If you’re planning a trip to Disney World, Magic Kingdom is sure to be a big part of your trip. Magic Kingdom is the original Disney World park and has something for everyone. This is where you’ll find many of the best-known rides and attractions, the fireworks, incredible parades, and it’s home to most of the Disney princesses! You’ll want to spend at least a day here, or two or more if you’re there for a lengthier trip. But no matter how long you spend or how many times you visit, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do everything. So here’s a list of 20 things that you really must experience, along with a little strategy about how to work them in!
1. Magic Kingdom Welcome Show:
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the world’s most visited theme park and hosts a whopping 17 million visitors each year! So, even if you’re lucky enough to go at a time when crowds are lower, there are still likely to be quite a few people right there along with you! One of the best ways to beat the lines is to be there for park opening and then make a beeline for your favorite popular ride. There’s a benefit to getting up so early though! Every day at park opening, Mickey and friends greet Magic Kingdom guests with a 10 minute welcome show, featuring music, merriment and daytime fireworks. It’s a great way to start your day!
2. Big Thunder Mountain:
Did you know that people tend to start at the right when they enter a theme park and then move counter-clockwise? So, a great idea is then to start the day on the left side of the park and move clockwise. This approach will take you to Adventureland early in the day, where you’ll find Big Thunder Mountain. Big Thunder is one of Disney World’s most popular rides, so you won’t want to miss it. This ride takes you on an out-of-control mining train through an abandoned mineshaft in the ghost town of Tumbleweed. It’s a thrill ride, but it’s also family-oriented, although it’s not for the timid rider! It’s a great one to do first thing, before the lines get too busy.
3. A Pirates’ Adventure – Treasure of the Seven Seas:
This is a fun treasure hunt for all ages. Guests join Captain Jack Sparrow in up to 5 separate missions on a quest to find treasure around the park. Guests receive a treasure card for each mission that they complete. Each mission takes about 20 minutes. And in breaking news, it has just been announced that guests completing 3 or more missions will now receive an extra Fastpass+, specifically for Pirates of the Caribbean. That’s a pretty hot item! Then head straight to Pirates of the Caribbean with your brand new shiny Fastpass+.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean:
Now hop aboard a pirate barge for a high-seas adventure on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This is the ride that inspired the 5 blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It’s also considered to be one of the most spectacular theme park attractions ever created. When the ride first debuted, the audio-animatronic features were unlike anything ever before seen. This ride is enjoyable in and of itself, but there’s also an impressive history here and it’s actually a ride for the whole family.
5. The Pirates League:
If a pirate’s life be your thing, step right next door into the Pirates League for a full-scale pirate makeover, involving beards, scars and tattoos. There are several different packages, including a mermaid package for the girl who doesn’t quite want to take on the life of a swashbuckler, but might want to join the rest of the family in their new life on the high seas. Then it’s time for a pirate lesson before you take the pirate oath. The Pirates League is only open from 9 to 2, so you definitely need to do this earlier in the day.
6. Dole Whip:
Before you leave Adventureland, stop by the Aloha Isle stand and treat yourself to a Dole Whip. This is one of the iconic Disney World treats and it’s insanely popular. It’s a frozen treat, blended in pineapple, vanilla or swirled flavors. You’ll see half the park eating these on a hot day!
7. Splash Mountain:
In the adjacent Frontierland, make sure to ride Splash Mountain. This is a log flume ride that features the characters and songs from Song of the South and it’s one of Disney’s best-known rides. It seems like a cute little easygoing ride until the 5-story drop at the end, so make sure that you can handle that before you ride! If you do ride, know that you will get wet and you will have your picture taken!
8. Be Our Guest:
If you’re actually doing this as it’s listed here, you’re probably starving by now, so head on over to Be Our Guest, the newest restaurant at Magic Kingdom, located in Beast’s Enchanted Castle in Fantasyland. This restaurant offers quick-service breakfast and lunch and a sit-down, more formal dinner. This is a must-do, both for the food, and for the experience. The Castle is intricately designed to be just like Beast’s Castle and you can dine in one of 3 rooms, the Grand Ballroom, the Library or the West Wing Study. The food is French-inspired and the menu even features “the grey stuff.” You will need a reservation though!
