Category Rank: 2
Park: "Rest of the World"
Park Rank: 3
Our next item is a ride filled with anticipation... of what's to come, that is. Disney's Magical Express, the chartered bus ride from the airport to your resort, is a very unique item. While all of the transportation category in our list could be described as "attractions you don't ride for themselves, but rather to get somewhere else", that's not actually true. The boat rides and the monorail are all ridden for the enjoyment. The park buses would accurately fall in that description, but they don't come anywhere near this list.
The Magic Express is different. Sure, there is little special about the ride itself, though the bus is nicer than the park buses. There is a selection of cheesy videos, including Don Ducky Williams mumbling something while drawing a cartoon that you can't hear. Yet, you look forward to the ride and get all tingly thinking about being on it. Why? Because it means you are just minutes away from the park.
Let's take a moment and think about this experience. With other parks, you arrive off the plane, get a rental car, park in a big parking lot, and walk to the front gate of the park. Maybe you pass a few neat features on the way in, but that's it.
Disney World, on the other hand, gets you off the plane with a bus. Your anticipation builds as it whets your appetite with what's to come in the park. It drops you off at your resort, where you have more anticipation building up. By the time you get to the park, you are so giddy with anticipation that the welcoming scene when you get to the park is overwhelming. WDW just does it better.
That said, some might think that this rank is a bit high. Do you actually reminisce about the bus ride from the airport when thinking about WDW, after all? More so than several of the other rides and shows that didn't make the list? More so than Disney classics like It's a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean? More so than personal favorites, like (for our family) the 50s Prime Time Cafe or the Animation Academy?
My answer is yes. When thinking of going to the park, one of the first thoughts my mind wanders to is the anticipation of riding on the Magical Express. Plus, when the ticket comes in the mail, much like the Magic Bands (which haven't been around as long), you know you're close. Like, so close, you better get down the suitcase and start packing.
This ride, like many others before it, has the added advantage of being a First Day item. It actually has the advantage of being a First Moment item, but I'm not creating another category for that. The special feeling of our first day at the park back on December 23, 2009, all kicked off with that ride and all the fun and magic that followed. The only people who shouldn't have this on their lists are the ones who have never ridden on it, who have decided to stay off site or drive in. In which case, do it just once. It's a whole different experience.
Our next item can be considered iconic as well, or it can be considered a thrill by some and therefore disqualified. It is another seasonal event, a seasonal party at Magic Kingdom that Kristen and I experienced for the first time this year and absolutely loved.