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Reviewed July 23, 2013

Loved Disney and they must be doing something right because despite being on three rides that broke down-we had a great time!!!

Thank Vikky1997
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

After reading reviews on here I thought queues would be a nightmare, especially in July. No problems though. We spent 2 magical days here and loved every minute of it from our first glimpse of the castle till it was time to leave. Did all the big rides a couple of times. Such a clean park, we even saw someone cleaning a drain grille. Everything seemed immaculate and the parades were lovely to watch.

Thank Almross
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

Plan before you go.First thing to do is riding the train, to have an idea of how big the Park is. If you have youths 12/15 years must ride the Tomorrowland freeway

Thank MJoao65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

Third visit, first time to see the electric parade and fireworks. Left very late, fireworks started at 10 PM, but well worth the wait.

Thank TheoB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2013

I have reviewed MK before, but when I looked back on it, it was not all that helpful. As a mom, I realize how important some reviews can be, especially when it comes to taking a vacation with your earned money. This review is very long, but I hope you find it helpful.
A little background on my family- We are locals. We are Disney annual pass holders. We are three people with needs, desires, and expectations when it comes to visiting attractions.
My husband- Disney fan level- 3 out of 5. "Likes it mainly because daughter likes it."
My daughter- 3 &1/2. First visit to MK was at 6 months, has been going ever since, and loves it each time. Favorites- Ariel, Star Wars, and thrills. When I asked her which park is her favorite she said "Disney Worrrld." Which translates in her mind to Magic Kingdom.
Me- Disney fan! One of "those" people. I was a Disney bride, and am the reason my husband had a first visit :-). I am also a mom, so I do not care how much mouse is packed into a place, if my kid is not treated well, I make note of it. I have been to MK over 250 times. Yes, you read that correctly.

I will break this review in categories to make it more organized. Please excuse any errors as I am dyslexic and writing this while managing a house :-).

I will also make special notes for different travelers. If you a OOT, that means Out of Towner. If you see FLL, that means Florida Local.

Getting to the Magic Kingdom- Plan to spend 2-3 hours getting to the MK if you are staying on property or are staying "in the area". How did I come to this time frame?
You will need to take one of the following:
A bus if on property- Buses run every 20 minutes, or so they say. It's more like every 35 minutes. If your bus is making stops, add an additional 20 minutes.
A shuttle- If you are staying around the Disney area, most hotels have shuttle systems. These can run every 35-40 minutes, every hour, or as needed. Plan accordingly. Traffic can be a nightmare, as many are from out of town and are frequently changing lanes and holding up ten cars to change lanes at a light.
Rental Car or Your own car!- If you are staying on or around property and have a rental car OR you drove here from out of town or locally, congratulations, that is the best decision you have made on this trip.I have stayed on property numerous times. Excuse my language, but the bus system absolutely sucks. If you have strollers, it sucks even more.
For your travel to MK (excluding drive time from wherever your point of origin is)you can expect to spend about 30-40 minutes on property driving to MK.
***TIP ALERT**- all roads lead to Magic Kingdom. Unless they lead to major highways, but even those tend to have exits for MK. PLEASE do not try to change lanes, stop in a lane, or otherwise try to exit unsafely. If you have ALREADY passed an exit, DO not try to reverse in the median. The ticket for that today is $190. It can also mean the equally lost traveler behind you hitting you. It is then that you will realize that you should have purchased the additional rental coverage. In other words, if you missed an exit, take the next one, it will loop you around somehow.

Assuming you made it through Disney Property, you will see the grand ole entrance to the parking lot. Big sparkling gold letters will read "Magic Kingdom" and your kids will cheer, and you will smile (until you see how much it costs to park). A friendly cast member will take your money or if you are staying on property, wave you through. If you are taking a bus or shuttle in, you will see this entrance and get the same experience, don't worry! Minus the parking cost!

You will then be guided by lightsaber wielding men and women in friendly yellow uniforms throughout the parking lot.

*****TIP- If you booked through AAA and are using a rental car or your own car, you get what is called "AAA diamond lot access" (subject to block out dates). You just show your AAA swag to the front parking gate attendant, and they will direct you to a lightsaber parking jedi and they will guide you to another jedi who will show you your awesome parking space. (hint, its right behind handicap!) This makes unloading with a stroller a million billion times easier AND you do not need to take that lovely tram and fold up said stroller!

OK, so you have parked. You have unloaded your car. You cannot bring in- firearms, knives, pepper spray, or other weaponry. You may not bring in glass, or alcohol so leave the booze and firearms in the minivan. (That was a joke, leave the booze in the mini fridge duh!)
You will now be faced with two options. Tram or Pedestrian. If you are parked in Zurg, Aladdin, Woody or Jafar, take the tram. If you are in any of the other lots, you can probably walk. If you have little ones under 5, you will want to stroller them in. If you are renting a stroller, spare their knee caps and take the tram.

If you have arrived by bus or shuttle, You will be unloading beyond the parking lot, on the far right of the entrance. Just follow the signs.

