Simple Pleasures at the Magic Kingdom

Okay. Here’s the thing. You’ve been to the Magic Kingdom more times than you can count. You still love riding Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion, the characters continue to charm you, and an ice cream cone tastes as yummy as ever. But you long for something new. What I’m going to offer here are some simple pleasures to experience if you’ve reached the point where you don’t need to get “your money’s worth” when you visit. These will be experiences that if Disney still used ticket books, might not even garner an “A” coupon. We’ll start in the Main Street Train Station.

Years ago, before Disney merchandise filled every nook and cranny of Main Street, there was a Penny Arcade along this thoroughfare. Here, old time machines like a Kiss-O-Meter and Electric Handshake lined the walls. Sadly, this wonderful spot was removed to make room for more plush characters. But luckily, some of the old paraphernalia that once brought a smile to our faces was moved to the Main Street Train Station.

The first item of interest is a nickelodeon made by the J.P. Seeburg Company in 1927. The instrument contains a piano, mandolin, triangle, xylophone, and castanets which are activated by a paper roll. The machine no longer accepts coins, but there is a switch on the back that you can flip to start the music playing.

Nickelodeon

Also in the Train Station are several Mute-O-Scopes. These predecessors to the movie projector were first introduced in the early 1900’s. They contained several hundred picture-cards attached to a wheel. Using a crank, a person can spin the wheel causing the cards to flip one by one and create the illusion of a moving picture.

Mute-O-Scopes

Need a little rest from a strenuous day in the Magic Kingdom? Then buy a box of popcorn and head over to Exposition Hall. At the back of the building you’ll find that the old “Walt Disney Story” theater has been remodeled and now shows “Steamboat Willie” and “The Band Concert” cartoons. This is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a few simple laughs. Also in this area are several “cut out” photo opportunities.

Exposition Hall Theatre

Photo Op

Across the street from Exposition Hall is The Chapeau Shop. Here you’ll find one of the old time telephones that used to be located at the Market House. Lift the receiver and take a listen and you can eavesdrop on Mama, Anna, Mr. Dinglinger and Miss Flump as they carry on a three and a half minute conversation. The routine is corny by today’s standards, but still worth your time.

Old Time Phone

Further down Main Street is the Crystal Arts Shop presented by Arribas Brothers. At the back of the store are several ovens, workbenches and tools. Each afternoon, a craftsman works magic with molten glass and creates pieces of art before your eyes. While doing this, he explains each step of the process, all of which is very interesting.

Glass Blower

Here is a sample of some of the wonderful Mickey pieces created in this shop. Prices range from $50 and up.

Mickey Glassware

Unfortunately, the Main Street Vehicles don’t run as often as they once did. But if you ever see the jitney, fire engine or trolley stopped in The Plaza or on The Hub picking up passengers, be sure to hop aboard. The one-way trip is far from exciting, but it’s worth every minute of your time. Somehow you feel special when riding in these old-fashioned vehicles.

Horse and Trolley

Jitney

A perennial favorite ever since the Magic Kingdom opened is the piano player at Casey’s Corner. Ragtime and oldies are the melodies du jour, sprinkled with some corny jokes and jovial banter. Grab a hotdog and Coke, take a seat nearby, and enjoy some great, live music.

Casey's Corner Piano Player

Over in Adventureland you’ll find Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats. This so called “attraction” is intended for kids. But hey, isn’t that why you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom – to feel like a kid again? So go for it. Spend a couple of bucks and pilot your own radio-controlled boat for a few of minutes. And if you can persuade someone else to join you, you can have sea battles as you ram each other’s craft.

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

In Frontierland you’ll find my all-time favorite people-watching spot at Walt Disney World, Splash Mountain. Position yourself on the outer bridge and watch the folks as they “splash down.” As we all know, smiles and laughter are infectious and you’ll see and hear plenty of both here. You can’t leave this spot without feeling happier. I’ve been known to spend ten to fifteen minutes standing at this spot watching excited and often wet people having a good time.

