Park Itineraries

Magic Kingdom 1-Day Itinerary

Our Magic Kingdom Itinerary is a touring plan for what attractions, shows, and dining we’d do in our ideal day at the park.  This itinerary is our efficient way to experience all of the, what we consider, Magic Kingdom essentials.  While other touring plans are more focused on fitting in every attraction in one day, we’ll be more focused on how to have the best day possible.  Instead of constantly running from attraction to attraction, this plan will also have you enjoying some of the little things that make Magic Kingdom special.  Yes, we’ll get to the majority of the attractions but some are left behind in favor of, what we consider, better options.  If you mostly want to focus on rides, check out our Magic Kingdom attraction rankings.  We also have entertainment, table-service and counter-service rankings to help out your trip planning.  More Disney World itineraries will be coming soon!

Magic Kingdom, like all castle parks, has an abundance of attractions to ride and shows to see.  While Melissa and I like the other castle parks (Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland) we’ve been to more than Magic Kingdom, we still see this as a top-5 theme park in the world.  Magic Kingdom doesn’t have a bad land and also has the gift of space, unlike Disneyland.  There are over 30 attractions (the Disney World website says 42 but also claims that horses are an attraction…) at the park and some spectacular shows, as well.  In short, our ideal day at Magic Kingdom is packed.

Carousel of Progress MK night

Like our other itineraries, a strong FastPass strategy is key to making it through the essentials.  We do have our Magic Kingdom FastPass strategy post that we will mainly follow in this itinerary but it does have a tweak that we’ll get to in our first step.  Your itinerary at Magic Kingdom will actually start 60 days (or 30 days if you are staying off-site) in advance by reserving your FastPasses.

There are many different factors that go into a theme park day, so we do have to keep this plan somewhat general.  I don’t know how busy the park will be when you visit, whether you were able to reserve the FastPasses we suggested, where you are staying, etc.  What I do assume in this itinerary is that you are spending the full day inside of the park, getting there before the gates open and leaving after the park closes.  To do this, I would recommend staying on-site at Disney World as you are able to reserve FastPasses further in advance and the transportation is simpler.  If you are extremely Magic Kingdom focused and the budget allows, staying at the Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian or Wilderness Lodge would be ideal.  If not, don’t worry.  Just get to the park before opening one way or another.

Ideally you’d be spending more than one day in Magic Kingdom.  We are typically at Magic Kingdom for a week and will usually devote 2 days to the park, which gives us plenty of time to enjoy both the little and big things the park offers.  We realize that this isn’t possible for some and that’s why we have this post.  If there is interest in a 2-day itinerary for Magic Kingdom and/or Disneyland then let me know in the comments.  Let’s get to the plan!

FastPass+ the mountains

While our FastPass+ guide goes in a slightly different direction, for this itinerary we recommend FastPassing three mountains on a day where there are extra magic hours in the evening at Magic Kingdom.  Do not go to Magic Kingdom on a day where there are morning Magic Hours, everyone does that and it basically cancels out any benefit you’d get from going to the park an hour earlier.  Go with a FastPass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and then either Splash Mountain in the summer months or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the winter months.  Try to set the times early in the day, ideally the first one being at park opening for that first hour, Space Mountain in the 2nd hour and the Splash/Big Thunder in the 3rd hour.  For example, if Magic Kingdom opens at 9 then your first FastPass from 9-10, 2nd from 10-11, and 3rd from 11-12.  This will allow you to FastPass more attractions once you’re finished with all of those.

Obviously, plans don’t always turn out perfectly so if the attractions you want are already booked or the time slot is later than you want then adjust according to our guide.  If one of the aforementioned mountains are not available when trying to book your FastPass then try to do that attraction in the first or last hour in the park.  This will help you avoid lines and save time.

