Disney opened the gates to Magic Kingdom on Oct. 1, 1971, making it the first theme park to open in the Orlando area. The park takes guests through different themed lands, such as Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland and the 2014-expanded Fantasyland, offering guests rides and attractions based on those themes. If you are planning on seeing Magic Kingdom in a single day, schedule your vacation during the off-peak times and try to avoid weekends. Crowds are not as heavy at the park mid-January through March and mid-September through the week before Thanksgiving. The Walt Disney World Resorts, including Magic Kingdom, are open year-round and park hours vary depending upon the time of year.
Before Going to the Park
Purchase tickets in advance. Tickets for Magic Kingdom can be purchased before you arrive, which will save you from having to stand in ticket lines. You can buy tickets on Disney’s website, as part of your Disney vacation package, at a local authorized Disney ticket seller and at many Orlando-area hotels.
Study a park map and become familiar with the different sections. Make note on the map of the attractions that are priorities for you and then choose others that you can visit if you have time. Popular attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, have longer lines.
Pack a few snacks that everyone in your family will enjoy. This will save you time and money. Simple snacks to pack include gummies, pretzels and granola bars. These snacks can be placed in sandwich bags which will be quick to grab and kids can easily handle.
While at the Park
Arrive at the park early and stay late. Lines to get in through Magic Kingdom’s turnstiles are longer in the morning just before the park opens. Plan on arriving at the park one hour before it is scheduled to open. This will put you close to the front of the line giving you less of a wait time once the park opens. Plan on spending the entire day at Magic Kingdom, leaving when the park closes.
Rent a stroller. Once you go through the park’s turnstiles, stop by the stroller and wheelchair desk underneath the train station and rent a stroller for the day. For a small fee you will have the luxury of having a place for your children to rest and a place for you to hang your bags. Strollers are available in single or double wide and are great even for older children who may have outgrown strollers. Using a stroller will make it easier for you to maneuver quickly through the park without tiring children.
Eat during non-peak meal times. Rather than fight the lunch and dinner rushes, plan to eat your meals when others are enjoying the attractions. Peak lunch times are between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and peak dinner times are 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. If you are looking for a sit-down meal, plan it for after the dinner rush, when everyone is getting ready to watch the fireworks, which are scheduled between 7 p.m. and the closing of the park. At this time there are fewer people waiting to eat. Note that fireworks show times vary depending upon the time of year and how late the park is open. If you are planning on having a table service meal, make advance dining reservations before going to the park. This will put you at the top of the wait list, if there is a wait, when you arrive at your scheduled time.
Go through the park clockwise. Most of the park’s guests start their day off in Tomorrowland, so to avoid the crowds, start your day off in Adventureland. Magic Kingdom is designed in a circular pattern so it is best to see the park in a clockwise manner. This way later in the day you will have lighter crowds again when in Tomorrowland, as the majority of guests have now made their way to Adventureland.
Use Disney’s FastPass. Take advantage of the Disney FastPass service while at the park, which is available on the more popular rides and attractions. The pass will give you a time later in the day to return and wait in a much shorter line than the stand-by line. While you are waiting for your time to return, you will be able to enjoy some of the park’s other attractions or get something to eat. Some of the attractions at Magic Kingdom that offer Disney’s FastPass include Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Some attractions offer two lines that eventually merge into one and sometimes that second line is missed by other guests. If you choose not to use FastPass or one is not offered for an attraction, keep your eyes open for a possible second line that may be shorter.
Enjoy the rides during the parade. The rides remain open during the parade, which is scheduled daily at 3 p.m. While everyone is waiting for the parade to begin you can enjoy the shorter lines for the rides and attractions. The same principle works during the fireworks show, which is scheduled at various times throughout the year between 7 p.m. and the closing of the park. As of 2014, the Main Street Electrical Parade is performed on select nights starting at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. with an additional 11 p.m. show during the summer. Many of the attractions in Tomorrowland, Adventureland and Frontierland remain open during the show.
Visit the park during Extra Magic Hours. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort you will be able to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. During these hours, select theme parks are open to guests staying at resorts on Disney property. This will give you a chance to enjoy the park with fewer people. It is best to go when there are evening Extra Magic Hours because the park will stay open for three more hours. The morning Extra Magic Hours give you one additional hour.
Save shopping for the end of day. As guests are making their way to the exits, take your time to start your shopping before the park closes.