Ah, Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. This childhood dream for many gets referred to as “The Happiest Place on Earth” and “The Most Magical Place on Earth” almost interchangeably. While technically the “happiest place” moniker belongs to Disneyland for reasons explained by Dr. Takaragawa at Chapman University, it still applies to its sister park in Florida.
What makes Disney World’s Magic Kingdom so magical that it lives in the dreams of generations of families? How can you get the most out of this delightful theme park without breaking the bank or missing a single attraction? Our guide will tell you everything you need to know and more about Magic Kingdom, its amenities and attractions, and how you can save on Disney World tickets as a whole.
Let’s Dive Into the Attractions of the Most Magical Place on Earth
The biggest draw for Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom rests in its attractions. The Magic Kingdom map is divided into six major pie slices, each with its own unique theming and flavor.
So, let’s take a deep dive and examine what rides and attractions this sprawling park has to offer its guests.
The Disney Mountain Challenge
Coaster enthusiasts, rejoice! While Disney World isn’t exactly thrill-ride central, you can still get some incredible Magic Kingdom rides in the form of the Disney Mountain Challenge. There are 4 coasters that comprise this unique set, all of which you must ride in a single day to complete the challenge. The coasters include:
Space Mountain, one of the premier attractions of Tomorrowland. This dark ride has one of the longest wait times in the park, so it should be one of the first rides you queue for when you get there. It also has the steepest height requirement of the park, only allowing riders taller than 44 inches on board.
Splash Mountain is a tricky coaster credit to get as, depending on the weather, it may not be in operation. This is because, well, it’s a water ride. If it’s too cold or thundering, operating it could prove dangerous.
Given its theming around Song of the South, an extremely controversial film that Disney has all but disowned from its canon, the lines don’t tend to get too long. However, it’s still a fantastic water ride that can soak a surprising amount of people.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
As the newest attraction in the Disney World Mountain Challenge, this Snow White-themed coaster in Fantasyland has the longest wait time in the park. So, you’ll want to go to it as one of the earliest attractions. Sadly, very small children will not be able to ride this one, as there is a minimum height requirement of 38 inches.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
You can get to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain at around the same time, due to their coexistence within Frontierland. This, like the Seven Dwarfs ride, offers a speedy mine train coaster with exceptional theming. However, the height requirements for it are a bit steeper, as the minimum rider height is 40 inches.
Liberty Square and Main Street USA Attractions
When you think of Liberty Square and Main Street USA, you more than likely think of shops and restaurants. However, there are a few fun attractions to visit in each of these areas.
Liberty Square, in particular, features The Hall of Presidents and the ever-classic Haunted Mansion. Main Street USA is where you can tour Cinderella’s Castle and ride the Walt Disney World Railroad. As such, it’s a crowded main thoroughfare that you should try to avoid during peak park hours.
Aside from the aforementioned Space Mountain, Tomorrowland offers a host of other fun and educational attractions like the Carousel of Progress or the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. If you want an experience that combines gaming with a coaster ride, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin should fit the bill.
Crazy about cars? Then check out the Tomorrowland Speedway for a gas-powered, high-octane experience. Need a laugh to brighten the mood? The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor can provide.
Now, let’s talk about something that’s always exciting: New attractions! Planned to open sometime in Summer 2022, a Tron-themed roller coaster is under construction. It should provide another much-needed thrill ride for older guests.
The two Disney World Mountain Challenge credits are the main draw to Frontierland these days. However, you can still enjoy a nice animatronic show in the Country Bear Jamboree. Or, if exploring a new area and getting some physical exercise is more your jam, you can travel across Tom Sawyer Island.
Fantasyland is the heart and soul, the bread and butter of the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. This is where many of the classic attractions like “It’s A Small World”, the Mad Tea Party, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant exist.
However, Fantasyland also hosts many shows and a kiddie coaster in the form of Goofy’s Barnstormer. You can enjoy Enchanted Tales with Belle, or relive Ariel’s travels in Under the Sea- Journey of The Little Mermaid. Other great movie rides in the area include The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan’s Flight.
Adventureland may not have the coaster credits of some of the other sections of the park, but it does have memorable shows and the ride that inspired an entire film franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean. You can also take a trip through the jungles of the world in Jungle Cruise, or get an absolute earworm of a song stuck in your head in the Enchanted Tiki Room.
Do you like climbing? If so, then you can enjoy a walkthrough climbing attraction called the Swiss Family Treehouse. Plus, this is the only place you can visit a whole new world on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.
