Sans-Magic: The Current State of WDW’s “Magic” Kingdom

Every winter, without fail, I find myself feeling irate that spring has not arrived and I am still hibernating between my home and my office. Additionally, I fester about other things in the universe that I have little control over. Poverty. Unimaginable greed. Injustice. But I’m not going to depress anyone (too much) and rant about those things today. I’ll soften the outcry. I’m going to rant about my favorite vacation spot, because this particular frustration is seriously making me (the consummate fan) want to spend time away from “the World”.

 

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Here’s the problem. It is becoming more and more miserable to spend any amount of time in the Magic Kingdom. True, WDW has routinely attracted larger crowds compared to its California equivalent, due to the sheer fact that its size has made it more popular for international visitors. However, as a result of the construction happening at the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, more and more guests are opting out of visiting those parks at all, and are instead heading to MK in enormous droves. Frankly, I think this is mostly an issue due to the uninformed opinion that there is “nothing to do” at either of those spots. Let’s take a closer look. AK has been a half-day park since its opening in the 90s, and has never played a role in evening out WDW-wide crowd levels. No attractions have been shut down to make room for Pandora: The World of Avatar, so I fail to see why AK requires even less attention. Secondly, the walls in HS may be unappealing, but what major contenders have truly closed there? During my past two visits, I made visits to that park and still never experienced every attraction in a day. All of the major thrill rides and shows are still in full swing, but what has been lost? The Streets of America section (that took ten minutes to walk through). The “Lights! Motor! Action!” show (easily a one and done item). The Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area (really, if this was a favorite of yours, I may be judging). Again, unless you chose to skip out on HS this past Christmas due to the lack of Osbourne lights, there is no reason to shun either park.

 

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And yet, this misconception is pushing unimaginable numbers to the flagstaff park, causing crowds that are only seen during the holidays. What does this mean for your MK visit? It means that you will need an exceptional amount of patience to not turn around as soon as you see the hordes of people just waiting at the turnstiles. It means that if you’re staying on property, you will be waiting for a minimum of 3 buses to arrive before you can board. It means that you will be waiting an hour plus for unpopular, high-capacity rides. It means that even trying to see the parade or the fireworks could be a complete waste of time. It means that more and more cast member interactions will be less than pleasant. This is something I experienced during my recent visit. While I appreciate that I could be using this opportunity to throw out my to-do list and savor the atmosphere, I find that nearly impossible when I’m bumping elbows with thousands of other sweaty humans.

Furthermore, I don’t understand why MK is “the” park for the casual guest to visit. I know why I personally love it. I love that it is rich in history. I love that the MK is an improved version of Walt’s original dream park. This place embodies my childhood, but for the novice visitor, I can understand why they are underwhelmed by the tame rides and corny vibe. Let me be blunt. I’m tired of these unappreciative crowds clogging up my happy place without care.

 

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I am optimistic that the opening of Pandora this summer will alleviate crowds, and most certainly, the opening of Star Wars Land in 2019 will be an enormous success. Until then, could Disney have done anything to avoid the MK mobs? Are they not doing enough to encourage people to visit the other parks? Have the increased ticket prices caused guests to cut down park time and therefore, make MK their sole stop?

On an uplifting note, my experience at literally every other park, hotel, and shopping area in WDW has continued to be lovely. The Magic Kingdom is truly the only place where I find myself agreeing with cheer-less adults who avoid Orlando like a war zone. This is killing me.

Again, I am expecting that this is a temporary state caused by bad press. If not, the Magic Kingdom may be a spot to axe from my itinerary.

 

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