Splash mt. night

Park opening in Fantasyland

As for actually starting your day in Magic Kingdom, plan to arrive 15 minutes (at least) before the gates open.  If you and your family are early risers than Polynesian Resort has a few good offerings for breakfast and is a short boat or monorail ride away from Magic Kingdom.  We will have a breakfast step shortly but that is arguably a better option if you don’t care about sleep.  I care about sleep so I didn’t include it.

Once inside the park head straight to Peter Pan’s Flight.  You’ll want to beat the hundreds of people rushing there so don’t be afraid to throw some elbows or use your stroller as a weapon.  (Please don’t do that.  Most of my grudges in life have come from people running over my heels with their stroller.)  After your ride through Neverland, knock off some of Fantasyland’s dark rides, notably Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid.  If you have little ones, Enchanted Tales with Belle might be worth it if the line isn’t too long.  Somewhere along the way, ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with your FastPass since you are in the area.  All of Fantasyland should have fairly short lines outside of Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight so hit as many attractions as you can in the first hour+ of the park being open.  Later in the day that area is hot and crowded so we’ll avoid it for the most part.

SDMT in motion

Five Dozen Eggs or a Cinnamon Roll at Gaston’s Tavern

I’m not a fan of breakfast inside of Magic Kingdom.  Most of the options are disappointing or generic so we’re staying away from typical meals or anything healthy.  Gaston’s Tavern is a wonderful spot to sit for a little while, it is right around where are first attractions of the day are, and, most importantly, they serve a delicious cinnamon roll.  Share this with your group or eat it all by yourself, either way it’s a good time.

If you are looking to save money or looking for a more substantial meal then either grab breakfast in your room (I usually just have a Cliff Bar as I’m not much of a breakfast person) or make time to do it before the park opens as I previously mentioned.  A cinnamon roll is delicious, easy to share and takes minimal time but this is a step that’s easy to skip.  If you are able to score a Space Mountain FastPass then head there after breakfast.

Gaston's tavern portrait

Adventures and Escaping Ghosts

After breakfast (or your Space Mountain FastPass) head over to Adventureland.  We’ll spend the late morning there as the crowds should still be manageable in the later morning.  Start with Jungle Cruise and then work your way back into Adventureland for Pirates of the Caribbean.  As you are on that path, enjoy the smaller attractions too.  I don’t like Magic Carpets of Aladdin much but kids might.  Swiss Family Treehouse is great and I recommend it but this won’t have a wait at any point during the day so, if you sense the park getting busy it might be a good one to save for later.

After Pirates, it should be around time for your third FastPass at one of the Frontierland mountains.  As soon as you redeem that FastPass, get on the My Disney Experience app and schedule another FastPass.  You can do this as soon as you check in for that third FastPass and you will do that throughout the rest of the day.  Try to schedule the ones that are highest on our guide but there is no telling what will be available.

After you have used your third FastPass in Frontierland then check out the wait time for the mountain you haven’t done.  If it’s under 30 minutes then go for it.  If you can get a FastPass, even better!  If neither apply then check out the single rider line or come back to it before closing.  Keep making your way through Frontierland along the river until you end up at Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square.  This shouldn’t have too long of a wait and the line moves fast, anything around a 30 minute wait will do just fine.  The queue is fun too!

Haunted Mansion tombstone MK

Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant (or Skipper Canteen)

One of the best counter-service meals in all of Disney World is lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant.  There are a number of quality options, from sandwiches to more hearty meals.  The atmosphere int he restaurant is remarkable and value is pretty solid.  The downside is that reserving a spot for lunch is incredibly difficult.  You may have to do this 180 days in advance.  If you aren’t able to score a reservation, keep checking in the days leading up to your reservation as something might open up.

If you aren’t able to get in then we either recommend Columbia Harbor House (counter-service) or Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen (table-service) for lunch.  These are the same two we recommend for dinner so we’ll talk more about them later on.  Pecos Bill is a decent option too if you enjoy Americanized Mexican food.

