I remember going to Magic Kingdom multiple times as a child, and all of the memories I have are amazing. From the moment we entered the park up until exit, little drops of “magic” were constantly being added. With every corner turned, I recall running into characters that I idolized as well as standing under one of the most magical firework experiences I have ever seen. I could not wait to bring my own kids! Yet, our trip was not exactly how I remembered it as a child…. this is all about the Magic Kingdom Fail.
This blog is going to detail the good, the bad and the ugly of our trip to Disney World. It had its magical moments and its “not so magical moments”. I definitely don’t regret our decision to go, however, I want to make sure I give all the insights I have on our experience.
Magic Kingdom Fail – Part 1
We decided to take our almost two year old and our three year old to Disney as a last minute decision. I never intended on making this the BIG Disney trip where we stayed at resorts and did all the parks. Instead, we rented a local Airbnb and only bought passes for Disney World and Islands of Adventures. We really wanted to add Harry Potter world to our trip which was a selfish want on the adults part! Our experience there is a blog for another day!
Essentially, we had one whole day at Magic Kingdom. Our oldest daughter is obsessed with Disney princesses right now, and really intended on going so she could meet the princesses and other characters. Rides were a plus, but that was not our main reason for attending.
We also looked into the “lighting lane” add on option, and we felt it was completely worth the expense. I knew lines would be long, so even if we were able to just walk on to a few rides, it would be worth it! Make sure to do ALL the research on how to use this. This was our first Magic Kingdom Fail.
Magic Kingdom Fail – Parking
When we woke up in the morning, we immediately booked our first Lightning Lane experience. I probably should have researched these options a little bit more, but we decided on Space Mountain as our first stop. We knew that line would probably be one of the longest and we also knew our kids could not get on this one. So, we wanted to be able to knock it out quickly and still experience it! Even though my aunt and I clicked the lightning lane button at the same time on our apps, she had a 9:00 option and my earliest was 10:00. Attractions disappear within seconds!
We did get to the park as soon as it was open and parked in the VIP parking. I am not sure if the VIP parking was really worth it or not, but we figured we would give it a shot. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a good comparison on this one.
Riding the Monorail
We did have a bump at the start of our visit, and on the way to the monorail, we found that two of our stroller tires were flat. This was SUCH a bummer because I did not bring my tire pump. We were really hoping that they had a pump at the park, especially where they rented wheelchairs, so we just committed and kept going. This was our next Magic Kingdom Fail.
I will say that the monorail was the first dose of reality of HOW LONG lines would be. Fortunately, the monorail did move really fast. It probably took us around 30-40 minutes from when we left the car to arriving at the gates of the park. Getting into the gates was also pretty seamless. Make sure you download your tickets to your apple wallet so you can scan in easily. My husband and I did not do that and had to step out of line to fix it real fast. I used the tickets in my apple wallet all day long for the lighting lane. There was a slight fear that my phone was going to die, so bring a phone charger!
Magic Kingdom Fail – Part 3
As soon as you get in the gates, there are masses of people trying to take photos in front of the gates. My aunt even got fussed at for taking a selfie with her daughter because apparently there was a designated line. She wasn’t even near any line and did not block anyone else, so it was a little unnecessary to get scolded by a stranger.
My husband and I high tailed it over to the wheel chair rentals to see if they had a pump. We were informed that they no longer had pumps, so we would have to rent a stroller. This seemed a little silly considering the chairs had tires that required air, but I can’t place that blame on Disney. We knew we were shooting in the dark. It was just a cruddy situation and it “was what it was”.
I waited in line for about twenty minutes to talk to someone about a stroller rental, but they were extremely kind to us once we got there. They ended up giving us a free double stroller and checking our other stroller for free. I do feel like it helped ease the sting of already starting our day off poorly and it was a much appreciated customer service touch!
The rental strollers are nothing like our cozy double BOB, but it was functional and worked. I would suggest bringing a stroller your kids are comfy in. We did have a bit of tears throughout the day because the kids were pretty mushed and uncomfortable. Again, not the end of the world, but stick with what you know! I would say it is worth the haul.
