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The primary goal of this 1 day Magic Kingdom itinerary is to help you maximize your day. To me, that means getting on all the rides you want with the least amount of time on rides as possible.
However, it also means being able to enjoy some of the nuances and atmosphere of Magic Kingdom. The park itself is so beautiful and full of details, it would be a shame to miss out.
So, let’s put together the best 1 day Magic Kingdom touring plan we could come up with!
Table of Contents
Challenges in Creating a Magic Kingdom Itinerary in 2021
Let’s face it, the world as we knew it no longer exists. That is even apparent at the happiest place on earth. Disney has introduced a host of new rules that all guests must follow.
Before you do anything, make sure you understand all the changes that exist in Disney World today. Trust me, you don’t want to be surprised by many of these.
After that, take a look at all of my tips for going to Disney during a pandemic. It’s full of useful information to make your experience more enjoyable.
Beyond that, let’s talk specifics. The biggest thing when it comes to planning a Magic Kingdom touring plan in 2021 is the absence of FastPasses. That’s right, you can no longer reserve FastPasses for high demand rides. Or any ride, for that matter.
Because of the lack of FastPasses, it’s important to be even more strategic when it comes to planning out your day. Unless you want to stand in line for a bajillion hours. If that’s the case, you don’t need a plan at all.
The next issue is the reduced park hours. While this is gradually getting better, if you happen to be going at a “slower” time, the number of hours you can spend in the park is drastically less than it used to be. Like to the tune of only 9 hours a day.
Pay very close attention to the park hours as your trip gets closer. Disney waits until closer to the big day before extending hours. If they know crowds are coming, they add extra hours.
It would be really bad if you thought the park opened at 9a but it actually opened at 8a.
Can I Fit Everything Into a 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary?
The reality is that no, you can’t do everything at Magic Kingdom in only one day. Especially considering some of the reduced park hours that have been in place since reopening.
But even before that, Magic Kingdom has always been at least a 1.5 day park, preferably 2.
Magic Kingdom has the most attractions of any park. This is why it’s impossible to do everything in one day. It also spans a decent amount of territory, so plan on doing a lot of walking.
Pro Planning Tip: Before you go to Magic Kingdom have everyone make a list of their top 5 priority attractions. Use this as your starting point when deciding which rides you prioritize in your Magic Kingdom touring plan.
Magic Kingdom Map and Layout
As you can see, Magic Kingdom takes up a fair amount of real estate. The entrance is designed in such a way that you don’t get the full effect of the castle until you make the turn onto Main Street. It’s a stroke of brilliance, really.
The Castle and the circle area in front of it are considered The Hub. That is the central point for all the other lands to branch off from.
Magic Kingdom contains 6 different “lands”, each with it’s own theme and excitement.
- Main Street USA
- Liberty Square
You can find rides, attractions, and food in each and every land. You’ll never be without something to do at Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom Hours
Ever since the reopening, the park hours on a lot of days are significantly less than they used to be. However, all hope is not lost. Disney has consistently expanded the hours as necessary when they predict larger crowds.
At this time (March 2021) the standard Magic Kingdom hours are 9a-6p. Park hopping is available at Magic Kingdom from 2p until park closing.
However, this doesn’t mean those are the hours that will exist for you trip. For example, during the spring break time frame, the Magic Kingdom hours were extended to 8a-9p.
Like I said, keep an eye on the park hours in the week leading up to your trip to see if anything has changed. More hours in the park drastically increases possibilities.
What time should I arrive at Magic Kingdom?
With only one day to play with, you really want to get to Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning. There is just so much to do!
My #1 recommendation is to plan on arriving at Magic Kingdom approximately 1 hour prior to park opening. This is because they let guests into the park, and onto rides, 30-45 minutes before the park officially opens.
So if you walk through the gates right at park opening, you’re actually already 45 minutes late. And while you’ll still be able to get on rides pretty quickly, you miss a real sweet spot.
The exception to this rule is if rides are not a priority for you. If your main goal is to enjoy the atmosphere at Magic Kingdom, go on whatever rides are opportunistic, and eat some good food, then you get to sleep in!
If you fall into this category, I actually recommend that you avoid “rope drop” altogether. Plan to show up a little after park opening to avoid that initial rush of people instead.
