Updated for Summer 2018 our Guide to The Magic Kingdom for Beginners is an essential guide to The Magic Kingdom for first-time visitors & experienced travellers. Find out all you need to know about the Magic Kingdom to help plan a fantastic Disney World vacation.
Jump Right In
Our Magic Kingdom for Beginners Guide is a large guide to help plan your Walt Disney World vacation. It forms part of our expanding Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners. If there is specific information you are looking for these jumps might help you find the information.
The Basics the history of the Magic Kingdom and some fascinating facts
Planning Your Visit Tips & Hints to have a great time in the Magic Kingdom. Includes information on Fastpass+ & Mistakes you want to avoid.
Parades and Entertainment including what is coming during Summer 2018
Coming Soon The Magic Kingdom what we can expect over the next few years
Read More other planning tips from Modern Life is Good.
The Magic Kingdom was the very first theme park to open in Walt Disney World on the 1st October 1971. Today it is the most popular theme park in the World. It often attracts large crowds and has a maximum capacity of 100,000 which is often reached on National Holidays.
The park’s icon is the blue & gold turreted Cinderella Castle which rises 189 feet above the park’s 142 acres. There isn’t a single brick in the castle with the whole structure being made of fibreglass.
Magic Kingdom’s layout and attractions are based on Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California. Although Walt Disney was heavily involved in the planning for Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom did not open until after his death.
Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney… and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney’s dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place … a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn together. Roy O. Disney, October 25, 1971
On opening, there were 23 attractions in The Magic Kingdom several of which are still open today.
Traditionally alcohol is forbidden in the park. In 2012 Be Our Guest became the first venue in the Magic Kingdom to sell alcohol but all other restaurants remained dry.
Recently other table service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom have started to sell a small quantity of alcohol. However; the relaxed drinking atmosphere of Epcot is unlikely to appear here.
Magic Kingdom Facts
As the World’s Largest Theme Park, The Magic Kingdom has a lot of history and some fascinating statistics. Click this link to see some of our favourite Magic Kingdom Facts e.g. did you know that the parking lot for the Magic Kingdom is bigger than the actual park?
Planning Your Visit
To experience the Magic Kingdom you should spend time planning your experience. It is unlikely you will manage to do all you want in just a 1-day visit. Most guests will need 2 or even 3 days to experience the full park.
Not having a plan could mean you miss your top attractions.
Fastpass+ is Disney’s attraction reservation system & allows you to book attractions in advance. It is important you understand Fastpass+ before your visit and the key booking windows. Failing to make fastpass+ reservations will mean longer lines and fewer attractions. We have created a guide to Fastpass+ at the Magic Kingdom which you might find useful.
Are the kids tall enough to ride?
Before planning, attractions make sure everyone who wants to is big enough to ride. Disney enforces height limits rigidly. Not big enough equal lost Fastpass.
- Tomorrowland Speedway 32″ of 54″ to drive
- The Barnstormer 35″
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 38″
- Big Thunder Mountain 40″
- Splash Mountain 40″
- Space Mountain 44″
- Plus if it ever reopens again Stitch’s Great Escape is 40″
However, if the kids are too small to ride it does not mean adults and older siblings can’t. Rider Switch, also sometimes known as child swap, allows guests with small children to take turns riding while another adult stays with the child.
Disabilities at The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom provides extensive facilities for all forms of disabilities including visual, auditory, mobility & cognitive disabilities. You are able to contact Walt Disney World at (407) 560-2547 or [email protected] prior to your visit to discuss your requirements.
Disney’s Advanced Dining Reservations are restaurant reservations made in advance at the majority of Disney Table Service Restaurants. The Magic Kingdom’s restaurants do fill up and standby lines, if they exist, can be long.
Our Guide to Advanced Dining Reservations has further information.
Want to avoid crowds on your vacation?
The Magic Kingdom is busy!
On occasions, it is very, very busy!!!
No matter when you visit you will meet some crowds. Sometimes the crowds will be light but on occasion, they might feel unmanageable.
However, you can still have a great day in the Magic Kingdom even when it is crowded.
You can read more advice & tips in our guide Avoiding Crowds at Walt Disney World.
