Post updated February 2016
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 2-3 days at the Magic Kingdom! It will take you 2 days to see everything and then you’ll want at least a day to repeat your favorites.
If you are staying at a Disney World Hotel, go on a day with Evening Magic Hours; the park is SO magical at night and you will get up to 3 extra hours when non-hotel guests are not allowed to ride.
Magic Kingdom Planning Tips
First things first: make sure you make any disney dining reservations 180 days early and reserve your Disney Fastpass+ 60 days before your visit.
A lot of how you plan your days at the Magic Kingdom will depend on the age of your kids.
- Younger kids love meeting the characters and the sweet story rides in Fantasyland
- Older kids will want to ride the mountains over and over again.
But since most families have a mix of ages and interests or are interested in seeing it all, here is our magic kingdom itinerary.
Getting to the Magic Kingdom
Allow 30 minutes to get from your hotel to the Magic Kingdom. Buses come about every 15 minutes at the beginning of the day and it takes up to 15 minutes to get here.
Be at the park entrance 15-30 minutes early to allow time to get through security (they check inside all bags and do random security searches through a metal detector beginning in 2016), get through the turnstiles, grab an Entertainment Times Guide (and map if you like) and wait in front of the main street train station.
There is a Magic Kingdom Opening Show where Mickey & friends drive up on the train, wave & sing a song, a lucky family will help open the park & throw pixie dust out, and then count down to open the park.
HINT: The first 45 minutes of the day are the least crowded. It is worth it to get up and get here early!
2-3 Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary
This is my suggestion if you have a mix of ages / interests AND you want to see it all. This plan has you starting in Frontierland one day and Tomorrowland the second to avoid the crowds all starting in Fantasyland. All character tips are in teal. Don’t have 2 days or are traveling with young children:
- 1 Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary
- Magic Kingdom with Preschoolers Itinerary
Note: Your itinerary will somewhat depend on what Fastpass+ you are able to score
Magic Kingdom Day 1
Start your day by heading down main street and heading left (before the castle) into Frontierland. By doing this you will avoid the mobs heading straight!
Jungle 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.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – This is similar to Dumbo except that 4 people can ride at a time and the back seat gets to affect the tilt of the carpet. Watch out for the 2 camels near the ride – THEY SPIT =)
Hint: Jasmine & Aladdin frequent the awning next to the Magic Carpets and are available for photos and autographs.
Pirates of the Caribbean – Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s life for me! This family friendly ride has always been one of my favorites!! You wind around a cool dark cave and immerse at a Caribbean port in the middle of large pirate ship about to dock. Then your boat flows through the city so you can witness the Pirate’s plundering (now including Jack Sparrow) This ride with its fun, indoor queue is especially wonderful on a hot afternoon!
Big Thunder Mountain – This is one of my favorite roller coasters. It quickly twists and turns you through the wild west through caves and 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 is popular with kids and adults alike! (Note: the line is outdoors and can get mighty hot midday!)
Hint: There is a kiddie play area that looks like a scene from the ride. Kids can climb, slide, and have fun playing while family members ride Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain.
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; plus it is 16 minutes long! See what I mean, it has EVERYTHING!! 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: There is a restroom at the exit of this ride. This is also where you can find Woody & Jessie from Toy Story posing for pictures.
Tom Sawyer’s Island – If you want to go off exploring and getaway from the crowds, 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 45 minutes or so to spend over here.
Hint: As you walk over here through Frontierland keep an eye out for Chip and Dale or Donald who frequently pose here in their western wear.
The Haunted Mansion – Waiting in line at the haunted mansion is lots of fun with the interactive line where eyes on tombstones move, you can play the organ, the grave opens, you can push the books in & out, etc. There is no height/age requirement, but be sensitive to little children who may be frightened. After you enter your stretching room you will enter your doombuggy’ (2-3 guests) where you will see ghosts dancing at a banquet, knocking trying to get out their doors, and more ending with the famous hitchhiking ghosts.
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.
Sleepy Hollow for Lunch – This is not only one of my top Quick Service Restaurant picks, but it is also very conveniently located for your 12:30 or so lunch.
The Hall of Presidents – Sneak in a little history with some Disney flair on your next trip in the Hall of Presidents. Besides learning a thing or two, it was a nice air conditioned place to rest.
Mickey’s Philharmagic – 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!! This show runs continuously and never has a long wait; this is a great place to chill out during a hot day.
Peter Pan’s Flight (Fastpass @ 1:30pm) – This is a classic favorite that is very popular with long lines. You ride in a pirate ship as it whisks you through Wendy’s room, around London, off to Neverland. It is a dark ride that is so magically done – YOU WILL LOVE it!!