Transportation to Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom has a plethora of transportation options all converging on it at once. Your primary transportation options are determined by your hotel. However, each type of transportation has it’s own little tips to know about in planning your Magic Kingdom itinerary.
All of the timing recommendations I give in this section are only if you plan to take advantage of the Magic Kingdom rope drop window. If you plan to get there later, you can ignore that part.
The Disney buses are actually one of the modes of transportation that bring you right up to the gates of Magic Kingdom in one fell swoop.
Bus transportation is offered to guests staying at Disney resorts.
That being said, they buses are not all sunshine and roses. There are plenty of pitfalls.
Due to reduced capacity and distancing requirements, the buses fit a lot less people than they used to. This has resulted in sometimes very long waits at bus stops. This is particularly true first thing in the morning.
If you plan to arrive at Magic Kingdom an hour before park opening, plan on getting to the bus stop at your resort 90 minutes before park opening. You want to be as close to the front of that line as possible.
This should hopefully relax as distancing rules requirements subside, but who knows when that will be.
Boat arrival is limited to some of the resorts in the Magic Kingdom area. Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian, Contemporary Resort, and Fort Wilderness all offer boat transportation to Magic Kingdom.
Honestly, aside from walking, taking a boat to get to Magic Kingdom is my favorite transportation option.
The lines are usually shorter for the boats than they are for buses, and even potentially the monorail. The boat ride itself is fairly short, but is also truly pleasant.
Who wouldn’t prefer a scenic boat ride?
But the main benefit is that the boats drop guests off directly at Magic Kingdom without needing to use a second form of transportation.
Let’s be real, if you have the option to walk to Magic Kingdom, it’s the best one for you to use. This allows you to take complete control of your arrival time. No pandering to the whims of the transportation Gods for you!
Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower offer the most convenient walking path to Magic Kingdom. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.
However, a brand new walking path connecting Grand Floridian Resort to Magic Kingdom opened up in 2020. Finally! Something good to come out of 2020…
While the walking path from Contemporary is shorter, the Grand Floridian walking path is way more scenic. There are plenty of pretty views to be had.
The Grand Floridian walkway is probably double the length of the Contemporary walkway.
Depending on how far you want to walk, this does open up the possibility of also walking from the Ticket and Transportation Center and the Polynesian Resort as well.
If you are walking to Magic Kingdom, aim to get to the security check point about 1 hour prior to park opening.
This is definitely the most famous of the Disney World transportation options. Many people want to ride it just to say that they did.
Unpopular opinion alert: I hate the monorail and avoid it whenever possible. There. I said it.
If you’ve never been to Disney before, absolutely take a ride on it just to have that experience. After that, meh.
Guests staying at Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Contemporary/Bay Lake Towers all have access to the monorail. These resorts are on their own separate line that takes them directly to Magic Kingdom, so no need to transfer.
If taking the resort monorail, get to the station an hour before park opening.
Cars/Ticket and Transportation Center
I put these in the same category because if you take a car to Magic Kingdom, you’re actually taking a car to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC).
The TTC is the transportation hub of Disney World. Here you’ll find guest services, a ferry boat, and monorails to both Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
Whether you drive to Magic Kingdom yourself, or take an Uber/Lyft, this is where you wind up. That means you need to budget for extra time in your travel to Magic Kingdom.
You not only need to get through the parking lot toll gates, you need to park, walk to TTC, choose your transportation, wait in line, and ride the transportation before you wind up in Magic Kingdom.
To get to Magic Kingdom you can choose either the monorail or the ferry boat. I think you can guess that I would recommend the ferry boat over the monorail…
If you plan on rope drop, make sure you are at the parking gates about 1 hour prior to park opening.
Magic Kingdom Rides
Before we start getting specific about our Magic Kingdom touring plan, let’s take a look at the plentiful rides and attractions there are at Magic Kingdom.
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- The Magic Carpets of Alladin
- Jungle Cruise
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Splash Mountain (40″ or taller)
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (40″ or taller)
- Tom Sawyer Island
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Tomorrowland Speedway (32″ or taller, 54″ to ride alone)
- Space Mountain (44″ or taller)
- Astro Orbiter
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- The Hall of Presidents
- Liberty Square Riverboat
- Haunted Mansion
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- “it’s a small world”
- Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid
- The Barnstormer (35″ or taller)
- Dumbo the flying Elephant
- Mad Tea Party
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (38″ or taller)
Magic Kingdom Rides with Highest Demand
Clearly, not all rides are created equal. Some of these rides should be either a walk on or a minimal wait at various points throughout the day.
