This post is late, and it’s all my fault! To be honest I wasn’t that interested in visiting the Magic Kingdom, let alone writing about it as I’ve visited the Magic Kingdom in Disneyland, Anaheim so many times. In fairness to Florida the Magic Kingdom is a bit different than Disneyland. Unfortunately most of those differences are for the worst in my opinion!

The Good

The ride to the Magic Kingdom is fun and different as you take a ferryboat across the lake when you enter via the main entrance.

Splash mountain in Florida is AWESOME! It’s far bigger and more elaborate than its California counterpart. I counted 5 separate drops, and the ride takes well over 5 minutes. It also stole my hat on the last drop – my fault I know – but it was my favorite hat. According to the guy running the ride, the last time they emptied out splash mountain they removed 8 trash bags full of hats, so my hat is in good company.

The haunted mansion looks more like a haunted mansion on the outside, but is essentially the same ride on the inside. It was the only ride we actually had to wait for, but the haunted mansion is one of my favorites rides and I enjoyed it just the same. Liberty Square was interesting, and the Hall of Presidents presentation was a great place to cool down and catch a nap (23 minutes).

The castle at the center is WAY bigger than in California. It’s actually very cool.

The Bad

Pirates of the Caribbean is shorter and not as good. This is one of my favorite rides in California.

There’s no Indiana Jones Ride! This is my favorite ride in California.

There’s no Matterhorn!

It’s a small world was closed for rehab (actually this should go under the good!).

The park was full of kids – far more so than Epcot or Hollywood Studios.

Magic Kingdom is considerably smaller than Disneyland.

They didn’t have Wishes Nighttime Spectacular when we were there.

Now I know I’m being a bit hard on the Magic Kingdom, but when you’re used to Disneyland California, Disney’s Magic Kingdom feels like a poor imitation of the real thing. Many of the rides that are in Disney California aren’t at the Magic Kingdom, but are located in other parks. For example, the Indiana Jones Ride is replicated at the Animal Kingdom as Dinosaur and Star Tours is located at Hollywood Studios. Considering that most people visiting Disney World visit several or all of the parks, this isn’t a big deal really.

It was really hot while we were there, so that may have colored my impression a bit. I certainly think that Magic Kingdom is worth a visit – especially if you’ve never gone, but if you have a choice Magic Kingdom in California is way mo betta.

Later That Week

While we didn’t get to see the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular while we were at the Magic Kingdom, we did get to see it another night and it makes for a good story.

We decided to take Sunday off from visiting any of the parks and instead visited some of the Disney Resort Hotels. Our friend Sid told us that we could get an excellent view of the Nighttime Spectacular from the Polynesian Hotel, which is located across the lake. The Spectacular was scheduled for 9pm, but the weather had very different plans.

Kathy and Sid took the tram to look at a few of the other resort hotels, and My mom and I sat on the beach in the gathering darkness in front of the Polynesian facing the Magic Kingdom. The clouds were heavy, and in the distance we could see lighting flashes in the sky. As we sat the clouds rolled in, and before long the lighting was flashing in the clouds nearly overhead. Shortly after that we could see lighting touching down a mile or two away, and at that point we decided we’d better get inside.

Between us and the inside was the pool, and much to our surprise the pool area was full of parents and kids very casually swimming and hanging out. At this point the lighting started to really pick up, and we could hear loud booms echoing across the lake. You’d think the parents would get their kids out of the pool and get them inside – instead several parents told their kids to come down to the water to watch the fireworks!!

A split second later a MASSIVE bolt of energy split the sky and slammed into the ground about half a mile away with a deafening BANG. At that point people in the pool area got the idea, grabbed their stuff and kids, and ran inside. My mom and I found a seat in the 24-hour cafe, and had some pineapple whip (yum) while the rain came down in torrents and the lightning flashed all around us. I was glad to be inside, but a bit concerned about Kathy and Sid. Fortunately they joined us right after as the tram has a stop right outside the Polynesian.

We waited out the rain, and left the Poly at about 10:30. We chose to walk back to the parking lot, and on our way heard a few more booms. I saw some flashes in the sky, but they seemed to be brightly colored and rather unlike lightning. We walked down to the docks where you take the boat to the Magic Kingdom and found that they were playing the entire Wishes Nighttime Spectacular show!

Apparently they had the fireworks ready to go when the thunderstorm rolled in, and it’s safer to shoot the fireworks off than to unload them or save them for the next day. Long story short, we had an excellent view of the fireworks show and avoided the crowds and the traffic that usually accompanies such events. Just so you know, the fireworks were excellent, and I highly recommend watching them – the Poly really is the best place to see them, especially if you want to enjoy the fireworks with a drink – or a pineapple whip!

Until next time, happy travels!


Hi, I'm Rich - Perpetual traveler, photographer, writer, and web designer. Thanks for reading, and happy trekking!