Many of us will spend time whilst in the Magic Kingdom meeting characters & those with children are likely to spend considerable time doing so. Since the introduction of Fastpass+ you can cut waits to see some of the most popular characters by getting a Fastpass. However, failing to secure Fastpass can mean long waits. In addition, not all characters have a Fastpass option.
The Magic Kingdom is home to many of the classic Disney Characters. In the Magic Kingdom you are likely to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Aladdin, Tinkerbell, Ariel, Cinderella & many more.
Information on what characters are meeting is available on the My Disney Experience App. However; some characters do make unscheduled visits, although increasingly rare, and it is always worth enquiring with a cast member if you can’t find your favourite.
Meet and greets do vary throughout the year and rarer characters are available at both Halloween & Christmas parties.
Remember if you don’t want to spend time waiting for characters there are other ways to see many of your favourites. Our How To Find Characters in Walt Disney World Guide provides several hints and tips.
One way many guests choose to meet characters is by booking a character meal. Character meals offer an extra opportunity to meet some of your idols.
In the Magic Kingdom there are 2 Character Meals:
- Crystal Palace buffet meal with Winnie the Pooh and friends.
- Cinderella’s Royal Table set upstairs inside Cinderella Castle. Characters do vary but you can expect to meet Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora & Snow White.
Our Guide to Character Meals at Walt Disney World has further information.
Why not put a few extra park hours into your Magic Kingdom Plan? Wouldn’t it be even better if there were fewer guests?
Guests of Walt Disney World Resort Hotels & select non-Disney owned resorts can enjoy extra time in the Magic Kingdom several days each week. Extra Magic Hours occur either before parks open or after they close to regular guests.
However; remember there are 30000 hotel rooms in WDW so that is a lot of people who can attend. Extra Magic Hours can be very busy and will often significantly increase the numbers visiting. If you arrive late you can be greeted with a full park at 10 a.m. following morning Extra Magic Hours.
If you are not staying at a Disney Resort in our opinion you should avoid parks with Extra Magic Hours. Even guests staring at a Disney Resort might want to consider avoiding. Our Guide to Extra Magic Hours provides further information.
Top Tips, Mistakes & Must Do Attractions
Anybody who has ever visited The Magic Kingdom will have a list of Tips, Mistakes to avoid & Must-Do attractions for a future visit. Here is a selection of ours which we have learnt from previous visits. Learning from other guest experiences is a great way to create your Ultimate Magic Kingdom Plan.
In addition, we have also created a selection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips that will help your Magic Kingdom planning.
The Lands at The Magic Kingdom
The park is now split into 6 themed lands. Previously there was a 7th land called Mickey’s Toontown Fair which merged into Fantasyland during 2012 expansions.
The Walt Disney World Railroad circles around the entire 1.5-mile perimeter of the park and will make stops at Main Street, Frontierland, and Fantasyland.
Main Street, USA
Main Street USA is the first land you enter once heading through the gates of The Magic Kingdom. It is based on an early 20th-century small American town. The street is lined with shops selling merchandise and food. Most guest service facilities are on Main Street.
There are various characters that you can meet on Main Street but the most famous are Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell which are found in the Town Square Theater.
Main Street is a major part of the Magic Kingdom parade route and one of the most popular places to view firework displays.
On occasions; period transportation is available to take guests to the Central Plaza. The circular area around the Central Plaza is one of the most popular spots to watch parades and fireworks. The Central Plaza spokes out to the other lands.
The following dining locations are on Main Street
- Casey’s Corner serving hot dogs and fries.
- Crystal Palace has a character buffet with Winnie the Pooh & Friends which serves breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Main Street Bakery featuring Starbucks Coffee
- Plaza Ice Cream Parlor
- Plaza Restaurant table service sandwiches. Perhaps one of the worse value locations on the Disney Dining Plan
- Tony’s Town Square Restaurant which seems to be universally disliked but actually I quite like it.
Frontierland is the home to the American Old West of the 19th century. It forms part of the parade route and often quieter spots are found here.
Current attractions are
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad a mine-train wild roller coaster. Very popular attraction. Get a Fastpass to avoid long waits.
- Country Bear Jamboree a stage show with audio-animatronic figures. A sort of Disney Classic but really only serves as a place to get out the heat or have a mid-afternoon nap.
- Splash Mountain a classic log flume ride based on Song of the South & 1 of the best water rides in Orlando. Another for Fastpass or expect long waits.
