Disney World with a Toddler: Part 2 – The Magic Kingdom (There’s no place like home…)

The Magic Kingdom once again lived up to its name and reputation. We had an absolutely magical time both of the days we spent there. This park is definitely classic Disney, and has the most famous rides and attractions. We spent most of our time in Fantasyland, which was an absolute dream come true for me and Baby Girl since most of the rides and attractions were geared just for us! I’m sure you’ve heard Fantasyland has recently undergone a huge expansion. You could definitely spend your whole time there and have a very happy little toddler (and mama!).
Rides/Attractions
Fantasyland

The redesigned Fantasyland is fantastic, with buildings themed after Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and even Rapunzel! Just walking through it gave me that feeling of being transported into the world of Disney. 🙂
1. Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Probably C’s favorite ride. She cried when it was over. We did it twice. 🙂
2. Under the Sea (Journey of the Little Mermaid)
This ride is brand-new, so it was the first time any of us had ridden it. It was done in the classic “movie ride style” (like Peter Pan or Snow White) and had lots of great, recognizable moments from the movie. Very well done. We rode it twice, walked on both times
3. Peter Pan’s Flight
This wait was already at fifteen minutes an hour after the park opened, so we got fast passes for it (I know, we were so spoiled) and walked on. It’s my favorite ride because of my childhood memories of it, but C was only mildly impressed 🙂
4. It’s a Small World After All

This was right up there with Baby Girl’s most favorite experiences. Despite its bad rap I think it’s a very cute ride, with tons of things to see. I noticed different things both times we rode it. Yes, the song does get annoying though…
5. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
This ride is very cute, though apparently can be scary for some kiddos. C enjoyed it, though she didn’t really recognize the characters since we hadn’t met them yet. After our character experiences they became some of her favorites.
6. Mickey’s Philharmagic
This is basically a 3D movie. It’s really neat, since you get to visit several classic Disney movies with Donald Duck. There are even extra effects, like water sprinkling on you during the enchanted mop scene from Fantasia, and wind blowing on your face during Aladdin’s magic carpet ride. Baby Girl loved it, even though she wouldn’t keep the 3D glasses on. I guess she could still tell what was going on. Afterwards she seemed obsessed with Donald, and kept pointing to him (instead of Mickey) as we walked through the gift shop.
7. Prince Charming’s Carrousel

Another classic ride that I remember from my childhood. C wasn’t sure at first about being up on that big horse by herself (I stood next to her and held on to her waist) but she ended up loving it.

Adventureland
We didn’t spend a whole lot of time here. Sadly the Jungle Cruise was closed, and there wasn’t really the much else to do. The ambiance is kind of fun, similar to Animal Kingdom.
1. Pirates of the Carribean
I find it amusing that the blockbuster movies were based on this ride, which was then re-done to reflect parts of the movie. It was fun to see Jack Sparrow popping up throughout the ride.
2. The Enchanted Tiki Room
This ride is old and cheesy, but C enjoyed the birds and it was a nice, cool place for us to rest our feet

Tomorrowland
1. Monster’s Inc. Laughfloor
This was fun, especially if you’re a Pixar fan. It was an interactive movie, where the monsters on screen talked to the audience. I was even featured on the big screen! They picked me to tell where  I was from, then a monster gave a list of “facts” about Arkansas. When I said they were wrong he told me the rope around my head was too tight (I had my hair in a braid) .Very cute, and C enjoyed seeing Mama up on the screen (so did Chris :))
2. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
This was one of our longer waits, only because it had some technical difficulties while we were in line. It was fun, but since I’m not very good at shooting targets with a laser I didn’t really try to play the game, just enjoyed looking at the fantastic scenes. It was ok, but definitely geared more toward boys/kids who enjoy video games.
3. The Peoplemover

This was a quiet, relaxing ride. We rode it at dusk, so we got some great views of the sunset and Cinderella’s castle (you ride around Tomorrowland on an elevated track)
4. Space Mountain

For this ride we took advantage of Child Swap (see the bottom of the post for an explanation). It would have been great, except they started having technical problems while Chris was in line (I had already ridden and was waiting with Charlotte). It took him about 40 minutes to ride, definitely our longest wait. Thankfully C and I had found a little, empty sunken garden area that backed up to the train tracks. There was a bench running all around it with steps leading out, so Baby Girl was mostly contained and could run around to her heart’s content while I relaxed on a bench, posting pictures to Facebook (did you know you can get free wi-fi now practically anywhere in Disney World?!!)
Frontierland
This land features two very popular rides, Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain, but since Chris and I had already ridden these on our previous trip and C is too little we decided not to ride them. The only thing we did here was the Country Bear Jamboree, an animatronic “show” with large bears and music. Very cheesy, but C loved it of course. 🙂
Liberty Square
Here we just did the Haunted Mansion. Definitely not appropriate if your child is a little older or scared of the dark, but C doesn’t mind it and is too young to understand what a ghost is. We rode this at the end of the day, as the park was preparing for Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party. We didn’t stay for the party (most of it took place well after C’s bedtime) but it was a fun time to visit the Haunted Mansion.

