Visiting the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World should be on everyone’s bucket list and learning how to maximize time at Magic Kingdom is a massive advantage. With horror stories of hours waiting in line and massive crowds, how is one supposed to actually enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth? Let me help you with these 12 ways to maximize time at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
1. Pre-Book Your Fast Passes
While this seems obvious, you would not believe the amount of people whom I have met who have neglected to pre-book their fast passes. When you are visiting the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World (and everywhere else), you are given 3 fast passes to rides and experiences which you can book up to 30 days in advance (60 days if you stay on property). All you need to do is create an account and log on to My Disney Experience, link your tickets and choose your fast passes. By using the fast pass + system, you are guaranteed 3 experiences at the park and will be able to get the most out of your Disney day. This means you can arrive to the ride at a certain time (1 hour to get there), skip the line and minimize your wait time while you maximize time at Magic Kingdom. While there are some high demand experiences (Peter Pan, Seven Dwarve’s Mine Train) whose fast passes get taken rather quickly. Truth be told though, you do not even need to make most of them 30 days in advance…I have made many the day before and still had the opportunity to enjoy my preferred experience.
2. Maximize Time at Magic Kingdom by Arriving at Rope-Drop (park opening)
Arriving at park opening is an absolute treat of those visiting the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Firstly, you will get a wicked parking spot in the immense Magic Kingdom parking lot…what a perk. While the Magic Kingdom usually opens at 9:00am (check your times guide as sometimes it is 8:00am). They tend to let guests into the park about 45 minutes early, not quite as early as the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, but still, early. Once you are in the park, the stores on Main Street are open for your enjoyment, as well as the Starbucks for your wake up coffees and snacks. Once 9:00am hits, the park is formally opened by the stage show on the castle forecourt. At this point you will be ready to go before 90% of the other visitors have arrived that day and thus are able to maximize time at Magic Kingdom. Head to which ever ride or experience is on your list (preferably one you haven’t fast passed) and it will be a walk on…in fact you should be able to get through at least 3 experiences before the lines build. When these lines start to build you will likely be in need of a rest…maybe breakfast at one of the quick services, Starbucks, or table service restaurants like Crystal Palace or even Cinderella’s Royal Table (the last 2 require a reservation).
3. Do Your Shopping in the Morning
It is super pleasant. After you have nailed down your 3 early morning experiences, head to Main Street to take advantage of the best shopping time of the day. Disney World and Merch go together like PB and J….and my guess is that you, like many, will want at least one souvenir. Shopping in the Disney stores at ANY OTHER TIME OF THE DAY….is absolute chaos. With hundreds of people pushing their way through the shops, trying on clothes, putting things where they shouldn’t be, clogging change rooms, and leaving their kids crying in the middle of store…well, it can be an anxiety inducing experience. Not to mention the line to actually purchase your goods once you’ve picked out your items. This brings you to the morning and one of the best ways to maximize time at Magic Kingdom. While the majority of visitors are just arriving and heading directly to rides and experiences…the shops are empty. Go ahead, take your time, stroll through the store, try on clothes at your leisure and take advantage of the Cast Members available to give you their attention. With the ambiance of Main Street, the empty stores, and helpful Cast Members, you should be able to actually enjoy your shopping experience. Once you are finished, have your purchases sent to the entrance, and pick them up on your way out. This way you do not have to carry things around with you all day.
4. Take the 12:00pm Dip (break)
Visiting the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World can make for some seriously long days, like really long, like 12 hours long, so take a break mid-day when the park is busiest. While you could just hop on to the Carousel of Progress for 20 minutes of AC, or enjoy everyone’s favourite ride, the People Mover, I much prefer to dip out to one of the resorts to relax from the crowds, hide from the heat, and regain strength for the rest of the day. This afternoon break is actually how you maximize time at Magic Kingdom, energy is everything. Upon exiting the park, you have the option to catch some lunch and relax at one of the 4 Magic Kingdom area resorts; the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Polynesian Resorts and the Wilderness Lodge. Using the monorail or boat launches, head to one of the many lounges, quick services, pool bars, or restaurants on the resorts. My personal favourites are the Kona Cafe sushi bar at the Polynesian, or Geyser Point Grill at the Wilderness Lodge. While at the resorts you can grab a lunch or a drink, do some resort shopping, enjoy the uncrowded sun, and if you have kids, give them a chance to play in the sand or nap before heading back into the park.
