Disney World gives you plenty of opportunities to spend money. The tickets alone cost about as much as a semester of community college. As if that wasn’t enough, there are a ton of upgrades available. Which Magic Kingdom extras are worth it?
Are These Magic Kingdom Extras Worth it?
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Magic Kingdom Extras
What is Genie+?
The free FastPass+ system is gone. COVID-19 gave Disney the perfect excuse to charge you.
What Disney extras are worth it? Genie+ is at the top of the list. It is a paid system that allows you to enter the front of the line on specific Magic Kingdom attractions throughout the day.
While paying for something that used to be free sounds annoying, I prefer this system. Here’s why. Everyone in the park doesn’t have it. That means less competition for passes and more opportunities for you.
How Does Genie+ Work?
Genie+ allows you to reserve spots to skip the line. Everyone who purchases it, whether in an on property hotel or off, can start making reservations for Magic Kingdom at 7:00 a.m. on the day of their visit.
Guests can make a new reservation every two hours OR when their prior selection has been used or expired. You can book one less than every two hours if you have no selection pending. If your first selection is later in the day, you may end up holding more than one pass at once after you book your second one.
The prior free system allowed you to pre-book Magic Kingdom Disney World rides and select your times. Both of these options are gone. Disney now picks your times.
The prior free system also let you book the same attraction multiple times in the same day. That is gone as well. If you want to ride a second time, you need to hang out in the standby line with everyone else.
What Are the Magic Kingdom Genie Plus Rides?
As of the time of this update, the following rides accept Genie+:
2. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
3. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
4. Dumbo the Flying Elephant
5. Haunted Mansion
6. “it’s a small world”
7. Jungle Cruise
8. Mad Tea Party
9. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
10. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
11. Mickey’s PhilharMagic
12. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
13. Peter Pan’s Flight
14. Pirates of the Caribbean
15. Splash Mountain
16. Tomorrowland Speedway
17. Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
What Does Genie+ Cost?
As of the time of this update, Genie+ costs $15.98 per person per day. You can add it to your vacation package at any time.
Tips for Genie+
Pro tip: Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad tend to go quickly. Book those early.
Bonus pro tip: Official rules state you can be five minutes early or fifteen minutes late for your reservation. If you arrive outside of your return window, they do not have to honor your pass.
Extra bonus pro tip: You can pick and choose when you use Genie+. You do not have to purchase it for every day of your trip. Purchasing it for Magic Kingdom doesn’t lock you into having to purchase it for any other parks on different days.
Extra bonus pro tip: Sometimes, you have to prove you have a reservation multiple times in the same line. Don’t book another ride until you are sure you have gone through all the scanners. Similarly, be sure to scan every time, or you don’t be able to book another one as quickly.
Is Genie+ Worth it at Magic Kingdom?
Is Genie+ worth it at Magic Kingdom? Yes, it definitely is. Magic Kingdom without fastpass is not ideal.
Unlike Animal Kingdom, a park with almost no rides, there are a ton of attractions available. The standby lines move like molasses. You will get your money’s worth.
If you really don’t want to pay for it, arrive before Magic Kingdom opening time and have a touring plan. Otherwise, you will battle crowds all day in the sweltering heat with little to show for it. The irritation will be amplified by your whiny kids with whom you have been All. Day. Long. If you’re not sure where to start, Touringplans.com is a free website that helps you create personalized plans.
Alternatively, if you don’t care if you sit with your party, single rider lines tend to be shorter.
2. Magic Kingdom Individual Lightning Lanes
Genie+ doesn’t apply to all rides. That would mean leaving money on the table. For the two most popular attractions from Disney’s perspective, you need to pay more. As of the time of this update, those Magic Kingdom rides are Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Individual Lightning Lanes require you to pay a flat fee to ride once. The cost varies based upon demand, but prices generally range from $7 to $15 per person. A family of four could drop $60 to ride one ride one time. Let that sink in.
Individual Lightning Lanes cannot be purchased ahead of time. Guests of on property resorts can start purchasing them at 7:00 a.m. Off property guests must wait until the park opens.
Are Individual Lightning Lanes Worth it?
Is purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane worth it? That’s really a question for you.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has a long line, all day. If you really want to ride and saving some time in line will make you happy, go for it.
Space Mountain, on the other hand, will have a short line at some point. Consider heading there first thing in the morning to avoid this cost.
Pro tip: If you don’t care if you ride with your party, skip Lightning Lane and try the single rider line.
3. Magic Kingdom Dining Plans
Note: As of the time of this update, Disney dining plans are temporarily suspended and updated pricing has not been released. If past years are any indication, there will be sticker shock. Confirm availability and cost at the time of your trip.
