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Hot Take: Magic Kingdom is No Longer My Favorite Park

Hot Take: Magic Kingdom is No Longer My Favorite Park Magic-Kingdom-Sign

I still can’t believe what I’m suggesting. After all, not only am I a lifelong Disney fan, but I am a lifelong Walt Disney World fan. I’ve read every Walt Disney biography. I’ve watched every Imagineering documentary in existence. My home is filled with paraphernalia paying homage to classic Disney rides and theme park lands.

That being said, the Magic Kingdom was always my favorite park in Florida. Since Walt intended it to be a Disneyland 2.0, many opening-day Disneyland attractions made their way to Orlando. And I still love the Magic Kingdom. I adore the classic attractions like The Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, and It’s a Small World. I couldn’t imagine skipping it. But I’m not sure if it’s still my trip highlight.

At the risk of alienating the internet, here are some reasons why the Magic Kingdom has lost some pixie dust for me.

Inconvenient Location

First of all, the location is not ideal. As a child, I loved the ferry ride over the Seven Seas Lagoon and the exit from the real world. As an adult, it is hard to get to this park. Staying off-property forces you to drive and take the boat or get in a huge monorail line.

And if you stay on-property, you’re treated to staggering bus queues. Disney does their best by providing more bus shuttles to the Magic Kingdom, but that line is still stress-inducing. (Please note that taking an Uber or Lyft from your Disney hotel will not speed things up.) As someone who wants to capitalize on park time but is not a morning person, I dread this journey.

I always shake off the irritation of a Magic Kingdom commute, but it can start the day on the wrong note.

Hot Take: Magic Kingdom is No Longer My Favorite Park Main-st-usa-07

The Crowds

Disney World draws crowds, but no park draws them like the Magic Kingdom. If travelers are limited on money or time, this is the park they pick. If a family wants a great vacation photo for their holiday card, this is where they go. If a Disney-loving person needs the perfect spot to propose in … you get it. Many people consider it a rite of passage to visit the Magic Kingdom. This means that this park is busy. I’ve had so many shoulder-to-shoulder days there I avoid it on weekends.

On top of that, season events don’t help. During the several months that Disney World hosts Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Magic Kingdom can be insufferable on non-party days. Since the park closes at 7:00 p.m. on party days for non-party guests, the park is swarmed on the “normal” days. Despite being booted out early, I’ve ridden more rides on party days! (Keep this in mind for your seasonal visits.)

Additionally, crowds make it harder to relax. You have to run to attractions when wait times dip, and window shopping in the Emporium is reminiscent of pre-internet Black Friday. Sometimes all I want after a day in the Magic Kingdom is a beach vacation.

Hot Take: Magic Kingdom is No Longer My Favorite Park Fantasyland

Bad Attitudes

Cast Members are usually outstanding, and the average Disney World guest isn’t too cranky. This assessment doesn’t always apply to the Magic Kingdom. Do you remember that “rite of passage” I just mentioned? That entitled expectation of, “This must be the most perfect day of my life,” has led to some careless and outright rude guest behavior. (Ask anyone who’s stood behind a tall dad holding an eight-year-old on their shoulder for fireworks.)

I get it. Walking onto Disney property doesn’t automatically make someone a kind person, but I’ve seen this park bring out the worst in people. As a result, Cast Members get burnt out and don’t have the stamina to make magical days. Cast Members have excellent Guest Services training, but anyone’s cheerfulness can get broken down.

This does not apply to every human in the Magic Kingdom. It’s just an observation from a seasoned visitor.

Hot Take: Magic Kingdom is No Longer My Favorite Park Anna-and-Elsa-Float

Lack of Yummy Table Service Dining

Overall, I think the parks pale in comparison to resort dining. But the Magic Kingdom is my least favorite park for a sit-down meal. There are charming, themed spots and whimsical character dining options, but I don’t daydream about these meals. (Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake from The Liberty Tree Tavern is an exception!)

Now I am a huge fan of Magic Kingdom snacks like Adventureland Spring Rolls, the Sleepy Hollow Nutella Waffle, and the Citrus Swirl. But when I want an air-conditioned place to rest my feet for an hour, many options are overpriced and underwhelming.

I always run up an appetite in this park and would happily spend the money. I want more options for a truly fantastic dinner.

Hot Take: Magic Kingdom is No Longer My Favorite Park Skipper-Canteen

Riding the Coattails of Nostalgia

I am very excited for the Tron Cycle Power Run roller coaster to open next year, but I’m also surprised how long it’s taken to get a new Magic Kingdom ride. New Fantasyland debuted over a year ago, and the latest park addition was (unfortunately) the Enchantment fireworks.

Many Magic Kingdom attractions should be left alone. Still, when I see the vast expansions made in Hollywood Studios/Animal Kingdom and the plans for EPCOT, I’m more excited to visit them instead. I want some nostalgia preserved, but not at the expense of progress.

Not to mention, some rides could use a facelift or a replacement entirely. As a devoted fan, I want to know that Disney is just as invested as I am. And when real estate, like the former Stitch’s Great Escape building, sits empty, I wonder what possibilities we’re missing out on.

Hot Take: Magic Kingdom is No Longer My Favorite Park Stitchs-Great-Escape

Keep in mind; these are just my opinions. And these opinions haven’t kept me from visiting this park entirely. Truly, nothing would thrill me more than to be proven wrong on my next vacation. I hope I am.

A lifelong fanatic, Rebekah can't remember a time when she wasn't obsessed with Disney. She started her Disney blogging journey in 2015 and has since had her work published on MickeyBlog, Disney Fanatic, Disney Avenue, and Disney Tips. When she's not planning her next trip, you can find her reading, dancing, spoiling her puppy (Piper), and always clicking 'Jump to Recipe' on food blogs. Rebekah resides in Pittsburgh with her husband, who has converted to the "dark side".


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