Dining and Events in the Magic Kingdom
In addition to the main rides and attractions, there are countless places to dine and events to attend throughout the year in the Magic Kingdom. Let’s examine some of the best of the lot below:
With all the restrictions put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional parades and the crowds they bring were a no-go for Disney. So, they decided to run mini-parades every 15-20 minutes or so in order to allow floats with a few characters on them to wave at guests. It’s a nice workaround, though of course people still yearn for the days of the classic parade to return.
Speaking of characters…
Photo Ops and Autographs
One of the biggest draws to visiting Disney World has always been the chance to have your picture taken with your favorite characters. You can also get them to autograph special books with their signature. While the lines for certain characters can be rather long, if your child has a special love for, say, Tiana, it’s worth it to get that picture for them.
The Best Food in the Magic Kingdom
With all the walking around you’re going to do in the Magic Kingdom, you’ll need some food to refuel your energy. The best places you can grab a bite in the park include:
- The Plaza, which offers delicious, elevated American-style cuisine
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café, for all your Tex-Mex needs in Frontierland
- Columbia Harbour House, if you love seafood and have the money to spare
- Be Our Guest, if you’re looking for delicious food, gorgeous theming, and the elusive Beast
There are loads of other places to eat around the park, both sit-down and fast service. However, all of them offer exquisite theming that perfectly suits the area of the park in which they reside.
Special Holiday Events
Of course, with this being Walt Disney World, there have to be special holiday events. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas are two major standouts. During each, the entire park transforms to reflect the spooky or cheery atmosphere of the season in ways that you can’t experience any other time of the year.
Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Vacation Planning
Now that we’ve talked about all the amazing attractions, food, and events that Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom has to offer, let’s get down to brass tacks. Planning your vacation means accounting for all the boring, logistical details as well as the bright, happy, colorful experiences you’re sure to have. So below, we’ll discuss the park’s hours, parking, peak season, and lodgings.
What Are the Park’s Hours?
No matter what, the parks at Disney World open for all guests at 9 in the morning. Depending on what time of year you get there, they can stay open until anywhere from 8 to 11 at night. When it’s off-peak season, expect the park to close at 8. During peak season, it will be closer to 11.
However, if you invest in one of the Disney World Packages and stay at a hotel on-site, you can gain access to the parks an hour earlier and two hours later than everyone else. This is great for families that really want to experience the entire park without feeling pressed for time.
Parking in the Most Magical Place on Earth
Your parking space is about a mile or so away from the actual entrance to the Magic Kingdom. It rests outside of the Ticket and Transportation Center, which you can reach by walking or taking one of the many shuttle buses. Once you have your tickets, you need to ride the ferry or the monorail to get to the park itself.
How to Get Tickets for the Magic Kingdom
Getting Disney World tickets is easier than ever these days. You can always order them online or through a travel agency. Or, if your trip to the most magical place on earth came as a last-minute thought, you can purchase your tickets at the gate.
Regardless, you can expect the price of Magic Kingdom tickets to fluctuate depending on the time of year. The closer to Summer it gets, the more expensive your tickets will become. Thankfully, we have a guide to show you how to get discounts.
To Stay On-Site or Off-Site, That Is the Question
There’s no way around it: Staying at a themed Disney World or Disneyland resort can get incredibly expensive. However, there are loads of Disney World Packages that can help subsidize this cost and make it more manageable. Moreover, the benefits you get for staying on-site like free parking, extra time in the parks, and free transportation to the parks make it well worth the extra expense.
When Is the Best Time to Go to Magic Kingdom?
So, when is the best time for you to go to the Magic Kingdom? Peak season tends to fall during the Spring and Summer, so once Spring Break hits, you can expect ticket prices and demand to rise exponentially. The Fall and Winter months tend to be more affordable. However, take care to avoid major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, if possible. The crowds of northern snowbirds heading south for the winter months can get really rough around that time of year.
Getting the Most Out of Your Disney Vacation: Tips and Tricks
We’ve covered what you can expect from the Disney Magic Kingdom and some basic vacation planning tips. Now, let’s look at the hacks. The tips and tricks that the pros use to get the most out of their time at the park.
If you can think of any more we may have missed, feel free to reach out to us and let us know.
Consider Disney World Packages
As we’ve mentioned before, Disney World Packages can be an absolute lifesaver when you want to make a memorable family vacation. Not only can this reduce the cost of staying in an on-site hotel, but it can bundle your passage into other parks like Disney Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney Hollywood Studios.
