How to Maximize Your Day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

How to Maximize Your Day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is that iconic park that most everyone thinks of when they hear the words “Disney World”.  It’s Main Street USA leading up to the beautiful Cinderella Castle that comes to mind when you think of “the most magical place on Earth”. 

It can be an unexpected emotional moment turning the corner as you enter the park to catch that view, breathtaking even.  What can also be breathtaking is the crowds and the number of attractions you want to do while you are in this infamous theme park.

So, how do you do it all???

Strategy, my friends!  Next to Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Magic Kingdom is the theme park you may have to strategize to accomplish.  By accomplish I mean get on those “must do” attractions and experiences that are most important to you and your travel party. 

Don’t get trapped in long lines at Magic Kingdom
Photo: @bizzyrunninganddizn

The fact is you probably won’t be able to do and see EVERYTHING there is to do inside Disney’s Magic Kingdom in one day.  It’s important to know ahead of time what attractions and experiences you and your family want the most. 

Coming up with a game plan at Magic Kingdom

I’m not saying it isn’t possible to “go with the flow” at this theme park.  It certainly is if you aren’t concerned about the number of attractions you get to experience.  If you are there to enjoy your day and see the sights- Lucky you!

However, if you are there to do all the stuff, or even specific stuff, you need to know how to accomplish your goals.  Magic Kingdom can see very long lines for most of the attractions throughout day.  If you don’t want to waste most of your time waiting in long lines during your visit, the game plan is a real thing.  I have some recommendations.

Purchase Genie+ for your Magic Kingdom Day

Disney Genie+ is a paid for tool while inside the theme parks that allows you to skip the stand-by lines and use the lightning lanes at attractions.  To hear more about it you can find that information in A Simple Way to Explain Disney Genie, Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Purchases.

  • Purchase Genie+ as early as midnight the night before your visit to the park
  • 7am choose your first lightning lane.  I recommend Peter Pan’s Flight, Splash Mountain, or Big Thunder Mountain if you plan to ride those attractions.
  • 7am choose whether you would like to purchase an Individual Attraction Purchase for 7 Dwarves Mine Train.  This is the only IAP in this park as of right now.  If it is a “must do” for you, I recommend the purchase.  If you are a resort guest or Good Neighbor hotel guest see below.

As of October 11, 2022, Disney charges a variable rate for Disney Genie+ between $15-$22/per person per day depending on the demand.  For all the details read Disney Announces Variable Pricing for Genie+. It can seem like just one more added expense to an otherwise very expensive vacation.  That being said, it is an important tool if you would like to see and do as much as your heart desires inside the Magic Kingdom.

Resort Guests: Use Early Theme Park Entry

Disney World resort guests and some Good Neighbor hotel guests can enter Disney World Theme Parks a half hour before the official opening of each park.  If you enter the theme park as a resort guest a half hour earlier than the larger crowds, you have time to jump on some of those most important attractions.  Say for example:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom
Photo credit: Disney Destinations
  • 7 Dwarves Mine Train- this attraction will see long lines throughout the day.  If you choose not to make an IAP for this ride, consider tackling it first thing during Early Park Entry as a resort guest.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Splash Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain

These attractions are ones that see high wait times throughout the day.  If you can knock 1 or 2 out before the big crowds, take the opportunity!

Use Disney Genie to your advantage at Magic Kingdom

Disney Genie is a free service to all park guests.  Before your visit to Magic Kingdom, use the Genie to input your high priority attractions and entertainment, even places you would like to eat.

Use the tip Board in Disney Genie to plan your day
Photo: @bizzyrunninganddizn

The Disney Genie will let you know throughout the day when it is the best time to hit those “must dos” on your list.  It will also give you up to the minute wait times on your favorite attractions, character meet and greets, and shows.  Not only that, but it will also show you when attractions typically see lower wait times so you can plan your day accordingly.

Stay on top of your Lightning Lane selections

It’s a shame you must use your phone app so much during your vacation to Disney World.  However, if it’s important to you to get on those most wanted rides at Magic Kingdom, then always keep at least one Genie+ selection in your pocket. 

Just like in my article on How to Maximize Your Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in this theme park, you want to always have a Lightning Lane scheduled.  You can choose a new Lightning Lane selection either:

  • When you check in to your current scheduled attraction
  • 120 minutes after you chose your last lightning lane attraction.  The only exception to this is when you make a selection at 7am, your 120 minutes does not start until the park officially opens.

For example, if you select a return time for Splash Mountain of 1pm, and it’s 9am when you do that, you could select Haunted Mansion for an available return time when 11am hits.  That means you would have 2 Lightning Lanes reserved. 

All attractions at Magic Kingdom are not created equal

Luckily there is much to do at Magic Kingdom theme park that does not require use of a Lightning Lane.  Meaning there is quite a bit to do without all the long lines.  In between you Lightning Lane selections, use your time to have a meal, a snack, see a show like Mickey’s Philharmagic.  Go on the People Mover in Tomorrowland, watch a parade, listen to the Dapper Dans on Main Street or shop for souvenirs. 

Other attractions that won’t waste your time in a line include:

  • The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
  • Space Mountain- believe it or not
  • Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
Use your time between Lightning Lanes to watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade
Photo: @bizzyrunninganddizn

Places to sit down and enjoy a bite might include:

  • Crystal Palace
  • Sleepy Hollow Refreshments
  • Skipper’s Canteen
  • Gaston’s Tavern
  • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café
Enjoy a specialty waffle at Sleep Hollow Refreshments
Photo: @bizzyrunninganddizn

What you need to plan ahead for at Magic Kingdom

There are some experiences at Magic Kingdom that really do require you to plan ahead- like 60 days in advance.   If your small one would like a magical makeover, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a special salon for little ones to have their hair done and dress up like a princess. 

In addition, a dining experience inside the Castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table or inside the Beast Castle at Be Our Guest Restaurant might be the ultimate Disney experience for some, but all these things require advanced dining reservations. 

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom
Photo: @bizzyrunninganddizn

If you are a resort guest or staying at most “Good Neighbor Hotels”, you can make those reservations 60 days in advance of your arrival, pending availability.  Keep that in mind if you are planning a trip to Disney World.

End your evening with a great show

Every evening Magic Kingdom ends the night with a spectacular fireworks and projection show- Disney Enchantment.  Find a spot on Main Street, or anywhere around the Cinderella Castle to enjoy this spectacular celebration of Disney.  I recommend getting a spot early, the crowds can fill the area quickly.  Grab an ice cream from Plaza Ice Cream Parlor while you wait.

More planning tools for your vacation

If you would a more in depth look at all Magic Kingdom has to offer, you can find more information in All the Magic in Magic Kingdom.  Additionally, if you would like to hear more about the benefits of staying at a Disney Resort, check out 6 Reasons to Stay at a Disney Resort

Lastly, you can get more info on Disney Theme Parks by following our blog site.  I’m doing this series of articles to help you get the most out of each park.  Included so far are:

If you have any questions or would like to add your own tips and tricks on how to have a great day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, comment below. 

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