The Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s flagship park. Many of the ride names have become embedded in global consciousness which means that most visitors, whether first timers or regulars, enter the park with a list of must-see attractions. The big draws are both numerous and excellent in quality, which makes a touring plan key to seeing everything on your list. However, no visit to the Magic Kingdom should be so tightly scheduled that there is no time for exploration. Walt Disney was a master storyteller, and the story of the Magic Kingdom is deeply embedded in the small details for which Walt is legendary. Spend some time making your own magical discoveries. If you need a place to start, here is this author’s list of the top ten most overlooked attractions at the Magic Kingdom:
- Crowning Cinderella. A fountain depicting Cinderella can be found just outside the Tinker Bell Treasures shop behind Cinderella’s Castle in Fantasyland. The fountain is pretty to look at, but the true magic happens when you pay proper respect to Cinderella. Keep your head up and watch both Cinderella and the wall mural behind her as you make a deep bow.
- Tinker Bell sighting. Inside the Tinker Bell’s Treasures store, you will see the patterns of light as Tinker Bell flits around. Every few minutes, however, she takes a short break from her flight. Ever wonder where she goes? Take a peek inside the keyhole of the cabinet located beside one of the doors to find out.
- The Sword in the Stone. Just outside Cinderella’s Golden Carousel lies the famous Excalibur sword, firmly encased in the trademark stone. Go ahead and try to pull it out, you will be unsuccessful. However, several times throughout the day Merlin makes an appearance, assisting a child to pull the Sword free. The show is short and quite good, so catch it if you can.
- Telephone on Main Street. Inside the General Store, see if you can locate the old-fashioned telephone located along one wall. Pick it up to listen in on a party line phone conversation. This telephone has been a fixture since the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971 and is still a lot of fun.
- Alternate Viewing Location for Fireworks. Everyone has their own opinion of the best place from which to see Wishes, the nighttime fireworks spectacular. Your favorite may be the Hub, or the Rose Garden, or maybe the train station. Pyrotechnic enthusiasts may enjoy a slightly different location, however. Behind the Castle, near the Carousel, is a grouping of benches. Sit here to find yourself surrounded by fireworks in every direction.
- Penny Arcade Machines in Train Station. The Penny Arcade was a popular attraction on Main Street, which housed a collection of both vintage and modern arcade games. The Penny Arcade was closed permanently during the mid-1990s expansion of the Main Street Athletic Club, but some of the vintage games live on. Visit the top level of the Main Street Train Station to play these old classics.
- Exhibition Hall. Located on Main Street across from City Hall, Exhibition Hall is home a variety of props and memorabilia. Fans of the late Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride will be pleased to discover that a fully accessible ride vehicle is housed here. Or simply sit in the screening room and enjoy classic Mickey Mouse cartoons.
- Virtual Magic Kingdom. VMK is an extremely popular online roleplaying game set in the Magic Kingdom. You can sign up for the online game at VMK headquarters on Main Street. Whether you decide to join the online game or not, be sure to check out the in-park quests. The quests are similar to scavenger hunts and are quite fun with some genuinely thought-provoking segments. If you are a VMK member, you can win in-game prizes by successfully completing the in-park quests.
- PUSH the Talking Trash Can. Located in Tomorrowland, PUSH delights in catching park guests off guard. He can be difficult to find, as he roams Tomorrowland on a seemingly random schedule, but PUSH is worth the search. Step right up to interact with him, or simply find a comfortable corner to watch and laugh as he surprises unsuspecting guests.
- Flag Retreat. Veterans are invited to participate in the Flag Retreat, taking place daily at 5 pm in Town Square. The ceremony is meaningful and enjoyable, and often draws a large crowd. If you are a veteran wishing to participate, check in with Guest Relations (located in City Hall) early in the day.
Walt Disney was a master storyteller, and the Magic Kingdom is packed full of details that help to tell the park’s story. The above list is only a small sampling of the hidden treasures that are to be found throughout the park. A walking tour of the Magic Kingdom will point out some of the hidden secrets, but the true magic happens when your family makes your own special discoveries.
It is highly advised that you plan at least two days at the Magic Kingdom in order to see and appreciate both the big-draw attractions and the smaller diversions. Remember that the park is not a museum, and do not be afraid to read signs, peer through keyholes, pull ropes, and otherwise interact with the environment around you. Be sure to keep your eyes open at newer attractions for small, almost hidden tributes to the attractions that once stood. Your family’s reactions to the discoveries that you make will be priceless, so keep your camera ready.