This guide to Magic Kingdom rides contains short reviews of the best & worst, numerical scores, and tips for every attraction. If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, you need to know which rides and attractions are not to be missed, and which rides you can probably skip. Of course, everyone’s preferences will vary (small kids can’t ride roller coasters, teens may not like ‘kiddie rides’, etc.), so we’ll also provide a brief description of every attraction to give you an idea of whether particular attractions might be good fits for your family.
This should help give you an idea of which Magic Kingdom rides and attractions are must-see for you–which includes headliners and some sleeper picks–and which ones you won’t have time to do. If you want help visualizing these attractions, we recommend requesting the free Walt Disney World Vacation Planning DVD, which contains some footage of them! Note that this list only covers Magic Kingdom, but we have separate park guides for the other parks at Walt Disney World. You can read each of those on their pages:
Not everything on this list is a headliner or “E-Ticket” attraction that draws huge crowds. We think this is a good thing–popular attractions are popular for a reason, and most people won’t need to be told that they should experience them. It’s the other, less-popular attractions that round out a day in the park, and experiencing the “right” less-popular attractions can make or break your day.
Plus, a day in the Magic Kingdom is about variety, and some lesser-known attractions are also exceptional, just not in a ‘knock-your-socks-off’ way. You could spend all day waiting in lines to experience the “Magic Kingdom Mountain Range” multiple times each because they are thrilling, but if all you care about is thrills, you aren’t having a well-rounded experience (and there might be better Orlando theme parks for you that cater more towards thrill seekers, anyway).
Note that this post was last updated December 14, 2016, and has been updated to include the new shows, “Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire” and “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History,” and “Once Upon a Time.” This guide assumes that you have a full day to spend in each of the Walt Disney World theme parks. You may have more or less time depending on how many day tickets you purchase and whether you add on the Park Hopper option (read our Walt Disney World Ticket Guide to determine which tickets are best for you).
Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. Let’s take a look at the best and worst attractions in Magic Kingdom…
Top Magic Kingdom Attractions
Pirates of the Caribbean (10/10) – Pirates of the Caribbean is a boat-ride back in time to the days when pirates ruled the Caribbean. The attractions features Audio Animatronics pirates, including Captain Jack Sparrow, engaging in swashbuckling mayhem. This is shorter than the Disneyland version of the ride, but it’s still great fun for guests of all ages (the darkness and gunfire might scare really young children). It contains great detail, tons of characters, a catchy song. Due to FastPass+, this now gets really long lines. If you use FastPass+ efficiently, you should be able to grab a day-of “bonus” (4th) FastPass+ for this, so don’t give it FastPass+ priority.
Space Mountain (9/10) – Space Mountain is a dark roller coaster through outer space. There’s some cool theming here, a blast-off tunnel, and music to enhance the experience. It also has some interesting post-show scenes in space, and games in the queue (so if you do have to wait in line, there’s that.) This roller coaster has a 44″ height requirement and is entirely in the dark–plan accordingly if you have kids. Space Mountain is a FastPass+ attraction, and it’s highly recommended that you utilize FastPass+ for it or that you prioritize Space Mountain early in the morning or late at night.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (8.5/10) –
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the newest attraction at Walt Disney World, and is the crown jewel of New Fantasyland. It opened two years ago, and is proving incredibly popular with guests already. We covered this new attraction in a comprehensive, spoiler-free review, so check that out if you want to know more
. In summary, the strengths of this attraction are its Audio-Animatronics and theming, the weaknesses are duration and show lighting. This roller coaster dark ride hybrid has a 38″ height requirement, but is very smooth and should not bother those with mild fears of heights. We highly recommend getting FastPass+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train if you can. If not, do it first thing in the morning or get in line just before the park closes.
Haunted Mansion (10/10) – The Haunted Mansion is a slow-moving dark ride that is home to 999 happy haunts that are dying to meet you. No further explanation should be necessary. If you aren’t familiar with the premise of the Haunted Mansion, you’re probably living under a rock. It’s commonly (mistakenly) referred to by guests as “the Haunted House,” probably by the same people who refer to Dr. Victor’s monster as “Frankenstein.” In the Haunted Mansion, the ghosts are the more jovial, singing type, so it shouldn’t startle young children, but it is dark. This is another attraction that you can do whenever.
