If you’re taking a longer Walt Disney World vacation and plan to spend 2 days in Magic Kingdom, this post provides a plan for efficiently experiencing the park’s most popular attractions to save time. In so doing, our itinerary also offers suggestions for leisurely ways to “stop and smell the roses” and enjoy the exceptional Disney theming.
Given that the 5-day ticket is Walt Disney World’s most popular ticket, and since we know many readers take 7-day vacations to Walt Disney World, that means many of you are going to spend more than one day in at least one of the four parks. Without a doubt, we spend the most time in Magic Kingdom (followed closely by Epcot). It’s the most-visited park at Walt Disney World, and there’s more to do in Magic Kingdom than any other park. Quite simply, the vast majority of guests who are going to spend 5 days in Walt Disney World should spend their “bonus” day in Magic Kingdom.
We’ve already shared our 1-Day Magic Kingdom Plan, and this post is not simply “Day 2” of that. Rather, this is a stand-alone post that reevaluates what your priorities and pace should be if you’re spending a second day in Magic Kingdom. There are three big components to an efficient day at Magic Kingdom: arriving early, using FastPass+ efficiently, and staying late. This plan has you covered on arriving early and staying late. If you need a midday break for your kids to accomplish both an early morning and late night, take it. The midday hours are the “worst” in Magic Kingdom, and you’ll accomplish more in the first or last hour the park is open than 3 hours in the middle of the day.
FastPass+ is a different story. You may not be able to book the “best” FastPass+ or you may not be able to choose times that we recommend. So, for the sake of this plan, we are assuming you don’t have FastPass+ for the sake of keeping things simple. You definitely should get FastPass+, and plug those attractions into this plan throughout the day as appropriate. For more recommendations on which attractions and times we recommend, read our Guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World.
Time for the first day…
A Fantastic Morning – For families, Fantasyland is the heart of Magic Kingdom. Saying Fantasyland is “for families” misses the point of Walt Disney World entirely and how it’s for the young or young at heart. Fantasyland sets the tone for that, and is where you should start your day. Knocking out Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, followed by Peter Pan’s Flight, followed by Enchanted Tales with Belle, followed by the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, followed by Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid is an excellent way to start the morning.
Hopefully, you have FastPass+ for at least 1-2 of those attractions, in which case remove them from our itinerary and do them as you’ve scheduled them. Running around doing these Fantasyland attractions is like walking barefoot over burning embers–both equally likely to hurt your feet–it’s a rite of passage among Disney fans.
Fright Row – Next up are Magic Kingdom’s two scariest attractions. Haunted Mansion and ‘it’s a small world.’ One features creepy characters whose words will send shivers down your spine, frightening you to your core. The other has grim grinning ghosts. In between, “schedule” a stop at the nicest restroom in Magic Kingdom, the Tangled Toilets.
Morning Snack: Citrus Swirl – The great Dole Whip v. Citrus Swirl debate we discussed in our 1-day Magic Kingdom Plan becomes a non-issue now, because you have a morning to try each of them and then make an informed decision as to where your allegiances lie. It’s like democracy in action…or something like that.
Lunch: Be Our Guest Restaurant – Still the most popular spot in Magic Kingdom, this Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant now does breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The table service dinner reservation is still incredibly hard to score, but we recommend doing lunch here, anyway, and table service dinners at other restaurants.
Midday Break – Parenting “experts” all recommend going back to your hotel and taking a nap or lounging by the pool to prevent your kids from having a meltdown later in the day. For some unbeknownst reason, nobody ever asks the childless males their take, though! 😉
While I think the midday break is a great idea, I want to present an alternative: a few back-to-back showings of Hall of Presidents. Unless you’re staying at the Contemporary or other monorail resort hotel, you lose a lot of time during your midday break leaving the park, in transit, and getting back in.
If you take a 4 hour break, easily half of that could be lost. While sleeping during Hall of Presidents may not work for everyone, if you think it will work for your kids, give it a shot. If they are really zonked, they’ll likely fall asleep within the first 5 minutes. That is, unless you’re raising little Rutherford B. Hayes aficionados.
