Magic Kingdom in July 2003

For this episode of Looking Back at Disney, we jump forward in time from the previous posts of October 1996 all the way to July 2003, starting with a visit to the Magic Kingdom. This was a “land and sea” vacation, which combined a Walt Disney World visit with a Disney Cruise, which would be our first cruise. And it was all in honor of our 10th wedding anniversary!

Also, this was the first trip where I had a digital camera. No more scanning in photo prints! And because I had a good-sized memory card, I took photos of everything. Almost literally. Because of that, it was difficult to narrow down the selection of photos. So there are probably more photos in this post, and in the coming posts, than in the previous ones. For this post, I mainly focused on things that were new, or things that are not there anymore, but there are some general photos in here, too.

Here are just a few of the things that we saw on our July 2003 visit to the Magic Kingdom:

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

What better way to arrive than by Monorail? I suppose arriving by boat is good, too. Or even bus. But I prefer the Monorail. And the view from the Monorail station is pretty nice, too.

Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

Always nice to see Cinderella Castle looking normal, since it looked like a cake in the last photos I shared here. I know they like to change the look of Cinderella Castle to go along with different promotions, but I prefer the “normal” look. And even this color scheme has been tweaked some over the years. So who is to say what is “normal” anymore?

Sharing the Magic statue in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

This statue of Roy O. Disney and Minnie mouse is titled Sharing the Magic, and it first appeared in 1999, which made it still relatively new on this visit. The statue has been moved around a few times, such as at Christmas when the large tree has occupied the same space, but it is a nice addition to Town Square.

Swan Boat dock in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

Here is a look at the Swan Boat dock. If you don’t know about the Swan Boats, they were gone before my first visit in 1983, so I have never actually seen them in person, either. The boats used to take passengers around the Central Plaza (or hub) of the Magic Kingdom. After the boats were gone, this was a nice place to sit and relax for a bit. In more recent times, the dock and the walkway to it were removed, so this is something you can’t see anymore.

Adventureland entrance in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

The bridge to Adventureland, home to adventure, although of course there are adventures in the other lands of the Magic Kingdom as well. I felt the need to document the bridge and sign on this trip, for whatever reason.

Pirates of the Caribbean barker bird at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

I have always enjoyed this pirate bird, known as the barker bird, that welcomes you to Pirates of the Caribbean, singing his happy little song so that you did not worry too much about the pirates inside. However, the bird was removed in 2006 when Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew moved in. But at the time of this photo, Captain Jack was still brand new in the theaters. Little did this happy bird know what his fate would be.

Swiss Family Treehouse in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

Remember how I said that with a digital camera I took photos of everything? Here is the Swiss Family Treehouse, which I rarely wasted a film exposure on, but I was happy to take a digital photo of it.

Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

The Hall of Presidents has always been a favorite of mine. Call me old-fashioned, but I am still partial to the original version where only Abraham Lincoln spoke after the film presentation, although the newer films have been well done, too. Who was president at this time?

George W. Bush in the Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

It was George W. Bush. He was the second sitting (or in this case, standing) president to speak, with Bill Clinton being the first. I try to take photos of the presidents every time I am in the attraction, and some of them turn out better than others.

Goofy’s Jamboree sign in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

I never did see the Goofy’s Jamboree show in the Diamond Horseshoe, and I really don’t remember anything about it, but I do have this photo of the sign. It does sound interesting in how it mixes Goofy with the Toy Story characters

Big Thunder Mountain mining town in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

Looks like the mining town has flooded! This is of course the town that you can very briefly see on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness. Fortunately, you can get a better look at the town from the Walt Disney World Railroad, which is where I took this photo.

Mickey’s Toontown Fair station in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

Speaking of the Walt Disney World Railroad, here is Mickey’s Toontown Fair Station, which was originally known as Mickey’s Starland Station. The following year, this station, which was originally meant to be a temporary addition, was torn down and replaced with a nearly identical station. The newer station was later torn down and replaced with another new station with a different design when Mickey’s Toontown Fair was taken over by the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland.

Walt Disney World Railroad Engine No. 2 Lilly Belle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

Continuing with the Walt Disney World Railroad, Engine No. 2 Lilly Belle heads out of Mickey’s Toontown Fair Station on her way through Tomorrowland. Those of us who like to photograph the trains have always appreciated the walkway between Mickey’s Toontown Fair and Tomorrowland, because it gives the best views of the trains in the Magic Kingdom.

Former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea area in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

And now, let us take a few moments to appreciate the left-behind areas of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The submarine ride had been closed for 9 years at this point, but there were still many parts of it left. The entire loading area was still there, including these Nemo-looking air ducts and supports. This area was sometimes used as a character greeting area after 20,000 Leagues closed.

Former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea area in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

The rocks of the island of Vulcania were still there, along with the original light fixtures, which do not look quite right with the addition of some purple paint. What were they thinking with that?

Former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea area in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

And the entire 20,000 Leagues Lagoon was still there at that time, too. This was where the subs would leave to start their journey after they were loaded. The lagoon was filled in as part of the new Fantasyland additions, with this area becoming the home to the Little Mermaid attraction. I guess that fits, keeping with the sea theme.

Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

As typically happens in Florida, an afternoon rain shower showed up. But that did not slow us down. Here we can see the wet streets of Adventureland, with the relatively new Magic Carpets of Aladdin, which opened two years earlier. I was not exactly a fan of how the carpets took up lots of area and messed with the flow of Adventureland, both for traffic and for theme. But they are popular, so what do I know?

Buzz Lightyear in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

How about a ride on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin? I wonder what my score was on this ride? Let’s pretend it was a high score.

Partners Statue in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

Evening descends on the Magic Kingdom, and that was a good time to take a photo of the Partners statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. I always had trouble catching the area with no people around the statue. Sorry, people, if you did not want to be in my photo.

Fireworks in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

What better way to close out a day at the Magic Kingdom than with fireworks? But we were not quite finished yet…

On the carousel in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003

We had a late night in the Magic Kingdom, thanks to an after-hours event. Back at this time, you had to have an extra ticket, so we did. And it rained, but we stayed because we had paid. Thanks to whoever volunteered to take our photo on the carousel!

And that wraps up our visit to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in July 2003. Check back soon for more of our 1993 trip!


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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.