Splash Mountain (10/10) – Splash Mountain is a log flume ride that features a story from Disney’s Song of the South film, and climaxes with a big drop into the briar patch. Not only does it have that thrill, but it has great Audio Animatronics-driven show scenes that make it an all-around winner and one of the best attractions in all of Walt Disney World. Minimum height is 40″; the drop is the only part of the ‘scare-factor’. We recommend using FastPass+ for this, or hitting it in the morning.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (9/10) – A guest favorite, Big Thunder Mountain a rollercoaster themed as a runaway mine train on a ride through the barren landscape of the Old West. Hang onto your hats and glasses, because Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is “the wildest ride in the wilderness!” Big Thunder Mountain is a FastPass+ attraction, although we probably wouldn’t use FastPass+ on it. Do it relatively early or late at night.
Country Bear Jamboree (9.5/10) – A stage show featuring Audio Animatronics singing bears from the South, Country Bear Jamboree is a love it or hate it attraction. If you surveyed a random sample of Disney guests, a good 90% would probably disagree with our score for Country Bear Jamboree. They’re wrong. It also typically makes the “worst” lists written on Disney forums by people who probably love the convenience of the “dinning plan.” They’re also wrong. Country Bear Jamboree is a nuanced, sharp, and irreverent show that most intelligent guests (and kids) will like. If you’re the politically correct type who can’t look past a few wry jokes by singing bears as they parody stereotypical Southern culture, Country Bear Jamboree isn’t for you. Those who enjoy irreverent and witty humor will like Country Bear Jamboree. Do Country Bear Jamboree whenever.
Enchanted Tales with Belle (9/10) – An elaborate character encounter (for lack of a better term) in New Fantasyland, the draw of this attraction really depends upon the guests. Everyone will (probably) be impressed by the technology utilized in it, but only small children and their parents are likely to enjoy the actual experience, which is a bit hokey (in fairness, for some kids, this attraction will be the highlight of the trip). This is now typically one of the attractions with the longest wait times in the Magic Kingdom, and using FastPass+ for it is highly recommended. If you can’t get FastPass+, consider doing it first thing (or skipping it), but know that it’ll consume a big chunk of time and waits will be longer elsewhere by the time you finish.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant (7.5/10) – Now part of New Fantasyland, there are two Dumbo spinners that have considerably eased wait times (moving it from its iconic location behind Cinderella Castle also probably assisted in decreasing wait times). It’s a classic and rite of passage for all kids, but thanks to new lighting and short waits, it’s now a fun night-time attraction for guests of all ages. Don’t use FastPass+ on it.
Peter Pan’s Flight (8.5/10) – Peter Pan’s Flight attracts some of the longest lines in the park, and unless you use a FastPass+ on it or arrive right at park opening (or jump in line right before park close), you might consider skipping Peter Pan’s Flight. It’s iconic because it takes guests in “flying” ships above London and Neverland, but it’s so incredibly outdated that unless you have serious nostalgia for it or young children who might buy into actually flying, there’s a good chance it will be a letdown given the waits. The new interactive queue added last year does help, making the long wait in line (if you have to wait) more bearable.
‘it’s a small world’ (8/10) – ‘it’s a small world’ is the iconic attraction featuring the children of the world and that song. Again, unless you live under a rock, you’re familiar with it. Lines are never all that long, it’s good for guests of all ages, and is a relaxing boat ride. Experience this whenever–don’t use FastPass+ on it.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic (9.5/10) – A 3D montage film mostly from the “Disney Animation Renaissance” cleverly tied together with Donald Duck. Children of the 90s are sure to love this film, but really, anyone should enjoy it. Do it whenever–we recommend it as an escape from afternoon heat. Definitely don’t use FastPass+ on it.
Jungle Cruise (8.5/10) – Jungle Cruise is a boat ride through the rivers of Adventureland that encounters hippos, lions, and piranhas, among other animals and natives, along the way. However, the real highlight here is the non-stop zingers of the skippers who pilot the boats. If you don’t appreciate dry, intentionally corny, or self-aware humor, you may not like Jungle Cruise. We’ve seen a number of guests exit the Jungle Cruise with confused looks on their faces. It is highly skipper-dependent. If you get a poor skipper, this could be a 4/10 ride–our 8.5 rating assumes a good skipper. Do this somewhat early in the day, but not first thing. Don’t waste FastPass+ on it.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (7/10) – Enchanted Tiki Room is a 15-minute musical serenade from Audio Animatronics birds in a theater-in-the-round. You’ve probably heard these catchy songs before; the fun music of this attraction, and its history, makes it an attraction not to be missed. The theater is somewhat dark, but it should be fine for kids.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover (7/10) – This is here because it’s a no-wait, slow-moving diversion that offers nice views of Tomorrowland, pure and simple. It makes for a good rest, and for most people, that’s it. If you’re looking for an attraction that’s more of an engaging experience, go elsewhere. We love it, but we’re not the norm. Note that it does go through Space Mountain, so a portion of it is in the dark, which might scare kids. Do this whenever–it’s best at night when the neon of Tomorrowland is lit.
