Last Updated on October 17, 2021
Spending a day at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the equivalent of spending a day in a sauna with three layers of robed people sitting on your lap with a brief respite to allow someone to pour a bucket of water on your head. My hair thinks it is 1988 and crimps with the aid of only humidity. Countless people annoy me with their Christina Aguilera-like manners. We spend the majority of our day waiting in a hot line, even with the best of touring plans. There are ways to save money, but when you really think about it, we are basically handing Disney a bag of money to stand still. It’s genius, really. Despite all of this, we love it. Disney World’s Magic Kingdom attractions are family favorites for us.
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Disney World offers base tickets and Park Hopper tickets. Base tickets are one theme park per day, while Park Hoppers allow you to visit more than one per day. Back in the day when I didn’t have kids to slow me down, I purchased Park Hopper tickets. This was a giant waste of money. Park hopping is a hassle. The parks at Disney World are not walking distance like the Disneyland theme parks and Universal Orlando Resort. There is more than enough to do at each park to occupy you for an entire day. For us, base tickets are definitely sufficient.
Disney World ticket prices vary by the day. You can check the prices for a particular day on this calendar. Even on the cheapest day, tickets cost as much a small car. To save money, I buy tickets directly from the Disney World website using discounted gift cards. It is labor intensive to manage multiple gift cards. If you have more of a life than I apparently do, discount websites like Undercover Tourist sell tickets at a discount.
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Attractions FastPasses
Most of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom attractions have a FastPass line. FastPasses are free to all visitors. You have to have theme park tickets to book them. They can be reserved 60 days in advance if you stay at an on property hotel and 30 days prior to your trip if you stay off property. Those extra 30 days count as a lot of the popular attractions are gone well before off property guests can book. Each guest can book three FastPasses per day prior to arriving at the park. Everyone in your party does not have to select the same attractions. The FastPasses have a return time with an hour window. The windows cannot overlap. After the three FastPasses have been used or expire, you can get more from the app, one at a time, until they run out.
Guests staying club level at on property resorts have the option to buy three extra FastPasses for $50 per person per day with a three day minimum. It would cost our family of four a minimum of $600 to exercise this option, not to mention the added expense of staying club level. We’re going to take a hard pass on that one.
Priorities for FastPasses for Disney World’s Magic Kingdom attractions:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Splash Mountain
- Space Mountain
- Haunted Mansion
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Jungle Cruise
We usually book our first FastPass a couple of hours after park opening because the lines are as short as they are going to be all day in the first hour. A FastPass would be wasted during this time. After the three FastPasses are gone, I get on the app immediately after scanning the last FastPass to find another one. I am certainly not alone in this. The majority of people in line seem to be on the app. Everyone is ignoring their family to play with their phones in unison. Solidarity. We might be missing the point of a family vacation.
Some people, all of whom have never googled the term “Disney World”, do not book FastPasses or make dining reservations prior to arrival. Don’t be this person. A root canal would be more fun.
Like every other theme park on the planet, Magic Kingdom is least crowded first thing in the morning. Arrive early! This is not the time to sleep in and enjoy your vacation. You need to be up and ready for battle bright and early. On the last day of our Disneyland vacation, I caved and let the family sleep in. That was a Watergate level error in judgment. We all have to live with regrets. The end of a good day looks something like this:
If you want to make it through the day without choking someone who could be an extra on Tiger King, you need a touring plan. There isn’t much happening in the alcohol department at Magic Kingdom. A touring plan is your next best option.
I use the free version of Touring Plans to make our itineraries. This app allows you input what you want to do ahead of time, then update the plan throughout the day to minimize wait times.
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Attractions
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is broken up into six sections, each with its own attractions and opportunities to spend more money at every turn. I think Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure do a better job with the theming of their parks, but Disney World’s Magic Kingdom attractions blow Universal out of the water. In this post, I will cover attractions other than those found in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland.
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Attractions on Main Street, U.S.A.
You enter Magic Kingdom onto Main Street, U.S.A. facing Cinderella’s castle. This section mostly consists of stores. The appeal is the view of the castle, but there are a couple of things to do.
Walt Disney World Railroad
Walt Disney World Railroad is, surprise, a train, that takes you around the park. This is largely a mode of transportation, but it is a nice break from walking. We found surprisingly long waits on multiple occasions. It is definitely not worth any kind of time investment.
Town Square Theater
Town Square Theater is a place to meet Mickey Mouse. FastPasses are available. There is nothing special about the room itself. If your kid is not dying to meet Mickey Mouse, you can skip it. If they want to meet Mickey Mouse, consider the FastPass.
