Up here in the North, we like to escape the cold during spring break and head south to warmer climates. If you have kids, there may be no better place than Florida and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
If you grew up here in Canada like I did, there was one vacation spot that every kid needed to go to at least once during their childhood. The beginning of summer vacation tended to be the most common time to go, but if you were lucky, you’d get to skip out on the soggy days of March and head south to the most magical place in the world. That place, of course is Disney World!
Walt Disney World is located near Orlando, Florida. It is comprised of four theme parks: Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the main one that everyone tends to associate most with Disney: the Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom has the iconic Cinderella’s Castle, Micky and Minnie Mouse, Adventureland and more princesses then a 7-year-old girl can possibly see in one day.
In March 2011, my wife and daughter and I packed our little blue MINI Cooper with everything we’d need for a springbreak roadtrip adventure, and headed down to Florida. We’d be going to a few different places while down there, but the Magic Kingdom was the main reason we were going.
When you first arrive at the park, you get transported via monorail or boat across a small lake to the main gates. This adds to the notion that you’re leaving the everyday world behind and entering somewhere special. We took the monorail. Soon you see the tops of Cinderella’s Castle towering over the trees. The dozens of excited children in the monorail car will get even louder at that point. Get used to it. There will be no respite from the usually happy cries of wee ones until you’re back in your hotel room with the lights out. There are plenty of hotels within Walt Disney World, so you don’t even have to leave the park if you so choose.
The Magic Kingdom is divided into five special areas or Lands. They are Adventureland (a mix of jungle, desert and tropical island-themed rides), Fantasyland (where the classic Disney characters come to life), Frontierland (with its southwest and American pioneer-themed attractions), Liberty Square (think colonial-era America) and finally Tomorrowland (where you can experience the world of the future). These five areas are arranged like spokes with Main Street USA and Cinderella’s Castle as the center.
While the Magic Kingdom is a very large park, you can usually fit everything you want to see and do there into a single hectic yet fun-filled day. There are many rides and games to enjoy. Lots of different foods to eat too, and easily located clean bathrooms when needed. Be prepared for lines though, as Magic Kingdom is a very popular park, especially during the summer and spring break.
The characters do walk around the park, but due to the huge amount of children that want signatures or pose for pictures with them, they are usually stationed at specific locations and you line up to see them. Since our daughter wanted to see and get as many princesses to sign her autograph book as possible, we spent quite a bit of time waiting in those lines for them. Bring water and snacks and sunscreen because you could be waiting for over an hour. We picked up a motorized fan attached to a spray bottle for $18. Yes, it’s a bit pricy for such a simple item, but when you’re standing in 30˚C Florida sun, it will be totally worth it.
By around 4pm, many of the younger children who arrived at the park when it opened for the day have reached their limit of fun. Between 4 and 5pm, we noticed a lot of tired, whiney children and their exhausted parents. When the sun sets (if you still have the energy), I recommend staying for the Electrical Parade that trundles down Main Street USA which concludes with a spectacular fireworks display above and around Cinderella’s Castle.
If you have children, visiting Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Florida should be on everyone’s bucket list of things to do. Yes, it’s a bit kitschy; yes, you’ll have to wait in long lines; yes it’s pretty expensive; and yes, you may possibly lose your mind around 4pm, but you’ll create wonderfully happy memories that will last a life time for yourself and your kids. If you don’t have kids, go anyway. You can’t help but get transported back to your childhood when there.