For all visitors, you will arrive at the Ticket and Transportation Center.
If you are buying tickets, this is the place to do it.
***TIP**** If you can, use the ticket vending machine!

This is a great place to use the bathroom. There is a small shop for last minute autograph books, snacks, and water.

You will now be faced with two options. Monorail or Ferry??

Experienced Mom recommendation: Ferry.
Kid's first time at Disney?: MONORAIL.

If you can, Take the monorail in, and the ferry out.

They take about the same time, but offer different experiences.
The Monorail is a Disney favorite. Different colored rail cars transport you through over the property rather quickly, but the lines to get on can be crowded, and seating is limited, as is stroller space!

The Ferry is my preference. The views are relaxing, a nice break from the hustle of getting there. Your kids will go a little crazy when they first see the spires of Cinderella Castle. You might too. After hundreds of visits, I still get chills when my daughter lights up. The ferry is also open air, so you get some fresh breezes off of the lake, and some sunshine without the sweat.
At night you can sometimes catch the water pageant, in which vintage light up "floats" take to the lake around the Bay Lake resorts for a show.

If you have made it through the review this far, we have finally "made it" to the park itself.

You will present your tickets at the ticket entrance, and you will take your first step into Magic Kingdom.

If you get here at park opening, there is a small show :)

****TIP* If you arrive early and are there at the park opening and want a cheap and special experience, get to the Ye Old Christmas shop in Liberty Square. If your child is the first in, he or she may be chosen to put the ornament on the tree in the shop. It's a cute memory ;-).

I will break down the rest of the review into sections based on the "lands" of MK.

Mainstreet- This is not so much a "land" but more so the "opening act". Stroller rentals are just under the train station as you walk in. If you are at the flag pole, you have gone too far.
**TIP** in the late afternoon, the flag is taken down in a flag ceremony. This is very touching, and military families are chosen sometimes to do the honors.

If you are just walking in, note that guest services is in the big building to the left of the Fire station. to the far right, is Exposition Hall, this is where Mickey hangs out! If you continue on down you will see the Bakery, and Emporium, which is the largest giftshop at MK. It has everything!
Best thing to do on Mainstreet- Get that photo. The castle will be centered in the distance and happy colorful balloons will usually make it into the photo too.
Hidden Gem on Mainstreet- The barbershop. Your little one, or bigger one can get a haircut here. For around 20 bucks they will give your kid the first haircut package which includes first cut mouse ears and a certificate. This is a fun memory for little ones! Make reservations as the line wraps out the door!

Where Mainstreet ends is where your choices begin. Straight will take you literally through the castle. Right is Tomorrowland, and Left is Adventureland.

Most people go right. Unless you are me :-). Go left, and be different!

ADVENTURELAND: Pirates, a Jungle, and Aladdin! This is also the land where Pirate's League is located.
Best Attraction: Pirates of the Caribbean
You can probably skip: Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse
Hidden Gem: Those Tiki totems have a wet surprise, as does the Camel near Aladdin.
Best place to grab food: If you have heard the rumor of the Cult favorite the Dole Whip, you will find it adjacent to the Treehouse!
Notes: The Jungle Cruise is just down a few stairs or ramp, don't miss this classic!
Parental frustrations?- Stroller parking for pirates gets a little nutty.

FRONTIERLAND: The West! 2 out of 3 mountains located here :)
Best Attraction: Splash Mountain. Though Thunder Mountain pulls a close second ;).
Can probably skip: Country Bear Jamboree. I'm yet to see an amused kid here.
Hidden Gem: If you need a break from the park pace, take a small raft over to Tom Sawyer Island. It's a wooded island full of small parks and fun finds for kids. It is well shaded and so much fun, we do it every visit! Little ones and big ones alike will have fun here!
Food place: Peco's Bills. Great selection, awesome topping bar.
Parental frustration?: If you come at the rush hour for dinner or lunch at Pecos, they will seat you, and it is annoying when they prevent you from taking kids to sit down while your spouse orders the food. Grrrrr!

LIBERTY SQUARE: America!
Must Do: Haunted Mansion
Can probably skip?: The ferry ride.
Best place to eat: Harbor House: My number one pick for quick service food! Seafood and some land lubber choices here, and an awesome atmosphere!
Parental frustration: This is a "flow" zone, where people flow in from Fantasyland and Frontierland. Limited elbow room, put the little one in the stroller!
**TIP** if you have a child who skipped school to visit Mickey, and they have to write about their trip, win some brownie points by taking them to the Hall of Presidents, it is actually entertaining and educational, and your child can write about it back at the hotel or at home.
Shopping moment: There is a Christmas store here! Stop in for the smell of the holidays and Christmas galore, as well as seasonal items for the other holidays like Halloween.

