Anytime we are near Florida we try to make a trip to Disney World. Even if it’s for only one day, a day at Disney is a good day! Since we’ve become accustomed to only a day trip to Disney, it’s important to know how to get the most out of our day. We usually pick Magic Kingdom for our trips since you get the most “Disney Like” experience. There are so many rides, restaurants and fun for everyone.
There are a couple things to keep in mind with our day plan for Magic Kingdom. First, we have three kids who are older school age children: 10, 8 and 6. Second, we have two boys and a girl so we have to keep everything gender equal. We don’t stop for pictures or autographs with characters (we usually book a character meal to incorporate character experiences into our day). Lastly, we start as soon as the park opens and stay until park closes.
All right, lets get started!
Fast Passes: Take advantage of Disney’s Fast Pass system whether you are staying on property or not. If you are staying at a Disney Resort you can reserve your Fast Passes 60 days before your trip. If you are not staying at a Disney Resort you can reserve 30 days before your trip.
We use our Fast Passes for the hard to get rides, or the must haves. Here’s how we used ours for the last trip at the end May – during the busy season:
Seven Dwarfs Miner’s Train
Big Thunder Mountain
Autographs with Elsa and Anna
Park Open at 8am:
Plan to be at the gates 30 minutes before the park officially opens. There is a fun show where Mickey, Minnie and friends open the park. It really starts your fun-filled day at the Magic Kingdom!
As soon as you walk into the park you will see Main Street. Be careful during this time! You have people stopping to take pictures, rushing to get to rides first, and so on. We usually take in the scene, get a quick picture of the castle and move on. We’ll come back to Main Street after the morning rush dies down.
We’ve found Adventure Land to be a good starting point because no one starts there. Plus, there is little shade in the afternoon and it gets really hot! We usually work our way through this section without needing a Fast Pass.
Start with the Jungle Cruise, which gets really busy after the first hour or so.
Next, go play at the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed. The tree house is a fun little walk and the kids can see scenes from the movie.
After that, take a ride on Aladdin’s Magic Carpet. Again, the carpets get busy quickly, so take a ride while there isn’t a line.
Next, jump on Pirate’s of the Caribbean. There is hardly ever a wait in the morning, however if you wait until afternoon you’ll be waiting for an hour or more.
There are some shows in Adventure Lane: Enchanted Tiki Room and Country Bear Jamboree. We don’t usually hit these on a day trip. There is a fun Pirate’s League show with Captain Jack Sparrow. This is worth stopping for if the times match up when you’re in Adventure Land.
Original Fantasy Land:
Depending on how important Fantasy Land is for you, you may want to start there first. We enjoy Adventure Land a little more, and don’t mind a wait on It’s a Small World and Peter Pan. Keep in mind you’ll be arriving in Fantasy Land around 9:30-10am if you’ve moved along quickly in Adventure Land. The park doesn’t start getting too busy until 10:30-11am.
When starting in Fantasy Land we usually head to Peter Pan first. If the line is less than 30 minutes, go ahead and use the stand by line. There are some fun, interactive features where the kids can try and catch Tinker Bell.
After Peter Pan, head straight over to It’s a Small World. The kids hate this ride, but it’s a classic! The ride will always have a line, but in the morning it’s less than 20 minutes.
Next, ask the group where they want to go, you can do The Haunted Mansion, if it’s age appropriate, or you could head over to Winnie the Pooh. We always opt for The Haunted Mansion, however Winnie the Pooh is another ride where the line tends to get long.
At this point it may be time for lunch or you may need a morning snack. For our morning snack we head over to Gaston’s Tavern for a cinnamon roll or sticky bun. If you’re ready for lunch we like to make reservations for Beast Castle around this time. It’s a perfect stop on the way to the new part of Fantasy Land.
After lunch we usually loop back to Big Thunder Mountain. I try to make the Fast Pass for noon, or around that time so we can enjoy Big Thunder Mountain and then the water ride Splash Mountain. Since we didn’t book a Fast Pass for Splash Mountain it’s a 45-minute wait. Ask your group if they would like to wait (our kids always do!).
