Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is supposed to be the Most Magical Place on Earth, but the planning, the parking, and the hassle of reaching so many attractions in six themed areas can make it a lot of work to actually have fun, especially when you’re there during peak season. Luckily, I have been to Magic Kingdom more times than I can count, and I’ve discovered the top ways to make your day the best it can be, without the stress. Here are some best tips to make your trip feel like the happiest experience ever.
Before You Go
Book your Fast Passes in advance—months in advance. You’ll still have good choices, even if you wait until a week or two before, but planning further ahead will give you your pick of all the rides.
Still, be strategic about your Fast Pass picks. You want to pick at least one of the bigger attractions—Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain. But don’t ignore the classics, like It’s a Small World. If you’ve heard about these rides outside of Disney, you can bet they are even more popular in the park and will have the longest waiting lines.
Once You’re in Orlando
Getting into the park is a process, including parking, a tram, and your choice of ferry or rail. Take a picture of the parking lot you’re in—clever though it is, you’re bound to forget Minnie 24 after a day surrounded by Disney characters.
The ferry may seem longer, but it has shorter lines and gets you through faster. And it gives a much more iconic view of the castle as you approach the island, making it feel like the magic has already begun.
Once You’re in The Park
Know the places you need to see, and those you don’t. Main Street U.S.A. and Liberty Square are neat to walk through but lack exciting attractions—unless you consider losing a wad of cash exciting.
Use a map to chart your path clearly, but don’t think you need to move through the park in a circle. The most effective path I’ve found is to do Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and then Frontierland. It may seem counterproductive, but you’ll avoid the rush of people doing the typical circular path.
As a caveat, you may want to time your path to different areas according to your scheduled Fast Pass times.
Also be strategic in your ride choices and wise in your selections.
Use the Disney app! This allows you to judge line waits to make sure the path you’ve chosen is effective.
Time the rides! Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain have the shortest lines at night; although you may get spooked and a little wet in the dark, the short lines are worth it.
Know the rides! There are three different versions of an attraction that lifts you up in a cart and spins you in a circle. You don’t need to go on Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and the Astro Orbiter—pick one and then visit other, diverse attractions.
Don’t forget that if you’re noticing long lines, you can make a quick run to Main Street and get more fast passes—it will save you time in the long run.
Find the Best Part: the Magic
The characters and themes interspersed throughout Disney are what make the magic come to life, so take time to at least admire them. You don’t have to wait in the long lines to get a picture with Elsa, but take some time to enjoy being in a fantasy world before rushing off to the next ride.
The shows and parades are the biggest part of the magic. Make sure that you are there in time to see the opening and closing parades, the front-of-the-castle show, and the fireworks.
The fireworks are absolutely the most magical part of the Magic Kingdom. Start heading to the castle about fifteen minutes before the show starts to get a good view. Do not sit directly in front of the castle—those spots are empty because the castle will block your view. But do have a good view of the castle—the most impressive Disney medley will take place there, just before the fireworks begin. My favorite view of the castle is just outside of the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street, with an ice cream in hand. It’s close to the exit but still offers good seating and a great view. And there’s no better way to end a magical day than eating some ice cream while watching a $50,000-show of fireworks.