Splash Mountain

This next Simple Pleasure is one of my secrets that I hesitate to tell, but being the great guy that I am, I’ll share with you. At the Pinocchio Village Haus Restaurant you’ll find one of the greatest spots to grab a bite, relax, and people watch. Few know that there is a second-story balcony that overlooks Fantasyland at this eatery. There are two staircases leading to this spot, one indoors and one out. There are only four tables up here, but you can usually secure one as most people haven’t a clue this wonderful locale exists (well, until now).

Pinocchio Village Haus Balcony

Pinocchio Village Haus Balcony

View of Fantasyland

My final suggestion for an uncomplicated moment is to head over to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café in Tomorrowland. Here you’ll find Sonny Eclipse performing a 25 minute show. Sonny is a lounge-lizard, literally. He’s meant to be background entertainment. But if you take the time to actually listen to his routine, you’ll be delighted. He’s funny and his show is definitely out of this world.

Sonny Eclipse

Disney parks have so much to offer besides rides. I’ve given you some of my Simple Pleasures, but I’m sure you have a few of your own. If you do, I’ll be happy to print them in the Comments Section following this blog.

As nice as pictures are, they can’t always tell the complete story. I’ve put together a six-minute video that gives you a sample of much of what I’ve talked about. I hope you enjoy it.

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44 Replies to “Simple Pleasures at the Magic Kingdom”

  1. Jack,
    Have you heard that they were taking away the Steamboat Willie exhibits to make room for a character meet ‘n greet? I read somewhere else that they are going to offer a meet ‘n greet here because of the renovations to Fantasyland. This was going to be a “surprise” for my 13 year old as he really likes Steamboat Willie clips. Do you know any news? We will be there in July.

  2. Hey Jack,

    As a longtime reader, let me begin by saying this is probably my favorite blog you’ve ever done. Little by little, you have been teaching all of us to focus on the details of WDW. To finally dedicate an entire blog to simple pleasures made my day! Like many others, I can’t wait to eat a snack on the intimate balcony above Pinochio’s! Thank you SO much for sharing this detail! I can understand your reluctance.

    As for my simple pleasure, it’s something you did a blog on awhile back. Having lunch at Trail’s End and afterwards walking around the peaceful Fort Wilderness grounds. Pet the horses and watch the blacksmith. Get away from it all!! My family and I have had two post-marathon lunches at Trail’s End and it cannot be beat; the atmosphere and the food!

    Thanks again,
    Kirstin

  3. Jack,
    Just saw this latest video and most of your other ones – I absolutly love them being a Disney fan like everyone on this site they are so well done and makes me feel like I am there -almost.
    Have you ever considered putting them all together and selling them. I for one would love to have these to view when I need a smile.
    Bonnie L

  4. I feel soooooo special!!!! Haven’t been to Disney that many times- (4 to be exact- number 5 coming in 50 days….!!!!) but in 2008 My husband and I celebrated 20 yr anniversary (leaving 4 kids at home) with a 3 night weekend at Disney. We had lunch on the balcony at Pinocchio Haus!!! I thought it was wonderful!! Now I feel like I’m on the “in” with the AllEars team sharing a secret moment together 🙂 Although, with this trip coming up- total of 16 people (8 children) – I don’t think we will get the balcony seating, we’ll be heading to the Back Yard BBQ!

  5. Thank you Jack! I had tears of joy rolling down my cheeks watching this video. I love your blogs and the videos even more. I cannot begin to tell you properly how grateful I am that you take the time to do this; I know it is no easy task. It just means so darn much to people like me who love Disney World so much but just can’t be there that often. I can almost pretend I am there walking around the park with you. Thank you for taking me along on your journeys!

  6. My friend and I went to Starlight Ray’s late one night, and the place was deserted. We sat right up front, and Sonny Eclipse just flirted with both of us shamelessly!! He is truly a genius, and I agree his show is “out of this world”!

  7. Super awesome! I love these insights into the smaller attractions and bits of magic. I am super excited to try the balcony seating at Pinocchio Village Haus — I had no idea that was there!

    Thanks for this view into Magic Kingdom’s simple pleasures.

  8. Thank You – Thank You, Jack! Loved seeing your Simple Pleasures. For years I have been telling everyone who goes with me to WDW to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures that Disney does so well! Enjoying the simple pleasures enhances the Magic of your trip rather then the fast-paced marathon like so many people do!
    Thanks Again Jack!