Festival of Fantasy Parade – One of the biggest advantages of 2 days in Magic Kingdom is being able to do the daytime parade and Cinderella Castle stage show on different days. Doing them back-to-back in a single day is “Meltdown Fuel,” and that applies even if you’re an adult. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “parade person,” Festival of Fantasy is worth catching.
Tom “SERENITY NOW!” Island – Tom Sawyer Island is one of the biggest chunks of Magic Kingdom, and the vast majority of guests never visit it. I could blame it on “the kids these days,” but I think it’s more on the parents, and not wanting to “waste” time on a play area given the cost of a Walt Disney World vacation. However, this is a great place to unwind, get away from the crowds, and blow off some steam. I enjoy wandering it even as an adult, and it’s a great change of pace and reprieve from the stimulation of Magic Kingdom.
Dinner: The Plaza Restaurant – While this spot won’t wow you with amazing theme, it’s a table service restaurant at near counter service prices, with some great entree and dessert options. It’s a nice place to relax a bit and enjoy a quality meal without breaking the bank.
Night Kingdom – When the sun goes down in Magic Kingdom, it’s like Yubaba’s bathhouse, except without all the bizarre spirits. The park totally transforms and really comes alive. It’s impossible to describe until you’ve experienced it, but virtually everything about Magic Kingdom is better at night, and this includes many attractions. We highly recommend experiencing outdoor attractions at night, especially those on our Top 10 Magic Kingdom Attractions at Night list.
For your first viewing of both of these, nowhere is better than smack dab in the middle of Main Street. Embrace the chaos for that iconic, quintessential Magic Kingdom experience.
Journey 2 the Night Kingdom – In a sequel worthy of The Rock, after the fireworks and parade, it’s once again time to knock out as many attractions as you can. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain are great ways to end the day, or you can hop in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine train 1 minute before park closing to experience a short wait. Follow whichever attractions with a leisurely stroll through New Fantasyland (or Frontierland) and to the front of the park after it closes.
The shops on Main Street are open 1 hour after the park closes, so don’t feel rushed as you leave–but remember, you have to do all of this bright and early the next morning (or a future morning, if you’re not doing Magic Kingdom on consecutive days).
Nightcap – If you still have any energy left or you’re visiting in the off-season when the park closes early, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (Polynesian Village Resort) and/or Territory Lounge (Wilderness Lounge) are both excellent places to unwind after a long day in the park.
Magic Kingdom Mountain Range – Start with Space Mountain, then bounce to the other side of the park for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad followed by Splash Mountain. Take a photo at each (pics or it didn’t happen) and brag to your friends on social media about your glorious achievement. It’s basically as big of an accomplishment as reaching the summit of Everest. (The one in Animal Kingdom…and probably the actual mountain, too.) If you have kids who are too young to do these attractions, consider repeating some of the Fantasyland itinerary from Day 1.
Rumble in the Jungle – While it’s still early, head over to Adventureland after Splash Mountain to hit Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise (in that order). While you’re in the area, if the temperature is getting high, make a pass through the misting Liki Tikis–yes, even if you’re an adult. Remember that whole “young at heart” bit.
Dole Whip Break – Same idea as the day before, but this time with a Dole Whip. Morning ice cream is the key to stamina for Magic Kingdom touring.
Quick Diversion – While you’re in the area, consider doing Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room or Country Bear Jamboree. It’s probably best to do these before lunch. Best to avoid falling asleep during these shows and being forever labeled “distinctly unpatriotic” by your friends and family (or as they will call you, “just a casual acquaintance, I swear!”)
Lunch Break – There are several counter service restaurants in Magic Kingdom, but I’d recommend doing Columbia Harbour House or Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn for lunch. The former is a surprisingly good (for fast food) seafood restaurant with a charming and quiet upstairs eating area. The latter is a Tex-Mex place with a really robust toppings bar, but a fairly loud seating area. Which is better for you probably comes down to personal preference.
