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No Contest: Magic Kingdom Is Walt Disney World’s Worst Park

Happily Ever After Fireworks Show
Credit: Disney

Magic Kingdom is a land where fairytales full of adventure, heartwarming nostalgia, and your favorite animated characters come to life. Opened in 1971, the park was designed to bring the success of Disneyland Resort in California to the East Coast.

It was built to place guests in the middle of their favorite Disney stories through vital immersive detail and sly Imagineering tricks. You genuinely do “Leave Today and Enter the World of Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy.”

cinderella castle

Credit: Becky Burkett

Related: Entire Multi-Million-Dollar Magic Kingdom Attraction Forced to Close Forever After Being Deemed Inappropriate and “Too Far”

Magic Kingdom is also central to what we think about when we hear Disney. Whether it be Main Street, U.S.A., or Cinderella Castle, the park is a focal point for many iconic images we associate with The Walt Disney Company.

Timeless tales from the Old West, historical accounts of America’s infancy, and a glimpse into what tomorrow could look like give us a peek into who Walt Disney was and what he loved. It’s a beautifully designed park, but also the worst one in Walt Disney World.

The collective gasps of everyone reading that last sentence were palpable.

I can see the angry comments already, but I stand by what I said, and I will spend some time explaining myself.

Let’s start by saying this: Magic Kingdon isn’t a lousy theme park. But it only holds up when you compare certain faculties of other Disney-based entertainment in other parks. Not just entertainment either; there are several other reasons why EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or even Disney’s Hollywood Studios are superior parks to Walt Disney World’s flagship location.

Ride Experiences

Windows at Pinocchio village haus overlooking its a small world attraction

Credit: Disney

Of course, I’m excluding all Disney waterparks from this conversation, so let’s go ahead and get ahead of that.

Concerning rides, most would consider the Magic Kingdom to be geared toward a younger demographic. This isn’t to say there aren’t iconic rides at Magic Kingdom, but many are lacking because they are quickly becoming outdated.

My last visit to Magic Kingdom included five different ride systems breaking down, the majority of which were dark rides. This included Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Winnie the Pooh, “it’s a small world,” and Buzz Lightyear. All of these are old rides that some could call outdated.

There need to be more ride options for excitement at the Magic Kingdom. Even though there are a few “coasters,” they lack the thrill of what I would consider a real roller coaster, and yes, I include TRON in that assessment.

space mountain at walt disney world's magic kingdom

Credit: Disney

Don’t even get me started on “Space Mountain: The Chiropractic Experience.” I understand that most of these attractions possess a following of loyal customers driven by nostalgia. Still, they must be updated or replaced to keep the park on track with other options.

I know that Magic Kingdom houses the most attractions compared to the other parks, but let’s not ignore that three of them are the same ride system. There are several attractions, if you can call them rides, that are carnival caliber. Many of these can be found in New Fantasyland, which most thought would enhance the park.

Dining

Suppose you’re not in the mood for a few unique snack options, Italian food slightly better than your local chain restaurant, or everything fried. In that case, Magic Kingdom is going to leave you disappointed.

Casey's Corner interior

Credit: Disney

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The dining options in this park are virtually nonexistent. The few decent options are complicated to secure, and the emphasis on decor outweighs the quality of eats. Snack carts and popcorn trolleys are everywhere, but if you want a solid Disney dining experience, you must hit the monorail.

I get it: corn dog nuggets are delicious, DOLE Whip is a must-have, and sugary treats make up the perfect Disney day. If we’re being honest, the best food at Walt Disney World is miles away from the Magic Kingdom.

EPCOT and Disney Springs come to mind immediately when thinking of better options. Still, the truth is even its surrounding resorts outshine the flagship park, providing vastly superior food opportunities. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom outshine the Magic Kingdom as well.

Entertainment

Happily Ever After Christmas Lights Show

Credit: Disney

Related: 5 Places to Watch ‘Happily Ever After’ That Aren’t Main Street, U.S.A.

I’ll accept defeat early on in this category as ‘Happily Ever After” is the grandaddy of night-time spectaculars. None of the other parks can touch that emotional exhale after a long, hot day in the parks.