  9. Jack –

    We love the second story of Pinnochio’s! It is also a great place for a very different take on Wishes. You obviously don’t get the full impact of the shells that are going off behind you, but the view of the castle is cool and watching all the people looking back and forth is quite enjoyable.

  10. Years ago, Aunt Polly’s had the best ham on rye sandwhiches and we loved to go over and eat b/c it was never crowded. That was one of our “simple pleasures”

  11. Great Job again Jack! Just wanted to share that on rainy days the theater is full of “meet and greet” characters! had a blast there in Jan, very few people where there, just just happen to stop in to watch the movie and found it full of charaters! Peter Pan was so funny with our boys,and running around the place!

    And from our “Don’t miss it, or we will go back” list is always the upstairs of the train station! Our Boys are totally in love with the football game!
    Thanks again! ( Looking forward to the Tom Sawyer blog!)

  12. My favorite simple pleasure is to bring a snack over to Tom Sawyer Island sit in the rocking chairs in front of Aunt Polly’s and just relax and let it all soak in.
    The ducks swimming in the water, the smells of the restaurants as they linger past your nose and the sounds of the Liberty Belle as she journeys along the river.
    It’s pure magic.

  13. Great article, Jack. I love reading about all the hidden gems and special spots in Walt Disney World. As a kid, I was a huge fan of the Penny Arcade, and didn’t realize a few gems were still in the railroad station. Great tip!

    I’m a big fan of the second floor of the Columbia Harbour House, which is usually really empty and a great respite from the noisy first floor. It also has some nice decor and a great view of Liberty Square.

    Another fun tradition is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. My wife and I rode it several times in a row the last time we were there. It’s a relaxing break and gives an excellent view of Tomorrowland. It’s too bad the Skyway is gone, as that was an even better way to see the parks.

  14. I made sure I saved a copy of this article….Great ideas!!

    I have noticed the tables above Pinnochio’s Haus, but every time I have tried it is roped off or when asking an employee, they have told me it is closed.

    Guess the timing has to be right as well!

  15. Jack,
    Its the “simple pleasures” like these and the other less known hidden extras that makes Disney for me. Thanks for pointing out a few more I was not already aware of!! No other theme parks or amusement parks can compare to the details that Immagineers put into Disney parks and attractions. Its these little hidden extras that keep me coming back year after year! Thanks again!

    Rob

  16. Hey Jack! Yet another great blog! When we were there a couple of weeks ago, we spent some time with Jim (the piano player @ Casey’s Corner). He took requests and let my daughter Cricket play the final note to several songs. Was a fun time with him. He thanked us for taking the time to spend with him because its so busy around there and its not very often people take a pause with him. We’ll definatly visit with Jim again!!!
    PS. Was great meeting you & Deb on Feb 27th! Til next time….

  17. Great blog Jack. I discovered the Mute-O-Scopes on my visit last fall and enjoyed a few quiet minutes viewing them before the next train came along.

    As one other blogger mentioned, one of my favorites is a round or two at the Frontierland shooting arcade, but I’ll have to try the Jungle Boats next time too.

    If you’re up for it, I’d love to see a few more blogs of your favorite simple pleasures from the other three parks as well.

    Thanks again!

  18. Do they still have the paintbrushes at Tom Sawyer Island? And can you still hear the piano teacher near the firehouse in Town Square? We heard the conversation at the Hat Shop last time we were at the World. Also there is a huge mural in the Exposition Hall of most of the Disney characters – sometimes it is covered by a curtain – we saw this years ago. Thank you for the wonderful touch of Disney every week.

    Jack’s Answer:

    Thanks for writing.

    I know at one time, Disney discontinued the “hidden” paintbrushes on Tom Sawyer Island. But the other day, I thought I overheard one of the cast members mention this to a guest. Bottom line, I don’t know. However, I’m thinking seriously about writing a Tom Sawyer Island blog and if I do, I’ll obviously have to find this out.

    To my knowledge, all of the second-story recordings on Main Street are still played. But I haven’t checked this out in some time; so once again, I can’t give you a definitive yes or no.

