If you’re looking to head to Disney World soon, you need to read The Ultimate Family Guide to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!
Disney World is always an amazing experience, but if you’re going to a new park for the first time, you can waste a lot of time and money by not knowing what to expect or where to go/eat etc. We LOVE Disney World and have been multiple times. Magic Kingdom is a great place to start if you’re going to for the first time, if you have small children, and if you’re only going for one day. It’s the full Disney experience with all the bells and whistles.
GOING TO MORE THAN ONE PARK? CHECK OUT OUR ULTIMATE FAMILY GUIDE TO EPCOT TOO!
The Ultimate Family Guide to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
Check the operating hours of the park the day you plan to attend. You can find these easily on Disney World’s website HERE. Hours do vary depending on the time of year etc, so be sure to verify before just showing up. Get to the park about fifteen minutes before opening to give yourself enough time to unpack the car, get to the gates, and to enter right when it opens. Pro tip? Take the ferry. It’s faster, and is a much neater experience.
Where to go first?
Your best bet is to hit the rides that will have long waiting times FIRST. Most people go for the first thing they see and work their way through the park like that. There are areas of the park that will have long wait times. You can use your fast pass on these, but it’s honestly better just to go to rides like Space Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo, Buzz Lightyear’s Ranger Spin and more first. Pick the one busiest ride you want to ride MOST and go there first. Then set your fast passes for the next 3 you want to go to after that.
Most people head straight to Cinderella’s castle first. Don’t make this mistake. Stick to the plan. Like buying only what’s on your list, stick to the plan.
What rides are best?
If you have little, little ones with you, you will need to ride rides that are good for all ages. All ages literally means any age, so even your tiny infant can go on these. It’s A Small World is an AWESOME way to cool down, and to have a really neat experience. It’s good for all ages and it slow and cool. The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh is another great indoor, slow, all-ages ride. The Jungle Cruise is outdoor, but is for all ages. It’s slow and is kind of like a lazy river ride. We enjoyed all the puns on this ride!
If you’re kids are school aged or older, there are a few rides they will really enjoy. We loved Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Mad Tea Party, Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor (which is not a ride, but an interactive show where the kids can participate), Stitch’s Great Escape, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Older Kids and Adults
If you have older kids, or are just taking adults to the Magic Kingdom this time, you will enjoy all the rides I mentioned previously, just for Nostalgia’s sake. BUT if you want some more thrill, you need to make sure you hit Space Mountain and Splash Mountain for sure. In addition to that, don’t forget to head to Tomorrowland and ride the PeopleMover.
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Where should you eat?
Food is one of the best things about Disney World. You’d be lying if you said you weren’t excited about all the food there. It can be incredibly overwhelming to know what you need reservations for, what you don’t etc etc. I’m going to break it down and make it simple, because you cant have The Ultimate Family Guide to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom without talking about food.
You can get drinks at any quick-service restaurant. The CHEAPEST way to refresh your thirst is by asking for a water. Everywhere will give you a cup of water for free. Every time we asked, they gave us a large fountain drink cup with a lid with plenty of ice. It was a great, free drink option for the Florida sun.
Snacks & Treats
So…the Dole Whip. It’s life-changing. Get it. Pay for it. Eat it. Maybe eat it twice. Also, mark on your map where the Liberty Square Market is (hint: it’s in the Liberty Square) as they carry fresh fruits etc. Awesome for overheated kids who just want a banana.
For quick meals (lunch), that will be under $15 a plate, you should probably stick with American food. The Lunching Pad has pretty good fare with great kid’s options (and has plenty of indoor seating). If you want Mexican, head to Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. Cool Ship and Cheshire Cafe are also good options for quick food.
Sit-Down Meals and Reservations
A must on The Ultimate Family Guide to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is talking about reservations. It’s so simple to make these. You literally just call the restaurant and make a reservation, or some even let you do it online. It’s stupid simple. Wait to make reservations until you’ve bought your tickets. Restaurants that you WILL need reservations for are Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest Restaurant. They are both expensive ($20-$60 a plate!), but offer themed dining with characters present. Reserve as SOON as you have your tickets ordered, because these fill fast.
IF YOU’RE PLANNING ON USING A TIME SHARE PRESENTATION TO SAVE ON YOUR TICKETS, READ MY POST ON HOW TO GET OUT OF A TIME SHARE PRESENTATION!
Parades are an excellent way to see characters up close and personal. Some parades will have dance parties where you can dance with characters etc. I LOVE the parades, but others use them as an opportunity to visit some rides with longer wait times. Since thousands of people line the streets to watch these parades, that means thousands aren’t in line for rides during the length of the parade. If you’re not interested in the parades, then take advantage of the shorter wait times.
Lastly, on the The Ultimate Family Guide to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the fireworks. You’re going to be exhausted. You’re going to want to leave. Your kids will be tired and sweaty and you will want to get them out of the park. DON’T LEAVE. Stay!!! End your night in front of Cinderella’s Castle for a 14 minute feature called Once Upon A Time. They literally illuminate the entire castle and put on a show you will not forget. If we’re honest, if it’s your first time at Disney (or your seventeenth) you will probably tear-up a time or two. It will hit you right in the childhood feels. The whole thing ends with fireworks that are over-the-top amazing. Try and get in front of Cinderella’s Castle for this. Head there about 20-30 minutes before it is scheduled to start, because everyone else will and you’ll want a good viewing spot. Keep in mind, small kids will probably need to be on your shoulders to see well. It’s worth it.
Do you have any additional tips to add to our The Ultimate Family Guide to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom? Share them in the comments! Feel free to share this post with anyone you know who is headed to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom soon so they don’t end up in the dark while they’re there!