For those planning a first visit to Walt Disney World, organizing your Magic Kingdom days can be a bit daunting. We here at Disney Addicts have heard from many visitors about what they wish they would’ve done differently during their visits to this iconic theme park. To help you avoid making the same rookie errors, here’s our list of the most common Magic Kingdom first-timer mistakes. We hope that it will make your first foray into the park positively seamless.
1. Not giving yourself enough time to explore – Probably more so than the other 3 three parks at Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom is incredibly dense and it can feel like there’s a new ride, attraction, shop, or dining experience around every corner. I’m asked regularly how many days guests should spend at Walt Disney World and I always say that if your schedule permits, devote two days to the Magic Kingdom. The layout of the park is circular. Devote one day to exploring 1/2 the circle (Adventureland, Frontierland and Liberty Square) and another day on the other half (Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street) and you’ll be able to enjoy most of the highlights. You can still have an amazing time if you are only able to organize a 1-day visit but you will have to be selective and won’t be able to see everything.
2. Overplanning – I’ll admit it. The first time I visited the Magic Kingdom with my family, I had things scheduled with such military-like precision that we had no time to stop and smell the roses and were feeling run down, and cranky mere hours into the trip. There’s a lot of emphasis placed on itineraries these days, and though I think they serve as an amazing guide in helping families enjoy the attractions that are important to them, they shouldn’t be used to plan every minute of every hour of your 12 hour day at the park. By doing this you’ll miss out on so many of those random Disney moments, whether it’s stopping for that spontaneous Dole Whip, stumbling upon a character or enjoying something magical happening on Main Street. Planning is important but don’t run yourself ragged in the process.
3. Heading to Fantasyland as soon as the park opens – My general rule of thumb when it comes to planning a theme park visit is to find out where the heaving masses are heading first thing in the morning and go in the opposite direction. When it comes to the Magic Kingdom, that direction is usually to Fantasyland and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Why follow the crowd and stand in inflated lines when you can instead head to Adventureland or Frontierland and walk right on to some of your favorite attractions? Sure there’s a ton of amazing things to enjoy in Fantasyland but that’s what FastPasses are for or enjoy them later in the day once the crowds have dissipated a bit.
4. Leaving immediately after the fireworks – If you’re relying on Disney transportation to get you too and from the Magic Kingdom than this is a big no-no. In choosing to leave the park the same time as everyone else, you’re subjecting yourself to wading through thick crowds and standing in a massive line at the bus ranks, monorails or ferry terminals. What many people don’t realize is that the Magic Kingdom actually stays open well after the fireworks have ended. Its the perfect time to search for those last minute souvenirs at Emporium, or even witness a special magical moment The Kiss Goodnight. The late evening is a great time to meander and by the time you go to head home, the lines for transportation options will be much more in your favor.
5. Expecting small children to hang out at the park from opening until close – An entire day at the Magic Kingdom can be an endurance test even for the fittest among us. Now imagine what this does to little ones who have spent most of their day hot and overstimulated. Save yourself a late afternoon meltdown and head back to your resort for nap time. So you may miss an attraction or two but if you choose your departure carefully you can do this at a time when lines are at their longest and temperatures are at their highest. Its important for little ones to cool off and recharge their batteries. You can then head back out to the park in the evening for a few more hours of Disney magic.
6. Skipping the afternoon parade – In the quest to nail all of the headlining attractions, many families opt to skip the afternoon parade and instead wait in line. I would honestly take time out to see the Festival of Fantasy at least once. It is an absolute marvel of Disney Imagineering and what makes this parade so extra special to kids of all ages are the amazing characters that participate. Don’t have time to meet Tinkerbell or rub shoulders with Rapunzel? This parade has you covered. You’ll see everyone from Mickey and Pals to almost every Disney Princess imaginable. Trust me. This afternoon offering is designed to leave a smile on your face. You’ll be glad you took time out to enjoy it.
7. Not making Advance Dining Reservations – These days, for families that want to have a nice sit-down meal at Magic Kingdom with or without characters, it is absolutely essential to make your Dining Reservations in advance. Restaurants like Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Crystal Palace can book up months in advance which can be disappointing for those looking for something a little more special than fast food or counter service items. Guests have the ability to book dining reservations 180 days in advance and when it comes to dining at Magic Kingdom a little planning can go a long way. So try to jump in early and make your reservations via the My Disney Experience app or at 407.WDW.DINE.
8. Not using Walt Disney World Railroad – I consider the Walt Disney World Railroad to be one of the most underrated attractions at Walt Disney World. Because it’s on the periphery, it tends to get overlooked but it actually provides are really fun and practical way to get around the theme park. Want to get from Main Street to Frontierland? There’s a railroad stop for that. The railroad can also take you from Frontierland to Fantasyland or from Fantasyland back to the Main Gate when you’re ready to go home at the end of the day. There’s also a lot of fun little details added into the train route that are sure to make you smile. Renting a Disney Stroller? They also have a neat service where you can leave your stroller rental at a train stop and pick up a brand new one at the next station making it a dream for parents with small children.
9. Not arriving for opening. – For my family, there is just something so magical about visiting the Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning. You can stroll down a relatively uncrowded Main Street with a coffee in hand, head over to your favorite rides and hop on while the queues are still minimal, or if you arrive before opening take in the welcome show that happens at the Castle Forecourt Stage. Visitors also get to enjoy the mild morning temperatures. When planning your Magic Kingdom day, try to arrive a bit before opening and enjoy a magical Disney morning like no other. Waiting until 10 or 11am and arriving the same time as everyone else can make for a slightly less enjoyable experience.
10 Booking FastPasses for first thing in the morning – Fastpasses are best used during the time of day when temperatures are hottest and lines are longest. Using up these precious three FastPasses first thing in the morning means that its likely that you are doing so when the lines of many headlining attractions are relatively do-able in the stand-by lines. If you have a FastPass booked and the lines are under 30 minutes than reschedule it for something later in the day and wait in line like everyone else. You’ll be thankful when the wait times start to get outrageous come midday.
We hope these tips will come in handy as you begin organizing your first Magic Kingdom visit. Happy Planning!
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