- Tom Sawyer Island I have never actually been here!
- Walt Disney World Railroad
Restaurant and refreshment stops include
- Diamond Horseshoe open seasonally as a table service buffet.
- Golden Oak Outpost
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café
- Westward Ho
- Aunt Polly’s Dockside Inn
Liberty Square is the smallest land in the Magic Kingdom.
Liberty Square is the only land in the Magic Kingdom not to have had a major refurbishment since opening. All the opening attractions still exist in Liberty Square.
Current attractions are
- The Hall of Presidents a stage presentation of all the presidents in Audio-Animatronic form. Recently reopened with President Trump.
- Haunted Mansion classic Haunted House ride. Do not think this is the same type of haunted house you get at a travelling fair. The attraction is very impressive and should not be missed.
- Liberty Square Riverboat
- The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History opened in October 2016. Features Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and Sam Eagle.
The following dining locations are located in Liberty Square
- Columbia Harbour House serving fish and chicken.
- Liberty Tree Tavern family style Thanksgiving-themed meal. Plenty of food but not necessarily the best quality in Walt Disney World.
- Sleepy Hollow
Part tropical island, part jungle Adventureland takes us back to dreamt adventures of the past. It is divided into two sub-areas the Arabian Village and the Caribbean Plaza.
Current attractions are:
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room another Disney Classic which offers an excuse to escape the heat. The attraction was originally featured in Disneyland and was an opening day attraction at Walt Disney World.
- Jungle Cruise live commentated (mildly) humorous riverboat ride past audio-animatronic animals. A Disney classic attraction which is very popular and needs a Fastpass when the park is busy.
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin similar to Dumbo but you ride a carpet & might get wet.
- Pirates of the Caribbean the ride the film is based on is now based on the film!…. Confused? Jack wasn’t in the original attraction he is now. The attraction has gone through various modifications over the years the latest being in March 2018 with the introduction of Redhead Pirate.
- Swiss Family Treehouse climbing and exploring. Kids love this and it is very clever. A really good option when the park is crowded.
Dining options include
- Aloha Isle Refreshments serving the legendary Dole Whips.
- Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen based on the Jungle Cruise this new restaurant is becoming a favourite.
- Sunshine Tree Terrace
- Tortuga Tavern
If one land signifies what people think of when they think Disney World it is likely it is Fantasyland. The area went through a large expansion between 2012 and 2014 including the addition of new attractions. In the past, many visitors to Fantasyland may have left a little disappointed but now it reaches the levels of dreams.
It is now split into 3 sections Enchanted Forest, Storybook Circus & Castle Courtyard. Current attractions are:
- Ariel’s Grotto meet Ariel as a Mermaid
- Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid a new dark ride which is becoming a firm favourite. Perhaps the best dark ride in Disney World.
- Enchanted Tales with Belle guest participation and tales with Belle. Not a personal Favourite but kids do enjoy it. This one does get very busy & Fastpass often runs out.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a great little roller coaster with realistic audio-animatronics. Get a Fastpass or be ready for a very long wait.
- Mad Hatters Tea Party classical waltzer type ride.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh dark ride which some small children might find a little frightening. However, most guest will find it harmless bouncy fun.
- The Barnstormer is a short children’s roller coaster. It is a great introduction to coasters for small children.
- Casey Jr, Splash ‘N’ Soak Station
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant now with 2 carousels. Waits are much less than in the past.
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow meet popular Disney characters. Although subject to change since opening has been Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck and Goofy.
- Walt Disney World Railroad join the fantastic railroad in Fantasyland.
- It’s a Small World the annoying tune that will not leave your head but still a Disney classic. The first incarnation of It’s a Small World debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic 4D movie.
- Peter Pan’s Flight very popular dark ride which attracts very long waits. Get a Fastpass.
- Prince Charming Regal Carousel is a classic beautiful carousel.
- Princess Fairytale Hall meet a Disney Princess or 2.
Dining and refreshment options in Fantasyland include:
- Be Our Guest Restaurant quick service for lunch and breakfast. Table service for dinner which is being relaunched with a new menu July 2018.
