There’s a reason why Walt Disney World is the most magical place on earth. It brings such joy to those who visit! And boy, do some of us dream about stepping foot onto the Disney property on a daily basis. Many of us have to live vicariously through so many prolific YouTube channels like Disney Food Blog, Allears.net, and Mickey Views, to name a few, so when the time comes when our trip is on the horizon, we get super excited to go and experience the magic first hand. Remember that classic Disney commercial with the little kids who are too excited to sleep? Yeah, that’s me! Not literally, but you get the idea.
I was supposed to visit WDW in March, but due to a pair of unfortunate circumstances, my trip had to be cancelled. To say that I, a grown adult, was devastated is an understatement. But as my mom says, everything happens for a reason and with a little bit of magic, trust, and pixie dust, fate has presented me the opportunity to book a vacation to be in Disney during Christmas! Check that off the bucket list! It may be months away, but I can’t wait!
Walt Disney World has so much to do and see and eat, it’s almost impossible to do everything while you’re there! So how do you narrow down just exactly what to do to make the most of your vacation? Well, for starters, you have to go to the park that started it all: Magic Kingdom. Opening on October 1, 1971, Magic Kingdom is about to celebrate its big 5-0! More on that later. Is it really a Disney vacation without a day at the Magic Kingdom? It’s the most Disney of the four WDW parks. There are more than 40 rides and attractions, an assortment of restaurants, both quick service and sit down, and a copious amount of memories to be made. So what are your must dos? Well I’ve got a countdown for you! If you’re familiar with my podcast Block Talk, you know I love a good countdown showdown! And I’ve got no panelists to battle with!
So we’ll start from 10 and give you the 10 things we can’t wait to do at Magic Kingdom!
10. Experience the Fireworks and After Hours Parties
At the time of publication, COVID is still preventing much entertainment at the parks. But as the country begins to open up and restrictions begin to be lifted, there is some optimism that our favorite nighttime magic will return! While the classic Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party won’t be returning this year, they are giving guests a chance to stay after hours with Boo Bash, a new Halloween-themed event filled with character cavalcades, candy stops, special spooky treats. If there is a Boo Bash, those attending the park during the holidays are bound to have some equivalent for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! There has been some buzz that Disney has been testing some fireworks so is the return of the most spectacular fireworks show, Happily Ever After, making a comeback? It’s possible! So why am I excited for something that’s not quite back yet? Well, because Disney is one of the best producers of nighttime entertainment that once it returns, it’s bound to be something magical and grander than ever.
9. Walk Down the Middle of Main Street USA!
Start humming the classic tune as you walk down the middle of Main Street USA! Inspired by turn of the century America, Main Street is your path to the magic beyond Cinderella Castle. With shops and eateries to your left and right, be sure to stop in and pick up a baked goodie or that coveted Disney souvenir! Though COVID restrictions may prevent you from this pro tip, on nights when there is nighttime entertainment, walk through the Emporium to avoid crowds. But be warned, you will be distracted by the plushies and spirit jerseys that you’ll end up purchasing. If your nose picks up some scents coming from the confectionary as you walk down Main Street, Disney pumps out the smells from inside to get you to come in! Smart move Imagineers! And don’t forget to catch the Main Street Trolley Show, Citizens of Main Street, and the Dapper Dans to help get you in that magical mood!
8. Ride the New and Improved The Jungle Cruise
The classic Adventureland attraction is getting a reimagining with new characters, a continuous storyline, changes to show scenes, and more! While the Jungle Cruise won’t be closed, the new additions will be integrated in as the years goes on. So what can we expect to see, or not see? Well Imagineers are adding more humor, wildlife, and skipper heart as well a few nods to SEA, also known as the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Super duper Disney fans will note this update will have connections to other attractions throughout Disney’s other global parks.. The biggest change to the attraction will be the removal of depiction of natives, including Trader Sam, though have no fear, his iconic bar at the Polynesian remains. He’s just got a souvenir shop with a bunch of Easter eggs at the end of the attraction. No matter what, we love an update to Disney attractions that still stays true to the original. What will happen once the motion picture of the same title starring The Rock and Emily Blunt is released? We shall see! Perhaps The Rock will make a cameo like Johnny Depp does on The Pirates of the Caribbean! I just put that into the ether for better or worse.
7. Classic Disney Theme Park Songs Showdown: Sherman Brothers vs Xavier Atencio
For those fans of Block Talk will remember last summer we did the Ultimate Disney Song Showdown to determine what the best Disney song from the animated films was. Well we’ll be back soon for the Ultimate Disney Theme Park Song Showdown! If I’m a betting man, I think our winner will come from the songbook of either the Sherman Brothers or Xavier Atencio, so you might as well ride these iconic attractions! The Sherman Brothers’ songs are represented in three attractions: It’s a Small World (After All) in the titular ride, The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow in the Carousel of Progress.
Xavier Atencio is represented in three attractions as well: Bear Band Serenade in Country Bears Jamboree, Yo Ho (A Pirates Life for Me) in Pirates of the Caribbean, and Grim Grinning Ghosts in the Haunted Mansion. Whether you’re #TeamShermBros or #TeamX, these legendary artists have stamped their legacy within the Magic Kingdom. Personally, I’m #TeamShermBros and you’ll have to head over to EPCOT to hear my favorite song of theirs, One Little Spark at Journey to Imagination with Figment, my main man.
