Adulting at Disney – Magic Kingdom
A guest post series by Alyssa Burgess
The main park. The coup de grâce. Magic Kingdom is where the magic happens. I’ll be honest with you…This post was a difficult one. It’s hard for me to write an “adult only” post about Magic Kingdom because, well, I am an adult and enjoy EVERYTHING in this park. I even get giddy over the character meet-and-greets. So, for the purpose of this particular series, I am going to recommend the best attractions and eateries in this park as if I were talking to my boyfriend, whom only has a casual love of Disney, and therefore would not squeal in delight if, for example, he happened to see Peter Pan while out and about in the parks. Not that I would do that, or anything…bless him, at least he tolerates my obsession.
To get this party started, let’s cover the rides.
- Haunted Mansion. This ride can be enjoyed by all ages (except maybe for the real little ones, cause it still can be a little scary) but I enjoy it in particular because it’s like a PG version of Tower of Terror (no vertical drops, thank the Lord). If “Its a Small World” is a 1 and Tower of Terror is a 10, I’d put Haunted Mansion somewhere around a 3 or 4. However, I scare easy so your experience may vary.
- Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor. Another attraction that can be enjoyed by all ages, I included this one because humor is ageless. Also, it’s just really really funny. The monsters actually interact with the crowd in real time (I can only assume there’s some sort of Wizard of Oz thing going on with a witty cast member behind a curtain with access to a camera and microphone) and you can even submit your own jokes via text as you wait to be seated (no dirty jokes though…lets keep it clean, this is still Disney!) This attraction is one of my favorites.
- Space Mountain. To be honest, I only mention this one because I feel morally obligated to. For a very long time, Space Mountain was really the only thrill ride in the Disney Parks. However, this ride has an almost weird reverse-age side effect. The ride is dark, shaky, and I’ve discovered that the older I get, the less I enjoy this ride. It messes with my vertigo and gives me a headache…our parents absolutely refuse to ride it anymore because it messes them up big time. That being said though, it really is a bucket list ride if you’ve never ridden it before. You have to ride it at least once, just to say you have, because it’s a classic Disney thrill ride. And after all, you may love it! Lots of people do, it’s one of the busiest rides in the park!
- Thunder Mountain Railroad. I think I’ve ridden this ride on every Disney trip, not because it’s a favorite, but because it tends to be one of the few roller coasters in the park that doesn’t have a ridiculous line. It’s fun, surprisingly smooth for an older coaster, and definitely worth doing at least once.
- Splash Mountain. I mention this one, even though I’ve never actually ridden it myself, because it’s another ride that tends to be the more popular with the older crowd. Personally, I avoid water rides. Yeah, Florida is hot, and yeah that big splash of cool water feels great in the Florida heat…but for all of maybe 5 minutes. Then you get to walk around in soggy clothes for an hour. But hey, if that isn’t a big deal for you, then have at it! I’ll be observing from a safe distance and enjoy it vicariously through others 🙂 If you dare to take the plunge, it might be a good idea to pack a change of clothes for afterwards. Unfortunately, that’s more stuff you have to carry around all day, but it may be a better alternative than walking around with a soggy butt. Just sayin’.
- Be Our Guest (QS and TS). This restaurant is probably the most “adult” of all the restaurants in the park. The unique thing about Be Our Guest is that it serves breakfast and lunch and is technically classified as quick service for these two meals, however you still get the perks of a table service restaurant because it’s 1. indoors (and freaking gorgeous too, b-t-dubs) and 2. the food comes to you! Dinner is traditional table service. Be Our Guest is also the only restaurant in Magic Kingdom that serves alcohol (dinner service only). Unfortunately, you will still need reservations to eat here, despite two out of the three meals being quick service, because this place is popular. And rightfully so! You can eat in 3 different wings, the Grand Ballroom, the West Wing (meticulously decorated by the Beast during one of his many fits of rage), and the calmer and least crowded Castle Gallery. The ballroom is the most awe-inspiring and beautiful of the 2 rooms, but I recommend the West Wing for adults because it’s darker, scarier, and geared more towards an older crowd. Even if you decide to dine in the West Wing, you still get to view the beauty of the ballroom – you have to walk through it to get to and from the West Wing. Make sure to check out the ballroom windows – that’s about the only time you’ll see it snow in Florida!
