Last week I shared Epcot Tips for your First Visit and this week we move to Magic Kingdom!
Again, these Magic Kingdom tips are specific to the Magic Kingdom park. As always, get to the parks early for the lowest crowds, use mobile ordering at any quick service restaurant that offers it, and definitely use FastPass (it’s free!). These Magic Kingdom tips will help your family have the most magical Magic Kingdom day!
1. Get A Lay of the Land
Look at the map ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the basic layout of the park. This will save you time and frustration once you’re actually on vacation!
The DIS always has the latest park brochure map.
Note that there are different lands at Magic Kingdom – Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Main Street USA – with Cinderella Castle in the middle. Each land has rides, shows, food, and shopping. The hub in front of the castle “spokes” to these different lands. Once in the outer lands, you can navigate around the park, making a large circle. The hub stays busy most of the day and there are numerous shows and parades here throughout the day, so try to avoid crossing the hub to get to your next destination.
2. Leave the Park to Escape Crowds
Are the crowds getting to you? Magic Kingdom has several gorgeous hotels right outside its gates with numerous activities.
Take a short boat ride to Fort Wilderness and rent a kayak or canoe.
Rent a pontoon or Sea Raycer boat from any of the five Magic Kingdom-area resort marinas.
Take a ride on the resort monorail loop and just enjoy the sights and ambiance of the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian.
Just relax in the Grand Floridian lobby listening to the band or pianist.
There are so many ways to take a short break from Magic Kingdom crowds nearby! Then, return to Magic Kingdom when you’re ready. Even with a base 1-park-per-day ticket, you may leave the park and return to the same one.
3. Ride the Bus
If you’re staying at an on-site Disney hotel and have a car, consider taking one of Disney’s free buses or a premium Minnie Van to the Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom is the only Disney World park without an adjacent parking lot. After parking your car, you must take a tram to the Transportation and Ticket Center and then a ferry boat or monorail to the park entrance. Buses and Minnie vans bypass all that extra transportation by taking you directly to the park entrance. You’ll avoid the ferry and monorail crowds, and save time!
4. Arrive Early
Yes, I know this is a suggestion for EVERY Disney World park, but it’s especially true for Magic Kingdom because Main Street USA and the hub open over an hour before the posted park opening time. Get there early to enjoy low crowds in the heart of the Magic Kingdom! I talk all about this in my Rope Drop Tips.
5. The Hub Can Be Overwhelming
If you get overwhelmed by a sea of people and sound, avoid the hub in front of Cinderella Castle in the daytime. There are nearly continuous castle stage shows, dance party parades, and the main Festival of Fantasy parade throughout the day. Note the times these events DON’T occur and enjoy your castle and hub relaxation time then.
The hub is generally quiet before the first Friendship Faire castle stage show begins 10:30 AM and after the last Move It Shake It dance party parade finishes after 6:00 PM, but check the Times Guide at the park for accurate show times on the day you visit.
6. Visit Mickey During the Parade
Mickey and Minnie Mouse meet at the Town Square Theater just inside the front entrance to the Magic Kingdom. This location is seemingly difficult to navigate to while the Festival of Fantasy parade is gearing up in the afternoon (it’s not – there’s always an open walkway on the sidewalks). With Main Street so crowded and many guests waiting for the parade to start, this is the best time to meet Mickey and Minnie, especially if you don’t have a FastPass. Lines just before and during the parade will generally be some of the shortest lines to meet them all day!
(above) Wilderness Lodge’s Geyser Point is a beautiful quick service restaurant on the shores of Bay Lake with excellent food and just a quick, relaxing boat ride away from Magic Kingdom!
7. Go Elsewhere for Food
Overall, Magic Kingdom doesn’t offer a variety of great restaurants for meals. Sure, there are exceptions like the Plaza Restaurant for table service and Columbia Harbour House for quick service, but this isn’t Epcot or Animal Kingdom!
The neighboring resorts have great food options, especially in the quick service category, so consider leaving the park for a meal – and a break from the crowds! Quick service at the Grand Floridian (Gasparilla Island Grill) and Wilderness Lodge (Geyser Point – right on the Bay Lake!) is fantastic and the hotels are least crowded in the middle of the day.
8. Take Shelter in Tomorrowland
Is rain on the way? Head to Tomorrowland for the largest collection of indoor attractions to keep you dry in a storm.
9. There’s an Indoor Playground!
If the family needs a break from the heat or the kids just need to stretch their legs and run around for a while, get in line for Dumbo. This ride’s queue is an indoor playground! You’ll receive a pager when you get inside the circus tent. There, the kids can play until your pager buzzes, indicating it’s time to fly with Dumbo. Or, stay longer for more playtime!
10. Cool off at the Storybook Circus Splash Pad
Consider packing swimsuits and towels for the kids on a hot day and head to the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station. This water play area in the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland will cool them off for sure!
11. Find the Best Bathrooms
The Tangled restrooms between Fantasyland and Liberty Square are new and popular, but there are others just off the beaten path that are a bit less crowded. In general, the facilities furthest from the main footpath will usually be nearly empty. Look for restrooms behind the Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland, near the Splash Mountain exit in Frontierland, and behind Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland.
There are no bathrooms in Liberty Square except for small bathrooms inside Columbia Harbour House so look in a nearby land for facilities.
12. Watch (or Avoid) the Daily Parade
The Festival of Fantasy parade runs through Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Main Street USA at 2:00 PM daily. If you don’t plan to watch, avoid these areas from around 1:45-2:45 as navigating through these lands crowded with parade-watchers can be slow and difficult. Plan on spending time in Adventureland, Fantasyland, or Tomorrowland mid-afternoon if you’re not going to enjoy the parade.
13. Flag Retreat Daily
At 5:00 PM daily, the flag in Town Square (the area at the base of Main Street USA that you walk through right after entering Magic Kingdom) is lowered during a Flag Retreat Ceremony.
Led by a veteran guest at the park, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited and the flag is lowered while the Star Spangled Banner is played and sung by the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet.
14. Plan to Spend At Least 2 Days
Magic Kingdom has the most attractions of all four Disney World theme parks. Plan on devoting two days to properly see everything.
15. Don’t Wait to Order at Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest is one of the most popular restaurants in all of Disney World. While it offers a table service dinner, breakfast and lunch are both quick service so mobile ordering is offered. You can even place your order DAYS ahead of time using the My Disney Experience app, but just get your order in the morning of your reservation to save time at check in.
16. Mobile Order Your Dole Whip!
Speaking of Mobile Order, use it at Aloha Isle in Adventureland! This is where Dole Whips are sold in Magic Kingdom so there’s always a line. Just order on the My Disney Experience app and skip the line!
17. Play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom offers several interactive games which are great family diversions on a busy afternoon when most rides might have long lines.
In Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, you will help Merlin the Magician repel Hades’ invasion of the park using spell cards. Pick up your cards (they’re free!) at the Town Square fire station.
In Adventureland, play A Pirate’s Adventure by picking up a map (again, it’s free!) at the marked location and continue on an interactive mission around the land as instructed by video screens.
18. The Emporium is One Big Shop
All those shops on the west side of Main Street USA? That’s just one long connected shop. Once you’re in the Emporium, you can get all the way from Town Square to Casey’s Corner.
Do you have any Magic Kingdom tips to add? Share them below!