The Magic Kingdom is the most magical of all the parks in my humble opinion. Sure you could probably cram in the highlights in one day, but you’d be missing a lot of the things that make it so magical! If you can, spend at least 3 days here! It will take you 2 days to see everything and then you’ll want at least a day to repeat your favorites. I would try to go on a day with Evening Magic Hours (the park is SO magical at night and you get up to 3 extra hours when non-hotel guests are not allowed to ride) A lot of how you plan your trip will depend on the age of your kids. The younger kids love meeting the characters and the sweet story rides in Fantasyland. The older kids will want to ride the mountains over and over again. Since I have younger kids, here is what we do:
Allow 15 minutes (in low season; double in the summer) to get through security (they check inside all bags) and wait in front of the main street train station. There is an opening show where Mickey & friends drive up on the train, wave & sing a song, a lucky family (we got to do this once!!) will ‘help’ open the park & throw pixie dust out, and then count down to open the park. (The pictures are of us when we opened the park – INCREDIBLY magical!!!)
What our days at Magic Kingdom looks like. . .
If we are planning at least 2 days in the Magic Kingdom (with young children) I start each day the exact same way – in Fantasyland! Fantasyland is straight back and through the castle; and it gets really, really crowded! I have no problem waiting 30 minutes for the 16 minute Splash Mountain ride, but ask me to wait 90 minutes to ride the 2 minute Peter Pan ride and I get a little annoyed. So go as quickly as you can straight back to Fantasyland. (just through the kids in the stroller & go – you wont want a picture in front of the castle know as people as all moving quickly to their first destination)
Here is the order I would go (skip rides that don’t interest you) :
- Dumbo – If your child really wants to ride Dumbo, you want to do it right away! It gets ridiculous hour long lines that last all day!! The ride itself is pretty simple, although the kids will enjoy controlling the lever in the inside to make it go up & down. (Note: As part of the Fantasyland expansion there will eventually be 2 Dumbo rides and some sort of Circus tent that will help entertain children as they wait – I can’t wait to see it finished!!) If we are at Disneyworld for 7-10 days we will try to ride it once, but don’t really make time for much more than that.
- Peter Pan - Get a Fastpass for Peter Pan (so you can ride it again later in the day) and then ride on standby – you will only wait ~10 minutes. This is one of our favorite rides (other people’s too judging by the line!) You will get on a pirate ship that holds 2-3 people and sail through Wendy’s room, around London, off to Neverland, and through Captain Hood’s ship. It is a dark ride that is so magically done – YOU WILL LOVE it!!
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – is another ride that tends to get a long line. However, they have added an interactive line here so my kids like to wait a little so they have time to play in Rabbit’s garden and with the wall of honey (move your hand over it to reveal the hidden picture). The ride itself is perfect and it modeled exactly after the early Pooh movie Blustery Day. You will ride on your honeypot with room for 4-6 through the windy garden, owl’s house, bouncing Tigger (the car bounces at this point too!), Pooh falling asleep, Pooh’s Heffalump dream, and then the rain (with the very catchy Rain, Rain, Rain came down tune) – ending with Pooh’s hero party. This is a delightful ride for everyone in the family!
Note: across from the ride you will often see Pooh or Tigger available to take pictures or sign an autograph (although it is a lot quicker and you’ll see more characters by doing the Pooh character meal at the Crystal Palace)
- Mad Tea Party – My kids & I LOVE riding on the twirling teapots. Ride at the beginning or end of the day for 15 minute or less wait time. If you get sick easily (like my dear hubby) you may want to skip this. The tea pots are turned by the ride and then you have a wheel in your pot (seats 1-4) that allows you to turn it even more! Special note: Alice often will ride with someone at the very beginning of the day – it happened to us & my son still talks about it!
If you are on the look out for characters you will often find Alice in Wonderland and sometimes the White Rabbit next to the ride with a minimal wait to get a picture and get an autograph.
- Snow White’s Scary Adventure – This short little ride rarely has a wait. Don’t people love Snow White?! Yes they do and the ride is cute and tells the story, but it is like it’s name suggests scary! My 4 year old was VERY scared!! It emphasizes all the scary parts of the story….they all ride it now & my 3 year old was never that scared….but you decide based on your kids.
- Carousel – if you have a carousel fan in your family you may want to take a spin on Cinderella’s carousel. If we have limited time we skip this.
You will often times see Cinderella’ step mother & step sisters or Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother next to the castle too.
