On this edition of our Walt Disney World Beginners Guide we will be talking about the most popular park in all of Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom. When most people thing of Walt Disney World they think of the Magic Kingdom. Over 56,000 visit this park each and every day and because of it's wide spread popularity, a day at the Magic Kingdom can quickly turn into a nightmare if you are not properly prepared. With this guide we hope to make your first trip to the Magic Kingdom as stress free and as magical as possible!
Planning Your Trip:Planning your trip to the Magic Kingdom starts long before you ever get to the front gate. We cannot stress enough how important it is to start planning your Disney Vacation as early as possible! A little bit of planning and know how go a long way into making your first visit a success. The most important parts of planning your Magic Kingdom day are Faspass+, Extra Magic Hours and your dining reservations.
Fastpass+: Much like any other Walt Disney World park, having the right Fastpasses can make or break your day. Magic Kingdom is without question the most popular park in all of Walt Disney World (In terms of daily attemdamce that is, as far as wait times are concerned, Hollywood Studios Star Wars Galaxy's Edge has no equal!) When people think of Disney World they think of the Magic Kingdom. It may come as no surprise that because of this popularity, wait times in the Magic Kingdom can easily exceed 2 hours on the more popular attractions making FP+ a necessity for the most popular attractions. We highly recommend trying to book your fastpasses 60 days before your vacation (The Earliest Allowed Time by Disney) for the best odds of getting a Fastpass+ for these attractions. The most popular attractions in the Magic Kingdom are going to be the 3 mountain rides (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain) and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Getting FP+ for one of these attractions should be first on your list when it comes time to secure your fastpasses. Keep in mind Space Mountain takes place entirely in the dark and can be scary for young children so you may want to avoid this one if traveling with young ones. If you do manage do secure FP's for one of these 4 attractions you will be left with two extra slots in your itinerary (Your allowed to book 3 FP's in advance.) We recommend getting FP's for Peter Pans Flight and either Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin or Pirates Of The Carribbean. These attractions will have the next longest waits next to the "Big 4". All of the other attractions in the Magic Kingdom generally don't see wait times over 30-45 minutes and don't really require a Fastpass. If Fastpass+ still seems like you need a PHD to figure out, you can check out our Walt Disney World Beginners Guide to Fastpass+ to make yourself an expert on everything FP+.
Dining Reservations: Next to Fastpass+, securing a Dining Reservation for the Magic Kingdom is the next thing you need to consider when planning your vacation. While you certainly don't need to make reservations to eat, if you're anything like us you'll get sick of Chicken fingers and fries eventually. Guests staying at a Disney Resort can make reservations up to 180 days in advance prior to the start of their vacation and we highly recommend you use all of those days if you would like to eat at some of the more popular restaurants. Magic Kingdom is home to a ton of great quick bites as well as a few Fantastic sit down restaurants. We will talk more about these when we get to the dining section.
Extra Magic Hours: The final but no less important thing to consider when planning your Magic Kingdom day is Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic hours are an exclusive perk only available to Walt Disney World resort guests and it allows them to stay in the park either 1 hour past closing or get into the park 1 hour early before it opens to everyone else. When it comes to the Magic Kingdom, they offer extra Magic Hours both in the morning and at night. We find that most people aren't very fond of waking up at the crack of dawn on vacation so there are almost no wait times for even the most popular attractions including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain during the AM. If you where unable to secure your party FP+ for those attractions extra magic hours (Especially those in the AM hours) your next best option. You can find the Extra Magic Hours schedule HERE.
Arriving At The Park: So you've planned the perfect Magic Kingdom day but now it's time to actually go to the park. We highly recommend arriving at the park for Rope Drop (Opening Time) or as early as you can. Arriving early will allow you to get the most possible done before the crowds start to pick up around noon. Once you enter the park, we recommend not stopping in the front to do things like looking at all of the shops on Main Street or taking a picture in front of Cinderella Castle. While it may seem like the perfect time to do these things as you are already there, everyone else is also going to stop in the front of the park to do these same exact things, especially in the morning. While everyone is at the front of the park taking pictures, the waits at the more popular attractions are going to be almost nothing. Instead of following the masses, make your way to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain or Thunder Mountain (The wait times for these ride at high noon can easily reach 2+ hours during the busier times of the year.)
