Walt Disney World has a well-deserved reputation the world over as a family vacation destination. Cuddly character and child-friendly attractions make the Magic Kingdom an obvious choice for families with small children. For adults without children, however, it may seem that Walt Disney World in general, and the Magic Kingdom in particular, has nothing to offer.
Fortunately, this is simply not the case. Though it is true that the Magic Kingdom ’s thrill rides are decidedly of the family-friendly variety, there is more than enough variety to keep even the most dedicated thrill enthusiast entertained.
Main Street, USA
This park entrance area recreates an early 20 th century town square. This is primarily a shopping and dining area, and is an excellent place to pick up merchandise of every variety. If you like video games, be sure to check out the Virtual Magic Kingdom. This online roleplaying game crosses over into the park, with the ability to perform in-park quests for both Fast Passes and special items within the game. You can register for the game and pick up copies of the in-park quests at the Main Street Cinema.
This area is themed to exotic and faraway lands. Be sure to check out the newly redesigned Pirates of the Caribbean .
Always a classic favorite, Pirates has been recently updated to include Barbossa, Davy Jones, and even Captain Jack Sparrow himself. The redo, though initially feared by purist Disney fans, has brought the classic attraction up to date while maintaining the original look and feel. This is definitely a must-do attraction.
The Jungle Cruise is legendary for its sheer cheesy fun. The obviously animatronic animals and silly sets provide a perfect backdrop for the skipper’s never-ending reel of bad jokes. The skipper can really make or break the ride, and a truly gifted skipper can have you rolling on the floor. The ride is significantly better at night, but fun no matter what.
The other attractions in Adventureland are fun, and worthwhile if you have time, but none fall onto a must-do list for thrill seekers.
Frontierland is based on the Old West. This land, home to two mountains and an island, is a lot of fun for adventure-seekers.
Splash Mountain is a surprisingly lengthy log flume ride based on Song of the South. The drop at the end is excellent, and yes, you will get wet. Depending on where you sit, you may get soaked.
*Tip* Sit in the front of a log to increase your chances of getting really wet. This seat also provides the best on-ride photo.
After Splash, dry off with a spin on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad . This runaway mine train coaster is tame by coaster standards, but rough enough and exciting enough to be worthwhile.
*Tip* Sit in the back row for maximum G-forces. Also, if you share a seat with someone bigger than yourself, even if only by a couple of inches, you can catch some nice air time on the hills.
Tom Sawyer’s Island is a must-do. Injun Joe’s Cave and the Magnetic Mystery Mine are surprisingly large and well done caves in which it is possible to get lost, at least briefly. There are a lot of things to climb on and explore, including a fort. It is a large island with a lot to do, so leave plenty of time.
*Tip* Check out the Paint Brush Game. Hidden on the island are five paint brushes. Presenting all five to a cast member will get you a
Fast Pass to either Thunder Mountain or Splash Mountain.
Do not miss the Haunted Mansion. This classic attraction, while not exactly “scary,” is a ton of fun. Look out for the multiple Hidden Mickeys in here, some are quite difficult to spot.
*Tip* The Haunted Mansion is MUCH better at night. For the true thrill seeker, arrange with the Cast Members to be seated in the very last car of the night.
The dark rides, such as Snow White and Peter Pan, are great for nostalgia, and provide the opportunity to be a kid again. Mickey’s PhilharMagic is a surprisingly well-done 4-D trip into classic Disney films. That one is worth it simply for the technology.
However, the true thrill ride in Fantasyland is the Mad Tea Party . The teacups’ spin can be individually controlled by the rider, and the platform turns as well. Ride this one with a friend if possible, so that you can take turns spinning the cup. Or work together for a truly dizzying experience. It is possible to make the cup spin fast enough that it rocks from side to side.
*Tip* At the fastest point in your spin, lean all the way back in your car, tilting your head over the edge. Do no try this if you suffer from motion sickness, but thrill seekers with strong stomachs will love it.
Mickey’s Toontown Fair
This street fair area is mostly a character meeting area for children. However, if you have some extra time, check out Goofy’s Barnstormer . This kiddie coaster is extremely short, but surprisingly good. Thrill-seekers won’t want to spend a long time in line for this, but if it is not too crowded, be sure to try it.
“The future that never was and always will be” is the theme here. Tomorrowland’s best-known attraction is, perhaps, Space Mountain.
An indoor dark roller coaster, Space Mountain was groundbreaking when it opened. Tame by today’s standards, it is still a classic.
Although the Magic Kingdom is beloved by children and families the world over, it should not be discounted by those looking for more thrills and chills. What the rides lack in G-forces and huge drops, they more than make up for in total immersion. Remember that Walt Disney was a storyteller, and every detail is carefully crafted to bring the story to life. You will not see parking lots or strip malls even from the heights of Splash Mountain. Suspend disbelief and allow yourself to become part of the story, and you may just find that the Magic Kingdom becomes one of your favorite parks.