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Saving on a disney vacation series magic kingdom

This is part of an ongoing guest post series on DISNEY WORLD SAVINGS, written by a life long Disney lover.

It’s been a running theme through these posts that you must build all the value you can with each decision on your vacation.  These decisions do include cutting costs, but there are times where you can build a ton of value in your vacation (I.E Park Hopper for some) that may cost extra.  So, in light of trying to build value, I’m going to try and share all of my tips and experience on the parks so that you don’t have to waste any time figuring out what to do.  My way is certainly not the only way, so I’d love for y’all to leave comments below about your experiences.

Magic Kingdom

This is WDW’s first park and has, arguably, the most to do.  This is a beautiful and well designed park.  If you look at a map, you’ll notice it resembles a wheel with spokes, a popular theme park design that was pioneered by Disney.  The center contains the famous Cinderella Castle with paths leading to Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Liberty Square, and Frontier Land (Toontown is closed).  Magic Kingdom has lots to offer to your smallest child as well as the thrill seeker in your family.  Here are some of our favorites:

Most Popular Rides (longest wait):
Space Mountain (Tomorrowland)
Splash Mountain (Frontierland)
Thunder Mountain (Frontierland)
Pirates of the Caribbean (Adventureland)
Peter Pan (Fantasyland)
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger (Tomorrowland)

Other Good Rides to Do:
Haunted Mansion (Liberty Square)
Jungle Cruise (Adventureland)
Mad Hatter Tea Cups (Fantasyland)
Dumbo (Fantasyland)
Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor (Tomorrowland) (Big Fan of this one)
It’s a Small World (Fantasyland)
Hall of Presidents (Liberty Square)
People Mover (Tomorrowland)

Full list of Magic Kingdom attractions.

You’ll walk into Magic Kingdom and immediately be on Main St. USA.  For first timers and returners, it can really be a breathtaking sight.  Cinderella’s Castle stands picturesque at the end of a street lined with shops.  One of my favorite shops is the Confectionery.  You’ll know when you are near because the smells are incredible.

When you first enter the park it can also be a little intimidating.  There is so much to do and the park feels very large (actually the smallest WDW park).  I recommend looking over a map prior to entering the park to get a feel of where everything is.  Talk with your family about the rides they want to do and make a VERY flexible plan.  This may seem counter intuitive to having a relaxing vacation, but having a flexible plan allows you to have direction so you aren’t spending precious time figuring out what to do.  Here is where a Disney wait time app will come in handy.  Check the wait times as you enter the park and hit the rides with the most reasonable wait.  During lunch, mid afternoon, and dinner hours, the wait times generally drop.

I strongly suggest you get to this park as it opens at least once during your stay.  We call it “opening the park.”  This can be a ton of fun for everyone as there is usually a show with Donald Duck, Mickey, and the gang.  They come in on Mickey’s Train and the mayor of Toon Town calls on the crowd to help open the park.  After it opens I suggest going straight for the ride that your family wants to do that is most likely going to have the largest wait time.  In Magic Kingdom that will be either Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, or Thunder Mountain.  One idea is to head over to Splash and Thunder Mountain (right next to each other) and get a fast pass for one while you ride the other.

If you don’t have a roller coaster lover in your family or if someone is too short to ride, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger and the People Mover are great rides to do while waiting for the Space Mountain crowd to finish. They are located in the same area so it’s easy to meet back up with your party.  They are also kid-friendly.

Dining in Magic Kingdom is not my favorite, but they do have some good restaurants.  For a table-service restaurant, I suggest Tony’s.  This Lady and the Tramp-themed Italian restaurant has great dishes and a cozy atmosphere.  For counter service meals, Tortuga Tavern and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe have plenty of options that will keep the kids happy and both are pretty tasty, too.  Here’s a list of all the restaurants.

Firework and Parade times can change seasonally, but Magic Kingdom currently has the Dream Come True Parade at 3:00 pm, Main Street Electrical Parade at 9:00 pm, and the firework show “Wishes” at 10:00 pm.  Recently Disney has added a very cool projection light show right before “Wishes.”  They have a number of projectors light up Cinderella’s Castle and do some really amazing stuff.  The Dream Come True Parade is always fun for the kids, but the Main Street Electrical Parade and “Wishes” are truly a must-see.  Hint: The wait times for rides are usually drastically lower during the parades and shows.

Overall, Magic Kingdom is a fan favorite for a reason.  This tends to be the most populated park, but there is enough to do that you and your family can easily be entertained for a full day in this park alone.  Another exciting note is that MK has opened a new addition to the park! Fantasyland!!

Tell us about tips and tricks you have for navigating the Magic Kingdom.

Come back tomorrow as we discuss EPCOT.

    • Lora

      As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a die hard Disney fan. Tortuga cafe, though yummy!, is rarely open. I suggest Pecos Bill Cafe. They have a good variety & a huge (and free) condiment bar that has everything from ketchup to sautéed mushrooms. Also, if you’re looking for a healthy snack, there’s a snack cart in Liberty Square that always has fresh fruit to choose from that is reasonably priced.

      • Shawna

        I agree, Pecos Bill is definately the way to go. My husband and I share either the chicken wrap or the taco salad as they are both enough for 2. I love the condiment bar because you can really fill up there. Sometimes I’ll get fries and add the melted cheese from the bar to it. Going over Thankgsgiving so 5 weeks to go!!!

        • Alimac

          Also going during Thanksgiving! So bummed that the Little Mermaid ride won’t be open by then….It opens a couple of weeks after we leave–Dec. 6!

