The Ultimate Guide to Magic Kingdom
Heading to Magic Kingdom? In this blog we’re covering tons of Magic Kingdom tips, including the best rides and food at Magic Kingdom, Magic Kingdom FastPass+ planning, and more!
Not to sound cheesy, but Magic Kingdom truly is magical. Between walking down the quaint and nostalgic Main Street USA, seeing dozens of balloons floating in the air, catching the first glimpse of the castle, and listening to the cheerful songs of a barbershop quartet, it’s pretty hard to not feel giddy the second you enter the park.
As we shared on our Hollywood Studios guide, Disney World was the birthplace of Adventures of A+K, so the parks are extra special to us. For us, they not only represent a place that makes us feel like kids again, but they also mark the beginning of our travel careers.
And while we love all of the parks, Magic Kingdom definitely ranks high up on the list! We love the different themed areas of the park, the fun rides that make you smile instead of scream, the classic Disney characters, and the epic fireworks show. If you could only visit one Disney park in your lifetime, we think it should be Magic Kingdom.
We’re excited to share tons of new Magic Kingdom tips from our most recent trip, including: Magic Kingdom FastPass+ planning, the best Magic Kingdom rides, what to eat at Magic Kingdom, as well as general tips for Disney World!
It’s a lengthy post, so feel free to check out the table of contents below if you’re just looking for specific tips.
Heading to Hollywood Studios? Read our Ultimate Guide to Hollywood Studios!
Watch our Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom vlogs!
Looking for other things to do in Orlando? Read our list of 18 things to do in Orlando besides theme parks
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
About Magic Kingdom
While Magic Kingdom is not the oldest Disney park in the world (Disneyland in California has that title!), it is the original park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, opening in 1971. When it opened, admission was only $3.50 (OMG!!!) and there were a total of 23 attractions, 20 of which were the same as Disneyland.
Fast forward to now, Magic Kingdom starts at $109 for a one day ticket (eeek!) and has over 40 attractions. But despite the higher price, the park is the most visited theme park in the world!
Magic Kingdom is organized into 6 areas, all centered around Cinderella’s castle. The areas are: Main Street USA, Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. Each area has its own themed design and rides that match the theme, making Magic Kingdom feel like multiple smaller parks in one!
When to visit Disney World
Disney World is a year-round destination, but there are definitely better times to visit due to crowds, park hours, and weather. To hopefully make your trip less stressful!, here are some tips about when to visit Disney World!
We have visited Disney World together twice, the first time during the 4th of July week and then this most recent time on a Wednesday in mid January (January 15, 2020 to be exact!). So we have experienced the parks during both a summer holiday, as well as the “slower” season. While our 4th of July trip was very hot, looking back, the parks actually felt less busy to us. Granted, this was before the Star Wars craze, so things may be different in the future.
While the crowds in January weren’t that bad, we were a bit surprised by how busy it felt at times. We of course expected long waits and crowds at Hollywood Studios, but when we park hopped over to Magic Kingdom, we were greeted with much bigger crowds than we expected. The wait times for most of the top rides at Magic Kingdom were between 60-120 minutes. And for a Wednesday in mid-January, that felt crazy to us!
What we learned from both experiences is that you should always make a list of your top priorities, get your FastPasses, and be mentally prepared for crowds. If you go into the day with realistic expectations, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised!
The busiest time to visit Disney World will be during weekends, school holidays, and around major holidays, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and the 4th of July. We’d suggest avoiding these times if you really don’t want to battle crowds!
It’s also good to look at the Disney event calendar to make sure that there isn’t a major event during your planned visit (such as the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and the various races). Unless of course you’re wanting to visit for a specific event!
As for the best day of the week, mid-week is typically the slowest time since some folks may take a Friday or Monday off for a long Disney weekend.
When in doubt, there are many helpful crowd calendars online to help you double check the estimated crowds for the day you’d like to visit.
One thing we noticed during our most recent trip to Disney World is that it felt like the park hours were shorter. We couldn’t remember the hours from our 4th of July trip, but after researching a bit, we discovered that some parks, especially Magic Kingdom, do have longer hours in the summer.=
Magic Kingdom, for example, was only open until 8 PM during our January trip, but in July it’s open until 10 PM. Those 2 extra hours can make a huge difference when it comes to getting on the popular rides!
You can see park hours by month here.