Most packages allow for park hopping, should you finish up early at one park and wish to move on to another. This park hopping can even expand to the major water parks that Walt Disney World has to offer, which are godsends during the Summer. However, if you do decide to go to the water parks, make sure to keep an eye on younglings while you’re there.
Don’t Try to Do Everything
A fool tries to experience multiple Disney parks in one day. A wise person gives each individual Walt Disney World park its own time to breathe.
Given its immense size, the Magic Kingdom is best experienced over two days as opposed to being scrunched into one. So, don’t try to squeeze every single attraction into one day, or you’ll spend most of it upset and waiting in line.
Optimize Your Time
Okay, real talk? The biggest drag when you visit any theme park is always the lines. Goodness gracious, the endless lines. The thing is, you can spend most of your day at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom waiting and not even realize your vacation time is slipping away!
So, how can you optimize your time and avoid missing out on anything? Some of our best pro tips include:
Use Genie+ and Lightning Lanes
If you’re curious about FastPass and FastPass+, those have been replaced by Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. These functions allow guests to simply pay an extra fee to book a reservation and “skip” the line on popular attractions. However, not all attractions are included with the service, and you must be there at your reserved time or you cede your place.
For some attractions that don’t have Genie+, you must purchase your slot in the Lightning Lane individually. Space Mountain and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, alas, fall into this category.
If the Line’s Over 30 Minutes, Move On
So, let’s say that you’re opposed to “pay to skip” on principle and want to wait in the normal lines. For this, our advice is to move on if the line for an attraction is over 30 minutes long. Once you get past that 30-minute mark, the excitement you have for the ride begins to turn to annoyance at how long the queue takes to move.
You can use the time you would have been waiting in that line to try to ride other, less-crowded attractions and come back at another point in the day. That being said…
Pick Your Favorite Attractions
This is, ultimately, your trip to the Magic Kingdom. Certain rides will always be crowded, no matter when you try to board them. The Mountain rides, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean tend to be major examples of this. So, take a look at the Magic Kingdom map and pick the attractions that you absolutely must ride, else you will feel like you’ve wasted your vacation.
Once you have your list of favorites, prioritize them before anything else. That way, you can ensure that you got to ride at least one of the attractions you’ve always dreamed about.
Reserve Special Dining in Advance
Dining in at the Magic Kingdom often requires a reservation, especially if you want to organize a major event or party for someone. These restaurants can get booked full months in advance (especially Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table), so make sure that you try to reserve your seats before your trip if possible. Otherwise, you may not get to enjoy that special meal you always wanted.
Get in Line Before Parades
Right now, parades aren’t really happening. However, whenever the parades come back into full swing, you can take advantage of everyone else abandoning their places in line to watch. If you hit the lines for popular attractions right before or during parades, you can easily slide into something that would usually have an hour or longer wait time.
Plan Around Peak Hours and Magic Hours
Lastly, if you want to optimize your time, you should try to plan your tour of the park around the peak hours and Magic Hours, if you have access to them. Peak hours for the Magic Kingdom tend to be from 11 in the morning to 5 in the evening. So, if you try to go to one of the popular attractions during that timeframe, you can forget seeing wait times south of two hours.
Use the time when the park gets really busy to enjoy shows, ride lesser-known attractions, or grab some food. Then, after 5 when people start getting tired, you can head back towards the popular attractions, enjoying them as the energy of the park starts winding down hour by hour.
Save the Shopping for Last
There are so many amazing places to shop in the Magic Kingdom. You can get all sorts of Disney Princess merch in Fantasyland and absolutely amazing candies and sweets from Main Street USA. However, these shops tend to become quite crowded throughout the day, especially during peak hours.
Our pro-tip? Save the shopping for when you make your last loop around the park before it closes. While most people head for the exits, their arms laden with souvenirs and merch, you can enjoy the lighter lines and grab gifts of your own before leaving.
Allow for Spontaneity
One of the absolute worst vacation-planning sins you can commit is overbooking yourself. It’s easy to plan every single detail down to the absolute minute and second, squeezing every single ounce of fun out of your family vacation. However, if you give yourself the chance to get out of your own head and experience the magic and wonder the Magic Kingdom has to offer, you’ll have a much more rewarding experience.
Let’s Review How to Make Your Disney Vacation Magical
We covered a lot of information about the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. This guide went over the basic layout of the park, the cost of parking and other amenities, and some pro-tips people use to get the most out of their Disney vacation. However, we adore all theme parks, including Sea World, Disneyland in California, and Universal Studios.
If you’d like to learn more about Disney’s biggest competitor in the Florida scene, check out our blog for more amazing theme park guides!