Magic Kingdom Fail – Part 4
As soon as we got our stroller debacle figured out, we went ahead and booked it to our first ride. This was also a good opportunity for us to stop and take the obligatory castle picture. The park was busy at this point, but not so busy we were having to shove through crowds. We went the second week of November, and based on others feedback, it was a fairly less crowded time to go. Our group went straight to “It’s a Small World” and essentially walked on to the ride.
Something I love about Magic Kingdom is the fact that pretty much every single ride is accessible for children.
After we completed our first ride, we then moved on to “Peter Pan”. This was another ride that we essentially just walked on to. That was the first time I ever rode that ride, and it was sub par. One common thing I found around the rides is how outdated some of them were. I understand wanting to keep classics, but I also feel as though for the price you pay, Disney should be keeping up with the times. After this, we decided to do one more ride, which was the Little Mermaid ride. This is one where my daughter was SO excited. She is a huge Little Mermaid fan. I was slightly hopeful that we might actually see a character, but there was not a character in sight. Not seeing any characters around the park was another Magic Kingdom Fail.
First Experience with Food
This was the third ride we ultimately walked on to. Little Mermaid was definitely up to date and had just seemed “cleaner”. I feel like it embodied the standard that I would hope for across all the rides. It was also the last ride we walked on for the day. The rest of the day we relied on our lightning pass.
On the way over to Space Mountain, we also grabbed a “pre-lunch” snack. My aunt got a pretzel and my little cousin got a turkey leg. I never tried the turkey leg, but apparently it was not very good. As far as the pretzel goes, I almost choked because it was so dry. It literally scratched my throat on the way down. Again, for the amount of money you pay to enter the park and what you pay for products, that should have been the BEST pretzel ever. This was the next Magic Kingdom Fail. I still had high hopes for better food throughout the day. We did pack lots of stack for the kids. Make sure to get this saddle bag that attaches to your stroller to hold snacks. It was amazing!
Our first lighting pass was scheduled for 10:00 and we chose Space Mountain. This is where we got our first lesson on lightning passes and parent swap. We completely understood that our children could not ride this ride, however, we assumed we could all go through the line together and “swap” where you get on and off. We were very wrong about this. Disney asks that one parent goes in, rides the ride, and meets their partner at the exit so they can ride. While it’s not a HUGE deal, there is some time suck going through the line, even with lightning lane.
While this article is not about Islands of Adventure, I will say their “child swap” is much better. You sit in a room right outside where you step on the ride. So, when your partner rides, they only have to go five feet to the room to swap with you. The rooms also come equipped with toys and movies for kids to play with as you wait. I am sure there is a reason for everything, but Disney might want to take a look at this model! This was the next Magic Kingdom Fail.
Space Mountain was definitely worth it. My husband opted out of riding by the time I made it back to him. The children were getting fussy and he just did not care at that point. We also were having to make the decision for our next ride, and we decided on Haunted Mansion. By the time we chose, there were slim pickings for the day. You 100% want to choose the most important traction for your first pick.
The First Wait of the Day
We did have a doughnut near Space Mountain that was very good, so it helped to make up for the initial food snafu. After that, we decided we should try and go see our first princess. We saw that Cinderella was opened up to go meet. This is when crowds were getting pretty heavy. We had to do a lot of weaving and bobbing. There were MASSES of people. Read my blog on child safety devices to learn about the “child hand cuffs” I purchased. They helped out a TON with the crowds.
We got to the Cinderella line around 10:30 and the wait said 45 minutes. We knew we would eventually have to wait, so it was not too bad. It was slightly odd to me that meeting a princess is now considered an attraction. I get that times are different and everyone wants so huge photo shoot, but it sucks that any experience requires a wait. About 20 minutes into the wait, my youngest daughter began to have a melt down. We knew she could take or leave the experience, so my husband took her out of line and went to go find things to do with her. My three year old and I stuck around and figured it would not take long.
The Longest Wait
I was WRONG. The line to get into the meet and greet is not that long. However, we ended up being in line for almost two hours. We waited for about an hour until we finally were about ten places away from the entrance. Once we got there, things just stopped moving. We stood in the same place for almost another hour before they started calling people in again. I have no idea what happened and there was zero communication from the employees. Again, I completely understand that lines are long and it’s a theme park, but I was very disappointed by the posted wait time vs. what we actually waited. It’s also super frustrating to see the door you walk into and just come to a complete stop. This was our next major Magic Kingdom Fail.
