Best Nine Magic Kingdom – The Ultimate Guide
Okay, we’ve done several Best Nine articles over the past few months. Today’s topic is the toughest, though. Disney park planners believe that you should experience nine attractions during an average visit. What do you do when a park has dozens of sublime attractions, though? Here are the best nine at Magic Kingdom.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
I must acknowledge up front that I struggled mightily with this one. Like the Disneyland piece, I understand when anyone disagrees with half the list. Magic Kingdom and the Happiest Place on Earth embody the best of Disney theme parks, and guests should try to experience as much as humanly possible during a visit. However, I only get nine choices, so…
Before I fell in love with Disney theme parks, I was already a roller coaster fanatic. I can and have bored people to tears with my recitation of Millennium Force facts. So, I’m passionate about thrill rides.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad isn’t really that. It exudes more of a rickety train vibe, as Disney theming carries the day here. Imagineers have believably recreated an abandoned town featuring one (semi-) working form of transportation. It’s one of the most immersive rides on the planet, which is a recurring theme for this list.
Only Disney could take the idea of the haunted house and twist it into a vaudevillian comedy, replete with terrible puns. I’ve ridden Haunted Mansion more than any sane person ever should – my wife’s a superfan – and I’m here to tell you that I notice something new almost every time.
I’m not even exaggerating. The sheer density of this attraction gets somewhat taken for granted by Disney fans. Everyone’s too busy reciting the dialogue to study the intricate details on displays.
Still, over the years, Imagineers have fine-tuned all the sets, constructing masterpieces of theming. The Attic alone features dozens of subtle bits of character development that are waiting to be noticed. I love this ride and could never get tired of it.
It’s a Small World
A critical element of this list is that I suggest nine attractions that you can do in a day. Otherwise, I’d mention all of the most popular rides. However, the reality is that you can’t do everything you want like Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train unless you Rope Drop or pay for a ticketed event or the like.
Compromise comes with the territory. Some of the rides that you pick will need shorter lines. Three of the suggestions here fit into that category…but they’re still phenomenal!
I mean, you have to ride It’s a Small World when you’re at Magic Kingdom. It’s the law. Walt Disney came up with this little boat ride as a celebration of international harmony. That message still resonates today.
Hey, you might not get enough puns on Haunted Mansion! And you can’t take that risk, can you? For this reason, you must take a ride on Jungle Cruise, sailing across several continents in a matter of minutes.
Something I admire about Jungle Cruise is its adaptability. This attraction wasn’t supposed to include any humor. Skippers took it on themselves to crack jokes about the artificial environments. At the time, Disney embraced nature documentaries so much that the idea of Jungle Cruise comedy struck some as heresy.
Even so, park officials adopted this bold style of storytelling and thereby altered the fate of the attraction. A straightforward take on Jungle Cruise’s sets would not have stood the test of time. The hokey, jokey one has charmed so many guests over the years that Emily Blunt and The Rock are starring in a movie about it!
This attraction is another on the “short lines” side of the recommendations. However, I’m an ardent proponent of this movie. It’s like Disney’s Greatest Hits, with some of the most memorable animated scenes ever. Plus, it includes classic Disney music that will have you humming long after you exit the theater.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic entertains me so much that I even do it during ticketed events and Extra Magic Hours. I know on some level that it’s not the best use of my time. Other rides undeniably feature longer lines.
I’m so happy during a PhilharMagic screening that I don’t care, though. It’s the finest in Disney storytelling, a meta-animated movie pieced together from all my favorites. I think it’s a perfect 10 attraction.
Pirates of the Caribbean
From these suggestions, you can tell that I prioritize the classics. Disney theme parks have stood the test of time for an obvious reason. Something great remains that way for many years afterward. Imagineers even stack the deck by plussing aging attractions to keep them vibrant and engaging.
Pirates of the Caribbean has transitioned twice during the 21st century. First, the ride introduced Jack Sparrow and some of the other characters from the film franchise. Later, it discarded some of the dated, sexist elements from the earlier versions.
Each time, the alterations have improved an already iconic attraction. It’s one of the most gripping rides at Magic Kingdom and a must-do each visit.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
If you glance down one spot, you’ll notice that I picked two roller coasters. Space Mountain isn’t one of them. Part of it is because more guests than ever are complaining about the roughness of the attraction. The other explanation involves the quality of Magic Kingdom roller coasters.
How many people can honestly say that Space Mountain is better than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Yes, the 1970s attraction has carved out a spot as an industry icon. Still, it’s had its day in the sun. The later roller coasters are both better.
Over the past five years, I’m not sure that I’ve ridden any thrill ride more than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. And I’ve never once felt disappointment after exiting the ride. In fact, I’ve got a lot of ride photos to prove what a terrific time I have each time. The tilting nature of the ride carts provides that extra bit of oomph that endears it to me.
You want to get wet during a hot Florida day. You need to take an unforgettable picture that you can show off for years to come. You love to sing along to some of the best Disney music ever.
Folks, you’re riding Splash Mountain. And you won’t regret it for a second…unless you get absolutely drenched. Then, you’ll regret it for a few minutes but feel soooo happy that you rode it.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
In recent weeks, this ride has proven me a liar. I’ve championed the PeopleMover for its short wait-times and consistent ride quality. Then, the lines got longer, the escalator started smoking, and a couple of the trams collided. The ride has unquestionably struggled a bit recently.
Still, the PeopleMover delivers the most crucial part of a Magic Kingdom visit: a break. You sit down for 10 minutes during this ride and catch your breath. While you relax, you receive a rare opportunity to examine Tomorrowland in a different light. You’re above ground-level, traveling through parts of attractions that are otherwise hidden to the public.
The PeopleMover will show you parts of Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin while they’re in operation! And it’ll provide something inimitable for fans of Disney history. The original Progress City model is on display early in the ride. It’s the EPCOT model that Walt Disney once proudly displayed as proof of his commitment to a better tomorrow!
The PeopleMover exemplifies the best of Disney. It has one foot planted in the past and one foot firmly pointing toward tomorrow.