Consequently, those are not the rides to prioritize first thing in the morning when there are lower crowds.
The absolute, number one ride to prioritize is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. If you want to ride it, rope drop is the time to do it.
For example, this morning as I write this, the posted wait time 20 minutes before park opening was 30 minutes. By 3 minutes after park opening the wait time is 65 minutes. It goes up that fast.
Other rides that experience long waits during the day:
- Splash Mountain
- Space Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Jungle Cruise
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Haunted Mansion
All of these rides might have pockets of lower wait times throughout the day, but they are often some of the longest waits in the park.
1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary
The main priority for this 1 day Magic Kingdom itinerary is to get your on as many rides as possible. That being said, I also want you to be able to take some time to simple walk around and soak in the atmosphere.
My family is full of fast walkers and highly motivated riders. As such, we think nothing of criss-crossing the park multiple times a day. This is perhaps not the most efficient thing in the world.
This touring plan will try to focus on keeping you from being too inefficient. Though it might be inefficient at times.
If you are game, pull out your My Disney Experience app and be entirely opportunistic once you see what rides have the shortest lines. You’ll log a lot of miles, but you’ll get on a lot of rides.
But, for a more moderated plan, I present to you my 1 day Magic Kingdom itinerary.
Morning Magic Kingdom Touring Plan
As I mentioned before, you want to arrive for Magic Kingdom rope drop. The following plan only works if you are there as they quietly let guests into the park early.
It’s important to note that not all of the rides start running during rope drop. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a guarantee, as is Peter Pan’s Flight. Oddly, the Regal Carrousel also starts running early.
Other rides will allow lines to start forming outside the queue (making them look extremely long), but they won’t start running the ride until park opening.
However, this changes daily so it’s hard to predict which rides will be open early and which won’t.
Step 1: Head to Fantasyland
The very first ride you’ll head for is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. As I mentioned before, the wait time swells for this ride extremely fast. If you aren’t there for rope drop, skip this step and wait until closing time for Mine Train.
As soon as you get off Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, head to Peter Pan’s Flight. Peter Pan’s Flight has a notoriously long line later in the day so now is a good time to get on it.
After that, it’s time to head to the Wild West.
Step 2: Blaze a Trail to the Wilderness
Finishing off at Peter Pan’s Flight already puts you on the path to Frontierland. It often takes longer for the crowds to penetrate into Frontierland, so it’s a great place to go next.
Pro Planning Tip: Instead of staying on the paved path, veer to the right onto the boardwalk after the Liberty Square Riverboat. This takes you along the water and is rather picturesque. A great way to enter the land efficiently and snag some ambiance.
The next ride on your list is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Depending on the timing, the ride might not be running yet, but get in line anyway. If Thunder Mountain isn’t running, the other rides aren’t running yet either.
By getting your spot in line now you’ll have a very short wait once the ride starts running.
After Thunder Mountain, it’s time for some Splash Mountain. This ride is on the long side, which is what makes it great. However, you’re getting on early enough that it shouldn’t impact the rides you go to after. Yet.
There were a couple times I’ve been there when Splash hasn’t opened up first thing. If it’s not running yet, DO NOT get in line. It would waste too much of your time right now.
Step 3: Argh Matey, It’s Time for an Adventure!
Since you’re right next door to Adventureland, it’s an easy pop on over to Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise. Prioritize which ride you want more, just in case the crowds start catching up with you.
If you get off of one of them and the line is still low for the other, hop on board. If not abandon ship for something more opportunistic.
Both Jungle Cruise and Pirates have had longer lines than normal later in the day because of distancing on the boats. However, that is starting to diminish somewhat now as plexiglass is installed.
Step 4: Pick Up Some Hitchhiking Ghosts
Things will start getting tight right around now. Guests are getting off of Mine Train and fanning out. However, this still seems to be a good time to try for Haunted Mansion. You’re right there, after all.
Haunted Mansion lines typically seem to stay low for a little while in the morning. I think this is partly due to the fact that it’s a continuously loading ride. It simply keeps moving, allowing fast turnover.
If the posted wait time is 20 minutes or less, you’ll get on with very little wait. You might even walk on.