It’s a Small World – Another classic that is loved by many. This gentle boat ride will go through the world depicting children dressed 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. This usually has a short wait.
Prince Charming Carousel – Yep, it’s a carousel. If you want to do it all and have younger kids pop on and enjoy the short wait.
Hint: Around the Carousel you will find the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella’s Step Mother & Step-Sisters, and others seasonally.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – is very popular and can get quite a line, but luckily Disney has made the line lots of fun for kids to wait in! Play in Rabbit’s garden, move the bees along or wipe away the hone to find the hidden pictures. The ride itself is 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!
Hint: Right next to the ride you will find friends from the Hundred Acre Wood
Mad Tea Party – My kids & I LOVE riding on the twirling teacups. 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!
Note: Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum can be found next to the ride. Alice will also often ride with someone at the very beginning of the day – it happened to us & my son still talks about it!
Seven Dwarf Mine (Fastpass @ 3:30 pm) – This is the newest ride at the Magic Kingdom. This is a middle ground between The Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain. It won’t be the fastest roller coaster, but it just might be one of the smoothest. This popular ride boasts long lines all day.
Enchanted Tales with Belle – When they announced this new attraction I didn’t really get the appeal – the I saw it myself and WOW! Kids will love popping into the workshop, going through a magic mirror, and helping re-enact the story of Beauty and the Beast. A definite don’t miss with steady lines all day.
4:30/5pm Be Our Guest Dinner (see review here) – If you can can snag a reservation you won’t be sorry. This stunning restaurant is incredibly designed with mouth watering food too. There are three different themed rooms to eat in for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Hint: If you eat here for dinner you will get the chance to meet the Beast after dinner. Don’t miss Gaston posing nearby outside his Tavern.
Meet Ariel at her Grotto (Fastpass @ 6pm) – If you have an Ariel fan you won’t want to miss the chance to meet Ariel with her fins. A fastpass is helpful or you should plan to wait at least 30 minutes.
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid – This ride is one of the newer ones at the Magic Kingdom having been added during the big Fantasyland expansion in 2014. Guests will sit in a clamshell as they journey through the story of The Little Mermaid. My favorite room is the one pictured above with lots of sea friends singing together.
Meet Disney Pals at Pete’s Silly Side Show – This is another recent addition; a whole circus area centered around the expanded Dumbo ride, Barnstormer, Giggle Gang street performers, and these Circus themed Disney Pals. You wait to meet Minnie & Daisey OR Goofy and Donald.
7:30 pm Dumbo – I LOVE the expanded Dumbo attractions at the Magic Kingdom. Not only are there two Dumbo’s making it load faster, but there is a fun play area for kids to play while they wait for a pager to tell them it’s their turn to ride. My kids love just going in to play!
Hint: Dumbo is particularly magical at night with all the colorful lights in the water and views of the castle as you fly!
The Barnstormer – This is basically a kiddie coaster. If you have 4-6 year olds they will like this little coater, for everyone else – I’d rather wait for Big Thunder Mountain personally.
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.
It should be about 8:20 and its time to grab a snack, hit the bathroom, and head to main street to find a spot to watch all three evening shows. (see times guide for exact times)
Hint: 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.
8:20 Find spot for 9pm Main Street Electrical Parade – WOW!! Don’t miss this stunning display of floats adorned with twinkling lights. I remember seeing this as a child; the show is out of the vault & back with LED lights to amaze a new generation!
Hint: You can snag a great seat in front of the castle and keep your same spot for the following nighttime shows.
Celebrate the Magic – This show is AMAZING; so much cooler than it sounds! 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 favorite characters. You will not be disappointed! WOW!!!
Wishes Nighttime Spectacular – 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 !
Hint: If you are at the Magic Kingdom several nights try catching the fireworks from some different spots for a less crowded, still beautiful, show!
Magic Kingdom Day 2
In today’s Magic Kingdom Itinerary we will be tackling Tomorrowland, the remaining shows we haven’t seen yet, and repeating the best of the best. So head right at the end of main street; again avoiding the mobs heading straight into Fantasyland.
Space Mountain – This ride gets a long wait so if you are interested in this thrill ride let’s start your day here. You will find a partially interactive line with “gaming” stations along the way. Then board your rocket and blast off into the dark going 28 miles per hours around stars and other planets. I feel like it can be quite jerky and you may end up with a soar neck, but nothing like the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster at Studios. Personally, 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!
Buzz Lightyear – This is a fun, interactive ride that kids and adults alike love. The line moves quickly which keeps everyone happy. Enter a 2 person vehicle armed with a blaster to help defeat Emperor Zerg by shooting 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.
