The happiest place on Earth

Adventureland

Jingle Cruise

Thanks to the recent screen adaptation starring Dwayne Johnson as the skipper, Jungle Cruise was by far the most visited attraction during my visits to the Magic Kingdom. The Jingle Cruise Holiday Overlay certainly helped make even more people want to visit the attraction, yet it is a very nice addition to the overall great attraction. The boat trip through the waters of the world is definitely a highlight of the park, not least thanks to the wacky jokes that are told along the way and the eighth wonder of the world.  

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the classic Disneyland dark rides that everyone wants to experience, but when the Magic Kingdom opened, it was nowhere to be found. As the Caribbean is so close to Florida, it was thought that a pirate attraction would not be as popular, instead a large Western dark ride was already in the making. It didn’t take long, and plans changed to install Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom as well. A good decision, as the ride is just a splendid experience. All of the scenes are great and the loose story line of Blackbeard’s pirates overrunning a village in search of treasure is overall very well staged. 

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

The Enchanted Tiki Room is the archetype of all animatronic based shows worldwide and interestingly one of the only remaining ones. While the attraction did not age well in any other theme park around the globe and even the few remaining shows are cringe pure, the Enchanted Tiki Room is just great. The show has a great humour, a well thought out story arc and the music is just wonderful; especially when the tiki totem poles get into the action. I just love it!

Frontierland

Country Bear Jamboree

While the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland is just an awesome experience, I cannot say the same for the adjacent Country Bear Jamboree. The show is a country music revue and fine for what it is; however, it is nothing special and a bit boring. No surprise, there is a new version of the show already in the making.

Tom Sawyer Island

One of the smaller attractions in Frontierland is Tom Sawyer Island, which can only be reached by rafts. The island itself is lacking a bit of attractions. There is a windmill, a fort, a rarely opened restaurant and plenty of great photo opportunities towards the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but that’s about it. 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Sometime in the late 1800s, gold was discovered on Big Thunder Mountain. Overnight, the small mining town of Tumbleweed became thriving under the thumb of the greedy mining company owner Barnabas T. Bullion. Mining was prosperous, and an extensive line of mine trains was set up to transport the ore. The land was sacred and hence the desecration of the mountain by the settlers soon led to a great tragedy. After a flash flood struck the mines and the town, the village was abandoned. Interestingly, the locomotives were found to be racing around the mountain on their own, without engineers or a crew giving us the opportunity to take a ride on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

We start our journey by entering the mine. After a short turn to the left and a turn to the right, we reach the first lift hill. Arrived on top, we quickly get some speed in a descending turn to the left. We then race through a rock formation before a turnaround followed by a very sudden dip leads us into a tight helix. We then pass the village on a very fun and janky track section, before diving a second time into the mine. After a left turn, we then reach the second lift hill. Once again, we gain some speed in fast descending turn. Then we climb up a hill and enter another helix at the top. With speed, we then take some hills with very sharp transitions, throwing us out of our seats, before entering the third and final lift hill. Now on top of the mountain, we first head over dip and dale, before gaining more and more speed. A long curve to the left is followed by one to the right, while we leave Big Thunder Mountain behind us. Passing a dinosaur skeleton, we then take the final turn of the ride leading us directly into the brake section. 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the perfect mine train style roller coaster. While aesthetically, the version in Paris is overall more stunning, it is also far gentler, albeit the very similar layout. The Floridian version has far more janky moments which underline the out-of-control sensation, we should expect from a ride on a runaway ghost train. In short, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the perfect family roller coaster.

Splash Mountain

Initially, Splash Mountain was set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the movie Song of the South, where for the first time, Disney managed to merge animation with live actors. The movie is famous for its animation, yet very controversial in its portrayal of the time period it is supposed to be set in. After its final theatrical release in 1984, the film never got a home release in America, nor was ever intended to be released on the streaming service Disney+, which to be honest is a shame and an early example of cancel culture. It would be best, if one day, a narrated version will be published.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can focus on Splash Mountain following the adventures of Br’er Rabbit. The ride starts with our log approaching the first lift hill after which we make a scenic tour around the ride’s final chute, before entering the second lift hill. On top, we bob our way through the channel before plunging down the first chute. A bit moist, we now enter a large-scale dark ride section which is accompanied by the song “How Do You Do?”.  After turning a corner, we see that Br’er Bear is caught in a trap, while Br’er Fox says to him: “We gotta catch that Br’er Rabbit!”.

