Saturday, November 29, 2014

Orlando: Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's castle

We arrived in Orlando a day early so we could spend time at the Magic KingdomBut before going to the park, we bulked-up on carbs at our favorite vacation breakfast spot, the Waffle House, conveniently located just up the block from our rented condo. Love those hash browns!

Loading up at the Waffle House

10 minutes later!

When Disneyland was built in the mid-1950s, it was pretty much plunked down in the middle of the already-developed city of Anaheim and so was necessarily confined to a specific space. Walt Disney World (WDW), however, was built on Florida swampland and so the parks there are enormous. The Magic Kingdom is much more spread-out than Disneyland, even though the basic configuration is the same: Main Street, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland, and, of course, Tomorrowland—all of which feature many of the popular rides of Disneyland, only slightly different—the storyline of Orlando's Haunted Mansion, for instance, is told in a different order.

Now I love Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty castle, but even I have to admit that the Magic Kingdom's Cinderella's castle is far more beautiful and majestic. With no Matterhorn to compete for attention, Cinderella's castle is the centerpiece of the park and is truly magnificent.

Cinderella's castle: side-view

By far, my most favorite part of the Magic Kingdom, however, was Tomorrowland, where the old PeopleMover and Carousel of Progress still live! This was a wonderful surprise. 

On the PeopleMover

In addition, the Monorail is much more extensive at WDW, carrying visitors from the parking lot to the Magic Kingdom and even onto Epcot, which is located several miles away. The Monorail also goes to the three main hotels, including the Contemporary Resort and its gorgeous eight-story tile mural by Mary Blair, the Disney artist who designed the dolls and color palette of "it's a small world."

Monorail inside the Contemporary Resort

Part of Mary Blair's fabulous mural

The Magic Kingdom also features Liberty Square, a separate area that Walt, at one point, hoped to incorporate into Disneyland. Located here is the Hall of Presidents, an expanded version of "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln."

Eating an all-American hot dog in Liberty Square

The Liberty Belle: Magic Kingdom's version of the
Mark Twain paddleboat

Luckily, there were still tickets available for the after-hours Christmas party when we arrived at the Magic Kingdom that morning. Nothing beats Disneyland's wonderful Christmas celebration, but the Magic Kingdom's holiday fireworks and lightshow, shown against Cinderella's castle, are absolutely breath-taking. 

Christmas party: Main St. and the castle

Castle detail

Snowflakes on the castle

Bidding us adieu: the Main St. train station

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