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. Our Guide to The Magic Kingdom has been updated for Fall/Winter 2018 with all the latest information plus we have added several new sections. Please leave a comment on anything you think is inaccurate in this guide or essential information we have omitted.
Jump Right Into Our Guide to The Magic Kingdom
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.
- Magic Kingdom Basics the history of the Magic Kingdom and some fascinating facts
- Planning Your Visit to The Magic Kingdom All the Essential Knowledge to have a great vacation including Fastpass+ & Dining plus plenty of other useful information. In additions, there are Tips & Hints to have a great time in the Magic Kingdom.
- The Lands at the Magic Kingdom Learn all about the 6 lands on The Magic Kingdom.
- Parades and Entertainment at The Magic Kingdom all about the fantastic parades & shows you can see at The Magic Kingdom
- Special Events & Festivities at The Magic Kingdom During 2018 & Beyond Includes information on Christmas and Halloween 2018 at The Magic Kingdom.
- Magic Kingdom News & Rumours all the latest news and rumours at The Magic Kingdom
- Read More other planning tips from Modern Life is Good.
Magic Kingdom Basics
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 Major 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.
As the World’s Largest Theme Park, The Magic Kingdom has a lot of history and some fascinating statistics eg did you know that Prince Charming Regal Carousel was built in 1917 and was once located at Olympic Park in Maplewood, New Jersey?
Click on the link to see some of our favourite Magic Kingdom Facts.
Planning Your Visit to The Magic Kingdom
To experience the Magic Kingdom you should spend time planning your experience. The Magic Kingdom is the World’s most popular theme park and arriving without a plan can reduce the enjoyment of your day. It can also mean you miss out on your must-do attractions.
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. There are key booking windows to secure dining reservations and make ride reservations. We will guide you through all the Essential Magic Kingdom knowledge you need to enjoy your vacation.
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 complete fewer attractions. We have created a guide to Fastpass+ at the Magic Kingdom which you might find useful.
Before planning, attractions make sure everyone who wants to is big enough to ride. Disney enforces height limits rigidly. Not big enough to ride will 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.
Our Guide to Rider Switch & Height Restrictions has all the information you need to know.
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.
Walt Disney World has created a Disability FAQ which you also might find useful to check.
Our Guide to Disabilities at the Magic Kingdom has plenty of essential Information including ECV Hire, Dietary Issues and details on The Disability Access Service.
Dining at The Magic Kingdom
Whilst it might be the busiest and possibly best theme park in the World, The Magic Kingdom is not known for its outstanding culinary options. In my opinion, The Magic Kingdom probably offers the worse choice of dining options in all 4 Walt Disney World theme parks. Whilst you will not go hungry it is unlikely you will experience a sensational meal.
Although options are limited there is a selection of quick service, table service & signature locations. Plus in addition, there are various food carts serving a wide range of snacks. The Disney Dining Plan is accepted throughout & all venues cater for allergies. To learn more about Dining at Disney World visit our guide.
Table Service locations at the Magic Kingdom fill up fast & it is essential you arrange an Advanced Dining Reservation prior to your visit. 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 tips & hints in our guide Avoiding Crowds at Walt Disney World.
Meeting Characters at The Magic Kingdom
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.
Character Meals at The Magic Kingdom
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 early morning Magic Hours. If Magic Hours are operating very late they can offer a good opportunity to get extra rides complete. Our Guide to Extra Magic Hours provides further information.
Available to Hire at The Magic Kingdom
Do you need a wheelchair, stroller, locker, ECV or even an umbrella? Many articles are available to hire inside The Magic Kingdom. Look at the park map, the Disney Experience App or speak to Guest Relations for further information.
Guest Relations at The Magic Kingdom
Guest Relations are located inside City Hall on Main Street USA. Guest Relations provide assistance to all guests visiting Walt Disney World including help with reservations and general information. The following more specialist support is available:
- Accessibility information
- Ticket Questions
- Concerns & Complaints
- Foreign currency exchange
- Lost and Found
- Lost Guest retrieval
Baby Care Center at The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom Baby Care Center is located between Casey’s and The Crystal Palace on Main Street USA. The Baby Care Center at the Magic Kingdom provides a convenient place to feed, change and nurse little ones & is complimentary to use. The center is fully staffed, well maintained and has a good selection of equipment.
Top Tips, Mistakes & Must Do Attractions at The Magic Kingdom
Anybody who has ever visited The Magic Kingdom will have a list of Tips & Mistakes not to make at a future visit. Here is a selection of ours which we have learnt from previous visits. Learning from other guest’s experiences is a great way to create your Ultimate Magic Kingdom Plan.
