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?” (This plan has been updated for 2016 and covers the new stage show coming to Magic Kingdom this summer.)
While efficiency is a big goal, this isn’t a strict touring plan or strategy guide for 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 looking 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 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…or when to go to the bathroom. It’s a rough plan–deviate from it as necessary.
Along those lines, FastPass+ throws a monkey wrench into this plan because not every guest is going to have access to all FastPass+ selections based upon when they make their ride reservations. 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, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Other good options include Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean. For more FastPass+ tips, read our Guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World.
Once you wake up from wherever it is that you are sleeping (if Magic Kingdom is your “most important” park at Walt Disney World, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the best hotel pick because it’s a 10 minute walk to the Magic Kingdom), here’s what to do…
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 lines are typically shorter, and it’s truly unique to 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 that it’s tough to book for the table service dinner, but the good news is that you can grab a counter service lunch here. 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 Masterpiece Theater – “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. If you’re visiting in or after Summer 2016, end the Masterpiece Theater session by catching the last show of the Cinderella Castle show, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. We recommend this in late afternoon because the show is entirely outdoors with no shade, and it’s best to avoid watching it in the sweltering midday sun.
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 1-Day Plan, 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 area is also Trader Sam’s (Grog Grotto edition).
If you’re able to do even 75% of the things on this Magic Kingdom touring plan, you are pretty much assured of having an excellent day in the Magic Kingdom. That’s our 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 itinerary 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.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help.
For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
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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!