FANTASYLAND NEW AND IMPROVED: What it's all about ;)
Fantasyland has grown in size. There is so much to see.
Must Do: Be Our Guest restaurant
Must ride: Philharmagic
can probably skip: Great Goofini
This was so hard to pick. The new rides are so fun, but Philharmagic is a great show. If your kids have never been, they will love love love this show. My daughter really enjoys it, and has since she was a few months old. She had everyone smiling when she was about 9 months old and giggled that baby laugh the entire time!
Best place to eat: Be our Guest! First, watch Beauty and the Beast before going. Then, make a reservation ASAP. Eat here. It's truly incredible.
Parental frustration: This is the most crowded land in the park. If you arrive at opening, hit this land first for the newer rides.
Photo op? The carrousel. I am biased to this ride because my hubby proposed on it, and we later took our daughter's photo on the same horse we got engaged on, BUT it really is special. Kids light up on this classic ride, and for the three minutes on the ride, they get to just be little kids.

TOMORROWLAND

Must Do: Space Mountain
Can skip: Stitch's great escape
Best place to eat: Lunching Pad for quick service and smaller lines!
Parental frustration: Lines get long here, and the crowds can get large.Stroller parking is really only in one area, and cast members have to move strollers to make room for others, so where you leave your stroller is usually not where it will be when you get off of an attraction.

Special Experiences at MK

Wishes Fireworks: This is a must see! Disney does it right every time!

Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween Party: This is SO MUCH FUN. If you are here in the Fall bring costumes to use for this party. If you have been to Magic Kingdom before, you could also use this experience as your park time at MK.

You can skip the Christmas party. It's a good time, and very festive, but you can save money and go to the Osbourne Lights and have all included park admission fun!

What is the #1 must do attraction?
There really isn't one specific attraction that trumps the others. To you there might be, but to another it's a different attraction.

Know before you go!

Seasonal clothing:
Jan-April: We had a chill hit Orlando this past winter, leaving us in the mid to upper 60's through April. January it dropped to the 40's. My suggestion is to check the weather the week before you go. Even if it is a warm afternoon, the evenings can still get a little chilly. Sweatshirts and jackets from home are a must, they can get upwards of $60-80 dollars in the park.

May-August: Prepare for some heat :). I got married outside at Disney in early May. My husband was soaked in sweat (not from the nerves either) by the time I made it down the aisle. May is not horrible, but if you are from a colder climate it will feel a little too hot. The sun is always relentless, regardless of cloud coverage. Bring light colored clothing, a rain coat and a sweatshirt for the evenings.

Sept- Dec. Mild to Chilly. Sept- Oct it's actually very warm here. November gets spurts of cold weather, and December is very unpredictable. We have had low 30's in Dec, and high 80's. Just check before you go!

Shoes:
Kids- Sneakers and tennis shoes. Crocs are ok for the water parks, but they get mighty uncomfortable if worn all day. They can rub and cause blisters. Flip flops are a Floridians friends but not so much for travelers. This Florida favorite footwear is best kept on the beach or for quick outings.

Sunscreen: All times of the year. Bring it, wear it, embrace it. it is your friend.

Cameras: Extra batteries and battery packs. Most of the cameras today have pricey batteries. You have not seen pricey until you have had to purchase a battery from the MK. You are looking at a 50% increase.

Souvenirs- I am not sure if I should be writing this part. To each their own. I will recommend this. Get something that will hold up. For little kids a stuffed animal is usually a great tangible memory, and cuddle buddy for the hotel. The same can be said for a blanket. For older kids, have them get something that fits a need and acts as a souvenir. Ipod cases are really popular as are the handbags.
PHOTOS- Do not skimp on photos. Bring lots of memory cards because you will fill them. Try to take unconventional photos. Rather than that priceless kid next to castle (still take this one) aim for a shot of their face on the cars in Tomorrowland, or chowing down on a Mickey bar while holding one of those wallet aching balloons. Take a lot. Your kids are only say 3 &1/2 at this very moment. They will never get younger. They will wake up a day older each and every day.

My favorite souvenir: Christmas ornaments. Disney has so many, and can personalize them. I have one from my engagement, one from my wedding, one from my honeymoon, and one from my daughter's first Christmas. Ornaments are a great way to remember the magic every time you pull out the Christmas decor box.

You can bring in drinks and food, no glass or alcohol. Do this! Water is 2.50 a bottle and it will go fast. I've easily spent $40-50 when I've forgotten my water! There are Hess stations all around Disney, so stock up. If you can't bring a refillable water bottle. Most food stands will give you free ice water if you simply ask!

Expectations: If you don't love Disney, you might not love this place. If your kids love Disney, they will love this place. My daughter has gone so many times, and loves it each time. Let them spend an hour in the splash area near Dumbo. You might miss a fastpass time, but what is this vacation really about? Parents do not go to Disney with kids for themselves, we both know who it's for. Relax. Smile. Do not let every little thing get to you. Your little one might have a tantrum. You might have a tantrum...Yes, you will spend A LOT of money on this trip. Keep an eye on your kids faces throughout the day. Magic lives. You will look at the photo of your little princess next to Cinderella, and before you know it, that photo will hang next to her senior picture. Be nice to the Cast members. They know how much you paid to be there. They do not get paid much to be there. They are human beings too with their own struggles. Make one of them laugh, spread the "magic" that you want from them. It could change their day.

11  Thank Kylee L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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