If we were looking for the perfect way to spend one day in the Magic Kingdom, these are the attractions we would do, the restaurants at which we’d dine, and the quiet moments we would stop to enjoy. This post continues our series of single-day itineraries designed to answer the frequently asked question, “what would you do if you only had one day in ____ Disney park?” We call this series our “Daily Trip Blueprints,” or DTBs for short. Get it? It’s like the website name! (Yes, we are dangerously corny. But knowing you have a problem is the first step, right?)
This Daily Trip Blueprint isn’t a touring plan or strategy guide for efficiently experiencing every attraction in the Magic Kingdom. For our ride ratings and reviews of each attractions, read our comprehensive Best Magic Kingdom Attractions & Ride Guide post. This is only a 1-day “sample” itinerary of what we would (reasonably) accomplish in a day at the Magic Kingdom. If you’re for something more comprehensive to plan every aspect of your Walt Disney World vacation, from where to purchase discount tickets to when to visit and more, read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
Instead, this is Daily Trip Blueprint is an itinerary of our favorite things to do during our “ideal day” in the Magic Kingdom with moderate crowds (on busier days, doing this all will be tough), and when you should do certain things for the ‘best experience,’ but not necessarily the most efficient experience. It’s a rough, subjective itinerary rather than an objective one. Emphasis on rough–the blocks of items below are not in any sort of concrete order, meaning that if you want to break up a block of rides with one of the snack times below, you can do it early. You can also skip the snacks, meals, etc., entirely.
We aren’t your mother (this much should be clear by the morning ice cream break!); we aren’t trying to tell you what to do or not to do. Just don’t you dare use the restroom unless that’s specifically called for in the plan. You get two restroom breaks per day…use them wisely! If you’re looking for a statistically-efficient plan of attack, consult TouringPlans.com for Walt Disney World, which has been developing excellent plans exactly like that for years. Their structured plans might provide a nice compliment to what we have here.
FastPass+ sort of throws a monkey wrench into this whole thing, and not every guest is going to have access to all FastPass+ selections based upon when they make their ride reservations (read more about FastPass+ in our MyMagic+ FAQ). In the interest of keeping this guide concise, we are going to assume no FastPass+. Obviously, it is in your best interest to get FastPass+ and use them as you can to get more out of the day. Our picks for the “objective” best FastPass+ choices are the Anna & Elsa Meet & Greet, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and Peter Pan’s Flight. Other strong options include the Magic Kingdom Mountain Range (Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train). Personally, I also like the FastPass+ location for the Festival of Fantasy Parade, and I hate staking out parade spots way early, but as an objective pick, this one probably isn’t the best.
We’re going to start out each of these DTBs with a recommended hotel ideal for that park. Chances are, you won’t want to change hotels every night, so this is only meant to be mildly influential. Pick one hotel for your entire Walt Disney World stay based on your “most important” park. For the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the easy choice for its 10 minute walk to the Magic Kingdom, plus boat and monorail access. If you are willing to stay slightly farther away but still in the Magic Kingdom area, my top pick is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. It has better theming and a lower price point, and is one of Disney’s coolest hotels. Plus, you still have boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom. (When searching for a Magic Kingdom-convenient hotel, the goal is to avoid having to take a bus or drive to the Magic Kingdom.) I’m not-so-secretly hoping you choose Wilderness Lodge.
Once you wake up from wherever it is that you are sleeping, here’s what to do…
Breakfast: Roaring Fork – If you’re staying at Wilderness Lodge, eat at Roaring Fork (read our full review). If you’re not staying there, eat wherever. I think 75%+ of breakfast items at Walt Disney World counter service are bad. Powdered eggs and rubber bacon dominate the “food” scene, and few breakfast items anywhere are worthwhile. The Bananas Foster Waffles at Roaring Fork are a beacon of light in this storm of bad breakfasts, and the butter-rum sauce here makes these the perfect way to start your day in the Magic Kingdom. After a few of these Mickey Mouse waffles, you’ll have enough of a sugar rush to be ready to run 20 laps around the Magic Kingdom. As you can tell, the proper diet is going to be a must for this plan! Make sure you’re done with breakfast and in line for the boat about 45 minutes before the park opens.
