Thursday, January 14, 2010

welcome to the magic kingdom!

I was going to post pictures yesterday, but y'all know I'm technologically challenged, and I can't figure out how to get the pictures from my camera to the computer. I've only had the thing a year...I know, fail.

So instead, I'm gonna talk about the Magic Kingdom.

I mentioned previously that much of my blog from now on will be devoted to Disney, so I'm gonna start off with some fun facts about the original park.

Many of the rides at Disneyland were also incorporated into the Florida project. Walt himself oversaw much of the production, but unfortunately he died before the project was finished, so his brother Roy took over. The park opened on October 1, 1971, but it was officially dedicated on the 25th. In his speech, Roy O. Disney declared, "Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney...and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney's dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring joy and inspiration and new knowledge to all who come to this happy place...a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn - together."

The MK was designed with a hub in the center of the park leading to six lands. Main Street, U.S.A. was designed to look like Walt's hometown, Marceline Missouri. Someone once remarked rather snarkily, "Disney World's Main Street looks nothing like Main Street." Um. That's because it looks like a Main Street from the early 1900s. There's a lot to see in this "land" alone. If you look closely, you'll see that the windows of Main Street say things like "Elias Disney - Contractor." None of these names are random or made up: they're all people in Walt's life or Cast Members who were instrumental to the company. In one nook, a second-story window is painted to look like the outside of a dance studio; if you listen carefully, you will hear tap dancing and singing coming from the direction of the building. All the buildins are built with what's called "forced perspective," a trick of the eye to make them seem taller than they are. There's so much to do on Main Street, U.S.A., from shopping to getting some yummy sweets in the Confectionary, or getting your hair cut in the old-fashioned barber shop.

Walk down Main Street toward Cinderella Castle and you'll see the "Partners" statue of Walt and Mickey. This is a great photo op. (There's a similar statue at the front of Main Street by the Firestation, of Roy O. Disney and Minnie Mouse sitting together on a bench.) Cinderella Castle was also built using forced perspective. It was designed after the castles in Europe and soars at 190 feet tall - just under Florida's building height restriction. Also, it isn't made of stone and mortar, but steel frames, concrete, fiberglass, and plaster. However, some of that gold on the outside is actually real gold. Underneath the arch is a beautiful mural telling Cinderella's story, made of over 500 mosaic tiles.

To the left of the hub is Adventureland, which combines the feel of Africa, Polynesia, Asia, and the Caribbean for a very exotic setting. Attractions include Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management, Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, and Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats (not included with park admission). Watch out for the spitting camels and tiki gods near the Magic Carpets! A wonderful place to get a cool treat on a hot day is Aloha Isle, home to the infamous Dole Whip. You'll also find Sunshine Tree Terrace and El Pirato y el Perico Restaurante, which is open seasonally. You can find adventurous souvenirs at Pirates Bazaar, Agrabah Bazaar, and Island Supply Company.

Past Adventureland is Frontierland, which is a tribute to the Wild West, of course! Here you'll find Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, the Country Bear Jamboree, the Shootin' Arcade, Tom Sawyer Island, and a stop for the Walt Disney World Railroad. There are some great photo ops along the Rivers of America. A good place for snacks is Aunt Polly's Dockside Inn on Tom Sawyer's Island, but unfortunately it's seasonal these days. You'll also find the Golden Oak Outpost and various kiosks. The best eatery in Frontierland is Pecos Bill's Tall Tales Cafe, home of the infamous "bowl of meat!" Yum, I'm hungry now. Pick up Splash Mountain souvenirs at the Briar Patch and old-western items at the Frontier Trading Post.

Frontierland transitions smoothly into Liberty Square, the land dedicated to colonial-era America. You'll see the Liberty Tree in the town square next to the Liberty Bell that was specifically made for WDW. The thirteen lanterns hanging on its branches symbolize the thirteen original colonies. Take a funny picture in the gallows near the river! Liberty Square is home to the Hall of Presidents, Liberty Square Riverboat, and the Haunted Mansion. Some of the best MK eateries are in Liberty Square, like the amazing Liberty Tree Tavern or Colombia Harbour House. There's also a little shop that sells great funnel cake, called Sleepy Hollow, which is open seasonally. Shop at the Yankee Trader, Heritage House, or the year-round Christmas store, Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. Buy a parasol from the little cart, or get your silouette done at the Liberty Square Portrait Gallery.

