Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Florida with kids 2: Disney's Magic Kingdom (A review)

We thought we were clever saving the best to last and so waited until our final theme park day out in Florida to go to Disney's Magic Kingdom. 

Sadly the weather had other ideas and so we looked more like drowned rats than Minnie or Mickey Mouses as we entered the park.

But Cinderella's Castle still looked magnificent and we got genuine gasps of delight from the kids when they first spotted it. 

Singin' in the rain
Luckily the morning brightened up pretty quickly and we were free to wander around the park without our packed-at-the-last-minute Irish rain gear. 

The Magic Kingdom park is broken up into Main St USA which is full of shops and restaurants, Adventureland where you can explore the Swiss Family Treehouse or choose from a host of rides (we queued from Pirates of the Caribbean which was a huge disappointment - be sure to steer the kids away from that one), Frontierland - the home of some of the big boy rides including Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain (which lived up to it's name - well worth getting wet for), Liberty Square - a lovely downtime area and home to the gorgeous Riverboat, Tomorrowland - packed full of rides including the terrifying Space Mountain (a rollercoaster in the dark) and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which the boys (6 and 4) adored. Finally of course there's the new Fantasyland that has heaps of kiddie friendly rides including the family favourite It's a Small World and the Giant Teacups. (For more details on the new Fantasyland rides see press release at end).

I think it's probably best to let the pictures do the talking now...
Liberty Square Riverboat

And we haven't even mentioned the parades and shows....

Happy little mouse
We had an awesome time at Magic Kingdom, though in hindsight we perhaps should have done this park in the first few days and left some of the smaller ones for the end. (Although on the plus side we had learned how to use our Fastpass to best effect by then!) This is a big park with a huge amount of choice for big and little kids so by sure to plan your day well. 

We had intended to return for the fireworks that night but I think park exhaustion had caught up on all of us, and after all that, all that was left to do was this:

Disclosure: I was sent 4 day Disney Park Hopper tickets for our family for the purposes of this review. 

Read about top attractions at Disney World for very young children by Jennifer's Little World.

Read Top Places to eat in Orlando by The Ana Mum Diary.

A little more about some of the ride in New Fantasyland (from Disney press release):
·         Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, a major attraction where guests riding in clamshells travel with Ariel and her friends through their exciting adventures above and below the waves – all against a musical backdrop of songs from the film. Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid combines the enduring appeal of a classic Disney indoor attraction with wonderful technological innovations to offer guests a magical journey through beautifully rendered scenes from the film. Adventurers will feel as if they are descending below the ocean’s surface. Once “under the sea,” guests will find themselves immersed in the story of “The Little Mermaid,” sharing Ariel’s adventure through a magical cast of characters and a captivating musical score that will entice everyone to sing along.
·         Across a stone gargoyle bridge from Ariel’s new home, the castle of the Beast stands majestically upon a hill transporting Magic Kingdom diners into the splendor, elegance and fairy tale charm of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” To bring the classic story to life, the Be Our Guest Restaurant features a lavish dining experience in the elegant ballroom, delicate Rose Gallery and mysterious “West Wing” of the castle. Out tall arched windows in the ballroom, there are views to the French countryside where a light “snow” falls. With seating for 550, the magnificent Be Our Guest Restaurant offers French-inspired, quick-service lunch by day and full-service table dining in the evening.
·         Just outside the village is Maurice’s cottage and Enchanted Tales with Belle. The adventure follows a winding stone pathway to Maurice’s workshop, where an enchanted mirror is the doorway to a captivating new kind of storytelling experience: guests will be transported to the Beast’s library to meet Belle and Lumiere. Through props and costumes (courtesy of Madame Wardrobe), guests step right into the story of “Beauty and the Beast” and share in a lively, interactive re-telling of the “tale as old as time.”
·         Shoppers will delight at the merchandise finds at Bonjour! Village Gifts. Or come face-to-mermaid at Ariel’s Grotto where, beneath the seaside cliffs, Ariel visits with her human friends perched atop her seashell pedestal. There’s no missing Belle’s Village, a small collection of buildings anchored by a bronze statue depicting Gaston in a hero’s pose with sidekick LeFou at his feet. At Gaston’s Tavern – a comfy French lodge done in trophies to hunting and other manly pursuits of Gaston – guests will be able to raise a goblet of LeFou’s Brew, a no-sugar-added frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam.
It’s big fun under the Big Top in the Storybook Circus section from the tips of circus tents to the peanut shells embedded in walkways. It can only mean one thing: the circus is in town! From shopping at Big Top Souvenirs to frolicking in the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station water play area, there’s plenty more in store.
·         Twice as big and twice as fun, Dumbo, the Flying Elephant has doubled in size with two Dumbos – one going clockwise, the other counterclockwise. Fantasyland’s iconic attraction features shiny new red and gold colors (inspired by ’50s- and ’60s-era tin toys), beautiful newly-created signature illustrations from Disney animators and a new water feature circling the base of both attractions. The two Dumbos are connected to an air-conditioned “big top” area allowing guests to immerse themselves in circus lore in a series of fun, interactive experiences while awaiting a spin with the famous pachyderm. Each guest gets a circus ticket pager that notifies them when their elephant is waiting. It’s also a FASTPASS attraction for guests electing to go straight to their flight with Dumbo.
·         Aboard The Barnstormer Featuring the Great Goofini, it’s family-style coaster fun as guests dip and soar daredevil-style above the circus grounds. The circus’ stuntman, The Great Goofini, presents one of his most daring stunts – aerial acrobatics that follow a twisting, turning coaster “flight.” Just like a stunt plane – right, Goofy?
·         Set in one of the tents in Storybook Circus, Pete’s Silly Sideshow invites guests to meet some familiar-looking circus hopefuls awaiting their big break. Pete’s Silly Sideshow shines the spotlight on Minnie Magnifique (Minnie Mouse as a circus star), Madame Daisy Fortuna (Daisy Duck as a fortune teller), The Great Goofini (Goofy as a stunt pilot) and The Astounding Donaldo (Donald Duck as a snake charmer). Bring your cameras and autograph books.
·         Trains are so much a part of circus history that it’s fitting to have a train station right in the midst of Storybook Circus. The Fantasyland Train Station pays homage to both the elegant train travel of America’s past — and the passion Walt Disney had for trains. Sharp-eyed guests will notice a Casey Jr. – inspired weather vane and Carolwood Park sign, with “Fair Weather Place” — a nod to “Fair Weather Route,” Walt Disney’s tag line for the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, the steam engine Walt had running through his backyard. The station is serviced by a passenger train encircling the Magic Kingdom, powered by an antique steam engine.
·         Located in the Castle Courtyard in the center of Fantasyland, Princess Fairytale Hall will be the new home for Disney princesses to meet their loyal subjects in the Magic Kingdom. The castle-like entrance will feature walls of stone and stained glass windows opening up into a large gallery — an airy space with a high ceiling — where portraits of the Disney princesses adorn the walls. When it’s time for their audience with a princess, guests will proceed to one of four elegantly finished chambers to meet Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Jasmine. Each chamber accommodates up to two Disney princesses. (2013)
·         The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will take guests on a rollicking, musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine” and through the rolling countryside surrounding the mine. A stone bridge over a creek leads guests to the entrance of the attraction. Just ahead: the rustic cottage of the Dwarfs. The family-style coaster will feature a first-of-its-kind train of ride vehicles mounted in cradle-like pivots that allow the cars to swing back and forth during the ride. The journey will be accompanied by music from the classic Disney film and there’s a cast of animated figures of Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs and a collection of playful forest critters. An interactive queue features activities themed to mining. (2014)

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