    As to your last question… I remember a large mural with the Disney characters when you exited the Walt Disney Story. I even have a picture of it. But I thought that it was removed when this attraction was discontinued and Exposition Hall was remodeled — unless you’re thinking of something different.

    Sorry I wasn’t a fountain of information for you.

  19. My daughter and I enjoyed reading your blog. We are going back to Disney in August and are looking forward to checking out the glass blowers and taking time to eat and relax on the balcony at Pinocchio Village Haus Restaurant. Thanks for sharing your Simple Pleasures with us.

  20. Jack,
    I was so excited to hear that there were more “machines” left from that ‘ol penny arcade on
    Main Street. I am going to check out the train station on my next visit! I found 2 Mute-O-Scopes at the Boardwalk Inn. They are so cool!
    Thanks for letting us know!

  21. Hey Jack, enjoyed reading your blog. We are going down next weekend but for a change, shameful as it might seem, we are not going to go to any of the parks. Well, maybe one day to Epcot to enjoy the flower show, but other than that we are going to enjoy other treats, such as Downtown and West Side. We like to visit different resorts too. We’ll be back in May and then back to the parks. We have been to WDW numerous times so it will seem strange not to go to a park, although my youngest son is convinced I will not be able to stay away.
    Enjoyed reading and learned some new stuff. Thanks a bunch.

  22. hey jack
    thanks for the great bloog. I don’t take the time to enjoy the simple things at disney as much as I should with all the hustle and bustle going on but I always make time to go see the piano player and watch people on splash mountain. Can’t wait for your next blog and as always, keep up the great work

  23. One of my simple pleasures outside of the MK can be found in two locations that I know of. I call them the 3-D sound closets. One, starring Grandmother Willow and teaching a great lesson in environmentality, can be found at the Conservation Station in the Animal Kingdom. A second can be found in the ‘exit’ of Sounds Dangerous at the Disney Hollywood Studios. (Sometimes it pays to go ‘in’ the ‘out’ of certain attractions). Don’t be afraid to open these doors, plop on the headphones, and enjoy the ‘show’ in the quiet, cool, darkness of these closets.

    And thanks for the post, Jack. I think these attractions can be great when traveling with small children who need a slower pace and are capable of seeing the magic in EVERYTHING.

  24. Great blog! a couple of our favorite simple pleasures are grabbing a game of checkers in Frontierland and the shooting gallery. Both activities force us to slow down a little and take in the ambaince!

  25. What a wonderful blog, Jack! Our favorite “simple pleasure” has always been the theater. A great way to cool down and rest, plus indulge our love of old Disney classic cartoons. We have some wonderful pictures of our boys using the cut outs. Taking their pictures here has become a family tradition. They continue to get their photos here, even now that they are grown – kind of a time line marking their growth a la Disney style. You didn’t mention it here, but we also find rocking in the chairs on the Exposition Hall porch a lovely simple pleasure. People watching from there is most enjoyable, especially while eating a Mickey ice cream bar!

  26. Hey Jack,
    One of my simple pleasures is sitting oputside at Tony’s Town Square restuarant and watching the later Spectromagic. It’s so nice after a tiring day to sit and watch.
    Enjoy
    Mary

  27. Jack,

    Wow, thanks so much. This blog was perfectly timed! I am leaving this coming Tuesday and can’t wait to poke around on my own to all the hidden spots and nooks and crannies of WDW. You have given me some great places to check out! I had no idea there was a glass blower off of Main Street.
    Tom Sawyer Island has always been a favorite spot for me to relax but I am planning on checking out some other quiet places too.
    See you all there!

  28. I just discovered the balcony at Pinocchio’s this past trip to Disney about a week ago. As many times as I’ve been there, I had never ever noticed it before. Unfortunately, I noticed it as we were leaving. I can’t wait to actually get to eat up there on our next trip! The view is amazing.

  29. Great article! My favorite simple pleasure is hanging out in the rocking chairs. There’s a set in front of Exposition Hall, although most people know about those and they’re often full. There is another set that I love more right next to Hall of Presidents as you enter Liberty Square. I love sitting there and watching the second Spectromagic parade of the night!

  30. Terrific blog! I’ve gone to WDW enough times now that I’m looking to discover the hidden and out-of-the-way stuff. This is a great jumping-off point.

