Florida 03/22 – Magic Kingdom by Mega-Lite

I think it’s fair to say that many coaster enthusiasts, become said enthusiasts, after visiting Florida at a young age on a once in a lifetime family holiday. If not, Florida is usually the first real port of call for any up and coming enthusiast. What is not so common is making your first trip to Florida when you’ve already ridden nearly 1000 coasters and have already travelled most of the coasting World.

In other words what I’m trying to say is, once again, me and Heartline have done things against the grain. Would this tactic end up dampening our opinion of Florida? Or would tackling it with experience make things more rewarding? Let’s find out…

Day 1

In a continuation of our sentiment from our last trip, where it appeared that everything was out to get us, our travel to the US wasn’t without issue.

It started with me, Heartline, and his wife meeting at a very reasonable time to get to Heathrow and get our business sorted before our 11ish flight.

But then, there was traffic on roads that in 10 years of driving I have never seen traffic on. Followed by the M25 and M4 barely moving, leading to us being much later than we planned for.

This was an issue because you had to have a negative covid test before they’d even let you check in for your flight. Thinking we’d have all the time in the World, we planned this for this morning, now however this wasn’t ideal. After much faff we left the test centre with not much time to spare, but then had to wait 40 tense minutes for our results.

When we finally got our results we were the last 3 to check in for our flight and then had a stressful 20 minute walk to the gate, where thankfully boarding had been delayed 15 minutes.

The flight itself (American) was fine and soon we landed in Miami.

Yes, Miami. Heartline could probably write articles about how to save money when booking trips and this was his latest tactic.

Did it save money on a trip that normally costs many thousands? Certainly. Do I ever question his ways? No. Did the drive from Miami to Orlando suck? Oh God yeah.

We’d be staying in one of those do it yourself fully kitted out holiday apartments for the duration of our trip. Yes it was pretty dated, yes I broke the aircon on the last night, but I thought it was pretty cool how it had everything you’d ever need contained within its walls.

Day 2

After barely sleeping, which I put down to excitement crossed with time zone differences, it was time for our first day in Florida, and we were starting with the big one, Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom

The resort we were staying at had a very limited (and pretty shady) bus service that ran to a very limited number of stops. Magic Kingdom was one of them and not wanting to pay the insane money Disney wants for parking we opted to give it a try.

Thankfully the bus was mostly empty (which was unexpected) and in the back row offered more airtime than most B&M Hypers.

What would be an issue several times though was the limited bus service combined with the overly complicated and mostly useless internal Disney transport systems. We will get onto the issues we had later, because this morning at least things were quite easy.

The bus dropped us off at the transport hub and then we boarded the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

While it has taken me almost 1000 coasters and many other trips to make it to Disney World, I have been interested in the Florida parks for years, so this monorail ride felt rather special.

As was seeing this for the first time in person…

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Awful picture, but it doesn’t matter, we’ve made it to the Magic Kingdom.

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Apparently I’m not jaded enough yet because this view still hit me pretty hard.

Wanting to get away from the castle crush, we completely accidentally found ourselves entering Tomorrowland. Where we stumbled onto the first attraction we could understand where the entrance was…

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

The Carousel of Progress.

20 minutes of Disney history and animatronics, not much more I can say really, I thought it was awesome.

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Upon leaving the Carousel of Progress we were presented with one of Florida’s legendary rain storms. Thankfully this would be the only one that would happen while on this trip, well while we were in parks at least…

Not really knowing how to react to the rain storm we scrambled over to Space Mountain.

Where apparently everyone else had the same idea, leading to 40 minutes of dodging warm rain outside and 15 minutes of being soggy inside.

Space Mountain

This kicked way more ass than I’m still prepared to accept.

The extremely lacklustre Japanese Space Mountain had me set up for a gentle and uneventful coaster in the dark. Only for Magic Kingdom’s example to absolutely wreck my World.

This thing throws you around all over the place and was honestly so much fun, and that’s coming from somone who’s ridden most of the World’s most intense coasters.

If I had to be picky though, which I do, it’s Disney, it was a bit of a shame that the very impressive theming from the lift hills didn’t continue throughout the entire experience.

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Yeah we spent our entire morning in the land of tomorrow and next up was the rather awesome PeopleMover.

Disney history mixed with linear induction motors, what is not to love?

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Not to throw shade on anyone who plans their Disney vacation down to when you’re allowed to go to the bathroom next, but our plan was a bit less structured.

We left Tomorrowland, with no clear plan on where we’d end up next, enjoyed the walk, commented on how stunning the park looks and next thing we knew we were standing outside the Haunted Mansion.

Haunted Mansion

It would seem our plan of not having a plan sometimes pays off, as we somehow walked straight onto the Haunted Mansion despite the queue being listed as something hefty.