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Attractions in Adventureland
Swiss Family Treehouse
Swiss Family Treehouse is a walk through attraction. You walk up and around a tree house with some decorations. It is quick and there is never a wait. My kids enjoy exploring the area. There are a lot of stairs, so be prepared if you will need to carry children.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is like any other theme park ride with cars that fly around in a circle. In this case, the car is a magic carpet. The line gets stupid long in the middle of the day considering what the attraction is. It is slow to load. This is something everyone can ride, but it is not worth a long wait. Check wait times on the app to try to arrive when the line is shorter.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room is an old attraction. The age shows, but not necessarily in a bad way. It feels classic. You sit in a room and birds squawk a few songs at you and tell jokes. The kids don’t really get it. However, there is never a wait beyond waiting for the next show to start, and it has air conditioning. We always make a stop in the late afternoon when all the other rides have long wait times.
Jungle Cruise is a slow moving boat ride with a skipper telling jokes. You encounter fake animals. This is another ride that feels old school Disney. Everyone can ride. The key to enjoying this ride is a skipper who is actually funny. We have had good ones, and we have had skippers of the Ralphie May variety. The line for this attraction gets completely insane. You should consider a FastPass for this one if it makes sense with the rest of your touring plan.
Pirates of the Caribbean
We love Pirates of the Caribbean. It is an iconic ride. It is an indoor, slow moving boat ride. Disney put a ton of detail into this ride. The pirates are fun to watch. Aside from the lessons in crime and alcohol consumption, it is a great ride for everyone. There is air conditioning. The line generally moves quickly. I try to get a FastPass for this ride after the first three are gone, but if I can’t, it is usually not a big deal.
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Attractions in Frontierland
Splash Mountain is one of my older son’s favorites. On a warm day. Only. We have ridden it when it was cool outside. That was a mistake. You get wet on this ride. It is a slow moving boat ride that takes you through some scenes from Song of the South. What is Song of the South, you ask? You don’t see that on Disney+? Song of the South is a movie from the 1940s that has been shelved because it is so racist. This has not stopped Disney from leaving this attraction as is at both Disney World and Disneyland. The ride ends with a pretty substantial drop and has a 40″ height requirement, so it is not for little kids. You should consider a FastPass if you want to ride it in the middle of the day.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a small roller coaster on a train. It also has a 40″ height requirement. It takes you around rocks and through tunnels. The line is usually pretty reasonable, but can get long. I generally try to get a FastPass after my first three are gone for this one as well.
Tom Sawyer Island
You access Tom Sawyer Island via raft. We have never had to wait long for a raft. The TMZ video of an alligator attempting to climb onto one of them is burned into my mind, but we have always lived to see another day. Once you arrive, uneaten, you can walk around and explore different structures. It is a great place for kids to burn some energy.
Country Bear Jamboree
Country Bear Jamboree reminds me of Enchanted Tiki Room in that it is a classic attraction with outdated animatronics singing and telling jokes. It similarly has air conditioning and no wait. It is a nice break from the sun. We visit this attraction in the late afternoon when lines are long.
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Attractions in Liberty Square
The Hall of Presidents
The Hall of Presidents is a show with a crazy long video followed by every president together onstage (in animatronic form, not like a bunch of corpses). The current president gives a speech. At the time of this writing, you get Trump. People occasionally heckle him. To put that another way, adults yell at a moving statue in front of children. It seems there are better ways to express your displeasure with the current political climate, but I have never tried yelling at a statue before. Maybe it produces results. Putting aside any political views, the attraction never has a wait beyond waiting for the next show to start. The indoor queue has some interesting stuff to see. Both the queue and attraction have air conditioning. It is a good midday attraction.
Liberty Square Riverboat
Liberty Square Riverboat is a giant boat that cruises around a river slowly. Everyone can ride and there isn’t much of a wait. Other than that, it is nothing about which to write home.
We love Haunted Mansion. It is a slow moving ride through a dark, “haunted” building. There is a ton to see. The line usually moves pretty quickly. It has air conditioning. Everyone, aside from kids who might be scared, can ride. My kids rode it as young as age three and were totally fine with it, but it is dark. It may not be for everyone. Prior to boarding the ride, you enter a stretching room that is scarier than the rest of the ride. You can request to skip this part. I used to do that with my younger son who went through a phase of hating loud noises. I usually try to get a FastPass for Haunted Mansion after our first three are gone.
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom attractions are great for the most part. With great attractions come large crowds. You need more than one day to do everything. Be sure to book FastPasses and make a touring plan prior to arriving, then check the app throughout the day to book additional FastPasses and update your touring plan as needed. Try not to obsess over the app all day. Overall, Magic Kingdom is definitely worth a trip. We will return often.