What Are Disney Dining Plans?
Disney dining plans allow resort guests to prepay for their food. The plans are not available to people staying off property. These plans do not necessarily save money.
Each plan comes with a certain amount of credits per trip. They are not allotted per day. You can use them as you want throughout the trip. If you want to eat ten meals in one day, as Bobby Brown says, that is your prerogative.
You must purchase a plan for all members of your party ages three and up, and you must purchase it for the duration of your trip. You cannot pick and choose here like you can with Genie+.
Pro tip: Dining plans come with a refillable mug for each member of your party. These can only be used at resorts. There are no refill stations at the parks.
Bonus pro tip: You can use your drink credits for alcoholic beverages.
What Meal Plans Are Available?
Magic Kingdom Quick-Service Dining Plan
The Quick-Service Dining Plan comes with two quick service meals and two snacks per night of your stay.
Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan comes with one table service meal, one quick service meal, and two snacks per night of your stay.
Disney Dining Plan Plus
The Disney Dining Plan Plus comes with two meals of your choosing (table service or quick service) and two snacks per night of your trip.
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
The Disney Deluxe Dining Plan comes with three meals of your choosing (table service or quick service) and two snacks per night of your trip.
Are Disney Dining Plans Worth it?
Are Disney dining plans worth it? For the quick service and deluxe plans, the answer is a resounding no. The quick service meals don’t save money, and the deluxe plans are more food than you will ever want to eat.
Are the two mid-level tier plans Disney World extras that are worth it? It’s possible.
Disney World posts its menus and pricing online. Figure out where you want to eat, then do the math to see if you will come out ahead. If you would have done a few character buffets anyway, you just might.
These plans may also appeal to if you don’t want to pay as you go. They are often more about convenience than cost savings. There is something to be said for a truly prepaid trip. Paying for every meal on vacation gets old.
Pro tip: If you don’t want to worry about a giant credit card bill when you return from your trip, purchase discounted Disney gift cards ahead of time to pay for your meals.
Note: Some of the more expensive meals count as two credits. Factor this into your cost benefit analysis.
4. Magic Kingdom Character Dining
Magic Kingdom has a ton of dining options, ranging from popcorn cart to Disney’s version of fine dining. If you are willing to pay a premium, Winnie the Pooh can show up at your table.
Pro tip: All of these Magic Kingdom restaurants accommodate allergies. The table service restaurants even have separate menus. Gluten free items are not hard by which to come.
Be Our Guest
Magic Kingdom Be Our Guest is a Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant set in the Beast’s castle. It used to offer a quick service breakfast and lunch, but, you know, money.
This is considered a character meal because the Beast occasionally walks into the room, waves, and leaves. He does not walk around the room, nor does he stop for pictures. Belle is nowhere to be found.
At this point, your only option is a table service, very expensive, prix fixe meal. The price is the same for lunch and dinner, so there is no way to cut the cost.
As of the time of this update, it costs $62 per adult ages 10 and up (yes, you read that right), and $37 for kids ages three through nine. The interior is nothing short of amazing, but you most definitely do not get $62 worth of food.
Pro tip: You can start making reservations for this restaurant 60 days before the day you check in to your on property hotel, or 60 days from the day of your visit if you are off property. You need to get up bright and early to make this reservation. It goes fast.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Cinderella’s Royal Table is located in the iconic Cinderella Castle you see upon entering the park. Kids often get their hair and makeup done Jon Benet Ramsey -style at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (more money) for their reservations.
The menus here are prix fixe as well, but unlike Be Our Guest, there is a breakfast option that is a little cheaper ($42 per adult and $27 per child as of the time of this update). Lunch and dinner cost $62 per adult and $37 per child.
If you’re in the mood for awkward interaction with faux princesses, this is your place.
Pro tip: This Magic Kingdom reservation goes fast. Be online right when your booking window opens if you want it.
Note: As of the time of this update, characters have not returned to these meals.
The Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace is a buffet starring Winnie the Pooh characters that serves lunch and dinner. The key word in that last sentence is “buffet”. How do you feel about buffets these days? Decide before booking this reservation.
It doesn’t have the ambiance of the Magic Kingdom castle restaurants, so you get a discount. This one only costs $39 per adult and $23 per child as of the time of this writing.
This Magic Kingdom food is typical American fare with some peel and eat shrimp thrown in to justify the price.
Pro tip: You need a reservation, but it will be much easier to get than the other two character meals.
Note: As of the time of this writing, the characters have not come back.
Are Character Meals Worth it?