Mary Poppins also likes to stand by the Carousel in the morning for photo ops & autograph signing.
- Mickey’s Phillharmagic – This is AMAZING! You put on your 3D glasses and prepare for a 12 minute adventure as Donald tries to get back Magic Mickey’s hat that he ‘borrowed’. Along the way you will see many treasured Disney characters, hear incredible music (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Ariel, and more) and experience the show with all your senses! Yep – you will smell pie, feel wind, touch water, and more. Like I said this is AMAZING!! I love to see this several times during our visit. This show runs continuously and never has more than a 15 minutes wait so save this for later in the day when there are crowds and it is hot!
Note: You may see Peter pan to the left of the the Philharmagic. Ask cast members for details as characters change daily.
- It’s a Small World – A classic ride that is loved by many. This gentle boat ride will go through beautiful children dressed like children from all around the world. You will be humming the tune all through the day! The cool thing about this ride is there are so many, many things to look at that you will notice new things each time you ride. Every time we’ve been it has been 15 minutes or less wait time.
To the right of It’s a Small World you will often times see Pinnochio in the morning available for pictures & autographs.Exiting Fantasyland ride:
- Haunted Mansion – Just around the corner find the Haunted Mansion. At this point in the day the wait should be no more than 15 minutes. If it is longer than 30, consider coming back later. If you use the line to the left you will get to weave through the super cool interactive line where eyes on tombstones move, you can play the organ, the grave opens, You can push the books in & out, etc. It is very cool to do once… but the line will take longer. There is no height/age requirement, but be sensitive to little children who may be frightened by the darkness or content. In this dark attraction keep your party close together. You will begin by entering a room - go by the fireplace. One of the two ‘rooms’ (elevators) will open. After you enter they will tell you to step away from the walls. The room will “stretch” (The pictures may or may not be too ‘scary’ for your children) Then the light goes out & if you look up as the light flashes it looks like someone is hanging themselves (I don’t show my children this). Then the door opens and you move through a corridor (try to get out quickly as the wide line gets hard to control & people tend to push. But then you board your “doombuggy’ (2-3 guests) and you begin the ‘ride.’ You will see ghosts dancing at a banquet, knocking trying to get out their doors, an attic with a lady (who appears to have murdered 3 husbands), and then enter the world with all the ghosts. I love the singing heads! The music is fun, but if your child gets scared easily note that the ghosts pop out from behind tombstones. You will end by seeing a projection of a hitchhiking ghost in your buggy with you.
Personal Note: I really enjoy the ride and it is done in a light-hearted way. But let’s be honest, it is some dark scarry stuff to dwell on. When my son was young he thought of it as the dusty house & spent the entire trip pretending to vacuum it up. When the ghosts pop up over the tombstones I said they were playing peek-a-boo and we say Peek-a-boo every time they pop up. I constantly debate whether it is good that they ride this or not…. but for now we are being lighthearted about it & answering any questions they have. If at any time they are scared we will not go back! The other thing we’ve done to prepare is to watch the Disneyland (sorry there is no DIsneyworld) video. It has the ghosts dancing outside the attraction & helps the kids see that they are just being silly.At this point the park will have been open about 2 hours (give or take depending if you took time to see characters and ride all the rides or not). The remaining guests will be trickling in and the park will be getting more crowded. I would make my way over to grab a fastpass for Splash Mountain to use later in the day.
On the way you will walk along the river and might run into Western Donald or Goofy posing for pictures & signing autographs. Depending on the time & group’s interests ride
- Big Thunder Mountain. Big Thunder Mountain is my 2nd favorite roller coaster at Disney (Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom is #1). It goes quickly, takes you through caves and past a scenic gold mining town. The ride is fun, quick, and not too jerky. I especially love riding on it when Wishes Fireworks are going on – the fireworks look spectacular from up and around the mountain! You need to be 40” tall to ride. This was another of my 6 year olds favorites! (Note: the line is outdoors and can get mighty hot midday!)
- Pirates of the Caribbean – Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s life for me! This has always been one of my favorite rides!! You wind around a cool dark (cave?) and see canons and other stuff as you wait to get to the front. Then you ride on a boat through scenes from the Pirates (now including Jack Sparrow) lives. It is cool, amazingly well done, and you wont believe the two large ships they get in there that fire at one another. You will see skeletons (we just called pirates), imitation fire, and Pirates chasing women (we said they were playing ring-around-the-rosie and that worked for us). Our kids were never scared by this super neat ride. We found things to keep them focused off the many pirates – like count how many dogs you see (there are actually a lot). There is also a 14 foot drop – YEAH!! This ride is especially wonderful on a hot afternoon!
