Our Guide to The Magic Kingdom for Beginners is an essential guide to The Magic Kingdom for first-time visitors & experienced travelers. 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 2020 with all the latest information.
Jump Right Into Our Guide to The Magic Kingdom
Our Magic Kingdom for Beginners Guide is an extensive resource to help plan your Walt Disney World vacation. It forms part of our expanding Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners, which is full of planning tips & tricks.
If there is specific information you are looking for these jumps will 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+, Extra Magic Hours and Rider Switch.
- Useful Information when visiting the Magic Kingdom If you have a question about the Magic Kingdom you will probably find the answer here.
- Top Tips, Mistakes & Must-Do Attractions at The Magic Kingdom
- The Lands at the Magic Kingdom Learn all about the 6 lands on The Magic Kingdom. Information on all attractions and dining options. Plus if you want to go straight to a specific land click these links:
- Main Street, USA
- Liberty Square
- 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 Includes information on Christmas and Halloween parties at The Magic Kingdom.
- Magic Kingdom News & Rumors all the latest news and rumors at The Magic Kingdom
- Read More other Walt Disney World planning tips from Modern Life is Good.
Magic Kingdom Basics
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
The Magic Kingdom was the very first theme park to open in Walt Disney World on the 1st of 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. Despite its appearance, there isn’t a single brick in the castle, with the whole structure being made of fiberglass.
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.
On opening, there were 23 attractions in The Magic Kingdom, several of which are still open today.
As the World’s Largest Theme Park, The Magic Kingdom has a lot of history and some interesting statistics, e.g. did you know that Prince Charming Regal Carousel was built in 1917? You can find some of our
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 is unlikely you will manage to do all you want in just a 1-day visit.
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.
Magic Kingdom Park Hours
Park hours are published about 6 months in advance. However, they often get extended as you come closer to the actual date! Click the link to get all the latest Walt Disney World Park Hours.
Refurbishments & Closures
The Magic Kingdom 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.
Fastpass+ at The Magic Kingdom
FastPass+ is Disney’s attraction reservation system & allows you to book attractions in advance of your visit. It is essential you understand FastPass+ before your visit and the key booking windows. Failing to make Fastpass+ reservations will mean longer lines and completing fewer attractions.
We have created a guide to Fastpass+ at the Magic Kingdom which includes our top hacks to have a great day.
Are the kids tall enough to ride?
Before planning, attractions make sure everyone who wants to is big enough to ride. Disney enforces height restrictions rigidly, and you will lose FastPass+ reservations
The following height restrictions are enforced at the Magic Kingdom:
- 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 has all the information you need to know.
What about crowds at the Magic Kingdom?
No matter when you visit the Magic Kingdom, there will be crowds. However, you can still have a great day in the Magic Kingdom even when it is crowded.
Extra Magic Hours at The Magic Kingdom
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, there are a lot of guests staying each night at Disney properties.
Guests not staying at a Disney Resort should also be aware of Extra Magic Hours as parks will usually be more crowded on these days.
You can find out more in our Guide to Extra Magic Hours including tips on whether you should consider attending.
Alcohol at the Magic Kingdom
Traditionally alcohol was forbidden in the Magic Kingdom. 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.
Dining at The Magic Kingdom
While 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 our opinion, The Magic Kingdom probably offers the worse choice of dining options at all 4 Walt Disney World parks. While you will not go hungry, it is unlikely you will experience a sensational meal.
There is a selection of quick service, table service & signature locations at the Magic Kingdom. There are also various food carts serving a wide range of snacks. Table Service locations at the Magic Kingdom fill up fast & you should arrange an Advanced Dining Reservation prior to your visit.
To learn more about Dining at Disney World visit our guide.
Meeting Characters at The Magic Kingdom
Many of us will spend time while in the Magic Kingdom meeting characters & those with children are likely to spend considerable time doing so.
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. Meet, and greets do vary throughout the year, and rare characters appear at both Halloween & Christmas parties.
Information on what characters are meeting is available on the My Disney Experience App. Remember, if you don’t want to spend time waiting for characters, there are other ways to see many of your favorites, including watching parades. Also, FastPass+ is available for some characters.
Our How To Find Characters in Walt Disney World Guide has further information including top character spotting tips.
Character Meals at The Magic Kingdom
In the Magic Kingdom, there are 2 Character Meals which offer a great opportunity to meet your idols:
- 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.
In addition, although not strictly a character meal, the Beast meets guests after dinner at Be Our Guest.
Our Guide to Character Meals at Walt Disney World has further information.
Useful Information when visiting the Magic Kingdom
Sometimes it is difficult to find the answers to all your questions before visiting the Magic Kingdom. We have created a new section on Modern Life Is Good which answers many of these questions about the Magic Kingdom.