When we actually made it to Cinderella, that is when we had our first “Magical Moment” of the day. My daughter was so infatuated and excited that I literally had tears in my eyes watching their interaction. It was so sweet seeing her innocence. I also give huge props to Cinderella. She was so patient and made sure to take her time talking to my daughter. That interaction was by far my favorite part of the day. She still has not stopped talking about her!
However, that is where the magic came to a halt and that was the last princess/character we had any interactions with the rest of the day.
The Downhill Part of the Day
Once we got out of Cinderella, Evie and I dashed to eat lunch that my husband pre-ordered. Again, another mediocre meal. We wanted to make sure we caught the parade, so we high tailed it to a spot that my aunt was saving for us.
The parade was very cute. It had lots of big floats with all the major characters. The only thing to keep in mind about the parade is that some of the floats spin so the characters can be seen by both sides of the street. My daughters other favorite character is Elsa, and right as the float got in front of us, she spun around and we never really got to see her. This was another Magic Kingdom Fail. Otherwise, I think the parade is just what you would expect.
Once the parade ended, we spent the remainder of the afternoon hitting a few more rides. We did Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Buzz LightYear, People Mover, and Dumbo. So, when it was all said and done, we were able to go on nine rides and meet one character. I can only imagine what it’s like on a busy day!
There were tons of people towards the end of the day. A lot of time is devoted to squeezing through crowds. Honestly, I think my husband and I were grumpier than our kids by the end of the day. I was dead set on making it to the fireworks, so we just kept on powering through.
Another thing that was taking place at the park was the filming of the Christmas Spectacular. Because of this, access to the castle was very limited and extremely crowded. We did eat our last meal at a fish house near the haunted mansion. It was actually the best meal of the day, and I was happy with the lobster roll I got.
Fireworks and Exiting
By the time we ended dinner, it was pretty much time to go stake out a firework spot. The last time I visited Disney as teenager, we found a spot pretty close to the castle and the firework display was AMAZING!
However, this time was very different. We had about 45 minutes until the firework show, and we were routed behind the scenes to get back to main street. Because of the Christmas filming, they blocked off a ton of the main access. Once we go to Main Street, it was almost impossible to move due to the amount of people. This was our last Magic Kingdom Fail.
At this point, I just gave up. We found a spot to park our stroller and we decided to make the best of it. The show was spectacular as always, however, from our vantage point it was just “okay”. Also, because we were so far back, parents were putting kids on their shoulders so they could see the castle. Which, in turn, causes a domino effect of parents lifting kids and nobody being able to see.
After the show ended, we turned around as quickly as possible and hight tailed it out of the park. We waited about 20 minutes in the monorail line, which honestly, was not too bad based on the amount of people. At one point I looked behind us, and it was SO packed. The only advantage to being far back on main street is being able to get out of waiting in lines back to the parking lot.
I really wish this post could have been about how MAGICAL our experience was. We had such high expectations. I don’t regret the trip and was glad for small moments here and there, but overall, I was disappointed and felt like we had too many Magic Kingdom Fail.
- If you are heading to Disney, don’t expect it to be anything like it was 10-20 years ago. Because the park is so extremely crowded, there is really no room to just walk around and enjoy the scenery and random characters.
- Everything inside the park either costs extra or requires a line. Despite the fact that you pay an arm and a leg to get in, to further your experience, you are going to keep paying and waiting.
- Food was just “okay”. Aside from dinner and the Dole Whip I got, everything else was really unfortunate. Honestly, I have had better food or equal food at the local carnival.
- The lightning pass is 1000% worth it. We would have gone on nearly as many rides if it was not for the pass.
- Get to the park early! Those first couple hours will really allow you to hit a good chunk of rides without waiting. Also, make sure to map out your day/lightning experiences in advance!
While this experience was not the best, I have not written off Disney completely. We still intend on making another trip someday. I have a lot of interest in doing a Disney Cruise next! I still owe Disney a lot for all the great movies and characters that my daughter is obsessed with, but I think their parks need some work. Happy Traveling!