Are the character meals at Magic Kingdom worth it? Unless your child is really into the characters, I don’t believe they are. Be Our Guest is underwhelming at best at this point. If your kids love the characters and you expect to spend a good chunk of your day waiting in line to see them, it may be worth it to you.
If the Disney Dining plans return, character meals may be one of the Magic Kingdom extras that makes financial sense.
Pro tip: Skipper Canteen is a good alternative to a character meal. It is reasonably priced with great food and a fun theme.
5. Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package
Note: As of the time of this update, the Festival of Fantasy parade has not yet returned.
The Festival of Fantasy is Disney’s afternoon parade. If you want to watch it, you have two options. You can stake out a spot ahead of time and risk jail time for choking someone who slips in front of you when the Magic Kingdom parade starts, or purchase a dining package to get VIP seating.
The dining package allows you to purchase a prix fixe meal at Tony’s Town Square, an Italian restaurant with overcooked noodles and canned sauce.
The dining package isn’t cheap. Prices are not currently posted, but when they last were, the cost was $54 for adults and $19 for kids.
Pro tip: If the Disney dining plan returns, you may be able to book this package for one Magic Kingdom table service credit. Check the terms when you make your reservation.
Bonus pro tip: Gluten free pasta is available, and the restaurant can accommodate other allergies as well.
Note: The term “VIP” is used liberally in this context. You stand on concrete along with everyone else, and it is not shaded. The restaurant also instructs you to arrive 15 minutes before the parade start time, then you wait another 20 minutes or so for the parade to roll by. This extended period of time in the sun does feel VIP.
Is the Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package Worth it?
Is the Festival of Fantasy Parade dining package worth it? No, it is not.
The food is overpriced and not good. On top of that, you still have to arrive early. This isn’t like a fastpass for parade viewing.
The parade goes through the Magic Kingdom. It is not that hard to find somewhere to watch. Save your money.
If the Disney dining plan returns and this package continues to cost one table service credit, it is something to consider.
6. Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Parties
Magic Kingdom’s nighttime shows are popular. In addition to shooting off fireworks, there are projections on Cinderella’s Castle. Prime viewing spots are limited. People camp out for hours.
If you don’t want to waste hours of park time, you can book a dessert party at Tomorrowland Terrace. The desserts are ample, cocktails are served, and they will bring people with allergies a special platter.
The names of the packages change as the Magic Kingdom night shows evolve, but the general options seem to stay the same.
As of the time of this update, options include:
A. View the fireworks from the terrace of the restaurant ($114 for ages 10 and up, $69 per child ages three to nine)
B. View the fireworks in the Plaza Garden on the lawn with no seats after the dessert party ($99 per person ages 10 and up, $59 per child ages three to nine)
C. View the fireworks in the Plaza Garden on the lawn with no seats before the dessert party ($99 per person ages 10 and up, $59 per child ages three to nine)
Pro tip: Advanced Disney World reservations are required.
Are the Fireworks Dessert Parties Worth it?
Are these Magic Kingdom extras worth it? The cost is outrageous. It is especially hard to accept the cost of kids who are technically Disney adults but can’t drink alcohol. With that said, if the fireworks are really important to you, I believe parties are worth it.
If you don’t book one, you will need to stake out your spot well in advance of the show, burning precious park time. You also have to sit next to other people, some with better manners than others. Odds are decent that someone will try to box you out at the last minute to get a spot. You don’t need the stress.
The garden viewing area, while unseated, is large enough for your kids to run around. Meanwhile, immediately outside this area, people are crammed together like they are trying to get the last TV at Walmart on Black Friday.
If you’re not dying to see the fireworks, save your money.
7. Magic Kingdom Tours
For the Walt Disney fans, Disney offers the Keys to the Kingdom tour. It is a five hour walking tour that provides history and secrets and takes you through the Magic Kingdom underground tunnels. Photography is prohibited, so you won’t get any material for Instagram.
As of the time of this update, the cost is $114 per person (plus Magic Kingdom theme park admission). Lunch is included.
Pro tip: Advanced reservations are required.
Note: The minimum age for this tour is 16.
Is the Magic Kingdom Keys to the Kingdom Tour Worth it?
Is Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom tour worth it? Unless you go all the time or are a diehard Disney history fan, it is not. Hard pass.
This tour is a time suck. You have to pay to get into the park on top of the cost this tour. You also can’t bring kids, so it is not practical for most families. If you are are party of adults and really interested in the history, it might be worth it to you.
8. Magic Kingdom Fireworks Cruise
Disney offers dessert cruises that take guests onto the Seven Seas Lagoon to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks. They include alcohol. You’ll get a decent view of the fireworks, but you won’t be able to see the castle projections.