Hall of Presidents (9/10) – Several stage shows have made this list, and that’s because Disney does them well. This show featuring Audio-Animatronics of all United States Presidents, plus a ‘preamble’ video and speeches is very well done, albeit long. It will be most appreciated by older audiences, and least by kids. But unless you are looking to raise communists/terrorists, you should make them watch it. It’ll make you feel less guilty about pulling them out of school for a Disney trip! 😉 Shows begin on the hour and half-hour, and there is never any line–do it when the distinctly unpatriotic members of your group might need a nap.
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (8.5/10) – A screen-based “stage” show during which monsters interact with and tell jokes to guests. It’s not popular with Disney fans, but there are sour grapes there over its location in Tomorrowland. We think the Laugh Floor fires on all cylinders, with great guest interaction and humor that appeals to a wide range of audiences. Kids will laugh at the “standard” jokes told by the monsters, adults will laugh at the interactions between monsters and kids (and adults). The jokes change depending upon the audience, so if you really enjoy it, do it again. Shy guests may not like it due to uneasiness about being picked on. Otherwise, guests should like Monster’s Laugh Floor for its cleverness and interactions. Do this whenever, don’t use FastPass+.
Festival of Fantasy Parade (9/10) – This is the first Magic Kingdom daytime parade in a long time that I’ve loved. It is ambitious, and large in scale and scope. The parade floats are all large, detailed and have a lot of substance to them. The float that has captured everyone’s attention is the steampunk-esque Maleficent float, and this is understandable because it breathes fire. Yhe Brave, Tangled, Peter Pan, and Monstro floats are similarly well done. Add to this performers in costumes that have a lot of detail, a catchy soundtrack, and a great energy, and you have a parade that’s a real winner. Check out our Festival of Fantasy Parade Tips post for best viewing places and more.
The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History (10/10) – This show debuted as atmospheric entertainment in Fall 2016 to catch the attention of guests passing by Hall of Presidents, but it has quickly become a show around which guests plan their visit to Magic Kingdom. For good reason: this show is exceptional, featuring the quick wit of the Muppets and incorporating actual lessons from American history. There are 2 different shows that alternate randomly, but usually the last two shows of the day are different from one another (we recommend watching these last two shows). This is the best new addition to Magic Kingdom in years, and it’s an absolute must-do.
Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire (7/10) – The newest Cinderella Castle daytime stage show in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, having debuted in Summer 2016. This is similar to past ‘smile and dance’ shows on the castle stage, and arguably a bit better. Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire drops the pretense of a plot, and lets the show exist just for the sake of existing, as a fun festival with Mickey and various characters dancing and singing. The costuming is also pretty good, and there are seasonal variations of the show, adding to its rewatchability.
Wishes! (9/10) – There is no more fitting of a way to close a day in the Magic Kingdom than with Wishes. Watch it on Main Street with the fireworks exploding behind Cinderella Castle (best spots are recommended in our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Guide). Currently, FastPass+ is not being offered for Wishes.
Once Upon a Time (9.5/10) – On select nights after Wishes, Once Upon a Time is shown. This show utilizes projection mapping and other effects (likely pyro, lasers, and fire), and features Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast telling bedtime stories to Chip. Along the way, they are pulled into the stories of numerous classic animated films, such as Cinderella and Peter Pan. Imported from Tokyo Disneyland, this show replaced Celebrate the Magic for the 2016 Christmas season, and is a nice improvement over its predecessor.
As of right now, you can use 3 FastPass+ per day (and get “bonus” FastPass+ at in-park kiosks after you’ve used your initial allotment), which still leaves several headliners on this list that you’ll have to do via standby. This is why arriving early is so important–the first hour the Magic Kingdom is open, you can efficiently experience attractions without lines.
You can probably get as much done in that first hour alone as you could over three hours later in the day! Same goes for the end of the night, as lines start to thin out about an hour before the park closes, especially if the closing time is late. (Note: parades and fireworks have been removed from Magic Kingdom’s FastPass+ line-up.)