An Afternoon of Shows

The afternoon is when people get the most frustrated at Disney Parks because the weather is the hottest and the crowds are at their worst.  How do you beat that?  Stay inside and away from things that get long lines.  On top of keeping up with your Fastpasses, we recommend enjoying Magic Kingdom’s slate of quality shows.  Start in Fantasyland with Mickey’s Philharmagic (a 3D show) and head towards Liberty Square and Frontierland.  Along the way, check out the wait time for it’s a small world.  If the wait is under 20 minutes then go for it, if not come back later.

This is around the time that Festival of Fantasy comes through.  Watching this in Frontierland fits the itinerary.  We like but don’t love this parade.  Seeing how this is Magic Kingdom’s only parade currently, it’s well worth seeing.  Festival of Fantasy typically shows at 2 PM so plan all of your other shows in this section accordingly.

Once in Liberty Square there is one must-see show and another decent option.  The must-see is Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History.  This newish show is right in the middle of Liberty Square and showcases the Muppets reenacting moments in American history.  There are two different shows and while seeing one will suffice, seeing two earns you Muppet bonus points.  Consult the times guide for the day to see what time the Muppets are on.  Hall of Presidents sits right beside this show and is a decent option, although we like it’s Disneyland counterpart (Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln) much better.

Moving on to Frontierland, the Country Bear Jamboree is a wonderful representation of a bygone Disney era.  The bears serenade guests with classic (and oftentimes funny) songs.  While often overlooked, Country Bear Jamboree is one of my favorite things to do in Disney World.  Finally, end this entertaining early afternoon in the Tiki Room.  Another Disney show that’s steeped in history, watching the birds sing and dance is fun for all ages and a nice way to stay cool.

Country Bear piano

Afternoon Snack – Dole Whip

To go along with the Tiki Room, grab a Dole Whip from Aloha Isle.  Speaking of Disney classics, this may be the most famous of all Disney Parks snacks.  There is a Citrus Swirl in Adventureland for you hipsters who don’t want pineapple or think the Dole Whip is too mainstream.  It’s good but we prefer Dole Whip.  Guests are allowed to take this into the Tiki Room if you so desire.

Slow Down by the River

As the afternoon starts to wane, keep pecking away at that FastPass list.  When you aren’t doing that then stick by the Rivers of America with two attractions.  The first of these is the Liberty Square Riverboat.  This steam-powered boat will take you on a relaxing ride around the river with plenty of sights to see.  While this is still outside, the attraction is plenty relaxing and you get a little bit of a breeze with the boat in motion.  This is an excellent spot for photos, as well.

The other attraction along the river is Tom Sawyer’s Island.  This island has trails to walk around and a few fun areas for kids to play in.  While we prefer the riverboat, both are fun options and worth doing if you have the time.  If you would rather do the train then insert it in place of one of these attractions.  We prefer the other two options over the train but you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Along with this, the river is one of our favorite parts of Magic Kingdom along with Liberty Square.  Explore the walkways and details of both during this time.  This is a perfect early evening spot and one of the more unique areas in Magic Kingdom.

Liberty Square MK across water

Dinner – Skipper Canteen or Columbia Harbor House

This and the next step might be switched depending on the time of year or how hungry your family is.  For dinner we recommend Skipper Canteen or Columbia Harbor House.  We like Skipper Canteen more but it is more expensive and a table-service restaurant.  Both restaurants specialize in seafood but have other options, as well.  Skipper Canteen is a fun experience with the wait staff doing their best Jungle Cruise skipper impression.  Columbia Harbor House is a nice experience in its own right if you grab a table upstairs by the window and enjoy the view while eating.

