There’s nothing more quintessentially Disney than the Magic Kingdom. (Okay, I may have once said something along the lines of, “Magic Kingdom?!? That’s just Disneyland!” But I was wrong.) The Magic Kingdom is so much more than a Disneyland duplicate. You’ll find a lot of similar rides, but more space to enjoy them. Plus, there are a few extra rides that make it even more magical. I’m sure it’s possible to see all the Magic Kingdom in one day, but if you’ve got a young child with you, consider spending two days at Magic Kingdom. This will avoid meltdowns and allow you to truly enjoy the experience. (Full disclosure, we did not avoid a meltdown, but it didn’t happen until the very last day of our 8 days of theme parks.)
2 Day Magic Kingdom Plan for Parents of Young Kids
Day 1 Morning
- 8am Be Our Guest Breakfast Reservation
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- 9:20am Peter Pan’s Flight FastPass+
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Snack Break at Gaston’s Tavern
- Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
- 11:15am Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- The Barnstormer
- Walt Disney World Railroad from Fantasyland to Main Street, U.S.A.
- Rest outside the park
Day 1 Afternoon
- Tom Sawyer Island
- Country Bear Jamboree
- 5:05pm Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FastPass+
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Dinner at Casey’s Corner
- Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace 7pm
- Once Upon a Time
- Happily Ever After
Day 2 Afternoon
- 12:20pm Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theatre with FastPass+
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
- 1:40pm Tomorrowland Speedway with FastPass+
- 1:50pm Space Mountain with FastPass+
- Meet Stitch at Stitch’s Great Escape
- Snack at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments
- Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
- 5pm Be Our Guest Dinner
- 6:05pm Pirates of the Caribbean with FastPass+
- Jungle Cruise
- Tangled Bathrooms
- 7:10pm Haunted Mansion with FastPass+
For our complete 5 Step Disney World Vacation Planning Guide, click here.
Tips, Tricks, and Notable Omissions
Breakfast at Be Our Guest is a highly coveted advanced dining reservation so make sure you are online 180 days in advance at 6am EST. If you’re lucky enough to get a reservation before the park opens, keep to the left of the castle when you arrive. There is a Cast Member right before the bridge to Liberty Square that will check for your reservation before they let you walk back to the restaurant.
In Fantasyland, we skipped some attractions that are the same as those at Disneyland or that we strongly dislike. I’m looking at you it’s a small world. But if you’re on a mission to ride everything in the Magic Kingdom, consider adding these activities to your morning in Fantasyland: “it’s a small world”, Mad Tea Party, and Casey Jr. Soak ‘N’ Splash Station.
There are also lots of character greetings in Fantasyland like Ariel in her grotto, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Minnie in Pete’s Silly Sideshow, Princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall, and Fairytale Friends at Fairytale Garden. And sometimes, Gaston hangs out near his tavern. Also, you might not have time to ride both Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Barnstormer. They are right next to each other and can develop long lines. If your kid is taller than 35 inches, I recommend the Barnstormer if you must pick just one.
In Frontierland, make sure to check the closing time for Tom Sawyer’s island. It closed at 5pm on the day we visited. Our rest break took longer than planned so we missed the last boat to the island. Also, Splash Mountain was closed when we visited. If you want to ride all the mountains, consider adding this instead of exploring Adventureland. There’s time for Adventureland on Day 2.
We skipped our Mickey Mouse character greeting because we saw Mickey a few times before our second day at Magic Kingdom. However, Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater is the only TALKING Mickey you can meet. (But maybe not for much longer).
In Tomorrowland, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin isn’t on my touring plan because my competitive nature prevents me from participating when myself or my opponent would have to hold on to a young kid. (Also, that young kid would probably want to play too and throw off the whole game.) Most people consider this a must do. We also skipped Astro Orbiters since we’d already done Magic Carpets of Aladdin which is the same ride mechanic.