Walk past Colombia Harbour House into Fantasyland and you'll find yourself in a wonderful medieval dream. Fantasyland is positioned directly behind the Castle, so that you'll find yourself facing Cinderella's Golden Carousel if you choose to walk directly under the Castle's arch. Fantasyland is a small, crowded place with tons to do. Attractions include Ariel's Grotto, Cinderella's Golden Carousel, "it's a small world," Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan's Flight, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Mad Tea Party, Mickey's PhilharMagic, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and the Fairytale Garden that hosts Storytime with Belle. There's a playground for children called Pooh's Playful Spot. See the sword stuck into the concrete slab near the carousel? It's a tribue to Disney's The Sword and the Stone, and daily shows used to occur there where Merlin would come out and choose a child to "pull" out the sword. Merlin died a few years ago and the show was discontinued, but it's still a great photo op. Cinderella's Royal Table is a lovely - and very expensive - meal inside the Castle where you can meet Cinderella herself. Other eateries include Pinocchio Village Haus, which has a window overlooking "it's a small world;" Scuttle's Landing, by Ariel's Grotto; and various snackshops, like Enchanted Grove and Mrs. Pott's Cupboard. Shops include Pooh's Thotful Shop, Tinker Bell's Treasures (where you can wake up Tink and get pixie-dusted!), Sir Mickey's, Fantasy Faire, and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Disney has recently announced plans to rennovate Fantasyland. Here's a quote from

"Walt Disney World recently announced a major expansion of Fantasyland, which will also entail the closing of Mickey's Toontown. The expansion will effectively double the size of Fantasyland by 2013. The first phase of this expansion involves the closing of Toontown, so that new areas can be built. In the first new area, there will be spots featuring Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Belle. Also featured will be Beast's castle, which will include a new restaurant that will be counter service during the day and table service by night. Another part of the first phase of the expansion will be the doubling of Dumbo, and a new interactive, three-ring circus tent that will effectively eliminate queues for this popular attraction. In addition, you'll be able to journey under the sea with Ariel, The Little Mermaid, in her very own attraction (which will also open at Disney's California Adventure). The first phase of the expansion should be concluded in 2011. The second phase of the expansion, which should be finished by 2013, will be the construction of Pixie Hollow, featuring Tinker Bell and her fairy friends.

For more details on this announcement, click HERE."

Gotta love Deb over at All Ears.

Since it was added after the rest of the MK was built, there's no entrance to Toontown off of the hub; you get there through Fantasyland. It was originally called "Mickey's Birthdayland" when it opened in 1988, was renamed to "Mickey's Starland" after Mickey's 60th Birthday celebration ended, and finally the name was permanently changed to "Mickey's Toontown Fair" in 1996. It's a land mostly for the kiddies, but it's definitely worth visiting because you can tour Mickey and Minnie's houses! Attractions include the Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm, Donald's Boat "Miss Daisy," the Judge's Tent where you can meet Mickey!, Mickey and Minnie's Country Houses, the Toontown Hall of Fame Tent, and a stop for the Walt Disney World Railroad. You can grab snacks at the Toontown Farmer's Market or inside the Hall of Fame. Shop at the Hall of Fame or at County Bounty.

Walk past Toontown and you'll soon find yourself in Tomorrowland, which looks sort of like a futuristic setting from an old-school sci-fi movie. Attractions include the Carousel of Progress, Astro Orbiter, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, and Stitch's Great Escape. The Lunching Pad offers delicious smoked turkey legs; Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe offers traditional quick-service options as well seasonal entertainment; and Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies offers great snacks. Get souvenirs that are out of this world (haha, I'm a cheeseball) at Mickey's Star Traders and Merchant of Venus.

Ever notice how you'll never see someone in Toontown garb walking through Fantasyland? Walt Disney didn't want the magic of each land to be spoiled by Cast Members walking through to meow get to their work stations, so the Imagineers developed a different way for the CMs to get around. When arriving at the MK, you have to walk uphill to get into the park because the MK is actually on a second level. Ground level is where the Utilidors are located, which are the passages used by CMs to grab their food, suit up, and travel. All trash from the MK also goes here.

Wishes is the nighttime spectacular fireworks show. Obviously, I love it. Fantasy in the Sky was the previous fireworks show. SpectroMagic is the nighttime parade that travels down Main Street. It's wonderful, but my personal favorite was the Main Street Electrical Parade, which sadly stopped running in 2001. Seasonal after-hours parties are also offered at the MK, including Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Mickey's Pirate and Princess Party was a phenomenon in 2008 and part of 2009, but there's been no word yet if it will be returning.

Well, there you have it! I could blog all day and still barely skim the surface of what the MK holds, and I'm learning more about it every day. Still, I hope if you've stumbled upon my post, that you've enjoyed reading about the most magical place on earth, and maybe even learned something.

Have a magical day!


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