Winter Garden is in Magic Kingdom’s backyard. We hear the steam train blare the welcome whistle each morning. See the blazing fireworks every night. Just think, 18 minutes of fireworks, each and every night.
And, you know what? They even have block-shaped fireworks now! Heart shaped, mouse shaped, and sequential – like a wave. This, and completely synchronized to music, while a massive projection is displayed on Cinderella’s castle. The castle completely transforms to be Rapunzel’s prison tower, Merida’s castle DunBroch, even Toy Story’s bedroom.
5 observations I made on my recent visit to Magic Kingdom:
1. The Least Crowded Time To Visit
Magic Kingdom is a busy tourist destination, and most crowded between Christmas and New Year’s. I had a friend go on Christmas day, thinking “who would go on Christmas?” Answer: Everyone. She said she didn’t think there was enough oxygen to go around. There were so many people in Fantasy Land, you would just be standing there, and it wasn’t waiting in line. I’m here to tell you, if you go after New Year’s, and avoid the MLK weekend, January is the least crowded opportunity to visit. Park hours are reduced, but frankly, who has the stamina for over 12 hours at a theme park? I understand September, after schools have started, is another month with lower crowds.
2. DisneyWorld is a Smart City
Like many things these days, “there’s an app for that.” To optimize your visit, Disney has everything possible available at your fingertips.
You can manage your FastPass schedule (ride reservations that allow you to avoid long lines), orchestrate your travel group in one platform, share your itinerary, pre-order meals or make dining reservations. They have a Disney GPS giving step-by-step directions. In addition, the app easily displays wait times, showtimes, locates your favorite Disney character, and of course, you can also purchase your souvenirs.
They will even deliver your purchase to your hotel, so you don’t have to be burdened by carrying your merchandise around. Now, isn’t that convenient?
3. Masters of Forced Perspective
Mountains are high and valleys are low.
At least that’s the feel you get when poking around the park. Disney uses illusion – you know, like touching the top of the Eiffel Tower or holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa – to make us perceive things differently. Disney, however, is no amateur at this.
I enjoy the optical illusions: farther, closer, larger or smaller. All good fun to try and uncover. Here are a couple tricks “he’s” played on us…
4. What You Don’t See
Similarly, Disney is masterful at hiding what they don’t want their guests to see.
Anything from an electrical outlet to a full-on building can be obscured by design. Whether it’s painted, planted, or played on, it can be diminished from sight.
5. The Art of Making Magic
Cast members – aka employees – are empowered to take extra measures to make a guest experience, brilliant, or in Disney-speak, magical.
I was on the lookout for these magic-makers, and easily saw it in action.
We saw a manager hand off FastPasses to a family that was visiting for a first time (free buttons identify birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) Then there was the patient photographer waiting for a 2 year old to figure out they wanted her to open a birthday present on Main Street. Lastly, I saw a cast member hustle to a snack kiosk to grab a pretzel. He offered it to hangry 6 year old. Or, perhaps it was for the Momma!?
There is a lot of magic to be found in this kingdom. I’ve finally got to the point where I don’t feel like I need to run towards the entrance (picture Chevy Chase and family running slow-mo to Walley World,) but my heart still races in anticipation!