9. Enchanted Tales with Belle:
One of the newer attractions at Magic Kingdom is the Enchanted Tales with Belle experience, which is a reenactment of the Beauty and the Beast story. Guests enter through Belle’s cottage and are transported to the library of Beast’s Castle through the magic mirror, which actually grows in size to become large enough for guests to step through. This experience is really fun for families, as cast members will find a part for every child and even every grown up who wants to participate. Guests have a very small group encounter with Belle at the end of the show and take pictures. The animatronics are so impressive that it’s a must do for everyone. You’ll swear you’re talking to the real Wardrobe!
10. It’s a Small World:
Located close by, still in Fantasyland, is It’s A Small World. This is arguably one of Disney’s most famous rides and it certainly features one of the most famous songs, so you really have to ride it! The message of world peace was an important one to Walt Disney and it gives guests a glimpse of an important part of his vision.
11. Peter Pan’s Flight:
Right across from It’s A Small World, you’ll find Peter Pan’s Flight, where guests can fly over London on their way to Never Land with Peter Pan. This is a great family ride and is one of the most popular Magic Kingdom rides that consistently has one of the highest wait-times, every day, all day. This is a good ride to Fastpass+!
12. Meet a Character:
Magic Kingdom is an excellent place to meet characters! It’s home to most of the Disney princesses, Tinker Bell, Merida and many of the traditional characters as well, like Mickey and friends, Peter Pan and Captain Hook. The characters can generally be found in the appropriately-themed area. For example, the princesses can generally be found in Fantasyland, near their particular castles or rides. Check the daily schedule for times and locations for all of your favorites.
13. Space Mountain:
Space Mountain is one of Disney’s scariest rides – a fast-moving roller-coaster with steep drops and sharp turns – in the dark! It’s meant to make guests feel that they are travelling in space and was built with creative input from NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper, to make sure that it felt realistic.
14. Plaza Ice Cream Parlor:
Step back in time to the days of Walt Disney’s childhood and have some hand-scooped, delicious ice cream, a waffle cone sundae or a milkshake at this ice cream parlor located on Main Street. Then take your ice cream treat with you to enjoy as you stake out a place to watch the Festival of Fantasy parade on a hot Florida afternoon!
15. Festival of Fantasy Parade:
The Festival of Fantasy Parade takes place each afternoon. This parade features the characters from Fantasyland and their stories. There is no parade like a Disney parade and this one is definitely worth seeing!
16. Take a Picture in Front of the Castle:
Magic Kingdom has so many beautiful spots to take photographs, but the best, most iconic place to take a photo is in front of the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey, located in front of Cinderella’s Castle. It will be a memento your magical vacation for years to come!
17. Have a Meal at Cinderella’s Castle:
You’ve come all the way to Disney World, so you might as well go all out and dine with royalty! Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table, right inside her castle. You’ll meet Cinderella herself as well as several other princesses while enjoying a royal feast overlooking Magic Kingdom. But for this one, you need to make your reservations 180 days in advance!
18. Main Street Electrical Parade:
Every night, after dark, there is a spectacular electrical parade featuring floats covered in half a million lights. Wow that’s bright! Tinkerbell leads the way, lighting up the park with a wave of her wand, followed by glorious glowing, spinning floats featuring characters, dancers and other entertainment. The parade ends with a tribute to America that is very inspirational. This is unlike any parade that you’ll see elsewhere.
19. Wishes Nighttime Spectacular:
Every night at Magic Kingdom, weather permitting, Disney puts on one of the most spectacular fireworks displays you will ever see, called the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. This is a 12 minute fireworks display, narrated by several Disney characters to a background medley of popular Disney music. The story involves a battle between Disney villains and the power of believing in dreams. Even if you’re a jaded old soul, you’re likely to feel inspired. You’ll also see Tinkerbell fly out of the castle overhead, which is a spectacular sight. It’s worth sticking around late for!
20. The Kiss Goodnight:
Every night, 30 minutes after regular park closing, the lights on Cinderella’s Castle sparkle for 2 minutes, while soft music plays in the background to a softly spoken speech about magic and dreams coming true. It’s a gentle way that Disney World says good night to its Magic Kingdom guests. If you’re in the park for Extra Magic Hours, you’ll likely hear it. It plays again one hour later and then 30 minutes after that. It’s a wonderful way to end a day in the park, but hopefully not the same day that you also got there for the Magic
21. Kingdom Welcome Show!
There’s still so much more to do at Magic Kingdom, but if you can get all of these items in, you’ll be hitting up some of the best experiences! Enjoy!
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