Character Spot: Just to the right of Pirates of the Caribbean is a character spot where they have had Blackbeard’s daughter (from Pirates of the Caribbean) and in the past I have seen Peter Pan and Wendy. Ask a cast member for current characters and times.Consider going back to your hotel for a nap or to take a break and swim if you are going to be at the park 3 days or more. After lunch is the most crowded & hot part of the day. We tried going back & taking naps, but our kids were to excited and would be silly and restless for 2 hours. Then when we started to go back they would fall asleep on the bus =-( After various attempts we gave up and stay in the park. But if your kids will do it – it is nice to get out of the hot crowded park.
Character Spot: On the Verandah to your left just before leaving Adventureland you will often find Prince Eric and Ariel (with her human legs). I have also seen Raffiki, Lilo, Captain Hook,and Mr. Smee there different times in the past. So keep your eye out.
If you do decide to stay, spend the next couple hours enjoying something cool (indoors) that tends to not be as crowded. Here are my suggestions in order with best attractions first:
- Mickey’s Philarmagic (Don’t MISS!! Described above in Fantasyland)
- Monster Inc. Laugh Floor (Enter Monstropolis and help Mike collect your laughs to keep them powered up. Very funny comedy show where members of the audience may be asked to participate from their seats, Tomorrowland)
- Train (does a lap around the park in 20 minutes round-trip)
- Tikki Room (super cute show with animated birds, Adventureland)
It is now about 3pm – Send someone to get a fastpass for Space Mountain & it’s time to see more rides!
Note: Make sure to take the opportunity to take a picture in front of the castle – you will want to do this at least twice in your visit (in case your planned day gets rain or you realize the pictures you took before someone wasn’t smiling or something.)
- Splash Mountain – I think this is my FAVORITE ride at Disney! This ride has it all – great story telling, incredibly intricate animated scenes, catchy music, and thrilling 52.5 foot drop, and is 16 minutes long! See what I mean, it has EVERYTHING!! Make sure to get a fast pass to enjoy this popular attraction. You must be 40” tall to ride. Make sure to make use of the parent swap available at any attractions younger kiddos cannot ride.
Hint: Right next to where you get Fastpasses is a kiddie play area that looks like the scenery in the ride. Kids can climb, slide, and have fun playing while family members ride Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain.
Character Spot: Right at the exit to Splash Mountain you might find characters such as Brer Rabbit or Goofy posing for pictures and signing autographs.Return to Tomorrow land to ride:
Character Spot: As you leave Splash Mountain and head around towards Adventureland is another picture spot where you will likely see characters from Toy Story posing for pictures in the shade.
- Buzz Light Year – Enter the world of Buzz Lightyear in this super fun interactive ride. You will get in a 2 person vehicle where you each have a shooter. Help defeat Emperor Zerg by shooting the many targets all around you as you ride through. See if you can beat your family! This is lots of fun, although the accuracy is not as great as the Toy Story Ride at Hollywood Studios.
Character Spot: Next to Buzz Light Year and in front of the Carousel of Progress you will find characters Buzz and Stitch appear.
- Space Mountain – This ride was recently renovated and now has a partially interactive line with “gaming” stations along the way. You will board your rocket where you will sit one in front of the other. You will then blast off into the dark as you go 28 miles per hours around stars and other planets. I feel like it can be quite jerky ad you may end up with a soar neck, but nothing like the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster at Studios. But I much prefer Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland. You need to be 44” tall to ride. My 6 year old LOVED it & wanted to go again right away!
I recommend scheduling in the evening shows your first day. Why? Your kids are freshest & will last the longest. PLUS in case it rains you have a chance to schedule it in to another day – the evening attractions are the BEST, don’t miss them!! If you are watching the evening shows head on over at least 30 minutes early to get a good spot in front of the castle– make sure to grab a frozen smoothie in Tomorrowland to take along. If you are not doing the evening shows tonight, go on rides - the lines will get shorter during the show.
- The Magic, the Memories and You – I would to all three evening shows all in a row on a day when they show them all (check your guide for days/times) – The Magic, Memories & You is AMAZING!! The castle will change before your eyes in ways you didn’t think were possible. Amidst the spectacular colors and movement will be images of guests (even some from that very day’s photopass). This show lasts 10 minutes and is a DO NOT MISS!! I read the description and though, nah… then got part of the show by accident & knew we had to see it. You will not be disappointed! WOW!!!