We’d suggest avoiding Disney World in the summer if heat, humidity, and rain are not your jam. The summers in Orlando can be pretty brutal with the heat + humidity combo and the Orlando area is prone to lots of rain in the summer, as well as hurricanes and tropical storms. Our previous trip to Orlando was during 4th of July week and we were basically soaked in sweat the entire time. It did make the pool and frozen treats even better though! 🙂
Visiting Disney World sometime between January-mid May or October-December, all while avoiding major holidays, would have more bearable temperatures, less rain, and less crowds! Our most recent trip to Orlando was in January and while they did experience unusually high temperatures, we couldn’t really complain while a lot of the country was freezing and getting snow!
No matter which day you choose, Disney is truly the happiest place on Earth and even with some crowds or a little bit of rain, you’ll still have a magical day!
Where to stay at Disney World
There are so many options of places to stay at Disney World—it can be a bit overwhelming! If you plan to spend multiple days at Disney and want to take full advantage of everything the park has to offer, from free transportation to extra magic hours, we highly recommend staying on property at a Disney hotel.
But if you only plan to spend a day at Disney World and either want to save a little money or have rewards with specific hotel chains, there are lots of great off-property hotels and Airbnbs to check out!
Below is a list of some of the many options that we suggest considering!
Disney Hotels: Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, or for something more affordable and outdoorsy, stay at the Fort Wilderness Campground! You can see all Disney options here.
Airbnbs: We LOVED the Airbnb we stayed at near Disney! The complex was so nice, had tons of amenities, and was close to Disney. Here are some Airbnbs at the property: Option #1 (this is the one we stayed in!), Option #2, Option #3.
PS: If it is your first time staying at an Airbnb, click this link to get $40 off your first stay!
What to bring to Disney World
One thing we love about Disney is that you can bring a bag (less than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18″ high) onto any ride! We always dislike when we have to hop back and forth to a locker at theme parks, so their bag policy is so convenient!
After a few fails, we now have a pretty solid idea of what to bring to Disney World. Here is our go-to list!
Umbrella or Rain Jacket: Our first huge fail at Disney was during our trip in 2015. We forgot to bring an umbrella or rain jacket. We didn’t even think about the fact that it may rain. Well, in summers in Florida, an afternoon shower is very common and we found ourselves spending $20/each on ponchos at the park to stay dry. We’ll never make that mistake again!
Comfy Shoes: Comfort > Fashion is the motto at Disney. You’ll be doing lots of walking, so you’ll want to make sure that your shoes are as comfortable as possible!
Camera: Whether it’s your phone, a point and shoot camera, a DSLR, or a GoPro, having a camera to capture the moments at Disney is a must! We loved documenting our facial expressions on rides with our GoPro (best investment!), snapping photos with characters, and filming our day at the park.
Sunscreen: They don’t call Florida the Sunshine State for nothin’!
Portable battery charger: During our most recent trip to Disney, we found ourselves panicking a bit when our camera batteries were all almost dead and we still had a couple hours of filming left to do. We didn’t think about bringing a portable battery charger (like this one!), which would’ve not only helped keep our camera batteries charged, but would’ve been a good backup in case our phones died.
Food: Another huge perk of Disney is you can bring your own food in! This actually shocked us a bit, because usually places want you to spend all of your money on their food. 😉 The biggest rule with food is that it cannot be in glass containers. We love bringing our own lunches and some snacks to save us money throughout the day.
Water: Similar to food, you can bring your own water into Disney! We brought our CamelBak Bladder with us last time and it was easy to carry around, held a lot of water, and was easy to quickly drink from.
To see everything you’re not allowed to bring, check out Disney’s park policy!
How to get to Magic Kingdom
There are a few ways to get to Magic Kingdom, depending on if you’re staying on property, off property, or park hopping!
If you’re staying off property, your best options are Uber/Lyft or parking at the park. Uber/Lyft prices vary based on where you’re staying, so we recommend looking at their fare estimator tools (Uber, Lyft) to see what the cost would be.
Parking costs $25/day and it works for as many parks as you can squeeze in!
If you’re staying on property, you have more options! You can either:
- Take a bus from your resort (free for resort guests!)
- Take the monorail if staying at either Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (free for resort guests!)
- Park at Magic Kingdom (free for resort guests!)
- Take an Uber/Lyft to the park (cost varies)
If you’re park hopping (on or off property), you can get to and from Magic Kingdom a couple ways from the other parks! But when in doubt, we recommend asking a cast member for the best route, as sometimes things can change.
