Monday, 17 March 2014

Disney World's Magic Kingdom

It's hard to remember a time I was more excited than when I visited Disney World for the first time. I was ten years old, and like most children at Disney World, I was swept away by the charming scenery, rides, characters and music, all of which continue to conjure feelings of carefree nostalgia whenever I recall them.

Almost two decades have passed since then. Now my travels with Angela and her family have finally brought me back. On Day 12 of our vacation in Florida, we drove up to Orlando, and on the next day we entered the Magic Kingdom, the most iconic of the four amusement parks of Walt Disney World Resort. We explored its different themed areas, rode some familiar rides, as well as some new ones, and generally embraced the sheer happiness of the place. I'd be lying if I said it was as magical as when I was kid, but it nevertheless provided a fun-packed day with plenty to see and do, and it was interesting getting to see how much it had changed since I was last there.

While in Orlando we stayed at one of Angela's parents' timeshares with Marriot. It's located on a beautiful resort not far from the major theme parks.
After settling in, Angela and I sampled the resort's amenities, such as this miniature water park.
The swimming pools were warmed up, but the water in this water tower was freezing, which made for quite a shiversome experience when standing beneath the pouring bucket.
Our own pirate ship.
The next day we were up bright and early to head to Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

We went straight to Cinderella's Castle to take a picture.
Then we explored Adventure Land, where we climbed up the Swiss Family Robinson's House...
...took a cruise down a jungle river...

...and watched some singing, performing parrots in the Enchanted Tiki Room.
We also rode the famous Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which I don't think I did the last time I was here.
Then we were off to Frontier Land, a wild, wild west-themed area.
The rickety tracks of Thunder Mountain Railroad, one of the most exhilarating rides in the park.
Crossing a topsy-turvy barrel bridge on Tom Sawyer Island.
Shootin' the cowboys and injuns from the old fort.

I think Frontier Land was my favourite area, if only for the cool buildings and decors, as well as the abundant bluegrass music.

Eating a delicious turkey leg.
Next we moved onto the newly-opened Fantasy Land.

We spent some time in the castle from Beauty and the Beast, which included this talking wardrobe.
I had a small role as a castle guard in this performance, with Lumiere the candle as narrator.
Taking a picture with Belle.
Then onto Tomorrow Land, a futuristic area.
Angela and I both fondly remembered a horror ride called Alien Encounter, in which audiences are stalked by an extraterrestrial that escapes from its containment chamber. It turns out that ride was deemed too scary for Disney World, and was converted into a more light-hearted replacement called Stitch's Great Escape. We enjoyed it well enough, but it didn't compare to the original.
Another picture before the castle.
During the heat of the mid-afternoon, we watched the Festival of Fantasy Parade, which included a bunch of floats and characters from the more fantastical Disney movies.

At this point in the day, the park was incredibly busy.
Angela's parents' came to join us, after having relaxed at the timeshare resort for most of the day.
Had to ride this bad boy. We both agreed that it seemed different to how we remembered it: a lot darker, and trippier.

We also rode a Buzz Lightyear ride with Angela's parents, in which you shoot at aliens.
Back in Fantasy Land.

Riding another obligatory classic: It's a Small World.
At the castle once again.
Tomorrow Land looks especially fantastic at night.
In fact, I think it was at night that the entire park really came alive, when we most felt that magical atmosphere that can't be found elsewhere.
Time to leave.
After twelve hours of walking round all day, it felt good to relax in the hot tub back at our resort. We both feel incredibly lucky to be here, and are immeasurably grateful to Angela's parents for allowing us to stay there with them.

While I'd consider the Magic Kingdom somewhat lightweight when it comes to rides, the atmosphere and charm really can't be beat. We had an amazing day, and it was a perfect introduction to the many theme parks of Orlando, some of which we'd be visiting in the subsequent days.

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