Dining: Much like the other Walt Disney World parks the Magic Kingdom has a vast array of different dining options. The Magic Kingdom features over 38 Dining Options including 7 Table Service Restaurants, Multiple Special Dining packages and the most quick service options of any park. Our favorite dining options in the Animal Kingdom include the Be Our Guest Restaurant (Especially For Dinner), The Crystal Palace and the Liberty Tree Tavern. You can view all of the Magic Kingdoms Restaurants as well as their menus HERE so you can choose which dining options would work best for your family but we would like to make one caveat. If you plan on eating at one of the 7 Table Service restaurants you are almost certainly going to need a reservation and reservations for sit down restaurants can be hard to come by, especially for Be Our Guest Restaurant. Guests staying in a Disney Resort are allowed to make dining reservations up to 180 days in advance of their vacation and we highly recommend using every single one of those days for the best odds of securing a reservation.
Attractions: Without a doubt the Magic Kingdom is the most popular park in all of Walt Disney World. In fact, the Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park in all of the world. Unfortunately With this popularity comes long wait times and if you don't plan accordingly you may find yourself waiting in line all day. At the top of your Magic Kingdom to do list should be getting a FP+ for one of the 4 "Mountain Rides" (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.) These attractions are without a doubt the most popular in the Magic kingdom and the wait times will reflect that. If you are there for rope drop we highly recommend you head straight for one of these attractions as most will stop in the front of the park to hit the attractions up there. If you have small children in your party however, we recommend you focus on trying to secure a fastpass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and playing the remaing three mountain attractions by ear. Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain have a few dark areas that can be scary for small children and Space Mountain still scares me and I'm almost 30. The next most popular attractions in the Magic Kingdom are going to be Peter Pans Flight, Jungle Cruise and Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin. Jungle Cruise takes you on an awe inspiring journey through the rivers across Asia, Africa and South America. You will see everything from marauding Monkeys, splash happy Hippos, and maybe even a Headhunter or two. And as if that wasn't enough, the slapstick Humor of your Homesick Jungle Cruise Skipper is sure to have you adding this attraction to your favorites list. Buzz lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is the Magic Kindom's equivalent of Toy Story Midway Mania and in my opinion it is the most fun attraction in all of Walt Disney World. Peter Pan's Flight takes you through the classic Disney Story aboard your very own Pirate Ship and while it may not exactly be the most thrilling of rides it is fun for the whole family and should not be skipped. Besides that, the park is pretty much wide open, the wait times for the other attractions in the park never really get over a half hour and with so many other things to do like the Hall Of Presidents, It's A Small World and Pirates Of The Caribbean you will never run out of things to do.
Shows: The Magic Kingdom features an astonishing 16 shows that take place all over the park at different hours of the day, non of which are as popular as Happily Ever After, the relatively new nighttime firework spectacular. People will start getting there spots for this show an hour before start time, sometimes even earlier than that so if you are planning on seeing this show (Which we highly recommend you do as it is the best Firework Display in Disney World by far) make sure you plan accordingly. One caveat i would like to add about Happily Ever After, If you have already seen this show or for some reason it doesn't really interest you. Besides rope drop there is no better time to try and ride the more popular attractions. Most people will be in front of the castle watching the show which means there will be little to no wait on most attractions. As far as "Must Do's, Happily Ever After would be the only Magic Kingdom show we would add to that list. We definitely recommend stopping for a bit and watching one of the many other shows if you happen to stumble across one but we wouldn't make plans around the rest of them. You can find more information as well as showtimes for all of the Magic Kingdom shows Here.
Fun Facts and Extras:
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on on your next vacation or to make the most of your time, read our Tips for Saving Money and Time at Walt Disney World post. Our Fundamental Walt Disney World Packing List post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Resource Guides will help.
For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
For Walt Disney World news, tips, discount info, and free eBook downloads sign up for our free monthly newsletter
If you enjoyed this post, we’d really appreciate it if you’d share it via social media to spread the word! We put a lot of work into making this site a helpful planning resource, and hope it’s useful to you.