Meanwhile, Br’er Rabbit has left home in search of adventure and is on his way to his Laughin’ Place. Br’er Bear follows him, but the “Laughin’ Place” is just a trick, and Br’er Bear is attacked by bees, while Br’er Rabbit laughs at the sight, which led Br’er Fox to catch him. While taking the third lift hill, we see that Br’er Rabbit in Br’er Fox’s Liar about to be eaten. Fortunately, Br’er Rabbit outsmarts Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear by tricking them into throwing him into the briar patch (where he was born and raised), whereupon we take the ride’s final drop. Soaked, we then approach the ride’s final show scene, celebrating a “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” day and the homecoming of Br’er Rabbit.

Splash Mountain is a fantastic log flume, but it does show its age. While technically, the ride still is top notch, the animatronics were a bit outdated and not all of them were in a good shape. About a year after my visit, extensive renovations started making way for a princess and the frog attractions, which for sure will be a perfect theme for this great water ride.  

Liberty Square

The Haunted Mansion

Passing the Liberty Bell Riverboat, we now enter the queue for the Haunted Mansion. This attraction is the reinvention of the classic ghost train and focuses on a coherent story line throughout the ride, while others focus on cheap scares or an overload of animatronics. The dark ride has so many noticeable characters and is just a very fun one to experience.

Hall of Presidents

Probably the most unique attraction within the Magic Kingdom is the Hall of Presidents. The show that features all past (and present) presidents is quite iconic and even for non-Americans quite interesting to watch.

Fantasyland

It’s a small World

The happiest place on earth is also home to the happiest cruise on Earth: It’s a small World. The cruise takes us on a world tour while portraying the culture of every country through the innocent view of the children. It’s a very nice dark ride, with a distinctive style, cute puppets, and a very catchy tune. It’s one of the must-do rides at the Magic Kingdom.

Peter Pan’s Flight

Peter Pan’s Flight is always one of the most popular dark rides at any of the main Disneyland Parks and therefore usually has a very long queue. It is one of the classic dark rides, yet it is a rather short, and in my opinion quite underwhelming, experience:

After leaving the darling’s children’s room, the ride takes us on a flight above London, before reaching Neverland. Here the kids get kidnapped by Captain Hook. Shortly thereafter, there is a short fight scene between Pan and Hook. After defeating Hook, the kids take over the ship and Hook has to deal with the crocodile. The End.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Located right next to Peter Pan’s Flight you can find the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The ride through the Hundred Acre Wood starts with the story of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, where everyone is having some troubles facing the storm. After finding shelter in Owl’s house, we then meet Tigger, who tells us about Heffalumps and Woozies, which lead to a very wacky dream sequence. The storm got worse and not everyone is safe. Awake by the increased water, Pooh gets gone with the wind, while Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Tigger, and Owl attempt to save Piglet from floating away. Fortunately, Pooh finds himself stuck in a tree with lots of honey and in the final scene, everybody is celebrating that the storm is gone.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic

One of the few attractions at the Magic Kingdom to feature the world-famous Mouse and his friends is Mickey’s PhilharMagic. The attraction takes you on a magical voyage through the famous movie scenes and their tunes, but Mickey is nowhere to be found. The star of the attraction is actually Donald Duck, who curiously took over Mickey’s role of conducting the orchestra and experiences the famous animated scenes himself, which leads to all kind of clumsy situations. The movie itself is well animated and a lot of fun.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Currently, the most popular roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Based on Snow White and the seven Dwarfs, the ride puts us in a swinging mine cart which the seven Dwarfs use for their work.

