Our 1-day Magic Kingdom touring plan offers a step by step itinerary for an ideal visit to Walt Disney World, with strategy to minimize time in line, maximize efficiency, and avoid crowds. We’d ride these attractions, eat at these restaurants & snack stands, and more. (Updated August 23, 2021.)
This one-day Magic Kingdom itinerary has been overhauled several times in the last year following the reopening of Walt Disney World. There are a number of reasons for that, with the biggest being the removal of FastPass+ (here’s what will replace it later in Fall 2021). This has caused changes in guest behavior, ride efficiency, and certain attractions to become more–and less–popular.
Throughout summer, capacity caps increased and attendance at Magic Kingdom skyrocketed, resulting in higher wait times. However, the autumn off-season has arrived early, and crowds have now plummeted. Consequently, we’re back as of late August 2021 with yet another update to this 1-day Magic Kingdom itinerary, changing several recommendations, including rope drop priority and when to do Seven Dwarfs Mine Train…
While efficiency is a big goal, this Magic Kingdom itinerary focuses on both doing as many rides as possible while still enjoying the Disney ambiance and details that make Magic Kingdom the most popular theme park in the world. Our Magic Kingdom itinerary is somewhat subjective in that it covers our favorite things to do during our “perfect day.” Additionally, this Magic Kingdom touring plan is optimized so that wait times are minimized.
To accomplish everything in a single day, some (less popular) attractions and shows are skipped. (Sorry, Magic Carpets of Aladdin! Actually…not sorry.) For our ride ratings and reviews of every attraction, read our comprehensive Best Magic Kingdom Attractions & Ride Guide post. For something more comprehensive to plan every aspect of your vacation, from where to purchase discount tickets to when to visit and more, read our 2021 Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide.
Pre-Rope Drop Arrival – For an ideal experience at Magic Kingdom, we recommend arriving to the park about 45 minutes before official opening time, and picking up this itinerary from there. If you’re driving, this means leaving for the park to allow sufficient time to park and get from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) to Magic Kingdom.
Unfortunately, Magic Kingdom no longer quietly opens around 30 minutes before the published time. However, arriving early will still get you to the front of the pack for rope drop and mean a shorter wait at your first couple rides of the day.
Rope Drop Fantasyland via Liberty Square – We like starting the day in Fantasyland and knocking out shorter duration attractions all nearby one another that develop long lines later. Note that this is only a viable strategy if you enter Magic Kingdom at least 20 minutes before the official park opening time.
However, rather than joining the Fantasyland crowd for rope drop on the right side of Cinderella Castle, join the Liberty Square crowd on the left side. To understand why, we strongly recommend reading our latest Magic Kingdom Park Opening Report. That features photos & video of the rope drop crowds and a step-by-step look at our morning.
Fantasyland Flight – After entering via Liberty Square, turn right at the Tangled Toilets and backtrack to Peter Pan’s Flight for your first stop of the day.
You could instead rope drop Seven Dwarfs Mine Train from the other side of the Central Plaza, but that’s where the vast majority of guests will go. If you opt to try for that first, enter via the right side of Cinderella Castle. However, if the wait for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is over 30 minutes or the line stretches around the mountain, skip it to stay ahead of the ‘crowd wave’ and come back later. Either way, do Peter Pan’s Flight first or second.
Wee Hours in the Wild West – Once done with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and/or Peter Pan’s Flight, quickly make your way to Frontierland. This is the “deepest” land in Magic Kingdom, so it usually takes crowds a bit to arrive back here.
While Splash Mountain will have longer lines later in the day, we’d recommend doing Big Thunder Mountain Railroad before it. Strategically, this is because Splash Mountain has a longer duration, giving other guests time to “catch up” to you if you do that first. The goal here is to stay ahead of the wave of crowds, so do the shorter-duration Big Thunder first.
As a bit of an aside, Splash Mountain is seeing a surge in popularity due to Disney’s announcement that they will be converting the log flume ride to a Princess and the Frog attraction. However, the current incarnation of Splash Mountain is unlikely to close before late 2021–perhaps not until 2022.
Set Sail for Adventure(land) – Late morning is a good time for Jungle Cruise followed by Pirates of the Caribbean. Due to reduced capacity on these boats, they have disproportionately longer wait times than normal.
Note that Jungle Cruise is in the process of being reimagined, which means some show scenes might be missing. The attraction will not close during this update.
Magic Kingdom Classics – Before lunch, double back to Tangled Toilet Territory (not the official name of this area…but it should be!) and do Haunted Mansion followed by ‘it’s a small world.’
To recap, before lunch you’ll hopefully have accomplished the following, in order:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (potentially)
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Splash Mountain
- Jungle Cruise
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Haunted Mansion
- ‘it’s a small world’
- Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (if posted wait is under 30 minutes)
On a busier day, you might only hit the first 6 of these. On a slower day, you might be able to accomplish a couple more Fantasyland favorites before lunch. Either way, to achieve all of this, it’s imperative that you arrive before official park opening time. If you arrive later, you’ll be lucky to do half of this list.
