This Magic Kingdom ride guide reviews the best & worst attractions with numerical scores, plus info & tips for everything in Walt Disney World’s most popular park. If you’re planning a WDW vacation, you need to know which rides and shows are not to be missed, and what you can skip. (Updated May 4, 2020.)
Of course, everyone’s preferences will vary. We love some classic shows that are unpopular with the general public, and you might want to skip those…or see what the quirky or irreverent appeal is. Or, you might just want an air-conditioned break from the crowds. Likewise, 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 sleeper picks–and which ones you won’t have time to do. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in 2020 or early 2021, it’s important to note that a lot is changing and under construction. We update this post regularly, but if you want all the latest news and construction info, we recommend that you subscribe to our free email newsletter.
Also keep in mind that this guide covers only Magic Kingdom, which is the castle park at Walt Disney World. For the other theme and water parks, consult the following:
Not everything on our “Top Magic Kingdom Attractions” 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.
A day in the Magic Kingdom is about variety, and many attractions with short line or no waits 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. Doing the sleeper attraction picks also means less time spent in lines, which is always a plus.
Now 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. The ride now has a re-imagined auction scene with a new redheaded female pirate.
This is 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.
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. 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.
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.
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 (9.5/10) – 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.
Space Mountain (8/10) – Space Mountain is a dark roller coaster through outer space. There’s cool theming here, a blast-off tunnel, and music to enhance the experience. It also has 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.
Country Bear Jamboree (9/10) – 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 portion would probably disagree with our score for Country Bear Jamboree. They’re wrong.
Country Bear Jamboree is a nuanced, sharp, and irreverent show that many guests and kids will appreciate. It loses a point here is because the show was shortened a couple years ago to removed the best jokes and because of the bears’ condition. Do Country Bear Jamboree whenever.
‘it’s a small world’ (9/10) – 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.
Jungle Cruise (8.5/10) – Jungle Cruise is a boat ride through the rivers of Adventureland that encounters hippos, lions, and piranhas, etc., along the way. 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 earlier in the day, but not first thing. Don’t waste FastPass+ on it.
Peter Pan’s Flight (9/10) – This attracts some of the longest lines in Magic Kingdom, and unless you use a FastPass+ on it or arrive right at park opening or 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, which is what makes this attraction magical. However, it’s older and needs both a track replacement and scene modernization. The new interactive queue does help make the long wait in line more bearable.
Enchanted Tales with Belle (8/10) – 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). FastPass+ for it is moderately recommended. If you can’t get FastPass+, consider doing it fairly early or later in the evening.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid (7.5/10) – New Fantasyland’s Little Mermaid dark ride is one of the most popular in the park, but it’s something of a mixed big. There are a couple of cool scenes and Audio Animatronics, and the queue is really cool, but it doesn’t quite deliver on the potential of a modern dark ride. Do this early-on after other Fantasyland dark rides, or towards the end of the day.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant (7/10) – Relocating and doubling the iconic Dumbo spinners has 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 enhanced lighting and short waits, it’s now a fun night-time attraction for guests of all ages. Don’t use FastPass+ on it.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic (8/10) – 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.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover (8/10) – 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.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress (8/10) – 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.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (8/10) – 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 dark, but it should be fine for kids.
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (7/10) – A screen-based show during which monsters interact with and tell jokes to guests. Laugh Floor can be hit or miss, largely depending upon guest interaction quality. Kids will laugh at the “standard” jokes told by the monsters, adults will laugh at the interactions between monsters and kids (and adults). Shy guests may not like it due to uneasiness about being picked on. 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.
The 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.
Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire (6.5/10) – The newest Cinderella Castle daytime stage show in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, having debuted last summer. 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.
Happily Ever After (10/10) – There is no more fitting of a way to close a day in the Magic Kingdom than with fireworks. The new fireworks show is Happily Ever After, which replaced Wishes. As we write in our Happily Ever After Review, this is one of the best fireworks shows Disney has ever done, anywhere. It is absolutely not to be missed. We recommend viewing it on Main Street with the fireworks exploding behind Cinderella Castle (best spots are recommended in our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Guide).
COMING IN 2021: Tron Lightcycle Run – We don’t normally mention attractions that aren’t yet open, but since this coaster is already operational at Shanghai Disneyland and we’ve experienced it there, we thought we’d include a short blurb. This indoor/outdoor roller coaster is set on ‘The Grid’ from the TRON films. Think Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster mixed with Space Mountain, but on TRON Lightcycles. It’s incredibly fun, but we wouldn’t recommend postponing your trip just for it.
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.)
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.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (6.5/10) – 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. 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.
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 smell of exhausting and loud puttering of engines can both be very off-putting.
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.
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.
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.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (3/10) – Yet another spinner. Do Astro Orbiter or Dumbo instead.
Walt Disney World Railroad (8/10) – A relaxing train ride around the Magic Kingdom, albeit not with a ton to see. Needs dinosaurs (doesn’t everything?).
Note: the Walt Disney World Railroad is currently not operating during construction of TRON Lightcycle Power Run. It is expected to be closed through early 2021.
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.
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.
Hall of Presidents (7/10) – Hall of Presidents is a stage show featuring Audio-Animatronics of all United States Presidents, plus a ‘preamble’ video. The revised version of this attraction features the current POTUS making a speech. Regardless of your feelings about him, he’s just a small part of a larger show about the office of president. All things considered, Hall of Presidents is a powerful and educational attraction. It’ll make you feel less guilty about pulling your kids out of school for a Disney trip! 😉
Once Upon a Time (7.5/10) – Immediately before or after Happily Ever After (depending upon park hours), Once Upon a Time is shown on select evenings. This show utilizes projection mapping plus 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.
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.
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!