          • HBW

            Soft openings are going on now – great video on the internet. You should have no problem riding this ride. In fact they have already opened the Enchanted Forest to guests. Have a wonderful trip

            • Alimac

              Thanks Sue and HBW! So glad to hear that!

          • Sue

            Like HBW said, they’re doing soft openings for Fantasyland now. It just officially opens on December 6 so you will be able to ride Little Mermaid. :)

    • Calista Coffey


      Can you do a post Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? I am planning to take my son in December. This will be his first trip to Disney World and my first since I was very young (3 or so). The Christmas party is from 7:00pm to midnight. I don’t have a lot of information on the special events/parades for the Christmas Party, particularly times. Any info you may have and can share is greatly appreciated!

      • Goofy (guest post writer)

        I’ve never been, but here is a bunch of info on the Disney site. http://so.svrs.me/cue I’ve spoken to people that have gone and they said that it was fun, but nothing spectacular. Hot chocolate is provided, parade, and “snow” falling on Main St. Other than that it functions much like the park normally would but with fewer guests.

      • <3 Disney

        We went last year. Hot cocoa & a dessert is provided, snow falls, there is a DIFFERENT parade than the daily ones during the day and it is SPECTACULAR. It is beautiful, festive, and there are lots of Christmas scents aerating from these floats. And the best part–they run everyone else out of the park. You can get on and off rides as you please. We LOVED it!

        • Goofy (guest post writer)

          Great! I’m glad there are positive comments about it. We’ll have to check it out soon.

      • Sue

        I’ve never been to the Christmas party, but we have been to the Halloween party a few times (last week at the latest) and they’re very similar. They don’t usually tell you, but you can enter the park at 4pm with your party ticket. You can probably find out a lot more info on the party on Disboards.com.

      • Susie

        The Christmas party is alot of fun. Usually alot less people. Plus parade and shows that are only shown during the party. Also a firework show too. We rode more rides during the party than we did all day. We go to disney every year. Check out allears.net and mousesavers.com great sites.

      • HBW

        You can enter the park as early as 4 with your party ticket. There are many wonderful information sites about this party. Just google it.

      • Nikki

        Our son is 14 & Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas is still a family favorite. The parade is awesome, the decorations are larger-than-life. The cookies, hot cocoa and family pictures are a very nice touch & the ‘snow’ on Main Street is just magical. I say go, just go early…it does get busy.

    • Bstar0306

      I go to Disney on a monthly basis and was even there the week of 4th of July and have NEVER waited more than 30 minutes for Pirate of the Carribbean. Usually it’s 15 minutes or less. I highly recommend the unofficial guide to WDW great tips on when to ride.

      No lines in adventureland or frontierland after dark.

    • flower_mom

      Thanks Jenny! Bookmarking this NOW! :)

    • Susie

      One of the best tips I read in a guide book before our first visit was simple and worked great. Be there when the park opens then do one of two things, turn left upon entering the park or catch the WDW Railroad and take it to the back of the park. Why is this helpful? The park, like the others, are big circles. People have a natural tendency to bear to the right upon entering, thus the attractions in that direction get backed up quickly. Turn to the left and a lot fewer people are in that side of the park just after opening. Even better, ride the little train to the back of the park to find very few have made it that far. Less people equal shorter lines for rides.. That also works when an attraction has multiple lines, the lines on the left have fewer people.

    • JenneyG

      One very important tip for rides is FAST PASS. And if you have a young child, take advantage of the SWITCH PASS. My family is always able to do all the rides in one day and multiple times on the fun ones like splash mountain/thunder mountain/space mountain. Breakfast is available before park opens so if you have reservation at crystal palace at 8:45am you can enter prior to opening and get a picture of the castle without the crowd in it. There are so many other tips and you’ll learn as you go…

    • BJ

      We hope to take our 5 year old to MK next year for the first time–on his birthday. Are there any tips for special birthday things? Also, how to get the most character autographs. I know he will like that, but I remember it was always very random when I was kid–what characters and how many characters we saw always varied a lot. Any thoughts?

      • Victoria

        When you enter the park, ask to be directed to City Hall and get a free Happy Birthday pin and have him wear it all week for special treats. Most any restaurant will sing and dance for a birthday, but you can call ahead and order a birthday cake starting at about $20 as well for the table to enjoy. There are shops in every park where you can get birthday Mickey ears and have them embroidered at the Magic Kingdom or Downtown Disney. As for the characters, check the map for locatinos and times that change daily, but for the Magic Kingdom specifically, right now you will find a fast pass location for Mickey and Minnie, Princesses Belle, Cinderella and Aurora in the City Hall, Tinkerbell, Ariel and Eric, and Pirates in Adventureland, Woody and Jesse at the exit of Splash Mountain, Tiana near the castle, Buzz and Stitch in Tomorrowland, and Alice, White Rabbit, and plenty more various characters around Main Street and the new Fantasyland throughout the day. make sure to take an autograph book and a big FAT marker for the ones with paws to handle :o)

    • Best parking lot tip – ALWAYS board the front of the tram. The back of the tram is the hardest to get onto. The guests always stop at the closest point they come to (the back) and get upset when they have to fight for a seat on the tram when very few walk to the front. Also, if you have a disability – stop and ask for assistance. You do not need a handicap placard to park in the front of the row – you just have to ask. One more thing – due to new guidelines, once cast members call for “no further boarding” and start the spiel – no one else is to board the tram, if guests do – the entire boarding process must start over. Please fold your stroller – we get audited regularly, which means we get coached if caught with them open.