Shows/Entertainment

1. Dream Along with Mickey
This show takes place several times throughout the day, right in front of Cinderella’s castle. It features all the classic characters, including princes/princesses, Peter Pan and Wendy, and a couple of villains. We got a spot right at the front, and Baby Girl loved the music and seeing her favorite characters up close. This was probably the best character experience, aside from actually meeting the characters.
2. Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade

We got a spot at the end of the parade, as it circled Main Street. We were again right at the front, and got to wave at all the characters (a few waved back, and Wendy pointed at my mouse ears with a puzzled shrug, like “why do you have mouse ears growing out of your head?”) It was very fun, with lots of music and dancing. I probably should have taken C out of her stroller so she could have seen better since we were so close.
3. Move it, Shake it, Celebrate it
This is basically a dance party with loud music and the chance to dance with characters. C loved it, but the crowd made me nervous (Baby Girl was determined to go wherever she wanted to be near the characters, and I was afraid I’d lose sight of her since she didn’t really want to hold my hand). I would wait until the kids are older and bit easier to keep track of.
4. Enchanted Tales with Belle

This is part of the new Fantasyland, and I’m not really sure how to classify it.  It’s part show, part character meet, part interactive experience. You start in Maurice and Belle’s cottage (completely decorated inside and out of course), move into Maurice’s workshop where you admire some of his inventions, then walk through a magic mirror into the Beast’s castle. You meet the talking wardrobe and are assigned a part in acting out the way Belle and the Beast met (you don’t have to have a part, C was a bit young so we just watched). Then you’re led into the castle library. Belle comes in and an animatronic Lumier narrates the story as the audience members and Belle act it out. At the end you can get your picture taken with Belle. It was a really neat experience (mostly because of the atmosphere) but I think Baby Girl would have enjoyed it a lot more if she were a little older. I loved it. 🙂

Characters
Predictably, the lines to meet characters were longest at this park. However, you can get fast passes to meet the princesses and Mickey, which I highly recommend! We didn’t get to meet Tinkerbell and the other fairies unfortunately, because the line was just too long. We did meet:
1. Merida

She has her own little amphitheater between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. This was a bit longer of a wait, but Merida was worth it! She was completely in character, spoke with the appropriate accent and chatted with me about naptime (C was getting tired and Merida completely understood, have three younger brothers and all) and about her hair and Baby Girl’s curls. She even ticked C during picture taking time, resulting in some of the best smiles from Baby Girl.
2. Ariel

We met Ariel in her Grotto, right next to the new Under the Sea ride. The line was a bit long, and C got restless so one of the attendants gave her a Mickey sticker. Unfortunately when it was her turn to see Ariel Baby Girl was more interested in her sticker than meeting the princess. Fortunately Ariel understood. 🙂
2. Daisy, Minnie, Goofy, Donald

You can meet these classic characters at Pete’s Silly Side Show, which is near the new Big Top/Dumbo ride. You pick a line for either Daisy and Minnie or Goofy and Donald, then go back around and wait in the second line for the other two characters. By the time we met these characters C knew all about what to do, so she wiggled right out of my arms and ran up to give hugs and kisses. Predictably (since Baby Girl as the attention span of a hummingbird) she was easily distracted by the pretty backdrops and props around her, so I had to guide her back to the characters. It’s a cute set-up, though the characters aren’t dressed in their traditional costumes

(Donald is a snake charmer, Daisy’s a mystic, Goofy’s a stuntman and Minnie has trick poodles).

The lighting is pretty poor, so be prepared to have to use a flash or rely on the professional shots via your photopass (unless your hubby happens to bring along his own DSLR).
3. Mickey

The star of the show has his own venue on Main Street, right as you enter the park. The wait wasn’t too long when we went, but we got fast passes for him and the princesses anyway. He is dressed up like a magician and you meet him “backstage.” C had just woken up from her nap and was a bit groggy still, so she wasn’t too enthusiastic about meeting him this time. We still got some cute shots though.
4. The Princesses

Like the side show meet and greet, you chose one line to see Mickey and then came out and went through a second line to meet the Royal Ladies. I think they’ve moved by now however to their own Fairytale Hall venue in Fantasyland (that was opening the week after we left). I don’t know if you meet the same princesses every time, but we saw Rapunzel, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and Cinderella. Rapunzel was wonderful, sweet and chatty and got C to relax and smile.

Aurora was a bit more reserved (and I think C hurt her feelings because she kept pointing over to Cinderella).

