Our 1-day Magic Kingdom touring plan offers a step by step itinerary for an ideal day at Walt Disney World, with strategy for attractions to minimize time in line, maximize efficiency, and avoid crowds. During our perfect day, these are the attractions we would do, the restaurants at which we’d dine, and the quiet moments we would stop to enjoy. (Last updated March 21, 2018.)
This itinerary continues our series of single-day touring plans designed to answer the frequently asked question, “what would you do if you only had one day in ____ Disney park?” 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 Ideal Day Plan is somewhat subjective in that it covers our favorite things to do during our “perfect day.” This touring plan assumes visiting on a day in Magic Kingdom with moderate crowds (on busier days, doing this all will be tough). No matter when you visit, it is optimized and ordered so that your waits in line are minimized, and certain things are timed for the best experience…
To accomplish this 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. 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.
FastPass+ throws a monkey wrench into this 1-day Magic Kingdom touring plan because not every guest is going to have access to all FastPass+ selections based upon when they make their ride reservations. You need FastPass+ if you want to see as much as possible in Magic Kingdom.
Our picks for the “objective” best FastPass+ choices are Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Other good options include Splash 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.
First Round of FastPass+ – At this point, you’ll want to start redeeming your FastPass+, hopefully for the attractions we recommended earlier in the post. We highly recommend booking your first “round” of FastPass+ from 10-11 a.m., 11-noon, and noon-1 p.m.. This means you can book more FastPass+ earlier in the day, which is a good idea.
Late Morning Attractions: Disney Classics – Late morning is a good time for Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. 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 by ‘it’s a small world’ are one of the best restrooms at Walt Disney World (yes, we actually ranked them!).
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, 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.
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. 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.
Masterpiece Intermission: Mac & Cheese – Split the above ‘masterpieces’ into two groups with this snack in the middle. 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.
New Shows – The third act of Masterpiece Theater is two of the newer attractions in Magic Kingdom, the Cinderella Castle show, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire and The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History. We recommend both of these in late afternoon because they are entirely outdoors with no shade, and it’s best to avoid watching it in the sweltering midday sun.
Additionally, there are 2 different Muppet shows that rotate randomly, but usually the last 2 of the day are different from one another, so you can watch both versions of this excellent show without the guessing.
Dinner: Columbia Harbour House – Our standard procedure for these touring plans is 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)–a second counter service meal.
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.
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.
That’s an ambitious list, but lines get shorter at the end of the night. 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: Happily Ever Upon a Time – The new fireworks show, Happily Ever After, and the Once Upon a Time projection show are the nighttime entertainment in the Magic Kingdom. Try to see both.
We recommend watching the Happily Ever After fireworks (check out our viewing location tips for Magic Kingdom fireworks) and sticking around for Once Upon a Time afterwards.
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.
Also note that Happily Ever After is incredibly popular, and likely will remain that way for the foreseeable future. On our visit in January 2018, we noticed its popularity was starting to subside a bit, but this was also on weekdays during the offseason. Expect Spring Break and Summer 2018 to be crowded on Main Street for the fireworks once again. Because of this, we recommend staking out a spot around 45 minutes in advance of the fireworks.
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! Beyond attractions, 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.
Mine Train Half Court Shot – Jumping in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 1 minute before Magic Kingdom closes is like sinking a game-winning, half court shot. Or, so I assume…I’ve never done the latter. You basically avoid the huge, 1-hour plus long lines all day long by getting in line as late as you possible can, and you will literally feel yourself saving time in line. 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 reading our 2-Day Magic Kingdom Ideal Day Plan, because that’s how much time you should be spending in Magic Kingdom (in a perfect world). 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!
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!