Early Morning Attractions: Fantasyland – We know a bunch of stuff from Fantasyland is listed as the FastPass+ best picks, but those were the ‘objective’ best picks. Just like at Disneyland, we like starting the day in Fantasyland and knocking out short duration attractions all nearby one another that develop long lines later. Hitting Peter Pan, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid can allow you to save those FastPass+ selections for the Magic Kingdom Mountain Range attractions, which are located throughout the park. If Enchanted Tales with Belle doesn’t have too long of a line once you finish everything else, it may be a good time to do that, too.
Morning Snack: Citrus Swirl - It’s never too early for ice cream. Dole Whip v. Citrus Swirl: choose your allegiance wisely. I love both, but I’m going for the unique-to-the-Magic Kingdom Citrus Swirl. The added benefits to stopping at Sunshine Tree Terrace for this instead of Aloha Isle for the Dole Whip are the shorter line and that you can sit on a ledge by the Tiki Room, as opposed to sitting or standing by a smoking area. (Great placement of that one, Disney.)
Late Morning Attractions: Disney Classics - Since you’re in Adventureland anyway, it’s a good time for Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. (If you were serious about efficient strategy, you might try to use those FastPass+ first, then book new FastPass+ for these.) If you can hold off on the ice cream, you might actually want to do these two before the snack. Then, head to Haunted Mansion and ‘it’s a small world’ before heading to lunch. It’s probably excessive to schedule a restroom break on the itinerary, but the Tangled Toilets between Haunted Mansion and ‘it’s a small world’ are pretty cool. Don’t worry, we will pencil in some time to come back and marvel at these restrooms at night when the lanterns are lit up.
Lunch: Be Our Guest Restaurant – Be Our Guest Restaurant (read our full review) is still so popular it draws a line for its counter service lunch (it’s great for lunch and, according to Sarah, dinner) and for good reason. The theming and attention to detail are great here and the food is ambitious for a restaurant in the Magic Kingdom (let alone in New Fantasyland), with several solid individual menu items. Make sure to check out the West Wing!
Afternoon Attractions: Magic Kingdom Masterpieces – “Masterpieces” is a bit strong for some of these, but the name has a certain ring to it, right? The middle of the afternoon is when any Disney theme park has its longest lines, and the Magic Kingdom is no exception. Fortunately, the Magic Kingdom has some life-changing (in a good way) attractions that are just too awesome for the general public to comprehend. You’ve got all-stars like Country Bear Jamboree and Carousel of Progress, and if you like these attractions you’re probably a highly intelligent person with a great sense of humor. If you don’t like them…hey, different strokes for different folks, right? There’s also Hall of Presidents, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, and Mickey’s PhilharMagic. This is also a good time for Festival of Fantasy Parade, and to utilize FastPass+ for Space Mountain, if you have one. Split these masterpieces into two groups and grab the snack below before or after your stop at PhilharMagic…
Afternoon Snack: Mac & Cheese – Okay, so we’ve spent a lot of time in Fantasyland, but between (old?) Fantasyland and New Fantasyland, there’s a lot to do here. We’re back again to grab an afternoon snack. It’s important that you do this one right. First, go to Friar’s Nook and grab some Mac & Cheese. There are a few extravagant varieties, but the regular style is fine. Second, walk over to Pinocchio Village Haus. Finally, and this is the crucial step, go up the stairs and enjoy your mac & cheese from this quiet perch with a view of Cinderella Castle. You may never want to leave this spot, but there are other things still to do. (If you really enjoyed it, you can always return during fireworks…although I’m mildly concerned that the mac & cheese and the view PLUS the fireworks might expose you to unsafe levels of awesomeness. Consult your physician before trying this.)