Skippers chocolate

Tomorrowland in all it’s Neon Glory

Hopefully, you have entered Tomorrowland somewhere along this itinerary due to having some FastPasses in the area.  If not, then there’s quite a bit to do here.  We saved it for the evening as Tomorrowland has a fun energy once the neon is turned on.  Hopefully, you have at least completed Space Mountain at this point.  Other attractions we’d recommend (in order of importance) are: Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Astro Orbiter and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin.  Not that isn’t in order of popularity but instead of what we recommend.  Their popularity might actually be the opposite.

All of these attractions are fun and Carousel of Progress is historic.  The PeopleMover is the most relaxing attraction in the park so save it for a time when you need a few minutes off your feet.  Astro Orbiter and the PeopleMover are both more fun in the dark, as well.

Tomorrowland Night

Happily Ever After – Once Upon a Time Double Feature

Magic Kingdom has two excellent nighttime shows, both centered around the castle.  We recommend seeing them both but the more important of the two is Happily Ever After.  This is the firework show at Magic Kingdom that Melissa and I both love.  Replacing the beloved and nostalgic Wishes was no small feat but Happily Ever After more than lived up to the task and then some.  Line up for Happily Ever After about half an hour before showtime and try to get in the center of the hub, a little ways behind the partners statue.

Once Upon a Time is a more subtle show that is all projections on to the castle.  There is more of a plot to this show and the projection technology is very impressive.  We recommend seeing this but if you don’t have extra magic hours and haven’t fit in all of the attractions that you want to do then jump to the next step after Happily Ever After.

HEA pink orange MK

Fill in the Attractions

This is the point in the day to fill in what you haven’t done, attraction wise.  If you are at Magic Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours then you should have plenty of time.  If not, this might be a bit of whirlwind.  We’ve already mentioned almost all of the attractions we enjoy and it may have been tough to get to them all.  If you did then check out Storybook Circus.  Later in the night Dumbo and the Barnstormer are a ghost town so you can walk ride on to the attractions.

If you are looking to repeat attractions then some we enjoy more at night are Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, TTA PeopleMover, and Mad Tea Party.  At this point the crowds will have started to thin out so re-riding attractions is an option.  If you are all attraction’d out then skip to the next step.

Tomorrowland TTA night

Park Closing and the Kiss Goodnight

Magic Kingdom is one of the more peaceful parks at night because of the large footprint.  While there are still plenty of people walking around, it feels like less because there is more space for them.  That makes a late night stroll around the park really enjoyable.  Again, we like to go back to the river and enjoy the views around that area.  The little spots around the castle can’t be beat either.  If you have the time, soak in the tranquility of the night and start to unwind from a busy day.  Slowly make your way to Main Street when the park starts to close.

As the park’s closing, checking out the shops on Main Street is a good option.  They’ll stay open a little later than the rest of the park.  This is also a good time for photos around and in front of the castle.

About 30 minutes after park closing time the castle will light up in a beautiful blue as Magic Kingdom says goodbye to guests with the beautiful ‘Kiss Goodnight’.  Sitting down and watching this show is a perfect way to end a long busy day.  It will run a few times after that initial showing and it’s always worth seeing.  I like to use this post-closing time for photos around the park and then cap the day off with watching the ‘Kiss Goodnight’ before heading to the hotel.  Those able to stay up that long are rewarding with Magic Kingdom’s most subtle and intimate treat.

MK fountain castle

That itinerary provides a nearly absurd amount to do in one day.  Again, we recommend two days in Magic Kingdom but if you are trying to knock it out in one and get most of this done then I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy the day.  While we try to make this clear in the itinerary, we absolutely recommend slowing down in some spots.  As I mentioned, Liberty Square and the river are beautiful places to relax and explore in Magic Kingdom.  We also like Fantasyland, Adventureland and Main Street as spots to soak in the atmosphere.  Allowing time for a few minutes of wandering here and there can be the difference in a good or a great day.

As always, if you have questions or thoughts on our Magic Kingdom itinerary then leave a comment below.  If you are planning a trip to Disney World, then check out our planning guide.  If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages.  You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email.  You can do all of that on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

– Andrew

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