One-Day Plan for Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

pathway rules at disney world
Credit: Disney

There are more than 30 attractions across six different lands at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Florida. And that doesn’t include the park’s amazing shows and other magical entertainment! Read among the comments below many internet posts about the park, and you will almost certainly see seasoned Disney World visitors urging newbies to allot two days of their visit to the parks solely for Magic Kingdom—and with all the attractions, rides, shows and its nighttime spectacular, it’s easy to see why. But what are you to do if you only have just one day to spend at Disney World’s first park? Can it really be done? Well we aren’t guaranteeing you’ll see all there is to see, but here are eight ideas and tips that will help you make the most of the time you do have in the park.

8. Check park hours and get there early.

The earlier the better—especially if you’ve never witnessed the park’s opening ceremony, often referred to as “rope drop.” If Magic Kingdom opens at 9:00 a.m. on your one day in the park, be sure to arrive closer to 8:30 a.m. This will ensure that you can account for any unforeseen issues and make your way down Main Street with potentially thousands of other Guests who have a similar itinerary. If you’re hoping to experience the opening ceremony, you’ll want to move more closely toward the base of Cinderella Castle. If you’re wanting to skip rope drop and start crossing items off your bucket list, make your way toward the entrance to Tomorrowland—yes, even though most Guests are moving toward Adventureland. (That’s kind of the point.)

7. Conquer the mountains first.

If your bucket list includes the Magic Kingdom Mountains—Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain and/or Space Mountain—be sure to attempt the summits early in the morning and start with Tomorrowland and Space Mountain or Fantasyland and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. That’s because a majority of Guests will instinctively bare left when they reach Cinderella Castle—maybe it’s because we’re used to reading left to right, maybe it’s because we love left over right—who knows? But you’ll do better to head right and toward the mountains first. The lines for the mountains only grow as the day goes on, so your best bet for a tolerable wait time in the queue is to go in the earlier part of the day.

6. Schedule your day around any dining reservations or FastPass+ times you have.

As you go about your day, be sure your itinerary doesn’t have you in Adventureland enjoying the Jungle Cruise attraction at 10:00 a.m., only to be followed by a trek across the park to Tomorrowland to enjoy Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at 11:00 a.m. Not only will you find yourself racing around the park and stressing over near-misses with your FastPass+ times, but you’ll also spend much of your day traveling by foot with your family in tow. This will not only lessen your time to actually enjoy experiences, but it can also make for a very stressful day for everyone.


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5. Ideas for your morning at Magic Kingdom

Every family enjoys different things in the parks, but if you’re truly looking for ideas for spending your morning at Magic Kingdom, here are some. Like we said before, if you’re wanting to scale the Magic Kingdom Mountains, do so early in the morning. Then move on to other attractions. Start out by riding Space Mountain in Tomorrowland, and while you’re there, hop aboard the PeopleMover (which is rarely crowded). Then head to Fantasyland and wait in the short queue for the Mad Tea Party before hitting attractions like Under the Sea (Little Mermaid) and Enchanted Tales with Belle. (Remember this is an ideal setting assuming you’ve already ridden Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.) Then move on to enjoy attractions just behind Cinderella Castle like Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel, etc.

4. Eat lunch earlier or later than everyone else.

If you only have one day at Magic Kingdom, don’t waste too much time at lunch, unless you have a dining reservation. Opt for a quick-service venue, and either eat around 11:00 a.m. or after 1:00 p.m. so that you can avoid long lines. To completely eliminate the need to stand in the line, place your mobile order via the My Disney Experience app and head straight to the counter to pick up your order.

3. An idea for your afternoon at Magic Kingdom

After lunch, head to Liberty Square and enjoy attractions like Haunted Mansion (without a FastPass+ time, you may have a bit of a wait in the queue, depending on the season). Next, cool off (or take cover from an afternoon rain shower) at the Hall of Presidents attraction before grabbing a funnel cake or a Nutella and fresh fruit dessert at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments. Then it’s on to Frontierland. This is when you’ll begin to see the value of starting out to the right of Cinderella Castle in the morning and working your way “backward” toward Adventureland.

2. Some ideas for your evening at Magic Kingdom

Use the night to enjoy any attractions or shows that are still on your bucket list. In the warmer seasons, make the most of the sun’s absence and enjoy things that you may have put off earlier in the day because of the heat. If there’s a show you really wanted to enjoy, be sure to see it early in the evening so you don’t miss the opportunity. And for goodness sakes, don’t miss the Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular. It’s phenomenal! It usually takes place at 9:00 p.m., but you’ll want to check the Magic Kingdom Times Guide to be sure.

1. Stay for the Kiss Goodnight.

This is how every night should end. Thanks to the Magic of Disney at Magic Kingdom, you can enjoy the “Kiss Goodnight”—a special time at Magic Kingdom after the park officially closes for the night. It takes place after any of the nighttime spectaculars—usually about an hour after park closing. It’s during this time that the “kiss” takes place. As Guests are making their way down Main Street U.S.A. toward the park exit, “When You Wish Upon a Star” is heard throughout the park, and Cinderella’s Castle is covered in lights and twinkles. It’s the last “production” of the evening, and you won’t want to miss it. What a way to end your one day at Magic Kingdom!

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!