Leisurely Lunch – If you’re able to accomplish ~10 attractions in the morning, you should have time for a sit-down lunch. We recommend a table service option, with our favorite foods being at Skipper Canteen–an underrated gem of Magic Kingdom dining.
Another sleeper pick right now is covered in our recent Tony’s Town Square “Restaurant Redemption” post. What we loved about this was being able to dine outdoors and watch several of the character cavalcades and greetings while we ate. Two birds with one stone!
Blast Off to Tomorrowland! – One of the interesting phenomenons of Walt Disney World’s phased reopening is that Tomorrowland has gone from one of the most popular lands with high wait time attractions to…the opposite. Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin should each have modest waits by mid-afternoon.
While in Tomorrowland, be sure to do the PeopleMover, which is a leisurely ride around the land. Once finished with that, head over to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, which is a stage show chronicling innovations of the 20th century. You can also do Tomorrowland Speedway if it interests you, but we’d recommend saving Astro Orbiter until nighttime when the line will be shorter and more pleasant.
Magic Kingdom Masterpiece Theater – Afternoon is when any Disney theme park has its longest lines, so take an AC break with these life-changing (in a good way) shows that are just too awesome for the general public to comprehend.
Hit up Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room or Country Bear Jamboree during the hottest and busiest time of the day. Country Bear Jamboree is the only must-do of these, and is beloved around the world by highly intelligent and attractive people. While you’re in their neck of the woods, be sure to wave to Big Al and his sleuth.
Masterpiece Intermission: More Snacking – You have a few options to choose from, as covered in our Best Magic Kingdom Snacks & Desserts List. Some of those might be unavailable depending upon when you visit; certain snack spots are only open on weekends and busier days right now.
If you did the ‘Masterpieces’ out of order and are in Liberty Square or Adventureland, the good news is that there are wonderful snacks in both of those lands, too. This includes the Dole Whip and Citrus Swirl, which are beloved among Walt Disney World fans!
Fantasyland & Tomorrowland Cleanup – Depending upon what you did at rope drop, you should have a few more attractions left in Fantasyland, including Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Barnstormer, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and more.
Lines should be modest for all of these at this point. If any of them have particularly long waits, skip them.
Early Dinner: Be Our Guest Restaurant – Still the most popular restaurant in Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest Restaurant (read our full review) remains a very hard Advance Dining Reservation to score. 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 menu items. Make sure to check out the West Wing!
If you are able, grab an Advance Dining Reservation before your vacation. If you’re unable to score a reservation, keep an eye on the My Disney Experience app for Walk-Up Waitlist availability.
Alternative Dinner: Columbia Harbour House – Given the sheer number of worthwhile attractions in the Magic Kingdom and the high wait times, you might want to save time by having dinner at Columbia Harbour House, a counter service restaurant.
Great seafood options, plus the quaint and somewhat secluded (or perhaps underutilized is the better term) upstairs seating area makes this an easy pick. We love grabbing a table by the window, recharging, and watching the hustle and bustle of Magic Kingdom outside.
Nighttime Spectacular: Happily Ever After – For now, Happily Ever After is the nightly fireworks show in Magic Kingdom. It’s tremendously popular, which leads to large crowds on Main Street for it–this will likely be amplified by Disney’s announcement that Happily Ever After is permanently ending prior to the start of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.
We recommend watching the Happily Ever After fireworks (check out our viewing location tips for Magic Kingdom fireworks) from Main Street. Happily Ever After is incredibly popular, so we recommend staking out a spot around 45 minutes in advance of the fireworks.
Due to the projection-heavy nature of both shows, it’s wise to go a bit closer to Cinderella Castle than you would’ve for Wishes, Happily Ever After’s predecessor. Somewhere between Casey’s Corner and the Partners statue will be the sweet spot, but don’t be afraid to get even closer to Cinderella Castle than that. While a closer spot will prevent you from seeing some of the pyrotechnics, it’s an excellent angle for the projections, spotlights, and the on-castle effects.
However, if you missed Seven Dwarfs Mine Train earlier in the day and plan on doing it now, you’ll want to watch Happily Ever After from Fantasyland (see photo above) and then finish with the following…
Mine Train Half Court Shot – One minute before Magic Kingdom closes (which will be during Happily Ever After on some nights), consider jumping in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This is like sinking a game-winning, half court shot.
Or, so I assume…I’ve never done the latter. You basically avoid the long lines all day by getting in line as late as you possible can, and you will literally feel yourself saving time in line.
Park Closing Tranquility – After you’re done with either of the above options, the Magic Kingdom will be closed. 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.
Beyond shopping, this is a great time for appreciating the details of Magic Kingdom as it empties. Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse followed by a walk on the boardwalk along the Rivers of America leading away from Splash Mountain towards Haunted Mansion is a solid, surprise pick here.
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 reading our 2-Day Magic Kingdom Ideal Day Plan. That’s how much time you should be spending in Magic Kingdom if your trip lasts a week or longer. Magic Kingdom is 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.
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!
What would you include in your ideal day in the Magic Kingdom? Any hidden gem favorite attractions, quiet spots you enjoy savoring, little details to stop and enjoy, or delicious snacks to try? Do you agree or disagree with our strategy? If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World, what do you plan on doing? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!