a table-service meal, check out Plaza Restaurant. It is located on your right at the corner leading to Tomorrowland. They have great sandwiches at some of the best prices in WDW.
Check out the board at the end of Main Street USA and find out how long the wait times are for your favorite rides. There will be a cast member there updating the times, and they are also available for any questions you might have. Now it’s time to pick a place to start!
I usually head to Tomorrowland first. Step forward in time as Tomorrowland shows you a fantasy-like version of the distant future a la Jetsons. It is directly to your right at the end of Main Street USA.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin - Make sure you grab a FastPass for this popular attraction. In this ride, you will be seated in a two-person vehicle that makes full 360-degree spins at the touch of a joystick. It is as though you are in a video game as you have a laser gun and battle your partner to see who can shoot the most letter Zs (for Zurg of course). A digital screen tallies up your score. This ride is a blast for kids, and adults will enjoy it also.
Space Mountain - Disney’s classic roller-coaster thrill ride. Buckle up as you launch into space (aka pure darkness) on a very twisty track. Every drop will surprise you, as you have no idea what’s coming next! Thrill-seeking kids and adults will enjoy this ride. Make sure you get a FastPass here.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress - I beg of you, do not miss this attraction! This attraction was created by Walt himself for the NY World’s Fair in 1964. It is a stage show involving animatronics and a revolving audience. ‘Nuf said, now check it out for yourself.
In Fantasyland, just behind Cinderella’s castle, you will find yourself in a true land of make believe. This charming land has the most pixie dust.
Peter Pan’s Flight - The origin of the sacred pixie dust, Peter Pan. Jump into a flying ship and soar away above England with Peter Pan. This is a true Disney classic. Many people have the same feeling, so make sure to get a FastPass for this one.
It’s a Small World - Recently reopened after extensive renovations (yay!). I will be going on the ride for the first time with the renovations in a couple of weeks. Check back for an update.
Philharmagic - A recent addition to Fantasyland, this attraction is a 4-D movie following Donald Duck’s adventures through various Disney musical memories. Kids and adults will love this sensory experience.
Haunted Mansion - Located just outside Fantasyland in Liberty Square, the mansion ominously beckons your exploration. This is one of the few attractions where you will find the cast members truly playing their role (please move to the DEAD center of the room!). Experience Disney’s mastery in storytelling in this ride.
This land will take you to the Wild West with shooting galleries and saloons. Listen for the background music as you’re walking around; it’s some of my favorite.
Splash Mountain - Sometimes I wimp out on this one because I don’t like drops, but if you’re feeling adventurous, I encourage you to try it. The drops (yes, there is more than just one big one) are actually secondary to the storytelling of Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit. This makes it one of Magic Kingdom’s longest rides.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - This was my favorite ride as a kid. It’s a bit of a roller coaster minus the drops. The twists and turns here, however, are not to be underestimated.
This is the smallest of lands in MK, but cannot be missed.
Pirates of the Caribbean - Possibly THE ultimate classic Disney attraction made even more popular by the recent movie. Again, Disney’s storytelling abilities are showcased as you sail through a pirate village, dodging cannons along the way.
Parades and Shows
Share a Dream Come True Parade - This is the afternoon parade (3pm) that runs from Frontierland, through Liberty Square, and down Main Street USA. This parade was created for 2001’s 100 Years of Magic Celebration. It features various characters/princesses in large snow globe-like floats. If you’ve never seen it before, definitely check it out.
Spectromagic Parade - This parade runs at night from Main Street USA towards Frontierland. It runs depending on the season. During high season, it can sometimes run twice a night, whereas other seasons it only runs twice per week. Check the brochures when you get to MK. I love this parade enough to arrange my Magic Kingdom visits solely when Spectromagic is playing. It is not to be missed. Floats covered in thousands of brilliant lights drive along to some of the most beautiful Disney music.
Wishes Nighttime Spectacular - Magic Kingdom is well-known for having some of the most impressive fireworks shows. Wishes, which replaced Fantasy in the Sky in 2003, is quite a sight. The pyrotechnics in Wishes easily trump those of Fantasy in the Sky. The music is not as strong in my opinion, but who can resist beautiful fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle?
Cinderellabration - This show is in front of the castle and showcases Cinderella’s coronation with all the princesses in attendance. I found it to be a significant improvement from the Cinderella's Surprise Celebration. Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Jasmine and Snow White are all in attendance in their best ball gowns.