02 September 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Magic Kingdom

Some of my favorite experiences with friends, colleagues, and fans of the Gazette come when I ask a question (generally through my Facebook status) about Walt Disney World. The varied responses I receive are always as unique as the individuals who respond. In an attempt to capture these moments, the Gazette is launching its first Roundtable discussion this morning. The cast of characters and questions may change, but I hope that you enjoy these talks. Let me know if you would like to take part in an upcoming discussion, or have a question that you are dying to have some fellow Disney enthusiasts answer!Roundtable Topic: What is your favorite attraction in the Magic Kingdom and why?
Roundtable Guests: Lori Burke (We Wants the Redhead), Elizabeth Caran (Take the Monorail), Fiona Doyle (DF’82), Tony Caggiano (The W.E.D. Page), Greg Grimsley (The Disney Obsession), Eric Hoffman (Netmongrel), April Baker (Scrapping the Magic/Take the Monorail), and myself.
Fiona – My favourite attraction at the Magic Kingdom isn't one of the thrill-rides or 'must see' attractions, but in my opinion, it is both! It's Pirates of the Caribbean - which is a 'must see' (some of those animatronics are classics!) and, if you're my mother, the drop definitely makes it a thrill-ride! I think it's my favourite attraction because of how much the rest of my family enjoy it. I love the in-jokes throughout the ride, and the classic quotes such as 'We wants the Redhead" and "Show 'em your larboard side". I always remember the way my gran enjoyed the ride and how much my mum laughed when we had that first drop! Although it's not as good as it used to be (I am sure they shortened it), it is always one I must do and I love to ride!

Greg – My favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom is Peter Pan's Flight. There has never been any question on this!

“True, there are many great rides in the Magic Kingdom; great for the thrills they bring or for the story they tell. Peter Pan's Flight is great for the memory it stirs within me. I made my first visit to Walt Disney World in the early Spring of 1972. It was only one day on what was a whirlwind tour through Florida. I don't remember everything about the Magic Kingdom that day, but I do remember that Flight. When our ship turned the corner and we flew out over the city of London, it was magic! It was magic that I still do not fully appreciate and cannot fully explain. In that moment I was flying! In that moment I was transported to another place and another time. I didn't need to know how things worked; I didn't care. All I cared about was being in that place at that time and wishing it could have lasted forever. It was pure fantasy. It was wonder!

"I am so much older now and I know a little bit more about how things work. Yet, when I walk through the castle into Fantasyland and turn left at Mickey's Philharmagic, I try very hard to forget. All I wish to do is climb aboard a flying ship and sail out over the city of London, think back to that first flight in '72 and just for a moment remember that there is still some small bit of innocence, a little dram of wonder, and a touch of magic still left in this world. I become, not an old man, but a boy who never really wanted to grow up."

Lori – It's hard for me to choose my favorite Magic Kingdom attraction, because there are so many that I LOVE!!! The Haunted Mansion, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (because of my love for Tigger, of course!), PhilharMagic and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad all come to mind. However, if I have to choose just one, I'm going to have to say Pirates of the Caribbean. I have been a fan of this attraction from the first time I rode it. The queue alone is amazing and fun to experience. I find myself getting more and more in "pirate mode" the deeper in I go. There isn’t just one reason why I love this attraction; it is the history, the darkness, the smell and even the redhead. All I know is that I find myself riding it over and over again when I'm in the Magic Kingdom. Oh, and the gift shop is awesome too! I don't think I ever leave without buying something.

Eric – Pirates of the Caribbean - avast! Pirates takes my top spot as favorite attraction at WDW. It was a close race with The Haunted Mansion but ultimately won out since it really suits my personal tastes most closely.

More than any other ride it incorporates all the elements that I find appealing such as adventure (what’s more adventurous than pirates?), supernatural elements (think the skeleton captain at the start), love of the ocean and ocean going vessels, history (real or imagined), and lovable rogues.

Judging it on the merits of its themeing and story line I have nothing but praise. Two different, and very elaborate queues give you two different versions of the cold, dark descent into Castillo del Morro, leaving the rest of world behind, and effectively setting the stage for the subsequent ride. Then you get to follow along with the marauding pirates and who hasn’t wanted to plunder and pillage (guilt free)?