As of the time of this update, the cost is $99 per guest ages 10 and up and $69 per child ages three through nine. Unlike the dessert parties in the parks, you do not need to purchase separate theme park admission.
Pro tip: Advanced reservations are required.
Are Fireworks Dessert Cruises Worth it?
Are the fireworks dessert cruises worth it? Possibly.
The cruises are affordable (by Disney standards). If you have a break day worked into your trip, this could be a great evening activity. Remember that you will not be able to see the castle projections. How much do you care about that? Consider that when making your decision.
Under no circumstances should you add a cruise to a park day. You will lose a huge chunk of your day.
9. After Hours Events
Disney offers after hours events throughout the year, with the two most popular being Halloween and Christmas parties. The park closes early to the general public, giving event guests access to a near empty park, short wait times, unique parades, Magic Kingdom shows, and free snacks. The Halloween parties include trick or treating stations for all guests, including adults.
Party rates vary by the day, but you can expect them to be expensive.
Pro tip: Guests attending the events can typically arrive three hours before the event begins. Check the fine print when you purchase your ticket.
Bonus pro tip: Do not book an event for a day you are visiting a park. You double pay for half the day when you do this. Sleep in and show up to the park for the event only.
Are the After Hours Events Worth it?
Are Disney’s after hours events worth it? This may be an unpopular opinion, but yes. They absolutely are. One could say it is a Magic Kingdom must do.
These Magic Kingdom tickets are expensive, but you get a lot for the cost. You can walk onto most rides with no wait, repeatedly. When you factor in the amount you can get done and the free snacks, the cost is justifiable.
10. Memory Maker and Photography Sessions
Do you want to capture your frizzy hair and sweaty armpits? You’re in luck.
Disney’s Memory Maker lets you download photos taken by its photographers, as well as ride photos.
As of the time of this writing, the cost is $69 per day.
Private Photography Sessions
You can also book a
teenaged Disney employee photographer for a twenty minute session that doesn’t come with any photos. That’s right. No photos.
You don’t get the park to yourself here. The masses will still be there. You’re not going to be skipping down Main Street holding Mickey’s hand. Disney labels this experience a “Magic Kingdom Enchanting Extra”, which is quite bold.
As of the time of this update, the cost for a private photography session is $50. Although the photos are not included, you can access them with Memory Maker at no extra cost.
Are the Photography Options Worth it?
Are these Disney Magic Kingdom upgrades worth it? I don’t believe they are.
Everyone has cameras on their cell phones. There are mobs of people available to take your family’s picture, particularly if you reciprocate. You don’t need to pay for this.
If the ride photos are really important to you, or if you are celebrating a special occasion (think engagement), it may be worth it for you.
11. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Note: As of the time of this update, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique has not reopened.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a salon where your child can
set women back 50 years get a makeover to look like a princess. They do hair and makeup, and also sell costumes.
Prices vary by the package you choose. All are expensive.
Pro tip: If you want to do visit the Magic Kingdom boutique, make a reservation as soon as you can. It is popular.
Bonus pro tip: Kids often visit the boutique and eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table on the same day.
Is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Worth it?
Is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique worth it? That is totally subjective, but from a financial perspective, absolutely not.
There is enough to do at Magic Kingdom to fill a day. Do you really think your child will wear that hot dress in the humidity all day? You will likely flush money down the toilet. If you are cool with that, go for it.
12. VIP Tours
If you are looking for special things to do at Disney World, a VIP Tour is the ultimate option.
VIP tours are private experiences with a Magic Kingdom guide. You can bring up to 10 people. These tours let you ride rides with minimal wait times and jump between the parks if you want.
As of the time of this writing, the Magic Kingdom VIP Tour costs $425 to $850 per hour with a seven hour minimum. Theme park admission is not included. You won’t get out of this for less than $3,000.
Pro tip: You need an advanced reservation.
Is a Magic Kingdom VIP Tour Worth it?
A VIP tour is an amazing Magic Kingdom experience. It is a bucket list item for many. Is it worth it?
If you can get the cheapest rate and travel with a group of ten, the tour could average out to around $40 per person. Would you pay $40 per person to skip the lines? I personally would.
If you have to pay a higher rate with a small group, this cost is tough to swallow.
Final Thoughts – Magic Kingdom Extras
It’s expensive just to walk through the gates at Disney World. Paying more to upgrade your experience isn’t ideal, but it is often worth it. Consider the Magic Kingdom extras that will make your family happy, make a plan to maximize your day, and save where you can.
Visit Magic Kingdom. You will not regret it.