- Main Street Electrical Parade – WOW!! Don’t miss this stunning display of twinkling floats. I remember seeing this as a child; the show is out of the vault & back with LED lights to amaze a new generation! You can keep your same spot in front of the castle to watch all three nighttime shows or catch this on a different night in Frontierland for a less crowded option).
- Wishes Nightime Spectacular Fireworks – Prepare to be awed by the beautiful fireworks show centered around the iconic castle. I think it is the combination of the fireworks synced with music that make is to magical. But my favorite part is when Tinkerbell slides down from the castle before the show starts – so cool!! Don’t miss it !
If you are a Tangled Fan go see her (you will wait up to 2 hours later in the day!) – You will see her just to the right of the castle before the tea cups. When it is your group’s turn you go in and color a picture, then a cast member leads the kids in a dance around the table. Then you will wait in a short line to meet Rapunzel & Flynn. My kids LOVED meeting her!!
Check the current times guide to see Dream Along with Mickey & Movie it Shake is Dance parade today (mid-morning-afternoon)
- Dream Along with Mickey (on stage in front of the castle) – This 20 minute show centers around Mickey’s dream; it is filled with music and beloved characters. This show plays several times throughout the day. Hint: I would catch this show when you finish seeing all the attractions in Fantasyland, just before lunch.
- Move it Shake it Dance Party – This short (parade) of 4-5 floats will move to a location, stop & dance for <10 minutes and then move again. We have PRECIOUS memories of Minnie dancing with Chip in this parade. Then they walked around holding hands!! It was so much fun!! We saw it right in front of the castle so all the floats are surrounding the circle !
- Main Street Vehicles & Entertainment- These may be a ‘minor’ attractions, but I think the are a MUST! Ride the double decker trolley, horse drawn wagon, or other vehicles. It is a quick, fun experience. Then wander around main street and you might catch one of my favorites – the barber shop quartet!! You might also see a band or other seasonal music groupings. My favorite store to shop at and grab those souvenirs is on the left just after you enter through the main gate. (They will even send your purchase to your room free of charge).
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – If you want a ride that goes around & up & down try this one instead of Dumbo! 4 (+) people fit on a carpet. The front controls going up and down and the back controls the tilt of the carpet – so everyone gets to move the lever!! This fun ride will let you fly around Agrabah. Watch out for the 2 camels near the ride – THEY SPIT =) (Adventureland)
Jasmin & Aladdin frequent the awning next to the Magic Carpets and are available for photos and autographs.
- The Astro Orbitter – Just next to the people mover in Tomorrowland you will find the line & elevators that take you up to the platform to ride your very own rocket. There is no height restrictions, but they do go pretty quickly round and round. My hubby rode once and felt sick; the kids & I loved it!!
- Jungle Boat Cruise – This classic Disney ride will take you on the 1930s trap steamer for a 9 minute boat ride. You will see some ‘animals’ and a tribe. Your guide will tell some corny, but amusing jokes along the way. The tour wont be as impressive as many of the other more modern attractions, but if the lines aren’t long it is cute and a fun thing to do once.
Tomorrowland Speedway – If you want to get behind the wheel then step on the gas and take a loop around the speedway. If smells bother you the exhaust may bother you. This ride gets hot, so try to ride first or last thing. Guests must be 38” tall to ride as a passenger and 54” tall to drive alone.
Town Square Theatre (on Main street) – If you are looking for the mouse himself you will find him here in his backstage changing room. You can wait in line or get a Fastpass ticket to see Mickey (and sometimes Minnie joins him) OR the Princesses. I find it quicker to see Mickey at the Character Spot in Epcot where waiting in one line gets you to see Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto!! I also recommend if you have a Princess fan that you do the Akershus Princess Breakfast (Norway, Epcot) for a chance to see all her favorites at one time with no wait! The one advantage to seeing them here is the nicer backdrop & a photopass photographer to take the picture.
- Swiss Family Tree House – If the lines not too crowded climb on up and see the Swiss Family Tree house. You’ll see their rooms, living area, and eating spot. Anyone else want to live here too?!
- Liberty Square Riverboat – Board the 3 tiered riverboat just next to the haunted mansion for a scenic 1/2 mile tour around Frontierland, Liberty Square and Tom Sawyer Island. I’ve heard you might see characters on the boat first thing, but I’ve never done it myself. The boat leaves about every 30 minutes throughout the day.