Astro Orbiter – 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.
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. You must be 40” tall to ride.
Monsters, 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. This rarely has a long wait and is a nice way to get in some air conditioning on a hot day.
Hint: Next to the exit of this ride you will find Buzz Light Year.
People Mover – This easy 10 minute loop around Tomorrowland is nice if you are trying to decide what to do next or want to get a birds eye view of Tomorrowland.
Carousel of Progress – 21 min show where the moving theater takes you to several animatronic scenes to see how things have changed over the year in our world. The music is catchy and it is a a great way to sit in air conditioning during the hottest part of the day.
Hint: Don’t forget to snap a picture in front of the iconic Disney World Castle!
Repeat The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Repeat either Seven Dwarf’s Mine OR Peter Pan’s Flight (Fastpass @ 11:30 am)
12:15 Crystal Palace Character Meal – This is one of my top character meal picks for not only the fun characters, but fantastic food. Allow 75 minutes for your meal.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tikki Room – Now it’s time to sit back and let your food digest while you watch a Disney classic show. There are several songs with various birds singing around you. Sit by the totem looking poles and watch them join in the fun during the show!
Swiss Family Treehouse – 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?!
Country Bear Jamboree – Chances are it is about 2pm and it is still hot and crowded out in the park so I recommend taking in another show. This 17 minute musical show has acts from different animatronic bears.
Festival of Fantasy Parade – It should be about 2:30 and it’s time to find a spot in Frontierland just outside of Country Bear Jamboree to watch the parade. I’d sit on the Splash Mountain side of the street so when it is over you can duck back there instead of trying to cross the street. This is a great time to grab a snack while you wait for this amazing parade with tons of larger than life floats to awe and amaze! My favorite is the fire breathing dragon from Sleeping Beauty!
Repeat Splash Mountain (Fastpass @ 3:20pm)
Repeat Big Thunder Mountain
Repeat The Haunted Mansion
Meet either Anna/Elsa OR Cinderella/Rapunzel (Fastpass @ 5pm) – If you have girls than your trip wont be complete until they get to meet the princesses. This is the one and only place to meet the Frozen characters or Rapunzel. These lines will get long, especially the Anna and Elsa line which can max out at 5+ hours so a Fastpass+ is a MUST!
Hint: Anna and Elsa no longer pose together. Don’t miss How to Meet Anna & Elsa in under 15 minutes!
Pecos Bills for dinner – It’s about 6pm and time for dinner. If you’ve been following my plan you’ve already eaten at three of my favorite places to eat at the Magic Kingdom so Pecos Bills with its amble seating and varied menu would be a great choice and nearby what you will be seeing next.
A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasure of the Seven Seas – This is a pirate treasure hunt with tons of magic sprinkled in! Your family will spend about 15 minutes per map wondering around Adventure land following the clues and your map. Along the way as you scan your magic band cannons will fire, treasures will be revealed, hidden clues in gift shops will be revealed, and so much more. This is a LOT of fun and shouldn’t be missed!
Repeat Pirates of the Caribbean
It’s time for you to pick. – It should be about 7pm and you still have several hours to either repeat favorites, see some additional characters (like Tinkerbell or Mickey at Town Square Theatre)
Magic Kingdom Day 3
Today is your day to repeat all your family favorites and catch the few shows you haven’t had time to squeeze in. In the free printable Magic Kingdom Itinerary I have a plan filled with the highlights and these remaining shows. Today, to mix things up, I’ll have you starting in Fantasyland. But you have to walk quickly to get back and ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine and Peter Pan both before the crowds get there and wait times will quickly rise.
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. If you stand down by the castle you’ll be the in ideal spot. Characters like Chip and Dale, Woody, Balloo, Mickey & Minnie, and more will be out to dance with kids!
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)
Hint: Just inside the Magic Kingdom in the round-about you will find characters throughout the morning and early afternoon like Pluto, Mary Poppins, Marie (from the Aristocrats), and others.
2-3 Day Magic Kingdom Touring Plan for Families
And just in case you don’t want to print of this whole page, here is a printable Magic Kingdom Itinerary by day with suggested order, fastpass +, suggested food, and space for family notes.
Disney World Planning
- When to take your kids (what is the ‘perfect’ age)
- Planning for your trip (best time of year to visit Disney)
- Tidbits (best age to take kids to Disney)
- Dining: My top picks for snacks, quick meals, and reviews on 12 restaurants (including character meals)
- Magic Kingdom
- Animal Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
- Mickey’s Halloween Party, Florida