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 April 16, 2023.)
This one-day Magic Kingdom itinerary has been overhauled several times in the last year, most recently with strategy for TRON Lightcycle Run and the return of Happily Ever After fireworks. It also takes into account Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, elevated crowds, and hard ticket parties.
Suffice to say, a lot has changed at Magic Kingdom in the last several months, both from a substantive and strategy perspective. We visit regularly “for the sake of research” (a glorified excuse to watch Country Bear Jamboree and loop the PeopleMover), monitoring wait times, testing plans, and fine-tuning our strategy. This is the revised Summer 2023 Magic Kingdom itinerary we’ve devised as a result, including rope drop priority and when to do Seven Dwarfs Mine Train…
After a bunch of changes at the beginning of this month, Magic Kingdom strategy has stabilized and shouldn’t change much between now and Halloween. About the only thing that could throw a monkey wrench into this plan is if TRON Lightcycle Run drops its its virtual queue early.
Given that Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT is still using its virtual queue about a year after opening, we aren’t expecting TRON Lightcycle Run to shift to standby anytime soon. Accordingly, this Magic Kingdom itinerary should remain accurate until at least August 2023. Even then, changes for Halloween and Christmas are mostly minor–making this strategy sound until 2024.
With that in mind, here’s how to plan your day in the Magic Kingdom…
If you’re staying on-site and can arrive early, check out our report on Early Entry at Magic Kingdom. Likewise, if you’re staying at a Deluxe Resort or Disney Vacation Club property, read about our experience during Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom. Either of those things will help you save time and avoid crowds, giving you a big advantage. However, neither are strictly necessary for a productive day in MK.
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 2023 Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide.
Get on the grid to enter The Grid – On the morning of your Magic Kingdom day, at least one person in your party will need to be awake and online before 7 am. This is because guests with a valid ticket and a Disney Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom will be able to access the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run starting at 7 am on the day of their park visit. This is done outside the park–before you leave your resort hotel, or from literally anywhere.
The 7 am virtual queue fills up fast. Our How to Ride TRON Lightcycle Run & Virtual Queue Speed Strategy is essential reading and covers everything you need to know–like increasing your chances of success! If you’re unsuccessful at 7 am, you can try again to join the virtual queue again at 1 pm from inside Magic Kingdom. (Alternatively, you can gamble and only attempt to join at 1 pm if you’d prefer to ride at night.)
Add TRON Lightcycle Run into this itinerary whenever is convenient after your boarding group gets called. You have an hour to return to the attraction from receiving the notification that it’s your time to ride. Upon arrival, you’ll enter The Grid of TRON!
Pre-Rope Drop Arrival – For an ideal experience at Magic Kingdom, we recommend arriving to the park about 30 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.
If you’re staying on-site and are eligible for Early Entry at Magic Kingdom (see above), we’d recommend arriving 45 minutes before the official start time of that.
Fantasyland Flight? – If you’re not eligible for Early Entry, do not bother with Fantasyland or Tomorrowland. Those are the two lands open for that on-site perk, and by the time that 30 minute “headstart” is over, all of the headliner attractions in both lands will have moderate or longer wait times.
Instead, you should head to the left of Cinderella Castle and focus your energy on Adventureland or Frontierland–popular attractions that are not open for Early Entry…
Set Sail for Adventure(land) – While this recommendation might seem unorthodox, Jungle Cruise has become one of the most popular attractions in Magic Kingdom following its reimagining. In fact, Jungle Cruise is the #4 attraction by average in the last year. Accordingly, we’d recommend knocking it out first.
Immediately after Jungle Cruise, one option is right next door: Pirates of the Caribbean. This is the easy choice if you want to minimize walking. It’s also the best choice now that Splash Mountain is closed–you can do Frontierland and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad later in the afternoon.
Magic Kingdom Classics — Double back to Tangled Toilet Territory (not the official name of this area…but it should be!) and do Haunted Mansion followed by the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and ‘it’s a small world’.
We realize that involves a bit of backtracking, but waits for Winnie the Pooh’s dark ride usually get longer than ‘it’s a small world,’ so it’s the objectively superior approach. If you want to save some steps, it’s not a big deal to do them in the reverse order.
Space Out – The above is likely all you’ll be able to accomplish before crowds build, so continue from the far corner of Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. If the line for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is under 30 minutes, do that. Knock out Space Mountain too via the standby line.
To recap, before lunch you’ll hopefully have accomplished the following, in order:
Pirates of the Caribbean
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
‘it’s a small world’
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
On a busier day, you might only hit the first 4 of these. On a slower day, you might be able to accomplish even more than we have listed here. 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.