- Cheshire Café
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Friar’s Nook
- Gaston’s Tavern
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- Prince Eric’s Village Market
- Storybook Treats Brilliant treats here! Have a chocolate pineapple on a stick. It is wonderful.
Tomorrowland is a 1950s vision of the future. Today that vision of the future looks rather odd but Tomorrowland still has some interesting attractions. However; if time is tight you may find the attractions in Tomorrowland are the least appealing in the park.
- Astro Orbiter a shuttle faster version of Dumbo.
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin popular ride with all Space Cadets but unfortunately not with me. Get ready to blast your guns.
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor interactive cartoon comedy. Very clever this attraction & rarely attracts a wait.
- Space Mountain classic dark roller coaster. It is pretty fast. It attracts long waits.
- Stitch’s Great Escape! seasonal only attraction these days but likely to be closing soon. In fact, it probably has.
- Tomorrowland Speedway ride race-cars. Despite its age, it is still a fun experience.
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover train ride above Tomorrowland. See Walt Disney’s original vision for Epcot as you ride this attraction.
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress catchy theme tune, look back at history and Walt Disney designed himself. What is the not to like? Plus it is cool when it is hot outside.
Dining and refreshment options are
- Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies
- Cool Ship
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café which is perhaps the worse place to eat in the whole of Walt Disney World.
- The Lunching Pad at Rockettower Plaza
- Tomorrowland Terrace Cafe
Parades and Entertainment
What makes the Magic Kingdom stand out compared to your average theme park is the number of additional acts you might see. Main Street USA is often the hive of activities including the famous Dapper Dans Barbershop Quartet. In addition, there will be regular shows on the Castle Stage. Currently, the show is Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire & there will be seasonal overlays at certain times of the year.
The entertainment starts each morning with the Let the Magic Begin welcome show which features Mickey and the Gang.
The current Main Street parade is Festival of Fantasy and is usually at 3 pm. The parade pays homage to the unbridled magic and vivid pageantry of Fantasyland and its many inhabitants. Characters do occasionally change but you may see up to 40 of your favourites. Common characters include Mickey, Minnie, Anna, Elsa, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, The Seven Dwarves, Tinker Bell, Peter Pan and Jiminy Cricket. This is a stunning parade and should not be missed.
The Move it! Shake it! Dance and Play it! Street party also occurs down Main Street several times a day. Whilst, not a true parade you may get the opportunity to see characters such as Genie, Nick Wilde, Woody & Mickey Mouse. The best place to watch this is at the Central Hub where Characters will take part in a dance party for around 10 minutes.
Disney announced the ending of the Electric Light Parade in October 2016 and as yet there is no replacement night parade.
Happily Ever After is the new fireworks show for 2017 replacing Wishes. This new show is the most spectacular in Magic Kingdom history.
Once Upon a Time is a nighttime spectacular that brings Cinderella’s Castle to life with projections of beloved Disney scenes and characters. Presented by Mrs Potts.
During Christmas and Halloween seasons, The Magic Kingdom offer special ticketed events called Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party & Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
These special events offer the opportunity to visit a quieter park, experience seasonal entertainment and meet some very rare characters.
Disney After Hours will be returning in 2018. This hard-ticket offering will be held on select nights during Summer 2018. This event is limited to a small number of guests, allowing attendees to maximise their time in the park with little to no wait at 25 attractions.
This summer Disney World has announced there will be an “Incredible Summer”. This Incredible Summer will include events at the Magic Kingdom.
The seasonal event will be The Incredible Tomorrowland Expo at The Magic Kingdom. Guests will party with Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone as The Incredibles Take Over Tomorrowland. For the first time, guests will get to see Edna Mode, the greatest superhero costume designer. Characters will interact with guests throughout the land. The festivities culminate with a “SUPER” dance party on the Rocket Tower Stage”.
Coming Soon The Magic Kingdom
The world’s busiest theme park never stays still for long. Back in 2012, we welcomed New Fantasyland. Several Magic Kingdom Updates have been announced for the next few years as it prepares for its 50th anniversary in 2021. Perhaps the biggest is the opening of a new Tron Coaster in Tomorrowland. You can read more about what is Coming to the Magic Kingdom in our guide.
Our Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners is a great starting place to plan any Walt Disney World Vacation. The information will useful for both first-time and repeat visitors.
We have created a selection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips which might help your vacation planning.