Today was the big day (didn't I just say that?) – Seanie and I were going to visit the Magic Kingdom, which was essentially Disneyland 2.0. In many ways, it would be familiar, since we’d both been to California’s Disneyland several times. But it was also going to be very different, since some rides aren’t in the park at home while others have been tweaked for the East Coast audience.
When we got to the park early in the morning, it was pretty empty. That was awesome – especially after the crazy New Year’s crowds. Although the park filled up later in the day, it was never as frightfully crammed as it would have been earlier in the trip. We had to keep our eyes open for large tour groups, though – whenever we saw someone holding up a flag or an umbrella, we knew to skip whatever ride they were boarding because their group would take over.
Main Street looked more or less the same – turn of the century Americana – but Seanie and I were quite surprised to find a barber shop. It’s a pity Seanie’s hair is currently short, because it would have been fun to get a haircut in the Magic Kingdom!
Our first stop was Adventureland and the Jungle Cruise. It’s one of my favorite rides back home, but the Florida version is even better! Our guide was hilarious! Sure, the jokes were corny, but his delivery was spot-on. The cruise here is also longer, with an extra indoor section as the skipper takes the boat through a crumbling old temple. It was such a perfect way to start our day in the Magic Kingdom.
I was surprised to see an Aladdin-themed ride in Adventureland, since there isn’t one in California. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is basically the spinning Dumbo ride, but instead of the large-eared elephant one rides in/on a magic carpet. At the entrance was a spitting camel – although it took Sean and I a minute or three to figure out what was going on. I thought I was just going crazy. “I swear I just felt a raindrop on my cheek. Where is this water coming from?”
Yo ho, yo ho!
The Pirates of the Caribbean queue seemed really, really long because it’s all indoors – but the ride itself is shorter than the one in Disneyland! That was a surprise. Yet, although I’m certain it is shorter I can’t say what exactly was missing – maybe fewer skeletons at the beginning? There’s no restaurant at the beginning, but I don’t think that is the only thing missing. Whoever chopped it down did a good job, because I can’t think of any changes even though I’m certain they occurred.
At this point, we wandered over to Liberty Square to see The Hall of Presidents, one of the rides unique to Florida. It’s supposed to be a recreation of colonial America – I guess that Floridians don’t find New Orleans as exotic as we Californians do. The Hall of Presidents is pretty cool, though! There was a lobby area where we waited ‘til the next showing, and it had different random relics from some of the presidents. For example, the cowboy boots George W. Bush wore during his inauguration were there – man, talk about tacky-looking footwear. The filmed bits of the show tended to drag a bit, but the animatronic figures looked pretty cool. It’s amazing to me that they’ve got forty-three figures in a single scene. Even if most of them are barely moving, that’s a ton of moving parts for Imagineers to keep in good shape. Also, wow – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton look so young in their animatronic form. I guess if you make the figure at the beginning of the Presidency, before the office takes its toll, that youth is forever preserved.
The Haunted Mansion in the distance…can you believe this is the only picture of it that I took? What’s wrong with me?
Since it’s my favorite ride, we had to go on the Haunted Mansion. The Florida building looks so different! I guess that, again, a Southern-style plantation wouldn’t be nearly as exotic to Floridian guests, so they opted to create a New England-style brick mansion. It looks grand and imposing, like a castle. It creates a very different atmosphere for the ride, but I like it. I was disappointed to learn that the Magic Kingdom doesn’t have Haunted Mansion Holiday, so there would be no Nightmare Before Christmas themed ride for me! I guess that’s just as well, though – this way, I’ll be able to experience the Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion the way it is meant to be seen.
The Haunted Mansion has several extra rooms. In front, there’s a tombstone for Madame Leota. While I was looking at it, she opened her eyes and looked at me! It almost made me jump. The foyer had a big painting in it, so there was something to look at while waiting for the stretching rooms. There’s no portrait hall in the queue – it is located after you get on the Doom Buggies. That’s too bad, since you can’t study the paintings the way you can in the Disneyland version. There’s an Escher-like endless staircase and a library, both of which I found really cool. I wish we had them back home, but I guess there isn’t any room for them. As we passed the pet cemetery after exiting the ride, I spotted a tiny statue in the corner. It was Mr. Toad from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride - a former attraction that was replaced a few years back with a Winnie-the-Pooh ride. (Luckily, we still have the Mr. Toad ride back in Disneyland.)
Going through Frontierland, we ran into Woody. Yee-haw!
We had lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern. It was…OK, I guess. I had a crabcake dish that I really didn’t care for, but I forced most of it down because the food at Disney World is so freakin’ expensive. The truly gross part of the restaurant was the bathrooms. You could smell them from ten feet away, and there was a long line because there was only one toilet in each bathroom to serve the entire restaurant.
We spent the afternoon in Fantasyland. Although we usually don’t do character pictures, we were walking along and I spotted Peter Pan with a very short line. Seanie loves the story of Peter Pan, and he’s collected several of the sequels and prequel series over the years. “Seanie,” I exclaimed, “You have to take a picture with him!” So he did.
We also went on several of the classic Fantasyland rides. Snow White’s Not-So-Scary Adventures, true to its name, didn’t seen nearly frightening enough. I mean, I remember being good and properly scared when I was a kid by the Disneyland version – this one just seemed too cheesy. But hey, it’s for kids, so it’s not like I expected it to be amazing or anything.
Peter Pan’s Flight didn’t seem any different. It’s a quiet, easy-going ride.
It’s a Small World is all indoors, which was weird. What I mean is that the big fancy façade with the geometric shapes and smiling clock face are all under a roof instead of outside. It’s so weird. Other than that, though, the ride seems identical to the Disneyland one – lots of creepy dolls dancing and singing the most repetitive song in the world to you.
It was a little strange to walk through a Tomorrowland that didn’t have the Matterhorn anchoring it. I’m getting tired, though, so I’ll talk about the rides in that section of the park on another day.
For now, let us end with a picture of Cinderella’s Castle at night.