Walk through Liberty Square and to Main Street. By this point mostly everyone has cleared out and you can get a picture in front of the castle. Depending on timing (and if you waited in line for Splash Mountain), we may try and catch the parade or the Dream Along with Mickey show at the castle.
After the parade, show, shopping or visiting Main Street, head back to Fantasy Land.
New Fantasy Land:
Our Fast Pass for Seven Dwarfs was at 2pm. So we made sure we were in the area around that time.
After the Seven Dwarfs, we checked the wait time for Winnie the Pooh since it’s right across from the Miner’s ride. If the wait time fits, we’ll get in line. If it’s too long, we’ll move on. You could also check times for Prince Charming’s Carousel or Mickey’s Philharmonic.
After this area, we are close to The Little Mermaid, so we’ll head that way. Just like with Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid has an interactive line, so we’ll use the stand by and let the kids play for a bit.
Next, head over to the Circus area. Over here you’ll find Dumbo, Goofy’s Barnstormer (a favorite!) and Casey Jr. Splash N Soak. The Circus area is fun for kids or all sizes! Usually it’s around 4pm by the time we get over here.
Dumbo has a new fun waiting area where you get a pager and when it’s your time to go on the ride, they will page you. The kids can play in the indoor play area and even a 45-minute wait goes quickly!
After Dumbo we’ll go to Goofy’s Barnstormer. This is a fun ride we try to fit in once or twice during the day. It’s a short ride so the line moves quickly. Be prepared, it’s not very shaded so it will be hot and sunny when you stand in the line.
Casey Jr. Splash N Soak is a great place for kids to just be kids! You can allow them to get wet (pack a bag with a swim suit, flip flops or change or clothes). This is also a cool place to sit and have a snack. Usually there is a churro, ice cream and pretzel cart. Grab a snack and let the kids run and play. Parents get to cool off too! Plan to spend 30 minutes to an hour here. It will be well worth the rest.
We usually book our dinning reservations around 7pm. After playing in Fantasy Land we have a little more time before heading to dinner. You can plan to go back to some of the rides and ride them again, loop back to some rides you may have missed, or you can move on to Tomorrow Land. We leave Tomorrow Land for the last thing since the lights are fun and there is zero shade in this area.
This is our last stop before the nighttime parade and fireworks!
We usually start with Buzz Lightyear since it has the longest ride. Since we’re fresh from dinner and bellies are full, we will wait in the line for Buzz. Take pictures along the way, there are some interactive areas.
After Buzz, check out times for the Laugh Floor. The Laugh Floor is really fun! It usually takes 15-20 minutes depending on if you can get in right away.
Next, head around the corner to the Speedway. This is one of my least favorite rides… but the kids love it. Go in the evening, trust me on this you don’t want to be there at 3pm! The Speedway is not a fast passed ride, take your time here and don’t go 30 minutes before the nighttime parade, you’ll miss it.
If you have time, stop by the People Mover. It gives a little fun sneak peak of bigger rides such as Space Mountain. Our kids are not old enough for that, but you do go into Space Mountain where it’s dark.
By this time, it’s time to find seats for the parade and fireworks. You’ve made it through 80 percent of the park, and trust me little ones are tired! Grab an ice cream cone, and find a seat for the evening activities!
One thing you’ll notice is we will go from open to close. It’s a little fast passed with stops for snacks, bathroom breaks, lunch and dinner, and fun to blow off steam. Trust me, letting the kids play at Dumbo and Soak N Splash will help you get through the evening. We try to plan a long line, or a stop to play every couple hours. This allows the kids to get off their feet and have rest time.
The other thing to keep in mind, this is a straight shot for the touring plan. My husband hates bouncing from one area to the next. Cut down on the back in forth by planning your lunch and dinner for which area you’ll be in at that time. Also, know where the bathrooms are!
Tip: when waiting in line, take bagged snacks from home (fruit snacks, granola bars, cheez-its) and cool water. If you have a deck of cards, or bubbles let the kids entertain themselves in the line.