  31. In all of my years visiting Magic Kingdom, even working there, I did not know about that little balcony seating area in Pinocchios! I will be sure to check it out (and hope it’s not mobbed!) next visit.

    Thank you for just a few of the wonderful reminders of the simple pleasures at Magic Kingdom!

  32. Thanks Jack, these are all of the things that separate Disney from the rest. One of our boys favorite things to do is to play at the playground in Toontown (which probably won’t be there much longer). They like to pretend that they are Chip and Dale. It is a great place for them to get out of the stroller and wear off some energy and for Mom and Dad to take a break. Thanks again, our entire family enjoys watching your videos together and we long for another visit. Keep them coming.

    Debbie

  33. Just a heads up – the second floor of Pinocchio’s is not always available – last year on our trip it was roped off and we were unable to sit up there! Just like they rope off sections of Pecos Bill and other CS locations!

    Jack’s Comment:

    Thank you for the “heads up.” The other day when I visited, the indoor stairway was roped off, but the outside stairway was open. But you’re right; Disney does occasionally close sections at the counter service restaurants.

  34. As always Jack, Great blog!!! I never knew there was balcony up there overlooking fantasyland, what great place to just sit and take in all the sights, sounds and smells! Your video just makes me happy!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  35. Jack you have done it again!

    I love little things like this. To me, the Dole Whip spot is a favorite “little spot” that I look forward to in the Magic Kingdom. Another one is the Cinderella Fountain behind Cinderella’s Castle. I manage to take a photo of this every time.

    Your Pinocchio’s Haus spot is so exciting. Hopefully on a future trip I will run into you up there!

  36. I’m always so excited when one of your new blogs is up! =)
    One of my favorite mid-afternoon simple pleasures in the MK is to head over to Tom Sawyer’s island a little before 3pm, grab a rocking chair and ice cream cone at Aunt Polly’s (though it seems to be degraded to a “seasonal eatery now”), and take in the afternoon parade from afar. You can’t see everything, but you can still hear the music and see anything that is on an elevated float. It is fun and not nearly as chaotic as sitting on the sidewalk with all the kids.

  37. Great piece!
    One of my favorites are the statues in front of the Jungle cruise. My kids wait till they hear the drumming and start dancing and hopping around for a good 5-10 min. What do I do in the meantime??? Watch my kids enjoy the only time in their lives that they can jump around like crazy people while I eat my Dole Whip!

  38. Hey Jack, Thanks for this blog. These simple pleasures are what keep us coming back. We discovered the balcony at the Pinnochio Village house last month during a very busy day at the MK. We went upstairs hoping to find tables, we found much more than that! It lets you be in Fantasyland without being in the crowd!

    My favorite simple pleasure is the Fort Wilderness Campfire and sing-a-long. I don’t feel like I’ve been to WDW without roasting marshmallows and singing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Daa with 30 other out of tune people.

  39. Man- you always have such great blogs with awesome insider info! 🙂 Watching the video put me in a mood to go play some Scott Joplin myself, and the Splash Mountain segment made me smile and hum along. A great blog to cheer up my rainy Saturday morning in Pittsburgh, PA. Thank you!!!

  40. Good day Jack, wonderful review of the simple things at MK. Can’t wait to try them out myself in Dec. So far off, but really looking forward to MVMCP for the first time. Funny the last time I was at MK (April 2009) I was wondering if we could go up those stairs at the Pinocchio Village Haus Restaurant, but didn’t dare, well now, on my next trip I certainly won’t hold back!! And I can’t wait to see that little theatre,it looks quite relaxing. Loved your article, thx for this little disney fix!

  41. Jack,

    You rock this blog!

    The best keeps getting better and that means you.

    So there’s a secret second story at Pinocchios?

    Mwa-ha-ha. I will assemble my minions and take charge immediately.

    And the video is awesome!

    Thank you.

    Dave

  42. Jack,

    As always, great blog! This one really makes me want to go back today! We enjoyed watching the video. We look forward to trying out your “secret”. Thanks to your blogs, we have begun to try to enjoy the little things that help to make the kingdom magical. Thank you for taking the time to do this!