See the Future – There are several low-wait attractions in Tomorrowland that you could do. Even after lunch, you won’t fall asleep in Monsters Laugh Floor (and if you do, they actually will embarrass you!), and Carousel of Progress is also worth seeing. Although it could be a perfect storm for napping at this point…
Afternoon Unwind – Just like the midday break from the previous day. If the tried and true formula of Hall of Presidents did the trick exceptionally well, repeat that. If you want to try something new, go for a spin aboard Carousel of Progress. (Hall of Presidents is better for napping, in my opinion.)
Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire – This show’s predecessor had a 9-year run, and we watched it exactly twice. A big part of the reason why is because the Cinderella Castle forecourt stage shows take place in the midday Florida sun (I’m fairly certain the root cause of 90% of the stories on “Florida Man” Twitter can be traced to the humidity). The last showing of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire should occur around 5:15 p.m. (check the daily schedule once it debuts), and we’d recommend catching that for slightly less unpleasant weather.
Ice Cream Antidote – Ice cream fixes everything. There’s a reason Ben & Jerry were (probably) awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and that’s because ice cream is a known panacea. After the show, head over to Sleepy Hollow to cool everyone off with a delicious, freshly-made ice cream sandwich. That should curb any meltdowns that are brewing as a result of the prolong time in the sun for the stage show.
Storybook Circus – The second antidote for prolonged exposure to the Florida sun is prolonged exposure to air conditioning. That’s just science. Pete’s Silly Sideshow is a circus-themed character greeting spot in the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland, and it features some of the coolest costumes for Goofy, Donald, Daisy, and Minnie that you’ll see anywhere. Even if you don’t have kids, this can be a nice stop for fun photos. After this rejuvenates your group, let the little ones loose in the Casey Jr. Splash ‘n Soak area outside. Use Dumbo afterwards as an “air dry” cycle.
Sunset Cruises – Late afternoon is the perfect time for the transportation attractions in Magic Kingdom. From the Liberty Square Riverboat to Walt Disney World Railroad to Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover (in that order, so you hit the Peoplemover almost at dusk), these attractions are great ways to transition from day to night in Magic Kingdom.
Dinner: Skipper Canteen – The newest restaurant in Magic Kingdom is themed to the Jungle Cruise attraction, and it’s a great option, especially for adults. I recommend requesting the S.E.A. room, which is nicely appointed and includes tons of detail (many of which will be lost on non-Disney fans). The cuisine here is the best in Magic Kingdom, so that’s another plus. Don’t be scared away by the menu, it’s surprisingly approachable once you get past the window dressing of the descriptions.
Fireworks: Take 2 – Hopefully you saw Happily Ever After from the iconic, center of Main Street view the first night. Even fighting the crowds, that’s an iconic scene, and there’s no better spot for viewing Happily Ever After. With that said, the experience is totally different from behind Cinderella Castle. Not only that, but it’s not too popular of a spot, making for a more relaxing experience.
Magic of the Kingdom at Night – Even if you’re going on fumes at this point, the experience of being in Magic Kingdom at night should be a nice shot in the arm. At this point, you can either try to hit the other attractions on our top 10 list that you missed, or slow down and take a leisurely stroll through the park, soaking up its brilliant nighttime ambiance. Do some last minute shopping in the Emporium on Main Street, and then prepare for the ultimate conclusion…
This is about the most satisfying way to end a day in Magic Kingdom, and something very few guests ever see. It makes for the perfect conclusion to your days in the park. (If you miss the Kiss Goodnight 30 minutes after park closing, you can catch it again 30 minutes after that.)
Historians always blather on about how Europeans scoured Florida for the Fountain of Youth during the Age of Exploration. Obviously, these guys were too cheap for a park ticket, because anyone who has spent a couple of days in Magic Kingdom will tell you that it can be found there.
As tiring as 2 full days, opening to close, might seem, I always leave Magic Kingdom energized and with a smile on my face. If you follow the rough plan in this guide, I suspect you will, too.
Did we miss anything you consider a highlight or must-do at the Magic Kingdom? Any other quiet moments or ‘ambiance spots’ you’d recommend? Have any questions about our recommendations? Hearing your thoughts is half the fun, so please share your comments or questions below!