After leaving the station, the ride directly starts with a turn to the right, giving the mine carts a first swing. A turn to the left then leads us into the first lift hill. The route now follows an undulating pattern over hill and dale, constantly changing direction, while approaching the mine. Here we see the seven dwarfs, working and chanting. While climbing the ride’s second lift, the dwarfs tune in their famous tune. After a small dip, we then take the ride’s largest drop, which releases us in large helix. After passing a bridge, we then make our way through some tight alternating bends leading us into the brakes.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the most family-friendly roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom. Despite being innovative in its ride system, it barely uses it to its advantage. The dark ride scene is great, and the coaster sections are fun, but the ride is not worth the current wait times.   

The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

The little Mermaid dark ride gives us the opportunity to voyage under the sea. The ride is home to some of the best animatronics to be found anywhere in the world, especially the one of Ursula is seriously impressive. The ride itself is entertaining and great if you just need some minutes of rest, as the wait times are normally pretty low due to the high capacity of the ride.

Storybook Circus

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

The carousel where you control the flight of your elephant is one of the most popular and most iconic rides at the Magic Kingdom. The first version of this ride opened in 1971 with a capacity of 10 cars. In 1993, a 16-elephant version opened. When creating the Storybook Circus area in 2012, the ride capacity got doubled – now two Dumbo the Flying Elephant carousels exists right next to each other, flying in opposite directions.

The Barnstormer

The Barnstormer is the smallest family coaster of the Magic Kingdom. The ride features a classic junior coaster layout by Vekoma, yet it got varied a bit to feature a second train. Starting with the lift, the train immediately goes into a steep curve leading us to the ground, followed by a curve surrounding the lift hill. After a small dip, a righthand curve then leads us into a helix. Shortly thereafter, we hit the brakes, and the ride comes to an end.

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland Speedway

One of the least futuristic attractions at Tomorrowland is its old-style car ride Tomorrowland Speedway. The ride is based on Disneyland’s Autopia, yet it does not feature the same premise; instead of a scenic voyage, you are driving along a four-lane racetrack. Overall, the experience is rather short and underwhelming.

Space Mountain

After the success of Matterhorn Bobsleds roller coaster, Walt Disney approached designer John Hench for a new attraction that would be a focal point of Disneyland’s renovated Tomorrowland planned for 1967. Plans changed, but the ride itself got into fruition as the headlight attraction to the Magic Kingdom in 1975. The ride consists of two tracks, which layouts are exactly mirrored. Nowadays, one of the tracks is reserved for Genie+ customers.

The ride on Space Mountain starts slow but feels incredibly fast due to the lighting effect used on the otherwise very straight section. After a short curve, we reach the ride’s lifthill. Once at the top, we start our decent by entering a curve. After passing a block brake, we enter a gentle slope and soon after pick up some speed in a 270° helix. This is followed by a surprisingly steep ascent. After passing another block brake, we then hit a downward helix leading us into a very long curve followed by a jump into the next block brake. Here, we enter a very tight curve after which we take a large drop. We then make our way through a bunch of curves, before hitting another block brake parallel to the ride’s lift hill. The ride now gets progressively faster, as we rage through a series of drops interrupted by some curves. The largest of them then leads us into an upward helix. After another block brake, we continue our way downwards through a helix and some turns before we enter the final brake sections underlined by a visually pleasing light effect.

Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain is a very wild ride, although it only consists of a bunch of tight turns, helices and drops. However, due to the very rapid transitions, this ride fells out-of-control, which is especially underlined by being an indoor coaster mostly travelling through a low light environment. This ride is just insane.

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

The Carousel of Progress is a nice attraction showing the advancements of technology through time. While some scenes nowadays are a bit dated – especially the fourth act representing the 21st century –, the ride itself has a very nice leitmotiv showcasing a great, big, beautiful tomorrow. Overall, the Carousel of Progress is an entertaining show, which should not be missed.  

Astro Orbiter and The Peoplemover

Sitting above the structure that houses the station of the Peoplemover scenic ride, is the Astro Orbiter. The ride itself is very similar to Dumbo the Flying Elephant, yet with a different seating arrangement, and just as popular. While there are always people waiting in line for the lift leading to the ride, the Peoplemover hardly ever sees a queue.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

The interactive dark ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger is one of the smaller attractions at Tomorrowland, yet it is still a pretty funny one as you can control the rotation of the vehicle by yourself while aiming for the highest score. It is a very solid interactive dark ride, and one you should give a chance when the wait times are low.  