In Adventureland, the Jungle Cruise queue was too long, and we were tired after our day of meltdowns, so we skipped it. This may have been Reese’s secret plan all along since he doesn’t like the fact that the ride has never been updated. And he doesn’t think it’s very punny. Also, don’t forget to stop at the Enchanted Tiki Room if you need a break in the evening.
Bonus Tip: FastPass+ and Rider Switch
Finally, maximize your FastPass+ reservations by using Rider Switch. This is the best part about visiting Magic Kingdom with young kids. Use this strategy if your kids are too young or too short for a ride like Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain. Simply reserve different FastPasses for each adult and request a Rider Switch pass from a Cast Member at each ride entrance. We planned to use this for Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway. But Reese didn’t want to ride Space Mountain, so we didn’t take advantage of Rider Switch. We just made two different reservations for the same time.
Magic Kingdom Highlights
This was Declan’s first roller coaster! With a 35-inch height requirement, he was just tall enough to ride. The queue was long (40 minutes) and the ride was short (60 seconds), but Declan was smiling from ear to ear when it stopped. He immediately shouted, “Again? Again?” If you have a little thrill seeker, I highly recommend this ride. But maybe try to get a FastPass+?
Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Watch out for spitting camels! So, we may have skipped Dumbo The Flying Elephant, but Magic Carpets is the same kind of ride. However, there are two camels nearby that spit water on passengers and pedestrians. Declan loved it!
Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion
Both rides are very similar to their Disneyland counterparts. But Pirates had a more interesting queue and more of a drop at the start of the ride. Haunted Mansion has a less imposing facade but a few extra scenes inside the ride that were very cool.
Full Disclosure: Space Mountain at Disneyland is my favorite roller coaster ever. For a very long time, it’s been the most “extreme” roller coaster I could ride even with Dramamine. I loved Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom. Instead of sitting side by side, you sit one in front of the other with three people per car. Since Reese won’t ride this with me anymore (and Declan is still too short), I enjoyed not having to sit next to a stranger. The ride seemed a little longer and a little more intense than it’s Disneyland counterpart.
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
The ride itself is exactly like it’s counterpart at Disney’s California Adventure, but the queue is wonderful. It feels like you’re actually walking into Ariel’s grotto. There are even little activities to keep kids busy when the wait is long. We never skip the Little Mermaid ride since that’s where we got engaged at Disneyland.
Be Our Guest Breakfast
The atmosphere at Be Our Guest is truly magical. This was a great way to start off our week at Disney World. I could live in that dining room. Make sure to place your breakfast order online in advance to expedite your service. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get in line for a ride before rope drop. Reese had the Feast A La Gaston and I had the Croque Madame. As far as quick service Disney breakfasts go, they were great. They were served with a plate of assorted pastries for the table. There’s more than enough food to share with a young kid so save some money by only ordering for adults.
I didn’t plan a stop for dinner before our dessert party, but I’d heard an internet rumor that the only place you could get corn dogs like those at Disneyland was Casey’s Corner which serves corn dog nuggets. (That rumor is incorrect. See Sleepy Hollow Refreshments below.) We happened to walk right by Casey’s Corner on our way to Tomorrowland Terrace, so we decided to stop for a snack. Mobile ordering saved the day since the lines were very long. The corn dog nuggets were delicious and so was the giant hot dog Reese ordered. It was the perfect dinner before the dessert party.
Located in the back of Fantasyland, make sure to stop by for a snack at some point during your day at Magic Kingdom. The giant cinnamon roll was delicious. It turns out you can ask for an extra side of frosting with it! La Fou’s Brew was one of our favorite drinks in all of Disney World. It’s basically frozen apple cider. It would be super refreshing on a hot Florida day.
Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party
Read more about the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party here, but let me just say it was well worth the expense. The desserts were delicious, and we loved being able to sit down and relax before and during fireworks.
