Opened in 1971, The Magic Kingdom is huge – divided into sections all encircling Cinderella’s Castle. You need to allow good time to get to the park as you still have a ferry or monorail ride to reach the Kingdom itself after you have parked the car!
The Magic Kingdom is essentially a children’s park – there are no big thrill rides – Space Mountain is probably the most ‘challenging’ – but there are lots of rides, lots of character opportunities, lots of shopping and eating, parades, amazing firework displays. Too much for one blog so I will start with the entrance and main street.
Even as you arrive to go through bag check and the ticket gates you already start to see the attention to detail – topiary and flower beds with mickey logos, theming for the seasons (changed overnight if you happen to be there on an occasion e.g. between Halloween and Christmas). You see the steam train pull into the station above you and walk through the arches to see the Main Street with Cinderella’s Castle at the end of it. This is where you can hire lockers, see guest services (in the City Hall) for free badges such as Happy Birthday, First Visit, Happy Anniversary, arrange priority seating (Disney’s version of dining reservations), or ticket issues/extensions. You will see the barbers – my husband has often had a really great hair cut at the barbers (taking a rest from the hustle and bustle) and delighted my niece with a mickey shaped decoration in his football team colours. There are no rides although you may well see characters as different times of the day, you may come across the main street singers and dancers, you might be able to catch a ride along Main Street on a horse-drawn tram or a fire engine. There are shops full of WDW merchandise and tempting smells of candy, fresh-baked goods, popcorn, hotdogs and ice cream.
There are a couple of restaurants too – Tony’s Town Square Restaurant which is Italian themed based on the Lady and the Tramp story and at the other end of Main Street near the hub in front of the Castle is The Crystal Palace which features an all you can eat buffet with Winnie the Pooh characters. We have eaten at the Crystal Palace once with our godsons then aged 4 and 11 and everyone enjoyed the experience, the food was good and the character time was well organised with visits to each table by each of the characters.
Last thing to say about Main Street is that this is also the key route for the daily parades. It never ceases to amaze me how early visitors start to stake out the key viewing points for the parade – often an hour ahead. One of our favourite places is to actually go up onto the railroad station veranda and view the parade from above, you also have the advantage of having shade above you then too.
My best experience of Main Street USA have been when I have run down it during the Princess Half Marathon – it is still magical when you are running along towards the Castle – even though you have run 5 miles and it is starting to warm up – if something can still make me smile at that point then it is probably worth visiting!