6. Eat Inside Beast’s Castle at Be Our Guest
Have you ever dreamed of dining in a castle? Well Magic Kingdom has two opportunities for you to do so! Sure, you can dine inside Cinderella Castle with the princesses, but the crème de la crème is dining inside of the Beast’s Castle. Part of the big Fantasyland expansion in the early 2010s, Be Our Guest allows park guests the chance to eat with the Beast for either counter service during the day or full table service at night, though dining options are slightly different in current COVID times. There are three dining rooms within the castle including the ballroom, the West Wing, and the gallery. You bet your butt I want to dine in the room where Angela Lansberry sang as Beauty and Belle danced the night away! The French-inspired cuisine may be elevated for some, but where else can you actually eat the grey stuff! I hear it’s delicious!
5. Ride the Cult Classic PeopleMover!
Alert the presses! The PeopleMover is back! The attraction with the cult-like following has returned for the first time since Magic Kingdom reopened. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is your way to tour Tomorrowland, while your feet get a little break. There have been many-a-time where there was no line and Cast Members would let my family stay on and ride until we were ready to journey through the park again. While the PeopleMover isn’t an opening day attraction, there are so many classic attractions you have to hit up while you’re there. Whether you like flying in the sky in an elephant on Dumbo, taking a spin in a teacup at the Mad Tea Party, or boarding a pirate ship soaring thanks to pixie dust on Peter Pan’s Flight, there are so many magical memories to create on the many classic attractions within the park.
4. Eat the Greatest Disney Treat: Dole Whip
The great debate is what is the best Disney World snack. Let’s be real, there are so many options throughout the entire wonderful world of Disney, but nothing says “I’m at Disney!” more than Dole Whip. Head on over to Aloha Isle next to the Tiki Room to get your fix of Dole Whip. Whether you select the classic pineapple, the delicious coconut, or swirl them all together, Dole Whip will be highlight of your trip to Magic Kingdom. If you’re not a sweets person, there are more than enough incredible snacks within the park. From Mickey pretzels and giant turkey legs to Tater Tots at the Friar’s Knock or the various flavors of egg rolls at the Adventureland Snack Cart, there’s something to satisfy your taste buds.
3. Tip and Yodel on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
While it’s not really new anymore and will lose its title once the Tron Lightcycle coaster opens, the newest ride addition to Magic Kingdom is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I’ve never ridden it but you can bet your butt once again I’ve watched countless POV videos on Youtube! Part of the New Fantasyland expansion, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train features incredible new technology that simulates the swaying and tipping you’d experience in a mine cart. Most of the Audio-Animatronics have been recycled from the since retired Snow White’s Scary Adventures. The attraction does feature some brand-new CGI animatronics that have since been included on many other rides throughout the world at various Disney parks. The show scenes themselves are worth the ride, but if you like a family-friendly coaster, this one’s for you. If you prefer something with a bit more of a thrill, read on friends!
2. The Mountain Challenge
Walt Disney World has an abundance of challenges you can take. Whether it’s Monorail or Skyliner Crawl or Drinking Around the World at Epcot, you can fulfill so many food challenges, but for all you thrill seekers out there, you MUST do the Mountain Challenge. What’s the Mountain Challenge you ask? Well, it’s riding Magic Kingdom’s three mountains in one day: Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Railroad, and Space Mountain. The three attractions are three of the most iconic rides in all of WDW. Ok so now I know what some of you are thinking, shouldn’t Seven Dwarfs Mine Train be included here? Well, sure, it’s IN a mountain, but it doesn’t have mountain in the name! Semantics, am I right? If you can nail all four in a day, kudos you. Space Mountain in Tomorrowland is an indoor dark coaster that whips you around as your journey through space. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a mine train coaster themed to the gold rush. Splash Mountain is a log flume ride based on the characters and songs of Song of the South. It’s been announced that Splash Mountain will be getting a reimagining to The Princess and the Frog but no dates have been announced on when this change will come. Will a new ride title remove Splash Mountain from the Mountain Challenge? Only time will tell. Many consider Magic Kingdom a “kids’ park”, but these rides beg to differ!
1. Celebrate Disney World’s 50th Anniversary at Cinderella Castle
Can you believe Walt Disney World is about to turn 50?! Well, the time has come and it’s time to celebrate! While Covid has already altered many plans throughout the resort, Disney has been a bit hush hush on official events and celebrations to come for the big 5-0. But there is one thing that has already received the birthday treatment: Cinderella Castle! There was a great debate whether the recent paint job of the park’s flagship monument was an upgrade, but with the addition of the ribbon on the spires and the bunting placed throughout, Cindy’s house is looking good! While riding the rides and eating the treats are worthwhile, you cannot leave Disney without a memory that lasts forever. You must take a photo with the castle in the background. Make it your #ProfPic on social media to get your friends jealous you were at Magic Kingdom, but I promise, 10 years later, that photo will bring a smile to your face. And if you can, find Mickey and Minnie and snag a selfie with them, as they will be decked out in their special iridescent costumes for Disney’s big birthday. Get that Memory Maker to collect all your photos from your day at the park because I’m certain you’ll want to remember them forever. And guess what, you don’t need to wear your mask when you take a photo now! C’mon restrictions being lifted! As Disney announces events, Magic Kingdom will be a place we can’t wait to see!
And there you have it! The 10 things we can’t wait to do at the Magic Kingdom! There is SO MUCH that was left off this list and that just goes to show how much there is to see and experience at the park. Did I include what you can’t wait to do? What did I miss! I love chatting Disney so be sure to find me on social media (@michaelblocktalk on Instagram, @blocktalknyc on Twitter) and be sure to listen to Block Talk on your favorite podcast platforms!
Michael Block is the intersection of Disney gay and drag fan gay. He is a 5 time GLAM Award nominee as an event producer, writer, and podcast host in NYC. He runs theaterinthenow.com as well as hosts the GLAM Award-nominated Block Talk. He produced two drag competitions in NYC, Iconic at Icon in Astoria and Dragaret Star at Club Cumming in the LES, he hopes will make a comeback soon!