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. Check out itineraries for other parks here.

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 one of the best theme parks 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

Speaking of changes, all theme parks are slowly making their way back from COVID. That means that some entertainment won’t be running. If there’s something in this itinerary that isn’t showing while you’re at the park then just skip that step.

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 splurged for genie+ or Lightning Lanes (this plan assumes you didn’t), 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. Getting to the park about half an hour before opening would be a wise choice if you only have one day there.

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. If you’re looking for vacation packages or tickets then follow those links for our recommended sites. Let’s get to the plan!

Start with the Mountains!

Now that FastPass is out the window, starting the day at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train seems like the obvious choice. Instead, we’re going to save this for the very last ride of the night. Unless you get there about an hour ahead of opening, this is probably the easiest route assuming the crowds are moderate. If you don’t feel like getting to MK an hour early, then head to Space Mountain at the start of the day instead! This is another one of the most popular attractions in the park and getting it done first will open the day up.

Space Mountain sign

After your ride in space, we’re going to go another flight – Peter Pan’s Flight. The name of the game this morning is to knock off as many headliners as possible before the crowds descend. After Peter Pan’s Flight, we’ll head to the park’s other mountains in Frontierland. Splash Mountain usually has a little longer of a line but this early in the morning it shouldn’t be too bad. Same goes with Big Thunder Mountain, which I would do after Splash. 

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.

Gaston's tavern portrait

Adventures and Escaping Ghosts

After breakfast, head over to Adventureland. We’ll spend the late morning there as the crowds should still be manageable. 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.

The adventures don’t stop here though! It’s time to make a hard right into Frontierland after Pirates and go to Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square. The line could be pretty long at this point but it does move fast. If the wait is over half an hour consider skipping this and coming back at night. But if you’ve skipped other things in this itinerary, then waiting might be the best course of action before lunch.

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 in the 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. We recommend enjoying Magic Kingdom’s slate of quality shows. Start in Fantasyland with Mickey’s Philharmagic (a 3D show) and then 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 30 minutes then go for it, if not come back later.

This is around the time that Festival of Fantasy, Magic Kingdom’s parade, 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. The parade has not yet come back from COVID but I do think it will return some point soon.

Since you’re near Liberty Square, it’s time to relax in air-conditioning. Hall of Presidents sits right in the middle of the land is a decent option, although we like it’s Disneyland counterpart (Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln) much better. Hall of Presidents takes you through American history and has some incredible animatronic figures.

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.

Henry CBJ MK

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, head to the Rivers of America with the two attractions nearby. 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.

Liberty Square MK across water

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.

Dinner – The Plaza Restaurant 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 The Plaza Restaurant or Columbia Harbor House. We like The Plaza more thanks to its beautiful spot along Main Street but it is more expensive and a table-service restaurant. The Plaza offers American food while Columbia Harbor House specializes in seafood. Skipper Canteen is a fun experience, as well, 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.

Plaza Restaurant sign MK

Tomorrowland in all it’s Neon Glory

Heading back to where the day started now! We saved the land for the evening as Tomorrowland has a fun energy once the neon is turned on. Other attractions outside of Space Mountain that 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. Note that this isn’t in order of popularity but instead 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.

Tomorrowland TTA night

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 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.

Right before closing, get in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train if you haven’t already. This will be the chance for the shortest line of the day and it won’t take actual park time away from other attractions since Magic Kingdom is closed. Once you’re off Mine Train, 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. 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!

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