Dinner: Columbia Harbour House – Our standard procedure for these plans will be one counter service meal and one table service meal, but given the sheer number of worthwhile attractions in the Magic Kingdom, we’re saving time by having dinner at Columbia Harbour House (read our full review). We love this seafood restaurant, which has ordinary choices and more ambitious ones. The real reason we’re stopping here is for the quaint and somewhat secluded (or perhaps underutilized is the better term) upstairs seating area. We love grabbing a table by the window, charging our phones, and watching the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom below.
Evening Attractions: Better at Night – Astro Orbiter, Dumbo, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are the six attractions that we most strongly recommend doing at night for a superior experience. Yes, six. We know that’s an ambitious list, and we know that’s more attractions than some people do all day long. But, you might (hopefully?) still have FastPass+ for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (if not, their lines are often short at the end of the night), and the TTA Peoplemover rarely has a wait any time of day. Astro Orbiter and Dumbo are the wild cards that you might have to skip, but late in the evening 10 minute or less waits for those is not uncommon. As for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we’ll cover that below. If you have time for additional night-time attractions, check out our 10 Best Magic Kingdom Attractions at Night for others to add to this plan.
Nighttime Spectaculars: Parade & Wishes – Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes (plus Celebrate the Magic projection show, which occurs right before Wishes) are the nighttime entertainment in the Magic Kingdom. Try to see them all. On busier days, there are two showings of the Main Street Electrical Parade. We recommend seeing the fireworks (check out our viewing location tips for Magic Kingdom fireworks), and then the second, less-crowded running of Main Street Electrical Parade (check out our viewing location tips for Main Street Electrical Parade).
Park Closing Tranquility – How much time you’ll have after this is highly variable based upon the park hours. If you’re fortunate enough to go on an Evening Extra Magic Hours night, you might have a few hours. Jackpot! If that’s the case, you have time for like, seven more rides on the TTA and a few showings of Country Bear Jamboree! Or…some other stuff. Beyond attractions, we recommend wandering around and really appreciating the details of the parks as they empty out. This is a great time for Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, following by a walk on the boardwalk along the Rivers of America leading away from Splash Mountain towards Haunted Mansion. Of course, this provides an excellent opportunity to check out these Tangled Toilets, stopping for the obligatory Instagram #toiletselfie! (What? That’s not a thing?!) Seriously though, that area does look nice at night. From there, head around to New Fantasyland, and get in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 5-10 minutes before the park closes. Besides the very first thing in the morning, this is when the new attraction will have its shortest wait of the day, by far. After you’re done, the Magic Kingdom will be closed, but be aware that the shops on Main Street are typically open an hour after park closing, so then is the time to do your souvenir shopping. At the very least, make sure you stay 30 minutes after the Magic Kingdom closes so you can see The Kiss Goodnight, which is the perfect way to end a day at Walt Disney World!
With the Disneyland DTB, we had a nightcap at Trader Sam’s at the end of the night, but assuming Evening Extra Magic Hours in the Magic Kingdom, you probably don’t have time for that with this plan. If you do, our favorite lounge in the Magic Kingdom is Territory Lounge in Wilderness Lodge. Right in your hotel!
If you’re able to do even 75% of the things on the Daily Trip Blueprint, you are pretty much assured of having an excellent day in the Magic Kingdom. That’s our DTB by DTB.com Guarantee! (Please note that this guarantee has no cash value and is not offered to residents of any state except Wyoming. Also note that any day you are at Magic Kingdom should be amazing, so if you don’t have a great time, it’s probably your own fault! ;))
While this DTB covers most of the park in a single day, in a truly ideal world, we recommend two FULL days in the Magic Kingdom. It’s the only park at Walt Disney World that we believe requires two days to do everything without feeling rushed–you can do the other parks in one day each. If you do have two or more days, make sure to check out our Magic Kingdom Attractions Guide, which rates and reviews all attractions. Also make sure to look at our Walt Disney World Dining Reviews Index to get an idea of where else to eat.
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What would you include in your ideal day in the Magic Kingdom? If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World, what do you plan on doing? Share your questions and thoughts in the comments!