Step 5: Be Opportunistic and Slow Down
The first part of this Magic Kingdom itinerary is admittedly a full on rush. You want to get as much done as you can before the lines get long.
That means no stopping to smell the roses until the wait times start to swell. Check your My Disney Experience app and see where things are at.
This is a good time to perhaps grab a morning snack while you check out the app for the wait time situation. You’re at Magic Kingdom, so I see no problems with having a Dole Whip for a morning snack!
Plan to head back towards Fantasyland at this point and focus on going on any rides that have a short-ish line. “it’s a small world” is the first ride you’ll come across as you head back so it makes sense to try to get on that now.
At this point you’ve been on a fair number of rides, hopefully 6-8. Keep in mind, on a day that’s just more crowded, you won’t quite get 8 done, but you hopefully should get on at least 6.
Afternoon Magic Kingdom Itinerary
Now that you’ve had a successful morning it’s time to transition into the afternoon. Your level of productivity will slow down a bit in the afternoon, but that’s not a bad thing.
As you move into the peak of the afternoon, your general rule of thumb for wait times should be 30 minutes. Anything above that and you want to wait until a little later in the day.
Keep an eye on the Tomorrowland lines. Oddly, the attractions there (Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and Tomorrowland Speedway) have posted some relatively low wait times in the afternoons ever since the reopening.
Step 6. Time for a Relaxing Lunch
Even with a morning snack, you should be getting fairly hungry. It sure is a good thing that lunch time is coming up!
If you want to eat at one of Magic Kingdom’s table service restaurants, I highly recommend you make a reservation at lunch time instead of dinner.
The reason for that is simple: early to mid-afternoon is the busiest time of the day in terms of ride lines. Conversely, around dinner time is when wait times start to go down again.
By strategically scheduling your lunch to be slightly later, you can successfully occupy yourself while the crowds start to surge.
On average, a table service meal takes about an hour to an hour and a half. This allows you to have a great meal, sit in some air conditioning, and take a break after that fast paced morning.
This won’t allow you to miss all of the crowds, but it sure will help.
If the park hours for the day you plan to be at Magic Kingdom are from 9a-6p, this tip becomes especially important. You do not want to waste time at the end of the day eating at a restaurant.
Pro Planning Tip: An alternate idea is to schedule your dining reservation for right at park closing. This allows you to still enjoy the whole park day, but have the bonus experience of letting the park empty out while you eat. As you walk back through the park it should be mostly empty!
This particular pro planning tip works best on the day the park closes at 6:00p because that is the time of the last reservation you can make.
Step 7: Take Stock and Head to the Classics
By now, the crowds have definitely descended upon Magic Kingdom. Before you leave the table after lunch, it’s time to pull out My Disney Experience again.
Take a look at the wait times of the rides you still want to get on. For the afternoon, you’ll be mostly opportunistic, taking advantage of whatever attractions happen to have lower wait times.
This is a great time to contemplate doing some of the less popular, but quintessential, Magic Kingdom experiences.
There are a host of classic Disney attractions to choose from at Magic Kingdom. Because they aren’t flashy with tons of bells and whistles, they are often overlooked.
This makes them perfect options for a crowded afternoon. Consider the following attractions:
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
- Hall of Presidents
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Enchanted Tiki Room
- Liberty Square Riverboat
- Tom Sawyer Island
- Swiss Family Tree House
As you can tell by this list, there are quite a few options to choose from. On the busiest days of the year these attractions will also have a long line, but for the most part, you should have a long wait compared to everything else.
The PeopleMover is seriously one of my favorite rides at Magic Kingdom. What’s not to love about a ride that’s usually a walk-on, allows you to sit and rest, and takes you on a zippy jaunt around Tomorrowland?
During this time frame you are also keeping an eye on rides like Under the Sea, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, the Carrousel, and so on. But seriously, don’t get in these lines if they are long. Under the Sea should never be done with a long wait.
Step 8: Enjoy the Ambiance
This part of the afternoon is an ideal time to take a minute to smell the roses. Yes, you’ll need to smell the roses while also managing thousands of other people, but it’s doable.
Perhaps pop into some stores you have your eye on. Or explore the nooks and crannies of the park. There are details everywhere.
You could also make a game of trying to find as many hidden Mickeys as possible.
Magic Kingdom Touring Plan for the Evening
As the afternoon turns to evening, it’s time to switch it into high gear again.