- Tom Sawyer Island – If you want to go off exploring and getaway from the crowds a little try venturing over to Tom Sawyer’s Island. You will board a raft that will take you over. On the island you will find caves, bridges, and a recently renovated fort. My 2 cents is make sure to ride the other attractions first, but if you have time and want to let your kids explore carve out 45minutes or so to spend over here.
- Stitch’s Great Escape – I personally was not that impressed with this ride. But in all fairness I am not a Stitch fan either… After waiting in line you will go back and be told you are helping to transport the prisoner Stitch. You sit in a circle on simulator seating around the pod where Stitch is kept. There Will be periods of complete darkness, loud noises, stitch escapes, and you will get ‘slimed on’ as Stitch is ‘around you’ and you can’t find him in the dark. There are some scary parts; my 6 year old was not a fan AT ALL - You must be 40” tall to ride. We rode it once, but wont need to do it again.
- Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial – This attraction with Jack Sparrow will involve audience participation. It takes place in front of Pirates of the Caribbean ride throughout the day (as a cast member for current times)
- People Mover (10 minute loop around Tomorrowland)
- Country Bear Jamboree (17 minute musical show with acts from different animatronic bears, Frontierland)
- Carousel of Progress (21 min show; moves around several animatronic scenes to see how things have changed over the year in our world, Tomorrowland)
- Hall of Presidents (I’ve never actually been as our kiddos are too young, but the Grandparents enjoyed it; I think they even went twice!)
AFTERNOON - If you are looking for a VERY fun & memorable activity, consider trying the
- Pirate League - If you are looking for a special activity (as if Disney wasn’t special enough on it’s own!!!) try the VERY fun Pirate League. For $29.95 your kiddo (or you) will get a pirate name, to choose a pirate makeover (empress, skeleton, beard, scar, etc.), sash, pirate goody bag (patch, earing, nail polish for girls, compass, etc.), and allowed into a secret room. This is a very fun event that my kids LOVED! You will have the option of purchasing a picture at the end (if you do make sure you add it to your Photopass for FREE). I would make sure to do it early in the morning to your kids can enjoy being a pirate all day – they will get special attention from cast members =-) I brought my own pirate costumes from home (way cheaper, but you can purchase them at the adjacent gift shop if you like). You will also be able to participate in a mini pirate parade in front of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at 3pm (ask for current times). Make sure you make reservations for this popular, and affordable fun activity!! It was the perfect alternative to the Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique for us!! Both kids were excited about their makeovers and it was more than 1/2 the cost!!
Why not book breakfast at The Crystal Palace (see dinning review) for a scrumptious, hearty meal. You can book a time for 1 hour before the park opens. That way you won’t ‘waste’ any park time; you will be done just shortly before the park opens!! PLUS as you walk back to eat you can get an amazing picture of your family in front of the castle with NO PEOPLE around!!! Did I mention this is also a character meal? You will see Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. (This is the only place to get a picture with Piglet; Eeyore can sometimes be seen in England, Epcot)
Note: If you don’t do this make sure you take time to snap a picture in front of the iconic castle at some point during your visit – or maybe twice!)
Ride your favorites AGAIN!! (I would recommend repeating Day 1 for an efficient way to get through the TOP rides) AND see any characters you may have missed or skipped before.At 3pm – consider seeing the Dream Comes True Parade (get there 15 minutes early to stand and 30 minutes for a seat). (Send someone to get a fastpass for Space Mountain).
- Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade – This popular parade is a don’t miss in my book. The intricate floats, favorite characters, music, and interaction will be one of your most memorable moments. Parade is typically at 3pm. Hint: Catch this parade on Main street when you come back from taking an afternoon rest/swim. (Note: times can change, check the times guide)
Magic Kingdom Touring Plan FREE download! Includes at a glance attraction list, suggested order, height requirements, character locations, and helpful tidbits.*Please visit Disney’s website for any updates, changes, and current ride closures/refurbishments.
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Check out other helpful topics in the Dreaming of Disney Series below!
- When to take your kids (what is the 'perfect' age)
- Planning for your trip (time of year, how long to stay, Disney hotels, and affordability/deals)
- Tidbits (20 tips from the best place to see Mickey to strollers to super cool Disney features you may not know about)
- Dinning: My top picks for snacks, quick meals, and reviews on 12 restaurants (including character meals)
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