5. Watch the Parade from Frontier Land
If you can get over ‘needing’ to see the Festival of Fantasy parade from Main Street USA, then watching from Frontier Land can be a time saver. The parade starts here, it is less crowded, and once it passes you are free to enjoy the park while many others are patiently waiting on Main Street for the parade to come by. That gives you 30-45 minutes to get the most out of your Disney day while plenty of park guests are busy waiting. (the Parade starts at 3:00 and finishes on Main Street at 3:45, appearing around 3:20)
6. Between Your Afternoon Fast Passes and Parades, Make Some Time for Disney Extra’s
By now you have had the time to take on a few rides and experiences, you have had lunch and gone shopping…the park is extremely busy with guests trying to get everything done, so now is a good time to enjoy some of that Magic you can only get by visiting the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. While the majority of guests bounce between rides and experiences in the afternoon, the mini shows around the park have a minimal crowd. Take a look at your times guide and stroll down Main Street USA to enjoy the music from the famous Dapper Dans. Head to the castle stage to enjoy Mickey’s Friendship Fair (Tiana kills it), joke with the medieval men and women trying to conquer the Sword in the Stone behind the Castle, or learn about great moments in history with the Muppets in Liberty Square. The options are endless.
7. Ride-Swap Your Kids Out (so both adults can ride)
If you have a child who is too small to ride, and both parents wish to enjoy the experience, you can take advantage of the ride swap program. The ride-swap program involves one parent who waits in line to ride with a special card identifying them as ride-swap (you can pick these up at the entrance to the ride). After enjoying the ride, they can swap places with the other parent who has been outside entertaining the small child, the second parent can now skip the line and immediately ride,so as to bring the family back together. It is like they all waited together, but didn’t. This is key to maximizing your time at the Magic Kingdom if you have a small child.
8. Dinner Time With or Without a Reservation
If you are planning to enjoy some of the spectacular dining at the Magic Kingdom, then good for you! Have you reserved your restaurant on the My Disney Experience app? If yes, then great, you are good to go! If not, I recommend popping by one of the restaurants you are hoping to eat at around 4:00 and seeing what reservations are open and if you can do a walk in. 4:00 is the time my friends as there are often tables available at opening…if you are later than this, you might look to one of the great Quick Service restaurants available for you. Eat now and snack later is how you maximize time at Magic Kingdom. You can also enjoy the minor crowd lull at the 6:00 dinner hour if you eat earlier.
9. Mobile-order your food
The My Disney Experience app allows guests to mobile order their food at Quick Service Restaurants. You can use your phone to view the menu, order your items, pay, and once you arrive to your table click the ‘I’m Here’ button which notifies the restaurant to prepare your meal. When your meal is ready you will receive a notification of where to pick it up in the restaurant. Thanks to mobile ordering you might have saved yourself 20-30 minutes waiting in line and seriously get the most out of your Disney day.
10. Watch Fireworks from the optimal location
OK, there are a few ways in which you can go about watching fireworks, so let’s just do the obvious…in front of the castle (because of the projections, watching the fire works from the hub is almost a must-do for me). Arrive to the hub between 1 hour to 30 minutes before show time. ’30 minutes’ some of you might say…’that’s way to late’…wrong! I disagree. If you enter the hub through the entrance bridges closest to the castle (by Merida’s character spot, and via Liberty Square), Cast Members actually have all the guests who have been seated and waiting way to long, stand up, and push themselves forward leaving a massive open space around 30 minutes before the show begins. Slip in here, and you should be able to get your self a decent spot to view the fireworks, with minimal aggravation. Seriously, not spending 2 hours waiting for fireworks is the ultimate way to maximize time at Magic Kingdom.
11. Late Night Rides
If you missed an experience you would like to enjoy, hop in line ANYTIME before the park closes. Even if you get in line 2 minutes before park close, anyone who arrives in line before the end of the day will get to ride. This works, we use this method at ever popular Pandora and it works every time! If there is a 1 hour line for Mine Train and you get in line 2 minutes to close, you will still get to ride. With no fast passes coming through these lines can move really quickly and gives you the chance to do what you missed during the day while visiting the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
12. A Kiss Goodnight
A Kiss Goodnight takes place around 30 minutes after the Magic Kingdom closes. One of the hardest parts of dealing with a day at the Magic Kingdom is actually exiting. If you try to leave right after fireworks, or at park close, you could spend between 1 hour and 1hour and 30 minutes trying to get back to the parking lot. Seriously, the exit crowd is more aggressive than the entrance crowd. People are tired, grumpy, and the parking lot is 1 mile away, so stay a while and maximize time at Magic Kingdom. After the rides shut down, the stores on Main Street remain open. You can enjoy the ambiance of the park, head to the entrance to pick up your parcels from shopping or relax in the hub for 30 minutes. A Kiss Goodnight is a final projected show and song on Cinderella’s Castle. The words of Roy O. Disney’s Walt Disney World opening day dedication speech to his brother is the main attraction. For a Disney fan, the words of Roy can give goosebumps; for a visitor it is a great way to put a final stamp on the day. Exiting after a Kiss Goodnight is a breeze.
There you have it, a full day of Magic Kingdom fun at the Walt Disney World Resort. Did you like these tips? Comment below and let me know!