When many people think of Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom automatically comes to mind. It is where the magic started in Central Florida, and it is the most popular theme park on the planet. Cinderella Castle represents not only the Magic Kingdom, but Walt Disney World as a whole. Saying that the park is special is an understatement. Here are ten things that you will want to know about the Magic Kingdom.
10) Main Street, U.S.A. Opens First
Arriving at rope drop is important if you want to make the most out of your time in any of the Walt Disney World theme parks. You might want to arrive even earlier at the Magic Kingdom. Main Street, U.S.A. opens an hour before the rest of the park. You can get through the front gate, take a look at souvenirs, grab a cup of coffee and something to eat at Main Street Bakery, and then be ready for Let the Magic Begin. Once the show is over, you can hurry to your first ride of the day, because the rest of the park will officially open.
9) Holidays Start Early
Two times a year there are special decorations to celebrate a holiday at the Magic Kingdom. Halloween brings Mickey shaped pumpkins and other fun decor. The Christmas season is even more spectacular. If you’d like to experience the fun, you’ll be glad to know that the decorations go up early. Halloween decorations go up near the end of August, and Christmastime begins only a few days after Halloween. The reason is simple, the Magic Kingdom is home to two special ticketed events that are based on these holidays. If you haven’t been to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, you are missing out on something special.
If you’d like to get a peek inside how the magic is made, you might want to sign up for a tour. There are a few to choose from. When you take a tour you can see some of the backstage areas. Depending on the tour, you might even journey into the famed utilidors. You can also learn about trains or about Walt Disney’s life. For more information on the tours that take place at the Magic Kingdom, call 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687).
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7) Flag Retreat
A special celebration takes place each evening at 5:00 that most Magic Kingdom guests seem to miss. The Flag Retreat lasts about 15 minutes and is held in the Town Square (Main Street, U.S.A.). The Star Spangled Banner is played as the flag is lowered. It is then folded and handed to a guest veteran, who was previously selected. Those watching are led in a chorus of God Bless America, and then patriotic music is played during a short procession. The Flag Retreat is a beautiful salute to those who have fought and died so that others can be free.
6) Mondays Are Busy
Thinking of hitting the Magic Kingdom on a Monday to avoid the crowds that were there over the weekend? Think again, Mondays tend to be very busy. They are often more crowded than the weekend before. The reason is simple. Many families arrive in Central Florida on Sunday, and relax when they get in. Monday will be their first full theme park day, and they want to start their vacation in the heart of the magic. That means that Mondays often have heavy crowds, even during the Value Season. If Monday is the first full day of your vacation, you might want to visit a different park. Leave the Magic Kingdom and all that it has to offer until later in the week.
5) Some Classic Characters Are in the Back
Meeting classic characters in different costumes can be a fun part of a Walt Disney World vacation. If you’d like to meet Donald, Daisy, Minnie, and Goofy dressed up as circus performers, stop by Pete’s Silly Sideshow. It’s located in the back of Storybook Circus, which is part of Fantasyland. This meet and greet is overlooked by many guests, meaning that the lines are usually not too bad.
4) Mickey Talks!
Speaking of classic characters, you will want to meet Mickey at Town Square Theater. There is a difference at this meet and greet. At the Magic Kingdom, Mickey talks! Don’t tell your kids ahead of time, let them be surprised. It’s a lot of fun to see the look on a child’s face when Mickey says something. If Town Square is the first place where you meet him, make sure the little ones know that he doesn’t talk in any of the other parks.
3) Fourth FastPass+
With FastPass+, you can make three reservations per day ahead of time so that you’ll have shorter waits in three lines. Once you’re in the park and you’ve used those three, you can make a fourth reservation at a FastPass+ kiosk, or by using the My Disney Experience App. The Magic Kingdom is a great place to take advantage of this because there are so many FastPass+ choices. Make your first three selections as early as possible, and then see what is left. After you’ve used that, make a fifth selection. In theory, you can keep adding new selections (one at a time) right up until closing. Not everything will be available as the day goes on, but you’ll be surprised by how much you can actually get done if you use the system.
2) Make Dining Reservations Early
Two of the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World are found at the Magic Kingdom. Be Our Guest Restaurant allows you to step inside Beauty and the Beast, while at Cinderella’s Royal Table you’ll dine inside Cinderella Castle. Make your reservations for either restaurant as early as you can, at the 180 day mark if possible. If you can’t get a reservation, keep checking back, especially as the day grows closer. Don’t expect to be able to walk up to either restaurant. It could happen that you get a table, but it’s extremely unlikely.
1) End of the Night
Happily Ever After is a must see fireworks and projection show. It seems like the perfect way to end the night, but don’t leave yet. You are going to also want to see Once Upon a Time, which is another show that is projected onto Cinderella Castle. Check your Times Guide or the My Disney Experience App to see the times for both Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After. The final reason why you need to stay isn’t found in the Times Guide. Half an hour after the park officially closes is an experience known as the Kiss Goodnight. It lasts for three minutes. There’s music, special lighting on Cinderella Castle, and an announcement that gently reminds everyone that the park is closed. What is nice about the Kiss Goodnight is that the park has usually cleared out by then, so it won’t be wall to wall people. It’s a polite and magical way to tell people to leave.