- From Epcot: You can take the monorail to the ticket and transportation center and then hop on another monorail to Magic Kingdom!
- From Hollywood Studios: Take the bus
- From Animal Kingdom: Take the bus
- Drive and park at each park: $25/day for off property guests and free for on property guests!
Magic Kingdom FastPass Planning
Figuring out FastPasses can be a bit confusing and overwhelming if it’s your first time to Disney World! Here’s a quick rundown of how they work so you can figure out your Magic Kingdom FastPass+ strategy!
- Everyone gets 3 FastPass+ choices before they visit the park. They are free! However, not all rides and attractions are eligible for FastPass+.
- If you’re staying on park property, you can start making your choices 60 days before your check in date. If you’re not staying on park property, you can start making your choices 30 days before your park date at 7:00 AM ET. It’s important to make your Magic Kingdom FastPass+ choices as soon as possible to have the most options.
- If you’re park hopping, you can only pick your first three FastPasses at one of the parks (no mixing parks allowed unfortunately) and then you can get individual FastPasses (one at a time) once you get to your second park. You could choose to select your three FastPasses for your second park if you’re not worried about lines at your first park and want to guarantee shorter lines at your second park.
- Unlike Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom, there is not a tiered system at Magic Kingdom. What that means is that you can use your 3 FastPass selections as you wish! If you wanted all three “mountains” (Space, Splash, and Big Thunder), you could pick those! Assuming they are available 🙂
- Your FastPass+ time slot is an hour, which means that if you book a 10:30 AM time for a ride you have from 10:30 AM-11:30 AM to enter the ride.
- After you run out of passes and book individually, you may notice that the time slots are limited. Check the app often throughout the day—we snagged one for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad super last minute and it saved us so much time!
General Tips for Magic Kingdom
- If you’re staying on resort property, you may be able to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours! These are either in the morning or evening and vary by day. So make sure to check the Disney calendar!
- Make sure to download the Disney Experience app to see line times, book extra FastPasses, and to see the park map.
- A popular activity at Magic Kingdom is a character meal! There are two different options at Magic Kingdom: Cinderella’s Royal Table and The Crystal Palace.
Cinderella’s Royal Table occurs inside the castle, making it a very popular option! It is offered for all three meals of the day and reservations can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit. We hear you need to book 180 days before to get a spot. The Crystal Palace is also available for all three meals, but instead of Cinderella, Pooh and Tigger are the stars!
- Make sure to meet characters! There are tons of characters to meet at Magic Kingdom. My favorite is Tigger, who I have loved since I was a kid and freak out with excitement every time I get to meet him!
- If you do not have your tickets in advance, make sure to either pick up your Magic Band or ticket from a guest services desk before you get to the park. This will save you the hassle of having to get your ticket there! We picked ours up at Disney Springs.
Park Hopping with Magic Kingdom
Unlike Hollywood Studios, we do not recommend park hopping with Magic Kingdom. Why? Well, there is just so much to see! While there are only a handful of “thrill” rides, there are so many other attractions to enjoy that it’s not worth rushing through the park.
During our last visit to Magic Kingdom, we split the day between there and Hollywood Studios and we were running around the whole time and it was a tad stressful. We wished we could’ve taken it slower, met more characters, rode some of the smaller rides, and just enjoyed the magicness of it all.
However, if you do need to park hop, we’d suggest pairing Magic Kingdom with Epcot! You could start the day at Magic Kingdom, take an afternoon break at Epcot to eat some delicious food, and then return to Magic Kingdom for the fireworks show.
Top Rides at Magic Kingdom
Since Magic Kingdom is split into multiple areas, we’ll split up some of the top rides so you can plan your day easier!
A nice, relaxing 10 minute river cruise across Asia, Africa, and South America with animatronic animals!
Pirates of the Caribbean
Keep an eye out for Captain Jack Sparrow on this dark, indoor voyage!
The Haunted Mansion
As a kid, it blew my mind that you got on this ride as it was moving (it was moving slowly, but still moving!). Ever since, I have been on this ride during every trip because it holds nostalgic value for me. It’s a dark, slow, and spooky journey through the haunted mansion!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is definitely one of our favorite rides at Magic Kingdom—it’s the perfect mix of fun and thrills! We love the western theme and the scenery during the ride reminded us of being back in the Southwest. The wait times can be pretty long for this ride, but with a last minute FastPass we managed to get on pretty quickly!