Thanks to Tokyo Disney putting their Haunted Mansion into its Holiday flavour in early September, this would be my first time experiencing the real Haunted Mansion, and my God was it fantastic.

Sitting on my own really soaking in the atmosphere of this Disney legend I felt the hairs raising on my arms. I don’t think I was scared, just in absolute awe of what I was experiencing. I don’t think it was quite as impressive as Phantom Manor though.

I would have loved to have ridden it a second time but we had other rides to experience and we’d never find ourselves lucky enough to stroll right onto it again.

No picture? No, the Haunted Mansion broke my phone and I wouldn’t resolve the issue until we were most of the way through the queueline of…

Big Thunder Mountain

Thunder Mountain.

Damn you Paris Big Thunder for making all future Big Thunders seems unimpressive in comparison.

Credit where it’s due, Florida Big Thunder is better than the Japanese one, but neither come close to the French version.

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Country Bear Jamboree

Wanting a sit down and some air con we next headed over to the Country Bear Jamboree.

Much like the Carousel of Progress it was great fun to take in some Disney history and watch the animatronics. Unlike the Carousel of Progress though, the audience were absolutely losing their minds watching the gang of animatronic bears, adding an extra layer of entertainment to the experience.

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Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid

As great as it was meeting the bears, I think it’s about time we go and meet a Disney Princess. Sadly none of my favourites have rides at the Magic Kingdom, so we settled for Ariel.

Journey of The Little Mermaid is an omnimover dark ride and if I’m honest I wasn’t all that impressed with it myself.

The queue was pretty impresssive (I’ve read somewhere there’s a hidden Mickey that only shows for a couple of hours 1 day a year in there too), but the ride itself felt a little basic.

I guess if you compare it to the old school Fantasyland dark rides it stands out, but with how modern it is I kind of expected more from it.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic

I knew exactly what to expect from PhilharMagic though (after seeing it in Japan) and yet it still managed to blow my mind. Seriously this show is an absolute must watch for any Disney fan.

The Barnstormer

I guess we can’t put it off any longer, we better go ride The Barnstormer.

This seriously ranks up there in the list of bad decisions I’ve made in order to boost my coaster count.

Queueing far too long for a poorly themed and badly riding Vekoma Junior at one of the most impressive parks on Earth felt wrong at the time and doesn’t feel much better now.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

But you can’t argue with success, and upon entering the very long queue for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train we were but 1 credit short of completing the park.

The queue for this coaster sucked, it was barely moving (got even worse near the end), had ginger teens making a scene and had almost nothing interesting to distract you.

As for the coaster itself though, visually, my God this thing looks impressive, the level of theming and detail is ridiculous. As a piece of ride hardware though, it does almost nothing, the swinging cars add almost nothing and I wasn’t the only one coming away thinking “was that it?”

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Pirates of the Caribbean

Running out of time now before we needed to get our place for the night time castle show we were missing 2 attractions that we wanted to ride, Pirates and the Jungle Cruise.

With that in mind we adopted a tactic that worked for us in Japan. Sprint to Pirates 30 minutes before the show starts, assume the listed queue is a scare tactic, experience the attraction, feel smug and then make it back with time to spare to watch the show.

It worked before and it worked again.

No matter how many impressive dark rides I experience, Pirates never fails to leave me speechless. The sheer scale of some of the sets is ridiculous, making it so easy to believe you have been transported to another World and aren’t just floating around in some warehouse.

Talking of the scale of things.

When we made it back to the castle area for the show, there was more people than I think I’ve ever seen in my life already waiting and even more flowing in.

All the credit in the World to the Disney staff for keeping this organised and safe, I’ll come back to praising them again in a bit too.

Hilariously the show ran into technical issues at the end of the big countdown, leading to confusion but good spirits.

Once it restarted (10 minutes later) though it was incredibly good and at times was as impressive as Disney Dreams in Paris.

Yes that’s right, Paris Disney has/had a more spectacular castle show than even the big boy in Florida. We won’t even mention the Tokyo one…

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Back to praising the Disney staff now. How do you get many thousands of people out of the park in an orderly manner? Extremly quickly apparently.

This was good news for us because it’s time to reference back to our stupid hotel shuttle bus.

Tonight’s only pick up was not long after the castle show finished, in the Epcot bus park…

This meant getting out of Magic Kingdom as quickly as we could in a sea of bodies, then switching monorails at the transport hub, then sprinting from the Epcot monorail station to the bus park with seconds to spare. Stressful, but I won’t lie, quite fun.

And that was our day at Magic Kingdom, did it live up to my high expectations? Yes, I think it did.

Thanks for reading, click here for day 3 of my trip report, where we visit Hollywood Studios and ride the insanity that is Rise of the Resistance.

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