- Note: It’s also worth mentioning that you can actually pre-order your food 30 days in advance – this keeps you from having to wade through the busy kiosk section to place your order. We did this in our last trip in January and it was such a pleasant experience! It was hard deciding what I’d want to eat a whole 30 days in advance, but skipping the ordering kiosk saved a TON of time and frustration. We checked in with the hostess, who immediately gave us our “rose” (this is their method of finding you once you seat yourself) and off we went to find a table! Our food was there before our whole party could even get their drinks!
- Diamond Horseshoe (TS). In the past, the Diamond Horseshoe was only open on extremely busy days. I have a memory from when we went to Disney in July (I was 14 or 17 at the time, I can’t remember) and I remember eating here. It’s made to resemble an old time-y saloon where you’ll indulge in “hearty, western fare” family style. Everyone gets salad and each person gets to order their own entree and dessert. You can eat as much or as little as you want, and you can even order more if you’re really hungry!
- Columbia Harbor House (QS, indoors). This is a quick service option located in Liberty Square (near Haunted Mansion) that has some interesting American fare. This is a great place if you’re a fan of seafood. You can get an assortment fish here, including fried shrimp and fish or their famous lobster roll. For you non-seafood eaters, they also have chicken nuggets and a couple different salad options as well. It’s recommended to try to score a seat upstairs if you can, as it tends to be a little more secluded and has an excellent view.
- Liberty Tree Tavern (TS). This is another American-style eatery located in Liberty Square. It’s strongly recommended to have reservations for this restaurant. Additionally, the menu’s vary greatly based on the time you go. For lunch, you get a standard menu and each person orders what they want. However, for dinner, they have a specific menu that’s served family-style, reminiscent of your typical Thanksgiving yummies.
- Skipper Canteen (TS). Skipper Canteen is one of the newest additions to Magic Kingdom. Located in Adventureland (near Jungle Cruise), this restaurant is best suited for the adventurous eater. You’ll get a variety of Asian, African, and South American cuisine here, ranging from 3 different types of rice bowls, falafal, and the more familiar steak or grilled chicken. If you have a picky eater in your party, it may be a good idea to check the menu prior to arrival to make sure everyone will be happy with their options.
I have a couple quick service places I feel are worth mentioning, even though they aren’t particularly geared towards adults – they’re just good. Sleepy Hollow (QS, outdoors, covered patio) is my current quick service of choice when it comes to breakfast in Magic Kingdom. I recently got to try the fresh fruit and nutella waffle during our trip in January and let me just tell you, it is absolutely as good as it sounds. Check it out in the picture below:
Friar’s Nook (QS, outdoors, limited seating, covered) is another one of my favorite quick service eateries, purely for their macaroni and cheese. You can get it plain, or they have seasonal “specialty” mac n’ cheeses. Currently, the specialty offerings are bbq chicken mac n’ cheese or pot roast mac n’ cheese. The servings are huge and incredibly filling, so it’s an excellent option for a quick and inexpensive lunch.
Any day at Magic Kingdom would be incomplete without the penultimate activity: the nightly Fireworks show, Wishes. Join Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy as they celebrate the power of believing. You will hear a medley of famous Disney songs and the voices of Disney characters in the biggest fireworks extravaganza you could ever imagine. So grab yourself a good spot and feel like a kid again as fireworks light up the night sky.
Before Wishes, be sure to watch out for the Main Street Electrical Parade. Dozens of floats wrapped in thousands of bright lights with your favorite characters along with a catchy soundtrack. It’s a really fun way to end your evening at this magical park!
Speaking of parades, the Festival of Fantasy Parade can’t be missed. At 3pm every day, the most awe-inspiring floats make their way through the park carrying your favorite characters. You won’t want to miss Maleficent as the Dragon and Prince Philip’s exciting duel! Check out our post on this parade here. Trust me, it’s a must-see.
Just because you’re no longer a kid, doesn’t mean you should skip Magic Kingdom. It’s iconic! As you can see, it still has a lot to offer to the older crowd. And besides, where’s the harm in enjoying a little whimsy? Don those Mickey ears, wave to Cinderella and friends, and have yourself a good time!