Refurbishments & Closures
Walt Disney World is constantly changing and it almost inevitable there will be some refurbishments & closures whenever you visit. Visit this handy guide to see all the current refurbishments and closures
The Lands at The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is split into 6 themed lands. Previously there was a 7th land called Mickey’s Toontown Fair which merged into New 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.
On occasions; period transportation is available to take guests along Main Street to the Central Plaza. Main Street forms part of the parade route at The Magic Kingdom. 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 of The Magic Kingdom.
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 compared to Main Street USA.
The Current attractions in Frontierland 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! You take a journey by log raft to embark on a self-guided expedition into the heart of early America.
- Walt Disney World Railroad
Restaurant and refreshment stops include
- Diamond Horseshoe open seasonally as a table service buffet. Food includes BBQ pulled pork, sliced turkey, country smoked sausage or carved beef brisket.
- Golden Oak Outpost chicken nuggets
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café Mexican inspired counter service
- Westward Ho
- Aunt Polly’s Dockside Inn food stand located on Tom Sawyer Island
Themed after colonial America, Liberty Square is found in no other Disneyland Theme Park. Replicas of both the Liberty Bell and Liberty Tree are located in Liberty Square. 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 the park opened. 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 is a 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. Perhaps surprisingly this ride is better in the dark.
- 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 serving citrus swirl
- 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 was relaunched with a new menu in July 2018 as a Signature Restaurant. Guests still have the opportunity to meet Beast after dinner.
- Cheshire Café
- Cinderella’s Royal Table a signature Character meal.
- Friar’s Nook chicken nuggets & hotdogs
- Gaston’s Tavern
- Pinocchio Village Haus chicken parmesan sandwich, flatbread pizzas and pasta dishes
- 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 very long waits. Get a Fastpass!
- Stitch’s Great Escape! seasonal only attraction these days but likely to be closing soon. In fact, it probably already 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 at Tomorrowland 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 is a seasonal restaurant & if open the park is busy. It is also the venue for the Magic Kingdom Dessert Parties.
Parades and Entertainment at The Magic Kingdom
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.
Special Events & Festivities at The Magic Kingdom During 2018 & Beyond
Throughout 2018 there will be regular Special Events & Festivities at The Magic Kingdom. These special events help make a Disney Vacation extra special. We are now coming towards the end of 2018 which means party season in the Magic Kingdom.
Disney After Hours returned in 2018 with more dates & new dates have already been announced for 2019. 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.
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.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
Quite bizarrely this annual event started on the 17th of August this year. Is it just me but does mid-August seem a little early to be celebrating Halloween?
There are a host of new activities at this years party including:
- The Mad Tea Party will take you for a colourful ride as new lighting and effects give a new spin on the night.
- On Pirates of the Caribbean, new pirates invade the experience, interacting with sailing guests who will join the search for “Gunpowder Pete.”
- Space Mountain will feature a new soundtrack and special effects.
- Storybook Circus welcomes the Disney Junior Jam, a dance party featuring Disney Junior Characters, including Doc McStuffins.
Over at Disney Tourist Blog, they have already been and provided a report of this year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
Christmas at The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is transformed at Christmas with spectacular decorations & 2018 will be no different.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will also be making a return. This specially ticketed event will take place on select nights starting November 8. Highlights of the event will include:
- Holiday Wishes fireworks
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas
- Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration show
- Special character meet & greets including some very rare characters
- Complimentary cookies and cocoa.
Mickey Mouse is 90
Mickey Mouse is 90 on the 18th November and Disney parks around the world will be celebrating the special event. The day will be marked with commemorative merchandise, photo locations and more. However, the celebrations do not last just one day and through into 2019 Disney parks will be celebrating the “World’s Biggest Mouse Party“. Although not a lot has been released yet you can expect the Maic Kingdom to be central to the Disney World Celebrations.
News & Rumours 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.
At Modern Life is Good we try and keep you up to date with all the latest news from Walt Disney World including the Magic Kingdom. Visit our Walt Disney World News Section for all the latest information on The Magic Kingdom.
Read More Walt Disney World Tips
Our Guide to the Magic Kingdom for Beginners forms part of our Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners. The guide is a great starting place to plan any Walt Disney World Vacation. The information will be useful for both first-time and repeat visitors to Walt Disney World.
In additions, we have created a selection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips which might help your vacation planning.