Right now, there aren’t many great counter service dining options in Magic Kingdom. Our go-to is recommended for dinner; other alternatives are Pecos Bill in Frontierland or Cosmic Ray’s in Tomorrowland. Neither are great, but both get the job done. Alternatively, two fun sleeper picks are Sleepy Hollow and Friar’s Nook–just be sure to look at menus before doing either of those, as their options are more limited.
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 crew.
Catch the 3 O’clock Parade – Festival of Fantasy is Magic Kingdom’s daytime parade, which arrives to Main Street roughly 20 minutes after the parade steps off in Frontierland. The float that captures everyone’s eye is the steampunk-esque Maleficent dragon float that breathes fire, which makes for a photogenic scene. The whole parade is great, though, with Tangled, Peter Pan, Monstro, and princess floats that are quite cool.
Add to this performers in costumes that have a lot of detail and are, in some cases, a bit darker and more interesting than the ‘fantasy fluff’ you’d expect to find in a Magic Kingdom parade, a catchy soundtrack, and a great energy, and you have a parade that’s a real winner. Frontierland is least crowded, but the area around Cinderella Castle and Main Street makes for better photos.
Masterpiece Intermission: More Snacking – You have a few options to choose from, as covered in our Best Magic Kingdom Snacks & Desserts for 2023. This list was just updated and expanded, and now also includes the worst snacks that we highly recommend avoiding.
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! While you’re passing through Adventureland, be sure to do Pirates of the Caribbean if you haven’t already.
Fantasyland Fun – Without Genie+ or Early Entry, you’re at a serious disadvantage when it comes to doing the popular family-friendly Fantasyland attractions. As such, the goal is to “outlast” the crowds, doing these rides in the late afternoon and early evening as families with small children start to wear out and head for the exits.
We’d recommend knocking out the remaining Fantasyland attractions in this order:
Barnstormer Starring the Great Goofini (skippable)
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
Mad Tea Party (skippable)
Peter Pan’s Flight
Of those, the only long wait you should encounter is Peter Pan’s Flight. There’s really no way around that one.
All Quiet on the Western Front — Make your way back to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in late afternoon, as crowds should depart from this dead-end corner of the park by now.
With Splash Mountain now closed for the next ~2 years (to convert the log flume ride to a Princess and the Frog attraction), there’s no need to prioritize this area of the park. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is popular, but not that popular. This will be doubly true when TRON Lightcycle Run opens in a couple of months and Tomorrowland becomes the biggest draw in Magic Kingdom.
Cinderella Castle Stage Show – If your family is into characters, be sure to see Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire. This features a few songs from Frozen, Tangled, and Princess and the Frog, plus characters from those films and Mickey Mouse and friends. It’s cute and well done.
While you can catch this throughout the day, we’d strongly recommend catching one of the last two performances. The sunlight and heat can be brutal for earlier showtimes, and Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is relatively lengthy. (Or so it feels when standing directly in the blazing sun, heat and humidity!)
Tomorrowland Tranquility – After sunset, we recommend returning to Tomorrowland. Not because it’s strategically important–to the contrary, it’s not–but because the atmosphere is improved. The neon lights shine bright and really pop, and the bland land during the daytime has a ton more personality.
While in Tomorrowland, be sure to do the PeopleMover, which is a leisurely ride above 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. At night, Astro Orbiter is a must-do. The line is shorter and the atmosphere is so much better.
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 – Now that the 50th has ended, the beloved Happily Ever After fireworks have returned! This nighttime spectacular features new projections on Main Street and is also drawing colossal crowds. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon, as Walt Disney World fans love Happily Ever After and are coming out in full force to see it.
Our Viewing Guide to the Happily Ever After Fireworks at Magic Kingdomcovers the best & worst spots to see the nighttime spectacular. Perhaps most importantly, it shares a few great low-crowds locations for those who don’t want to be in the crush of crowds. (Seriously, don’t underestimate the chaos and congestion, which can be downright uncomfortable, especially for those with strollers or ECVs. Personally, I would not watch Happily Ever After from Main Street if I were an ECV user; I would not feel safe.)
Evening Attractions: Better at Night – At this point, you should have about an hour until park closing on a normal night. Dumbo, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are some attractions that we most strongly recommend doing at night for a superior experience.
Obviously, you won’t have time to do them all–and if Magic Kingdom closes earlier, you might not have time for any of them. As for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we’ll cover that below. If you have time for additional attractions, check out our 10 Best Magic Kingdom Attractions at Night for others to add to this plan.
Mine Train Half Court Shot – One minute before Magic Kingdom closes, 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.
Peaceful Park Closing – 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 Big Thunder 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.
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? Do you plan on buying Genie+ or an Individual Lightning Lane during your day in MK? Will you take advantage of Early Entry or Extended Evening Hours? 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!