Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It’s A Small World: Kickin’ It Old School In Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

By: Anne M. Raso

Sure, they are always trying to add upgraded and trendsetting attractions at Disney World but old-school fans who were kids and teens when the park first opened up some 40 years ago seem to mainly think of Magic Kingdom and the original Disney magic that was created there with rides on the mild side.

The ultimate classic for 50-somethings and up is undoubtedly the It’s A Small World ride which many people saw for the first time at the New York World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens, circa 1964-1965. It hasn't changed one iota in the 15 times we have been on it (including back at the World’s Fair)! The 60s modern graphics on the walls mixed with the characters wearing their native garb and the voices from around the world blending together are the key factors in this attraction being so timeless. For those of you expecting to see the kids from around the world wearing updated clothing and wearing iPods or carrying skateboards, think again! This is timeless “signature” Disney!
The Flying Dumbo Ride is one that is replicated from Disney Land and just makes you smile the minute you see it because of the happy but kinda, well, dumb expression on the famous elephant’s face. There are many Dumbo “cars” and even an odd stationary Dumbo out front you can pose with for photos and it still has a 45-minute line—even on a weekday in the middle of a nearly 100 degree Florida summer day. You really haven’t “done Disney” unless you've done Dumbo and it’s sad to see that this sweet lovable character is underused on Disney merchandising, films, home entertainment and in the park in general. (I feel the same way about Chip ‘N Dale but at least there are several daily photo ops and autograph sessions in the park with them every day.)
The Mad Tea Party (also simply known as “The Teacups” to longtime fans) was first popularized in Disney Land in the late 1950s and seems to have a half hour wait on the average. This is the ride that made local amusement parks do their own versions with different names. It’s fun to sit in the giant tea cups (which seem to fit five or six people) and spin the steel wheel in the center, although the teacup with give you enough action if you don’t touch it at all. We have always wondered if this ride is able to go backwards or be sped up….probably Walt Disney and a couple of the rides’ engineers know but this secret has been taken to their graves.
The Swiss Family Robinson Tree House is a great Disney classic for those who want to get a little exercise in because you have to do a bit of climbing up and down—not that you don’t get a lot of walking in at the Magic Kingdom to begin with! As you climb the tree house, you get a look inside the “rooms” which include everyday household items made from things found in the forest and ocean, including sinks made of large shells and a piano made of local wood. It has a rustic charm and cute signs saying how to climb the tree house, where to see certain features and what the fam’s been up to!
Don’t forget to check out the Character Greetings at the Magic Kingdom. We had to wait a half-hour to be able to do a meet and greet with Ariel and Prince Eric, but they really pay a lot of attention to young visitors and share hug, autographs and stories. You can take your own photos but each Character Greeting features a professional photographer who hands you a “photo pass” giving you a code for on a special Disney site where you can download your pro pics for about five bucks a pop. We noticed that there are at least a dozen characters doing the “Greets” intermittently from about 9:30 to 4:30PM everyday in the Magic Kingdom. We noticed that the ones who seem to always be there are characters from Pirates Of The Caribbean, Toy Story, The Princess And The Frog, Tangled and Aladdin. Of course, Mickey, Minnie, Donald and the old-school characters can be seen in abundance just walking around the park.
Disney World is not cheap, as Two-Day Park Hopper Pass seems to be about $135 for adults, but definitely put the Magic Kingdom on your “bucket list” even if you been there before. As the old saying goes, everyone’s a kid at Disney World, but the Magic Kingdom is the park that has the really old school feeling (much more than the other parks such as Epcot Center, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom).

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