Must Do's for First Timers

Must-Do’s For First Timers: Magic Kingdom Park

Disney Parks are one of the most visited vacation destinations in the world thanks in large part to people making their first visit to the park. I often hear of people going to the parks for the first time and they hardly know anything about them. Some people will do the proper research and make a plan. Others will just show up without any idea of what to do or what is there. I feel badly for those families, as they don’t know what they are getting themselves into. They also won’t be able to accomplish nearly as much as they’d probably like. With that in mind, I’m going through each U.S. Disney Park and making a list of attractions that everyone who’s going to the parks for their first time should do.  Here are the previous posts I’ve done on Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

Today we head east to the first park built at Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom.  Like the Disneyland installment of this series, Magic Kingdom will have many attractions that first timers should try.  There are almost more attractions here than the other 3 Walt Disney World parks combined.  Some will be repeats from Disneyland but the Magic Kingdom’s versions will be slightly different from those.  Time’s a-wasting, let’s get to the attractions!


The Mountains

Much like Disneyland, Magic Kingdom’s mountain range anchors the park.  Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder all have some unique traits compared to their counterparts out west.  Big Thunder is slightly worse at Magic Kingdom than at Disneyland but that’s not to say it isn’t still a great ride through the wilderness! I think Space Mountain on both coasts are pretty even and they’re both universally loved.  Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World may have a slight edge over Disneyland (you get slightly less wet at WDW), but the rides aren’t very different.

Where the mountain ranges differ between the parks is we subbed Matterhorn for the fairly new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  While I wouldn’t put this attraction above any of the previous three I mentioned, it is more kid-friendly and has earned a spot on this list.  This roller coaster slows down inside the mine for an impressive show scene with the 7 dwarfs before shooting you back outside for a swaying trip on a search for Snow White.  The ride is a little too short and has huge lines, but it’s worth experiencing!


Haunted Mansion

We’ll keep going with some crossover hits.  Haunted Mansion is on both coasts but is a vastly superior ride at Magic Kingdom.  The attraction is much longer, has more show scenes and envelops you in more of the story.  Disneyland’s version is still a blast but Haunted Mansion at might be Magic Kingdom’s best attraction.  The story is still the same, you’re visiting a Haunted Mansion that has 999 ghosts and is looking for 1 more, but the experience at Magic Kingdom is incredible.

Pirates of the Caribbean

While Haunted Mansion is better at this park, Pirates is worse.  The story is quite a bit different as you’re still experiencing pirates but you’re tracking down the ruins they have left.  The queue is incredible, albeit very long.  The ride still has some of the wonderful moments DL’s version has but it is much shorter and not quite as relaxed.  Still, this is a must do and won’t disappoint unless you’re expecting DL’s version (even then it probably won’t disappoint)


Jungle Cruise

Again, very similar to Disneyland, but this cruise through the world’s most famous rivers differs when taking guests through a temple.  It’s a beautiful moment inside the temple and one of my favorite relaxing moments at Magic Kingdom.  Not to worry though, all of your favorite puns are still to be heard while motoring through the Nile.

Peter Pan’s Flight

The ride itself is just like Disneyland, flying over moments from Peter Pan (along with flying over London) but the queue is very different here.  This is still the quintessential Disney classic dark ride and it’s not to be missed.

Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

This may be the most controversial choice on my list as many may call this ride boring.  I think the PeopleMover is a perfect way to relax and take in a beautiful theme park as you zip through Tomorrowland high above all the other guests walking.  You get a peek at some attractions from different views and a look at the Progress City Model that is a significant part of Disney history.  While this ride may not be talked about when it comes to classic Disney attractions, I think it’s deserving of a spot on this list.



The fireworks show at Magic Kingdom may not be around very much longer (it will be replaced eventually) but it’s still a beautiful story that tugs at your heartstrings.  Seeing fireworks shoot up over a castle is surreal no matter what, but having a nice theme to the show certainly helps.  Wishes accomplishes that and then some.  Don’t miss it!


Explore Liberty Square

In the Disneyland post, I put explore the whole park as a must-do.  That is true here too but I felt it was a little vague to repost.  Liberty Square is the most detailed of all the lands at Magic Kingdom and is quite beautiful.  Themed to a colonial town, Liberty Square celebrates America history with charm and restraint.  Read the plaques and notice the details here instead of just rushing off to Splash Mountain (well, rush off to Splash Mountain and then come back!)  This area is a key component of what makes Disney Parks special, the theming is top-notch and is not to be missed.

Walt Disney World Railroad

This train does a simple loop around the park (with stops along the way) but it really takes you back in time.  For one, riding on a steam train is pretty unique.  Walt Disney loved trains and this attraction is an ode to him.  One last benefit of a ride on this attraction is that it makes you slow down a little bit and take a break.  Save this for when your feet are tired and you need to sit down.

Backside of MK Castle

A few more that narrowly missed the list:

Country Bear Jamboree – Bears singing sad country songs is a must if you’re like me, sadly (or maybe fortunately) not everyone is like me.

Mickey’s PhilterMagic – A fun 3D film that takes you through some of your favorite Disney animated scenes.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant – It’s a simple attraction but also classic.  The reconfigured queue earns this ride some bonus points.

Hall of Presidents – Some will treat it as a place for napping (which is fine) but the show is well done and fits in beautifully with Liberty Square.

Festival of Fantasy Parade – If you like parades then see this.  There is some really unique floats that are just the right amount of whimsical.

Walt Disney’s Carousal of Progress – While this is severely outdated, if you are interested in Disney history then this is a must do.

FoF Dumbo

Did I leave anything off the list? Do you have any questions if you’re a first time guest going to Magic Kingdom? Leave me a comment and I’ll try to fix the list or help you out! Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

3 replies »

  1. I definitely agree that those visiting ANY of the Disney Parks need to do some sort of planning. While Disneyland and DCA will only require a minimal amount of planning, those going to tWDW MUST do their homework in the planning stage. If you don’t, the trip(s) will have a greater chance of ending up in having a bad trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Carousel of Progress isn’t too outdated… they end up with voice commands on all their appliances and doesn’t the grandma end up with a virtual reality headset?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose that’s true! I meant that the attraction itself feels outdated. The show scenes don’t look the best and the attraction itself seems a little tired. Still, it’s a classic and deserves a spot in Magic Kingdom!

      Liked by 1 person

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