Planning your day at the most magical place on earth can seem to be a daunting process. There is an abundance of touring plans all suggesting to be the ‘definitive’ and ‘most effective’ way to experience the Magic Kingdom park. But what really works for you? In this post, I will share with you how I personally plan my day.
If you take away anything from the post, I hope it is this. Military precision step-by-step plans do not work. Things will not go perfectly in the day – traffic, tantrums and thunderstorms can all disrupt the ‘perfect’ day that you have dreamed about for months or years. The best way to tackle a Disney park, or any theme park for that matter, is to go in open to change. Understand that you probably won’t see it all in one day and focus on enjoying what you do experience. Don’t let ‘going off plan’ upset or annoy you – you are there to enjoy yourself!
So how can you get the ideal combination of flexibility and structure to your day, in order to maximise both value for money and enjoyment of the park? Well, I suggest that you prioritise what you want to experience. I would advise no more than 10 attractions or experiences. You can click here for a list of attractions at the Magic Kingdom (Taken from Theme Park Insider which also offers some great touring plans!) and I have highlighted the most popular attractions in red and orange. Talk to your family or group about what they would most like to experience – then rank their preferences. You can see my family’s preferences here.
My advice for most touring plans is the same. Arrive early! This is the best time of the day to experience the parks with short wait times. After that, try to hit as much of your top-10 list in the morning and if you miss anything, aim to hit them in the evenings once crowds die down a little. Based on your preferences, you can draw out a rough itinerary for three different periods of the day: Morning (pre-11), Peak (11-5) and Evening (5 till close). Make them as broad as possible so you can avoid disappointment.
Here is my own personal rough itinerary, based on my groups preferences (and a presumed 9am opening). As you will be able to tell, my group does not consist of young children.
08:00-08:15 – Arrive at Magic Kingdom Parking Lot (Ticket and Transportation Centre, TTC) and take boat transportation to Magic Kingdom. If running late or large crowds, take the monorail.
08:30-08:45 – Complete security and bag check, proceeding to wait outside the turnstiles for Magic Kingdom’s opening ceremony to begin.
Morning – Before 11am
- Send one member of the party with the park tickets (preferably the person most acquainted with the geography of the park) to pick up FastPass(es) in Tomorrowland for Space Mountain.
- The rest of the party leisurely make their way down Main Street USA and walk to Frontierland.
- Once the party is reunited in Frontierland, experience the Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attractions.
- If you have time before your FastPass time slot at Space Mountain, ride the Haunted Mansion on your way to Tomorrowland.
- Ride Space Mountain and decide if you want to get FastPass for any other attractions your party wish to experience.
Peak Period – 11am – 5pm
- Use this time to experience attractions with a smaller wait time, including: Enchanted Tiki Room, Swiss Family Treehouse, PhilarMagic, Regal Carrousel, Barnstormer, It’s a Small World, Mad Tea Party, Tom Sawyer’s Island, Country Bear Jamboree, Hall of Presidents, Liberty Square Riverboat, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Railroad, PeopleMover, Carousel of Progress, Astro Orbiter and Stitch’s Great Escape.
- Complete Magic Kingdom’s must-see non-attractions, such as:
- Dole Whip in Adventure Land
- Main Street Bakery
- Hot dogs at Casey’s Corner
- Indulge in obligatory ‘I-can’t-believe-I’m-at-Magic-Kingdom’ Cinderella Castle photos
- Purchase your souvineers at the Emporium (using Package-Pickup so you don’t have to carry your bags around all day!)
- 3 o’clock parade (claim your space at least half an hour before the parade is due to start!)
- If you decide to eat in the park, make sure your dining reservations are made in advance and use this time to avoid a dinner-time rush.
- Alternatively, you could leave the park for a lunchtime nap or swim (strongly advised if you have young children) or go for an early dinner off-site.
Evening and Fireworks – 5pm – Close
- Experience Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise.
- Move to Fantasyland and experience the attractions designed for younger audiences: PhilarMagic, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Journey of the Little Mermaid and Peter Pan’s Flight.
- Proceed to Tomorrowland and watch Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and shoot ‘em up on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Range Spin.
- Use any remaining time to experience other attractions you may have missed or wish to re-ride.
- If the Electrical Parade and Wishes are high on your list, get your spot early (especially in high season). I’d recommend anywhere between an hour and 30 minutes before hand, depending on how busy the park is. My personal suggestion would be near Crystal Palace at the top of Main Street USA.
- Afterwards, take a long and exhausted stroll out of the park. You definitely deserve a rest!
Ultimately, my best tips are to prioritise, plan in blocks of time (not by the hour), arrive early and use FastPass. Similarly, make sure you try to visit on a day that will be less busy – of which you can work out using my articles below.
- Itinerary Planning 2: Extra Magic Hours (myorlandofix.wordpress.com)
- Itinerary Planning 1: What day of the week to visit the parks? (myorlandofix.wordpress.com)