The middle of the day is when you should schedule your FastPass+ attractions and also experience the less-popular (but still excellent) attractions above. As time allows, fill in other options from “The Rest” below…
Astro Orbitor (6/10) – Spinner ride similar to Dumbo. Elevated location makes this a fun diversion, especially at night if lines are shorter.
Barnstormer (4.5/10) – A roller coaster only for kids who want to prove themselves on a coaster, but are too short for other coasters. Everyone else should avoid this due to long waits, short duration, and lackluster visuals. It has a 35″ height requirement.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (6/10) – Buzz Lightyear enlists your help in an interactive and competitive game-attraction to save the universe in this blast-em-up, ride-through adventure. It’s like a ride-through video game, and is fun. Loses points because its guns are often inaccurate or don’t work. It’s somewhat in the dark, but with a lot of black-light and neon, so it shouldn’t be a problem with most kids. Lines fluctuate greatly for this and can be very long, but generally aren’t too bad at the end of the day. Don’t use FastPass+ on it.
Liberty Square Riverboat (7/10) – Relaxing way to float around Frontierland, but like the Tomorrowland Transit Authority or the Walt Disney World Railroad, it’s justa an ambiance ride.
Mad Tea Party (5/10) – A fun and iconic diversion, although there’s really nothing more to this experience than a similar one at a local fair.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (4.5) – Ordinary carousel. Okay at night if there’s no wait and you have time to kill.
Stitch’s Great Escape (3.5/10) – Not as terrible as it’s made out to be, but still pretty bad. Young children are the target audience, but there’s a decent chance they’ll be scared by it. (Note: Stitch’s Great Escape is now seasonal and is only open during the busiest times of the year. You’re not missing much.)
Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (7/10) – Fun area that can be quickly explored as a nice change of pace from doing rides. Never any waits, do it whenever.
Tom Sawyer Island (7/10) – An entire island play area for kids that harkens back to a bygone area. It’s really well done, and a great place for kids to blow off energy. Adults may enjoy the tranquility of the island, too. Doesn’t feel like a theme park.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (6.5/10) – An okay dark ride, but there’s a good chance kids will have more fun playing in the queue than on the actual ride. This is a popular attraction, but is neither worth a long wait time nor using FastPass+. Do it early or late in the day when lines are short, if at all.
Tomorrowland Speedway (4/10) – Kids might like it as it gives them a chance to drive; save for that, it’s really not a good attraction.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (3/10) – Yet another spinner. Do Astro Orbiter or Dumbo instead.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid (7/10) – New Fantasyland’s Little Mermaid dark ride is one of the most popular in the park, but much like Pooh’s dark ride, it’s neither worth the long wait times nor using FastPass+. There are a couple of cool scenes and Audio Animatronics, and the queue is really cool, but it misses our “best” list because of its wait times. If you can ride it with less than a 30 minute standby wait, definitely go for it.
Walt Disney World Railroad (7/10) – A relaxing train ride around the Magic Kingdom, albeit not with a ton to see. Needs some dinosaurs (doesn’t everything?).
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress (7/10) – An Audio-Animatronics stage show with scenes in different eras showcasing technological innovations. This is one of our favorite attractions (a must-do for us) in the Magic Kingdom, so it pains me to put it on “the rest” list, but we enjoy it for nostalgia’s sake. The last scene is woefully outdated and Carousel of Progress probably won’t appeal to average guests–although older guests will likely enjoy the trip down memory lane.
This leaves out random pieces of entertainment, character meet & greets, and a few other seasonal offerings, but it should cover every attraction on a Magic Kingdom park map. If you have the time, try as much as you can, as you’ll likely disagree with us on at least a few of these attractions.
If you are unsure of how to tackle planning for Walt Disney World, we recommend contacting a no fee “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” (basically, Disney’s term for a travel agent) to get a quote and to help you plan. They get their commission from Disney, so none of the authorized (key word) planners will charge you for booking their trip and helping. Here’s one such recommended Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? If you’re interested in learning more about hotels, our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page is a good place to start. For where to eat, try out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews page. If you want to save money on tickets or determine which type you should get, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. OurWhat to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at unconventional things you should take on your trip. Once you arrive at the parks, our Walt Disney World “Ride Guides” are great for determining what to do and when to do it.
For overviews of all of these topics and so much more, the best place to start is our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!
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Which Magic Kingdom attractions are your favorites and which do you skip? Do you agree or disagree with our ratings? If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World yet, which Magic Kingdom attractions are you most excited about? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!