No discussion of misconceptions at Walt Disney World would be complete without an examination of the park that started it all.
The Magic Kingdom is a park so synonymous with Walt Disney World that many people assume it is Walt Disney World. When football players shout that they’re going to Disney World, we know what park they mean. If a television show sets an episode at Disney World, it will likely be at Magic Kingdom. With the exception of Disneyland in California, it’s Disney’s most iconic park.
With such a long history, it comes as no surprise that there are so plenty of things people get totally wrong about the Magic Kingdom. From urban legends to general misunderstandings, a surprising amount of confusion has surrounded Walt Disney World’s flagship park. We’ve covered the top misconceptions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. To conclude our series, here are ten of the top misconceptions we consistently found about Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
1. It’s the only park at Walt Disney World (or the only one worth visiting)
The most pervading misconception about the Magic Kingdom is that it literally is Walt Disney World. While it may make longtime fans cringe, it’s still fairly common for people to use the terms Disney World and Magic Kingdom interchangeably, and I regularly meet people who stare in bewilderment when they learn that Walt Disney World has more than one park—or at least that it has more than one worth visiting.
It’s ironic that when Walt Disney envisioned his Florida project, his primary focus wasn’t on building a bigger, better Disneyland—it was actually on building of his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow—a futuristic city that would eventually inspire Epcot. He may have only agreed to build the Magic Kingdom as a means to appease his board to reach that goal. While Walt didn’t live to see any of his Florida parks built, much of what he learned from Disneyland affected the construction of the Magic Kingdom.
Each of Walt Disney World’s parks has a strength. Many would argue that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the resort’s best overall park thanks to its all ages appeal, cutting edge attractions, and the timeless draw of nature. Epcot has the resort’s best food, shopping, and superb attractions that don’t all rely on intellectual properties. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is king for thrill rides and all things Star Wars.
Magic Kingdom’s greatest strength is nostalgia. Many guests return to the Magic Kingdom every year because of the “Disney feelz”—that childlike sense of wonder and memory Disney has expertly conveyed for generations. Many of its attractions are classics, and it is also one of the best parks for families with small children.
Despite this, it is a mistake to say that Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s only decent park. Indeed, for many fans, it might not even be a “full day” park. Different people will have different preferences, but it’s a mistake to ignore Walt Disney World’s other offerings. When planning your trip, consider each park’s strength, and try to set up a balanced vacation that will allow you to experience everything Walt Disney World has to offer.
2. It’s not-as-good Disneyland
Disney fans can argue for days over whether Disneyland in California or Walt Disney World is better. On one hand, the Magic Kingdom is bigger—much bigger, both in square footage and in rides. Its castle and classic rides are all scaled larger than their California counterparts. On the other hand, Disneyland has the Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain with music, the Finding Nemo submarine voyage, Mickey’s Toontown, and the Matterhorn. Disneyland’s version of the nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic, is also exponentially better. While these are certainly missed at the Magic Kingdom, there’s a key advantage the Florida park has that Disneyland doesn’t.
The luxury of space.
The abundance of space at Walt Disney World has made all the difference in the park’s development. For much of its history, the Magic Kingdom suffered from a consistent stigma as a bigger-but-less-exciting version of Disneyland. New ideas seemed to come sluggishly to the Florida park while Disneyland grew more and more adventurous.
The building of New Fantasyland seems to have proved a turning point for the Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World took the classic attractions of Fantasyland and created a true storybook paradise, one so entrancing that even adults can enjoy getting lost in it. The Magic Kingdom is something of a sprawling park compared to Disneyland, and this allowed for a truly significant Fantasyland expansion. It was a much-needed breath of fresh air for the Magic Kingdom, and new attractions like the Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Mickey’s Philharmagic, and the upcoming Tron LightCycle Power Run have helped the park take on an identity separate from Disneyland. It’s not that the Magic Kingdom is better than Disneyland. It’s just that it finally feels somewhat distinct from it.
Walt Disney World is not plagued by the constrictions of space that Disneyland and Disney’s California adventure are. There’s no need to cram every attraction into the Magic Kingdom. The Matterhorn is replaced by Expedition: Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge gets an exact clone at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Rumors have abounded for some time that even the Indiana Jones Adventure might eventually make its way to either Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Indeed, the only thing that Disneyland has hands-down on Walt Disney World for the long term is access to Marvel properties outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy (due to the Marvel deal with Universal Studios). Both parks have unique things to offer and can be enjoyed for their different strengths.