I believe the fireworks at Magic Kingdom should be the last thing anyone does on their Disney vacation because it will bring you back again! It’s just that good.

Sometimes, more than rides and food are needed to fill our days. We need other entertainment.

Although I do appreciate staples of Magic Kingdom, such as the Hall of Presidents, the majority of amusement needs to be improved compared to other parks (except maybe Hollywood Studios at the moment). Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor is cute the first time you do it, but much like the older rides, the show value at the Magic Kingdom leaves a lot to be desired.

The parades are great, “Happily Ever After” is great, and the Dapper Dans are great, but the indoor offerings for shows at the Magic Kingdom are few and far between.

Parking

Parking lot tram return at Magic Kingdom

Credit: Disney

This one will not apply to everyone, but my fellow annual passholders will understand.

The Magic Kingdom is the only place you cannot park directly and walk up to the entrance. Instead, you MUST board a monorail or boat to carry you across the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Disney Resort Guests have the luxury of hopping on a bus, but have you ever closed down the Magic Kingdom and tried waiting for a bus to get you back to the resort? It can be a miserable experience.

The same can be said for waiting for that boat or monorail to get you back to the ticket center, where you must walk or catch a tram to your car.

The other parks don’t have this issue for those who use our private vehicles. We can park and walk to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, or Hollywood Studios’ entrances. It’s relatively easy (assuming you aren’t rope-dropping the park).

disney world four parks

Credit: Disney Parks/Canva

Related: The Worst Restaurant at Disney World Is Also One of Its Most Popular

The extra steps to get to the front door of the Magic Kingdom can be a bit of a headache at times, especially when transportation is down, which is sometimes due to the weather.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal until your feet are on fire from walking 10 miles, and you now have to handle that last stretch to get to your car after standing in line for a boat or monorail. It works, but it’s frustrating. The fact that Magic Kingdom is often the most crowded park only lends itself to this problem!

In closing, assuming you’ve kept reading this far, it’s not that Magic Kingdom is a bad park. It’s a lovely place where we can escape the cruel realities of the real world and just be kids again, as Walt intended.

prince charming regal carrousel

Credit: Disney Parks

Related: The Absolute Worst Menu Item At Walt Disney World

But I would challenge you to place the four parks in order from your favorite to least favorite, and I think you’d be surprised how many people have the Magic Kingdom at the bottom of their list. You may even be surprised, much like I was, to realize that it is your least favorite park. Guess what? That’s okay!

It doesn’t mean that you hate Magic Kingdom or that your Disney privileges will be revoked. It just means you’re similar to many people who prefer faster rides, better food, cooler shows, and less walking.

Which Walt Disney World park is your LEAST favorite? Let us know in the comments. 

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and may not reflect the views of Disney Dining as a whole.

About Michael Arnold

Michael is a father, husband, and an Army Veteran. Michael spends his weekends at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando checking out new merchandise and food. Michael is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has an education background in Public Health. You can find Michael riding Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again or binge watching new Marvel and Star Wars content. Han shot first. Thor is the strongest Avenger. Roll Tide and Wash Your Hands!

3 comments

  1. I have been coming to WDW since The Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, and I believe the reason that you cannot walk directly into the entrance and need to take a monorail or boat to reach the KINGDOM, is because it is the only park that is THE MAGIC KINGDOM…away from your real world. It has always been intended to be exactly THAT! That was Walt Disney’s original idea and purpose…

  2. I completely agree! I’ve been to both Disneyland and Disney World and Magic Kingdom is the equivalent of Disneyland, but I think Disneyland is way better!

  3. I agree MK is not the best park at WDW. Having the fastest, highest roll coaster in the world is NOT required, having rides that WORK is required. There is no reason why every ride at WDW breaks down daily! Proper maintenances done on a daily basis should fix most of the problems. I worked at Mission Space for a few years, the only time I remember. being down was for quests who lost their lunch on the ride. We had a team of maintenance cast members who were assigned there and took care of minor problems as they happened and kept the ride in operation. They also did preventive maintenance. at night. Not sure this is true for any other ride at WDW – it should be. My other concern is MK (and the other parks) are not as clean as they used to be. Trash everywhere, paint chipped and peeling, stuff just plain. looking run-down.
    ,,

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