I’m typically cautious about and resistant to change at WDW but I even like the recent additions of Captain Jack and Davy Jones to the classic cast of buccaneers.

Elizabeth – This is a particularly difficult question to answer because so many attractions in the Magic Kingdom are special to me for various reasons. But overall, for experience, themeing, and story immersion, my favorite has to be Splash Mountain. I believe I once stood in line for one hour and 45 minutes to ride it. It's such a long ride and the story is really so clear. Being thrown in the Briar Patch is definitely the climax of the ride, but unlike many thrill rides where you hit the big hill and then screech to a halt almost immediately, Splash Mountain includes a denouement. And even a final dance number extravaganza!
Tony – When I first heard the question "What's your favorite Magic Kingdom Attraction?" I thought it was a no brainer...then I sat down to write about it and found it more difficult than I had originaly thought.

After much "internal" debate, I would have say it's The Haunted Mansion.

Now, I considered blurting out "Stitch's Great Escape" just to be different...but when you come down to it, for me, there is nothing quite like boarding a Doom Buggy and heading off into the cobweb filled darkness of The Mansion.

To find my first memory of the ride, I have to go and dig way back...I would guess it was back somewhere around 1978 or so. I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting in the back of my parent's AMC Hornet, during the drive from New York to The World. My little brother, Frankie and I were already working up the courage to board the ride...days before were we even in the park.

I can still feel that tense sense inside me to this day. Standing at the Gates of The Haunted Mansion takes me back in time, transforming me into that same little boy, who could hardly wait, yet had a knot in his stomach, while standing in the queue waiting for his turn to ride.

These day, I get to see that same look in the eyes of my oldest son. He is not yet 3 years old, but has taken the journey many times, and he too starts talking about it days before we arrive at the park...working up the nerve to face the 999 Happy Haunts that wait inside.

April – My favorite attraction at the Magic Kingdom, hmm, that's a tough one. I truly love the Haunted Mansion, but there are a bunch of birds that hold a special place in my heart... so I'm going to have to go with The Enchanted Tiki Room. It's all about the Aloha spirit for me. I love all things Polynesian, and this attraction has it all. It's colorful, funny, musical, and the Imagineering is just really clever. It is one of the few attractions that has had a pretty major rehab putting it under new management, yet I'm not bothered by what they did to it. Do I prefer the original more, yes, but I still really like the current version. It's also the only attraction I remember doing with my grandmother because she liked it and she wanted to see it. Knowing how much she liked it makes it a little more extra special.

Ryan – As with any top pick, the list of runners up is always a mile long, and Magic Kingdom attractions are no exception. I could easily argue a case for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (or in my case the WEDWay PeopleMover), Peter Pan’s Flight, the Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Walt Disney World Railroad, or even the Swiss Family Treehouse, but I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I didn’t say that my favorite attraction in all of the Magic Kingdom is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Among the multitude of reasons why I am so very fond of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the fact that often, as a child, it afforded me some one-on-one time with one of my parents, usually my dad. My sister was terrified of the ride, mostly due to the bats and loud noises during the first lift, so many times only one of my parents and I would venture through the switchback queue, down into the depot and onboard one of the mine trains for the wildest ride in the wilderness.

As I grew older and into an adult, I could remember all the clever names of the trains, I learned more about the history of the attraction and the back story to the town of Tumbleweed, and it became more than just a fond childhood memory, it became a part of who I am. My dad grew up a few ages removed from piracy and reveled in songs like Jimmy Buffet’s A Pirate Looks at Forty, but I grew up a few generations away from cowboys and the west and was, and always will be, a child of Frontierland (with one foot in Tomorrowland).


Michael said...

Very nice!

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who would have considered the WEDWay. In fact, I *would* have said the WEDWay. Close competition would be Mansion and the WDWRR. After that would probably be PPF... Splash is great, but I don't always feel like getting wet and I never feel like getting soaked...

Netmongrel said...

Honestly Ryan - TTA/WEDWay is one of the few rides at Magic Kingdom that I ride more than once on EVERY trip.

I love the view. It's a little bit above the hustle and bustle. No wait to speak of. Riding at dusk is just sublime.

While my big girls are on the marquee attractions I ride it with my little one who isn't QUITE tall enough for the big rides. I make sure to sit opposite her so I can see her face as she takes in the sites. Best part of every trip!