Sleepy Hollow Refreshments
Before the Festival of Fantasy Parade, we stopped at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments to try the widely talked about fruit and Nutella waffle. We were happy to discover that they also serve hand dipped corn dogs like those sold at Disneyland. (Reese and I have been known to go to Disneyland just to get corn dogs and leave.) If you’re a Disneyland fanatic missing a taste of home, stop by and get one. We managed to find seating nearby right along the parade route between the Liberty Square Ticket Office and the Hall of Presidents.
Shows and Entertainment
Festival of Fantasy Parade
We are not a family who watches parades. (Except for Paint the Night at Disneyland which we are so excited to see it again at Disney’s California Adventure this summer.) But we all loved the Festival of Fantasy Parade. The floats were awesome, and it had some of favorite characters like Rapunzel and Merida. Oh, and a dragon! It was a last-minute decision to watch the parade, but our snack break at Sleepy Hollow put us in the perfect location. We found a great spot just outside the Liberty Square Ticket Office with an unobstructed view when standing on a planter.
Aside from the fireworks, this was probably my favorite show. It’s indoors. There are seats. And there are cooling wind effects! This 3D movie is a great reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Fantasyland. There was no wait and the theater was less than half full when we went. We had a hard time keeping the 3D glasses on Declan’s head, but he still loved it.
Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After
I probably don’t need to tell you that Once Upon a Time, the castle projection show, and Happily Ever After, the fireworks, are amazing. Disney has some of the best fireworks and special effects in the world. These certainly do not disappoint. We watched both from the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party. Even though the view is a little to the side, it’s still a great spot to see both shows. To top it off, Tinkerbell flew right over our heads! Declan still talks about it to this day. Again, we highly recommend the dessert party.
Magic Kingdom Lowlights
Peter Pan’s Flight
I don’t get why people love this ride. I understand that it’s suitable for young kids, but it’s pretty boring. We skip it every time we’re at Disneyland since we prefer Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Most Magic Kingdom touring plans recommend doing this ride first or getting a FastPass+. I honestly don’t think it’s worth wasting a FastPass+ reservation. I wish we’d made a reservation for the Barnstormer instead. And I definitely wouldn’t wait in a line for this ride unless there was literally nothing better to do. (There is always something better to do especially if it involves getting a snack.)
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
If you’re planning a trip to Disney World, you’ve probably heard all about how Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a MUST GET FastPass+ or how you better be prepared to SPRINT for the line at rope drop. Can I just say it? The ride isn’t that great. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is much better. I don’t think the swinging carts really add anything to the experience and it’s a short ride. The theming is cool especially if you love singing “Heigh Ho” for the rest of the day. Seriously, all day. I do agree that you should get a FastPass+ or be prepared to get there early, but I agree with that advice only because if you spend an hour waiting in line for this ride, you will be disappointed.
Be Our Guest Dinner
This was the single most disappointing meal of our trip. I ordered a medium steak. The first one came out rare. The second one came out blue. (That means very, very rare.) I wasn’t going to try my luck at a third one. I probably would have found a live cow on my plate. Of course, they removed the charge without hesitation, but it was still a frustrating experience. Reese ordered the Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops. He thought it tasted like the seafood was unwashed. We did enjoy meeting the Beast after dinner, but that was the only highlight of our meal. They are changing this to a specialty dining experience with a prix fixe meal. I hope this improves the quality of the food. Click here to read more about this change on the Disney Parks Blog.
Shows and Entertainment
Enchanted Tales with Belle
The only reason this makes the list is because it’s not great for young kids. Kids recreate the story of Beauty and the Beast for Belle. If your kids are shy or too young to follow instructions, they won’t enjoy it. Older kids and kids who love meeting princesses will love it! We stood in line before rope drop since we already had FastPasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We were the only people there and it requires 20 people to operate. The Cast Member advised encouraged us to ride the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh first which was excellent advice! When we returned, she let us in the FastPass+ entrance. It was our first taste of that extra Disney magic that sets Disney World apart from other theme parks.