Step 9: Monitor Wait Times for Must Do Rides
By this point you probably have a sizeable list of rides you still want to get on. As the day inches closer to closing, the more people start to leave.
It’s important to prioritize which rides are essential the happiness of your crew. Focus on those, even if the line is a wee bit longer than you’d like.
Anything extra after that is simply a bonus.
Step 10: Have an Early Dinner (or Skip It Entirely)
If the park is closing at 6:00p, it is NOT a good idea to take time for dinner during park hours. You’ll just miss too much. You’re better off waiting until after you leave the park eat a meal.
In the meantime, enjoy snacks to keep everyone from getting hangry.
The exception to this is potentially a very late lunch/early dinner time frame. If this falls into the busiest part of the day, even better.
If the park is closing at 7:00p or later you have a bit more wiggle room. For a 7p close, I would probably grab a quick service dinner around 4:00p. For closing times later than that, I’d stick with a 5:00-5:30p dinner.
The reason for this is simple: the later the park is open, the higher the chance that wait times will drop significantly. Most families with young children won’t stick around for 12 hour days.
Step 11: Take a Trip to the (Retro) Future
If you haven’t gotten on any of the main attractions in Tomorrowland, that’s your first priority. Space Mountain is obviously the big draw here, but Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin is also a fun ride.
The line for Astro-Orbiter can be surprisingly long, especially during the reopening. This is largely because of the need to take elevators up and down from the roof. It really slows up the works.
Step 12: Anything Left on Your List
If the park closes at 6p, your window of opportunity for this is very small. But if you’re lucky enough to have a later park closing time, you’ll be able to get quite a bit done.
This is your last chance to get on priority rides, or to simply re-ride favorites from earlier in the day.
There are some rides which are even more fun after the sun sets. The darkness either provides great views or a different riding experience. Our family favorite is Big Thunder Mountain at night.
The dark makes the ride feel faster, the views of a lit up Magic Kingdom are great, and you can usually walk on. What’s not to love?
Step 13: Hop in a Line Right Before Closing
The very last thing you’ll do for the day is get in line for a ride a few minutes before closing time. Once you are in line, they run the ride until the queue is empty.
This is another great way to get on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with minimal wait. If you weren’t able to ride it earlier in the day, this is the obvious choice now.
Alternately, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is another ride that’s fun to compare a day time and a nighttime ride.
But really, this is your opportunity to get on any ride you couldn’t get on earlier in the day due to long lines.
The extra bonus: once you get off the ride the park has less people in it, giving you a neat opportunity to slowly walk through the park soaking up the ambiance.
Atmosphere and Other Things to Catch
cavalcades, character appearances, shops
Aside from attractions, there are other things to enjoy at Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, many of the most exciting “extras” are not currently available.
There are no fireworks, stage shows, parades, or character meet ‘n greets right now. Hopefully they’ll start to come back soon, but in the meantime, don’t fret.
Character Cavalcades are perhaps my favorite thing to come out of the reopening changes. Think of these as mini-parades that happen spontaneously throughout the day.
No need to stake out a parade spot hours in advance, effectively wasting part of your day. If you’re along the parade route and start hearing music, find a spot and enjoy.
Distanced character experiences are also surprisingly fun. In fact, I prefer this to waiting in line for hours to meet a character. Characters pop up at various locations around the park. The hottest spot is up on the Magic Kingdom train station platform at the entrance.
Magic Kingdom is also full of interesting shops which are fun to explore.
And of course, there’s simply the fun of experiencing the fully themed lands. I wonder how many people miss the beauty of the Tangled area because they just aren’t paying attention?
Tips for Creating Your Magic Kingdom Touring Plan
- Disney often inflates the posted wait times on the app and directly on the ride. They do this to try to control traffic. While not always the case, you can typically assume the wait is less than what’s posted
- A 5-10 minute posted wait time means walk on
It is 100% possible use this Magic Kingdom itinerary to have a full (and fulfilling) day. But as I’m sure you can see from the rather long list of attractions, it’s likely not possible to tick all the boxes.
That’s why I recommend coming up with a priority list before you even arrive at the park. Once you make it all the way through that list, then you can set your sights on having bonus experiences.
Do you have an alternate Magic Kingdom itinerary that works well? Or perhaps you have some tips I haven’t included here. Let me know in the comments below.