What better way to spend my first day in America than at the Magic Kingdom? Despite arriving in Orlando at about midnight, we were all wide awake at 7am and raring to go. Unfortunately, my excitement was thwarted by some much needed hire car admin (ours tried to break down on the drive from Miami, so we had to go into the Orlando branch and swap the car) so we didn’t actually make it into the park until after lunch.
We got the ferry over the lake, and honestly, that first glimpse of the castle across the water made the wait worthwhile. I am such a big kid, and I was just giddy with excitement. Unfortunately we ended up with a day with some major Florida rainstorms, but the pouring rain and grey skies didn’t stop Main Street looking anymore magical. Main Street is so pretty, in its candy colours and the castle in the distance.
It took me approximately four seconds of being on Main Street to decide I needed some ears to wear. It took me forever to choose, but I eventually settled on the classic pink sequin Minnie ears (styled with a Disney poncho most of the day…)
There’s something quite surreal about seeing the castle up close. Sadly, the rain meant the parades and shows on front of the castle were cancelled, but the castle itself is beautiful, whatever the weather. I recommend walking through underneath when the pathway is open, as there are some beautiful mosaics telling Cinderella’s story in the walkway underneath her castle.
Despite only managing a half day, with the help of our fast passes, we were actually able to get on most of the rides.
My favourite is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland. I love this kind of rollercoaster. No big drops, but plenty of high speed, sharp twists and turns and plenty of thrills. We also loved Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers Spin which is a shooting gallery game, where you ride round firing a laser at Zurg and his minions. It’s a lot of fun, even if I was truly terrible at actually hitting anything.
The real highlight of the whole day for me though was the night show, Happily Ever After. This show was launched in May of this year, so is still quite new.
Combining fireworks, projections onto the castle itself and music, the show asks the guests to unlock the magic within. New themes and classic songs blast out across Fantasyland, as truly amazing projections showing characters and scenes from Disney’s best loved movies flicker across the castle. The fireworks are the usual Disney high standard, leaving you standing, gazing, with your mouth hanging open attractively. After a journey through wishes, adventure, friendship, love, adversity and finally triumph. Finally, Tinker Bell flies to the top of the castle and a voice asks the crowd to ‘unlock the magic within and make their dreams come true, just as the characters did’.
The new show is absolutely beautiful and quite moving. I definitely suggest you stick around to watch it!
You can see my vlog of the day in the Magic Kingdom here:
top tips for the magic kingdom
- If you’re heading to watch Happily Ever After, make sure you claim a space early. The show starts at 9pm, but spaces start filling up from 8pm, and casts members close off some of the walkways as the show starts, so you might find yourself stuck trying to watch through a tree if you don’t get there early.
- Take time to soak it in. The Magic Kingdom is so pretty and so detailed, so don’t just rush from ride to ride. Look around you and enjoy the magic.
- If the queue is short for the Haunted Mansion, don’t rush through. The queue is lined with all sorts of things, including tombstones with funny epitaphs, a haunted piano and a magic bookcase. Take your time to play with it all and build up the spooky atmosphere.
- Pop by Gaston’s Tavern for some tasty treats, and see if the man himself is around. His queue was huge every time we saw him, but he’s so loud, you can just stand nearby and enjoy listening to him berate his poor fans, and watch him flex, flirt and challenge passersby to press-up contests.
- If you’re hoping to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, try and book your FastPass well in advance. The wait times never dropped below 90 minutes when we there, and we couldn’t book a pass, even when looking from home before we flew out.
- Do NOT leave after Happily Ever After. If you hold onto your viewing position, as the park closes, you’ll see something often missed but very beautiful. The castle begins to twinkle with another light display and a recording will play, which explains Walt’s vision for what he wanted the Magic Kingdom to be. When You Miss Upon a Star plays, and it is truly gorgeous. The shops on Main Street stay open for an hour after park closing too, so you can pick up a drink or a snack for the ride home, or do some last minute shopping.