Note: From May 4 through May 21, 2020, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will be closed for refurbishment
Another favorite of ours, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations during our last visit. 🙁 But now we just have more reason to go back! There is seriously nothing better than Splash Mountain on a hot Orlando day.
Note: Splash Mountain is closed for refurbishment until late February 2020
It’s a Small World
“It’s a small world after all!” It’s almost impossible to not get that song stuck in your head once you start singing it! On this 10 minute indoor boat ride you get to see lots of singing and dancing figures from all 7 continents. It has become an iconic ride that is at Disney parks around the world!
Mad Tea Party
Love to spin? Love to feel slightly sick? Then this ride is for you! 😉 Adam refused to go on the teacups last time, but it’s a classic ride that if you can stomach it, is a must do!
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
We wish we could say we have been on this ride, but the line is always crazy long! Both more recent visits to Magic Kingdom (the first was shortly after this ride opened), the wait time has been around 2 hours! We’d highly recommend trying to snag a FastPass for this one if you want to ride it…and let us know how it is!
Described as a junior roller coaster, this is a great intro rollercoaster for kiddos, while still being fun for adults!
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Another Disney classic that shouldn’t be missed! Soar high (well, kind of) above the skies in a flying elephant! One cool thing about this ride is that you can determine how low or high you fly.
We think Space Mountain may take the cake as the best ride at Magic Kingdom! We waited about 80 minutes to ride it during our last visit and were very exhausted (and slightly annoyed), but man was it worth it! The ride goes sooo fast, has awesome drops, and is 100% in the dark, which makes it even more fun. We laughed the entire time and absolutely loved it!
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
We love rides that let you be a part of them and in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, it’s up to you to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg with lasers!
Coming soon: TRON Lightcycle Power Run is a very popular ride at Disney Shanghai and will be coming to Tomorrowland in October 2021. We cannot wait to come back to ride this, it looks amazing!
Parades & Fireworks Show
While these aren’t technically rides, they are big attractions that shouldn’t be missed! The parades and fireworks show themes and times can vary depending on when you visit and you can see the current lineup here.
If you could only choose one, we highly recommend the fireworks! They put different scenes on the castle, play different songs, and have beautiful fireworks to go with it! It’s the most magical way to end the day 🙂
Best Food at Magic Kingdom
Y’all, there is sooo much good food at Magic Kingdom! We have a couple favorites, but there are tons of delicious options to choose from! As we mentioned above, you can bring your own food into Disney, so we recommend packing your big meals and then buying some snacks at the park.
Just like the rides, we’ll sort the treats by area of the park so you can maximize your ride and eating time!
Main Street USA/Around the Park
Mickey Ice Cream Bars
Another Disney classic! They sell these around the parks, but we love walking around with one when it’s a bit warm out.
Mickey Rice Krispies Treats
Everything tastes better in the shape of Mickey and rice krispies treats are no exception! At the Main Street Confectionary, treat yourself to a chocolate and candy dipped rice krispies treat!
We’ll keep this one simple: churros, with their crispy, cinnamon exterior, and soft interior are amazing! These can be found around the park!
Chocolate Glass Slipper
This treat is only available at Cinderella’s Royal Table and is a chocolate slipper with mousse and fresh fruit!
This is our must-do favorite at Disney! A Dole whip is a creamy pineapple soft serve that can be found at Aloha Isle. It’s so dang tasty, especially on a hot day, and you can either get it in plain soft serve form or as a float! They have these at the Aulani resort in Hawaii and we had to indulge in one there as well. 🙂
You can find turkey legs in Frontierland and Adventureland. Make sure you’re a bit hungry because they are huge!
Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake
Oh my gosh, this looks SO good! We are 100% going to indulge in this next time, even if it breaks Kathryn’s gluten free diet. Located at the Liberty Tree Tavern, this cake is basically a thick, gooey cookie with caramel, chocolate, and ice cream. BRB, we’re running back to Magic Kingdom right now!
What’s better than a sandwich? A waffle sandwich! Especially one filled with nutella and fruit or fried chicken.
We really wanted to try a LeFou’s Brew during our last trip, but we were a bit sugar-ed out. It’s a frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow and topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam. Just by looking at it, it kind of reminds us of Butterbeer, which is our favorite Universal Studios treat. You can find LeFou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern.
Enjoy a Mickey pretzel with cheese sauce from The Lunching Pad. As we said before, everything tastes better when it’s Mickey shaped, right?
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