The Magic Kingdom is, without a doubt, my favorite place on Earth. And after countless visits over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about the best ways to pack the most magic into your visit as possible. Here are 10 awesome tips for your next trip to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
10. Choose Your FastPasses Wisely
Unlike Epcot and Hollywood Studios, there is no tiered system for FastPass+ selections at the Magic Kingdom because there are so many attractions to choose from. But a little advance knowledge of attraction popularity can go a long way when it comes to booking your ride reservations.
Resort guests will want to jump on-line at your 60-day window to secure your ride on newer attractions like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but don’t stress too much about classic attractions like the Jungle Cruise; you can usually snag those the same day once you’ve exhausted all three of your FastPasses. You also don’t want to waste FastPasses on shows like Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, which can accommodate large groups of people at once and rarely sees extensive wait times.
Also, while securing a prime location for the Wishes fireworks via a FastPass+ reservation can be a wonderful way to cap off your magical day, just keep in mind that reserving FastPasses for evening entertainment means you won’t be able to pick up any additional passes throughout the day.
9. Have a Plan
The Magic Kingdom is a pretty massive theme park, and can certainly be overwhelming for first-time guests. So in addition to lining up your first three FastPasses for the day in advance, you’ll want to be sure to have at least a loose plan of the shows and attractions that are most important to your family—and a general understanding of the park’s hub-and-spokes layout—since it can be a challenge to fully experience everything in one day.
8. Book Dining Reservations in Advance
There’s quite possibly nothing more disappointing than being turned away at the front door of your favorite Magic Kingdom restaurant because you neglected to secure a reservation. During peak periods of park attendance, many of the park’s table-service restaurants will not accommodate walk-ups.
While there are tons of great counter-service options throughout the park, there’s nothing quite like dinner with your favorite princesses inside the castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table, or breakfast with Pooh and his Hundred Acre Woods friends at the Crystal Palace on Main Street. And don’t even get us started on Be Our Guest, which remains one of the hottest tickets on the Disney property for dinner—it’s almost impossible to snag reservations.
Dining reservations open 180 days in advance, and for the ultra-popular Magic Kingdom restaurants, we suggest being on-line and logged in at 6am EST the morning your window opens in order to book your meal (phone lines open an hour later).
7. Leave Room for Snacks
So you were able to snag a table at Liberty Tree Tavern? Excellent. Just be sure to leave some room for the array of delectable treats that Magic Kingdom has to offer, from Mickey-shaped ice cream bars and pretzels to cinnamon churros to my personal favorite, the Dole Whip, a refreshing pineapple soft-serve frozen dessert found in Adventureland.
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6. Choose the Right Day for Your Visit
Naturally, there are busier seasons than others at the Disney parks, and you’re likely going to run into crowds no matter what—but be sure to check the park’s operating hours and calendar in advance.
If you’re a resort guest and can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours in the morning or evening to experience popular Magic Kingdom attractions, then by all means do so, but day guests may want to opt to steer clear of the Magic Kingdom on those days because it often means bigger crowds and longer lines. Also keep in mind that certain days of the week, such as weekdays, may generally be less crowded when school is in session for local students.
5. Arrive Early
Securing FastPasses for Splash Mountain or Peter Pan’s Flight will certainly cut your waits in line, but if you’re itching to experience all of what Magic Kingdom has to offer—and put those pricey park tickets to good use—then the best thing you can do is arrive at park opening. This way, you’ll be privy to shorter wait times and a bit more room to move around, and pack in lots of fun before the biggest crowds start pouring in around 11am. Plus, is there anything more elating than the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show?
4. Catch the Shows
Walt Disney World has mastered the art of entertainment, so you’ll want to carve out some time to catch the Magic Kingdom’s array of live shows and parades, especially if you have little ones in tow. The musical Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at 3pm is a fun way to see your favorite Disney characters up close, and the evening fireworks show over Cinderella’s Castle, Wishes, is a truly magical spectacular that’s not to be missed.
But don’t forget that there’s other interactive, family-friendly entertainment throughout the park, like Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial in Adventureland or The Dapper Dans on Main Street. Just be sure to arrive early for the best viewing spots, particularly for the parade.
3. Get Your Picture Taken. There’s nothing worse than returning home from a family vacation with photos that are all missing one member of your party. At Walt Disney World, that’s no longer an issue thanks to Disney PhotoPass photographers who are standing by at prime locations throughout the parks and waiting to take your group’s photo.
It’s definitely more cost-effective to pre-purchase Disney’s Memory Maker if you want access to all of the photos taken during your trip (which will be scanned onto your MagicBand), but if you want to save a little money, simply ask the photographer to take the photo using your own camera or smartphone.
2. Plan Some Downtime
Touring the sprawling Walt Disney World parks can be overwhelming and exhausting, and the Magic Kingdom is no exception. So be sure to allow your family some downtime so that the kids don’t crash and burn well before the afternoon parade.
Many parents schedule a nap back at the resort in the middle of the afternoon, or you can give your feet a rest (and enjoy some much-needed air-conditioning) by strategically planning indoor seated shows and attractions like the Hall of Presidents or Mickey’s PhilarMagic throughout the day to recharge your batteries.
1. Stop and Smell the Roses
Figuratively speaking, that is. The Magic Kingdom has no shortage of rides, shows, and entertainment to keep you busy all day long, but after you’re done running between attractions or cuddling Pluto, be sure to take some time to appreciate the park’s attention to detail.
Along with the park’s array of “Hidden Mickeys,” take the time to notice little touches like the windows above Main Street, which display names of people who played an important role in the development of Walt Disney World, or the nods to early Disney attractions like a picture of Mr. Toad in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the site of the classic Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.