Monster Inc. Laugh Floor

The story of Monster Inc. Laugh Floor takes place after the movie; therefore, laughter is the new form of energy to power the monster’s world and we are invited to laugh at the headquarters of Monster Inc. The show is a fine one for native English speakers, as it is basically just a stand-up comedy show, but if you are not fluent, the show is a waste of time. Overall, most of the jokes are about the visitors to the theater, so if you don’t like that, the show is not at all for you.

Pictures Magic Kingdom

Conclusion Magic Kingdom

Overall, I had a great time visiting the Magic Kingdom. The park has a bunch of truly great attractions and some very cool shows. With the next roller coaster already in the making, I will not hesitate to come back one day. Albeit there is one thing I did not enjoyed at all: The food. Somehow, the offering at the Magic Kingdom differs a lot from the other parks at Walt Disney World and the quality is not that great. 

 

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Visiting Mickey Mouse

Disneyland Park

Having arrived in Disneyland Park, it feels as if you have been transported back a few decades, since you are now in an American main street at the beginning of the twentieth century. Oldtimers and carriages are waiting for their guests and also the park railway has its main station here. There are also some shops and most of the parade route runs along this path, which is fairly long and leads to the entrances of the remaining four themed areas.

In addition to the tramway we also tested the park railway in this area. It runs along the edge of the park and belongs to one of the more crowded Disneyland Park rides, where you can queue for up to an hour. As we got a good opportunity we didn’t have to wait. The 40 minute round trip is definitely worthwhile.

Fantasyland

If you walk down Disneyland Park’s main street, you are walking towards the landmark of the Fantasyland. The castle, inside which you can see the story of Sleeping Beauty, is not as big as it seems from some angles.

If you cross the castle, you find yourself on a place with a horse carousel – where it was quite difficult to climb the horses –, as well as the two dark rides Pinocchio and Snow White. The second one reminds of a very trippy ghost train, while the journey of Pinocchio was wonderfully staged and belongs to one of the best dark rides of the continent.

Nearby are the Dumbo carousel and the teacups. Two lanes which can show an incredibly long queue quite fast. An influence on the rotation of the teacups is unfortunately hardly possible, but the ride remains a wonderful attraction to avoid a very heavy downpour.

The labyrinth next door shares the same theme as the tea cups. Like Alice in Wonderland, you pass through this somewhat bizarre labyrinth, whose exit is unfortunately quite easy to find.

Peter Pan’s Flight

You can also find the most popular attraction of the park in this area. It is Peter Pan’s Flight, a dark ride with too few scenes and a very bizarre ride system. If you are planning a ride, you should get a Fastpass-Ticket, as this is the weakest ride in the whole park and the capacity is simply too low.

It’s a small World

A little off the beaten track, but always present, lies the wonderful dark ride It’s a small World. Remarkable and somehow strange is the number of boats which give this ride an enormous capacity and very short waiting times. The happiest cruise of the planet should therefore not be missed, even if the music is one of the greatest catchy tunes in the world.

Adventureland

Pirates of the Caribbean

If you follow the paths of the Fantasyland, you will find the entrance to another dark ride in Adventureland. Even the queue is a feast for the eyes, which is rarely trumped. Of course we are talking about the Pirates of the Caribbean, a dark ride using the same boats as in It’s a small World, which leads to a fantastically high capacity among other things. The music is a catchy tune that gets you in the mood for binge drinking. The only point of criticism is the way too loud chain at the lift, but this can be overcome during such a great ride.

The area itself is beautiful, but also unfortunately somewhat underpopulated by rides. Therefore we visited the temple of fear. A very beautifully themed queue prepares one for the following experience. In the station of the roller coaster, we get into the wagons in which we take the route.

Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril

During the curves of the Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril you often get to know the shoulder restraints when you are sitting in the front car. The rest of the track is as great it should be: Intense with a touch of airtime in front of every block brake, which is great for blowing mouse ears into the air. From the outside this Indiana Jones ride also looks very attractive and should be ridden in any case, even if it gives some people a different picture of the manufacturer Intamin.

In addition, you can find a long suspension bridge, some caves and Robinson Cruseo’s tree house – a walktrough where you can queue a little longer –, in this area of Disneyland Park.

Frontierland

Big Thunder Mountain

If you follow the circuit of Disneyland Park, you will at some point enter the Wild West with its landmark the Big Thunder Mountain. The size is trivial, but the ride is as loud as a thunder roll. The Big Thunder Mountain offers a station for normal visitors and fast passers. For this reason it can take quite a long time until the next train appears on your side. The ride itself doesn’t offer many daring curves, but a lot of beautiful straights, strange lifts and cool tunnels. Everything is rounded off by the harmonious and always present theme, which makes the ride together with Colorado Adventure of Phantasialand and El Diablo of Port Aventura one of the best mine trains in Europe.

An attraction that goes around the island and over the first and last tunnel of the roller coaster Big Thunder Mountain is the three-storey steamer. It is recommended to look in the direction of the Big Thunder Mountain, as the surrounding area is beautiful but offers little variety.

Phantom Manor

From the steamer you can see an old manor house. It looks deserted, just like the garden you have to pass through to approach this house. In the house itself one is greeted by strange figures who are able to speak languages that no Frenchman or Englishman would describe as grammatically correct. They send you into a room that turns out to be an elevator with nice pictures on the wall. After you have left this part of Phantom Manor behind, you enter a corridor, which you have to walk along in order to take a seat in your doom buggy. The ride is harmonious and offers a continuous storyline. A scary beautiful melody accompanies you to the cemetery, where it is briefly replaced by the Grimm Grinning Ghosts and you finally come to the end of the ride which is clearly one of the best dark rides out there.

Discoveryland

The final theme of Disneyland Park is Discoveryland, which is largely based on the work of the French writer Jules Verne. As a contrast to this, Star Wars is here too – something that really doesn’t fit in here.

Space Mountain

The Space Mountain hall is a visual feast for the eyes. On its second mission you fly to the supernova and back again. The Columbiad cannon shoots the train towards space and a completely mad route is taken. The cars are similar to those of the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, comfortable and well padded. The launch is noticeable, although not particularly intense due to the location. Inside the building some curves and inversions appear where you wouldn’t expect them. The ride characteristics range from very good to well, depending on the time you get on the ride and how loaded the train is at that time. In any case this is an experience not to be missed, especially as this concept coaster is still unique.

Star Tours

One of the older attractions of this area is Star Tours. A beautiful large-capacity simulator where, starting from an intergalactic airport, you can experience a tourist flight through space. Of course with an inexperienced pilot, who brings you into very risky situations. This simulator is just a cult classic.

Honey, I shrunk the Audience

In the cinema next door you can watch the movie Honey, I shrunk the Audience, a very old 3D movie with some predictable effects. A negative aspect is the poor quality of the image, which takes some time to get used to. Even the cinema itself is not the best due to its flooring, as you can quickly fall if you don’t pay attention.

Autopia

Also to be found in this area is the multi-lane car ride Autopia, which can be controlled very poorly from my point of view. Perhaps it was also due to the fact that I had to drive on the right lane and thus had the steering wheel on the right. However, it could also be simply due to the fact that I am used to drive other things. However, it is a ride worth driving.

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

The last major attraction of Disneyland Park is the interactive dark ride Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast by Mack Rides. In this highly recommended attraction you travel to planet Z to put a stop to the evil Zurg and bring back the energy sources (in the form of batteries) and score some points. Thanks to the rather unfavourable capacity due to all the intermediate stops, a fast pass is definitely recommendable here.

In addition to the submarine attraction, which was closed at the time of the visit, and the mostly crowded ride next door, there is also a musical show theatre in this area, which unfortunately did not host any shows due to the low season and instead showed some cartoon classics.

Pictures Disneyland Park

 


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