Cinderella was my favorite (naturally, but we met her three times and this was the best experience). She pointed out the slipper on Baby Girl’s shirt (tutorial here) and showed the slipper hidden in the pattern of her own gown.

She even gave C a lipstick kiss on the forehead, which lasted most of the day :).

Food/Dining Experiences
1. Character Meal at the Crystal Palace

This is where I really regret not making an earlier reservation. By the time we got seated it was already 12:30, and C was getting tired (she napped about 1pm every day). We managed to entertain her with food and our phones long enough to meet Eyore and Pooh, but she started melting down before we got to see Tigger or Piglet (it can take up to an hour and a half to meet all four characters here because the restaurant is so large). C absolutely loved Eyore and Pooh though. She stroked their soft fur, patted their noses, held their hands, and gave them big, snuggly hugs.

I think she thought they were giant, moving stuffed animals, which I guess is what they were! 🙂
2. Character Meal at 1900 Park Faire
This restaurant is actually at the Grand Floridian resort. We had a dinner reservation there, so we took the monorail over from the park. It worked out perfectly. We met Cinderella and Prince Charming first, almost before we sat down (Prince Charming was standing right by our table when we were seated). They were about to go on break though, so we didn’t get to spend very long with them. C was distracted by her new surroundings and didn’t really interact with either one. She warmed up to the other characters though, Lady Tremain (the wicked stepmother), Drusilla and Anastasia (the wicked stepsisters). Drusilla decided she should do her hair like C’s,

and Anastasia complimented her on her love of chocolate.

C even smiled at Lady Tremain, who broke character a bit and laughed saying “I love this child!” when I told her that Baby Girl wouldn’t smile at Cinderella.

So we had the best experience with the “villains,” but if your kiddos are old enough to actually recognize them as bad guys you might want to tell your kids that the villains aren’t really mean, or wave them off (at least the stepmother, she was probably the scariest).
 3. Cosmic Ray’s Cafe
This was the quick-service restaurant we chose, in Tomorrowland. It was ok, just basic fast food. The restroom was nice and clean, and had a good changing area.
4. Dole Whip

If you’ve been to Disney World or read anything about it you’ve probably heard that this is the best treat you can get at the Magic Kingdom. The stand is in Adventureland, near the Jungle Cruise (right next to the fairy meet and greet). The pineapple “sundae” (with pineapple juice in the bottom) is certainly the most refreshing treat on a hot day!

Other tips
1. Child Swap
No, you don’t switch kids with another family. It’s kind of like fastpass. You go up to the fastpass attendant and tell them you’d like to do child swap. The attendant will give one parent a child swap pass, while the other parent gets in line (the first parent can use a fastpass if they want to make the wait time even shorter). When the first parent is done riding they go back to the parent who is waiting with the child and the other parent goes back to the fast pass attendant and shows them the child swap pass. That parent can then go through the fastpass line to get on the ride.

2. Nap spots
We had a harder time finding a quiet, shady spot for C to take her nap and us to rest our feet. The first day we went to the pavilion in the rose garden, which was perfect and had a great view of the castle. The only drawback was its proximity to the Dream Along with Mickey show, which has fireworks at the beginning and end. Fortunately C is a sound sleeper and they didn’t bother her. 🙂 There was also a lady smoking…I’m not sure if it’s a designated smoking spot or not. The second day we found a table at an outdoor cafe in Agrabah (near Aladdin’s Flying Carpets) which worked for a little bit, until some loud music came on and woke C up. We ended up just walking around with her.
3. Photopass

I haven’t really mentioned this much, but I’ll give a brief explanation in case you haven’t heard of it. The first time you get your picture taken by one of the Disney photographers they will activate a Photopass card and give it to you. Then every time another Disney photographer takes your picture you give them your card. At the end of your trip you have a month or so to order any pictures you want from the website. But the best part is professional photographers will take pictures for you with your camera as well if you ask them. That is the best way to make sure you get pictures with all the family members, for free (Chris’s pictures turned out much better than most of the professional ones, so we didn’t end up buying any).
4. Get there early

 You will hear this over and over, because it’s true. Get to the park as soon as it opens, and head straight through Cinderella’s castle to Fantasyland. If you get there quick enough you might even get some great shots in front of the castle before heading on to the practically empty rides. We walked on every ride (the longest wait we had was for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, only because they let a tour group on ahead of us. Still, we waited for a total of 5 minutes and C loved playing with the drippy honey walls) and had done every single Fantasyland ride within an hour and a half! Yes, we were there at one of the lowest times of the year (mid September) but still! It was like we had the park all to ourselves! Getting up early in this case is definitely worth it!

The Magic Kingdom is still (and will probably always be) my favorite of the four parks, but we experienced plenty more magic elsewhere! Next post: Hollywood Studios!
If you missed my post on Animal Kingdom, click here.
For Epcot, click here.


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