If you have a specific Magic Kingdom question the links will take you straight to the advice:
- Guest Relations at The Magic Kingdom
- Available to Hire at The Magic Kingdom
- Disabilities at The Magic Kingdom
- Accessing the Internet
- Lost & Found at the Magic Kingdom
- Smoking at the Magic Kingdom
- Charging your Mobile Phone at the Magic Kingdom
- Baby Care Center at The Magic Kingdom
- Locker Hire at The Magic Kingdom
- Payment for Goods & ATMs at The Magic Kingdom
- Pregnant at the Magic Kingdom
- What you should pack in your Park Bag
- Magic Kingdom Tours
- Translation Services at the Magic Kingdom
In addition, you might find our Walt Disney World Useful Information Guide has the answer if it isn’t here.
Top Tips, Mistakes & Must-Do Attractions at The Magic Kingdom
Anybody who has ever visited The Magic Kingdom will have a list of Tips & Tricks for a future visit. Here is a selection of ours which we have learned on previous visits.
The TopMagic Kingdom Hacks for 2020
- Our Magic Kingdom Mistakes to avoid when on vacation
- Our Magic Kingdom Must-Do Attractions
- If time is tight these are attractions we would consider skipping
- We have recently considered what we love and what we hate at the Magic Kingdom
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. Currently, the Walt Disney World Railroad is closed due to construction work on the new Tron Coaster. There is no confirmation of when the attraction will reopen.
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 located 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 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, 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 to watch, 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. Make sure you ride it in the dark when it becomes a sensational dark ride.
- 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 very long waits.
- Tom Sawyer Island 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 at Frontierland 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-day 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 traveling fair. The attraction is very impressive and should not be missed.
- Liberty Square Riverboat we recently sailed on this again after many years. It is a great way to spend a relaxing half-hour! We recommend you take a little time-out and ride the Liberty Square Riverboat.
- The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History made an unexpected reopening for Christmas 2019 but isn’t expected to reopen again.
The following dining locations are located in Liberty Square
- Columbia Harbour House serving fish and chicken. In our opinion, this is one of the best quick-service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom.
- 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 that 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. Usually does not require a Fastpass.
- 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 Modern Life is Good Favorite.
- Sunshine Tree Terrace serving citrus swirl
- Tortuga Tavern
If one land signifies what people think of when they think Walt Disney World it is likely it is Fantasyland.
The area went through a massive 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.
- Ariel’s Grotto is a meet & greet with Ariel as a Mermaid. We often wonder how kids don’t seem confused by the various presentation of Ariel!
- Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid a new dark ride, built during the expansion, which is becoming a firm favorite. 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, this is the most popular attraction in the park.
- Mad Hatters Tea Party classical waltzer type ride. You will find the Alice and Mad hatter often ride the last ride of the day!
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a dark ride which some small children might find a little frightening. However, most guests 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, but it is quicker than you expect.
- Casey Jr, Splash ‘N’ Soak Station a fun wet zone for younger children.
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant now with 2 carousels. Waits are much less than in the past. Is this ride the ultimate Walt Disney World Classic?
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow allows you to meet popular Disney Characters. Characters from October 2019 are Daisy, Minnie, Goofy & Donald.
- Walt Disney World Railroad joins 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. This is a great movie but it is blurry. Having recently visited the Disneyland Paris Version…this version needs updating!
- Peter Pan’s Flight very popular dark ride which attracts very long waits. Get a Fastpass.
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel is a classic beautiful carousel.
- Princess Fairytale Hall
your opportunity to meeta Disney Princess or 2.
Dining in Fantasyland the Magic Kingdom
Dining and refreshment options in Fantasyland include:
- Be Our Guest Restaurant quick service for lunch and breakfast. A signature table service for dinner. Guests still have the opportunity to meet Beast after dinner. However, we think breakfast is the best.
- 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!
- Big Top Souvenirs My favorite treats at Walt Disney World
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 lengthy wait.
- Space Mountain is a classic dark roller coaster. It is pretty fast. It attracts very long waits. Get a Fastpass!
- Tomorrowland Speedway ride race-cars. Despite its age, it is still a fun experience. The track has recently been shortened to make way for the new Tron Coaster.
- 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 includes a catchy theme tune, a look back at 20th-century history and Walt Disney designed the attraction himself. What is there 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 is perhaps the worse place to eat in the whole of Walt Disney World. It really is awful!
- 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 shows and acts you might see.
The entertainment starts each morning at the Magic Kingdom with the Let the Magic Begin welcome show which features Mickey and the Gang.
Main Street USA is always a hive of activities, and you may encounter various entertainment during your visit. There are regular shows on the Castle Stage. Currently, the show is Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire.
Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party occurs several times a day down Main Street. Characters include Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Max, Pluto, Chip
The current Main Street parade is Festival of Fantasy and is usually at 3 pm. Festival of Fantasy is a beautiful parade and should not be missed. Characters do occasionally change, but you may see up to 40 of your favorites in the parade. Familiar characters include Mickey, Minnie, Anna, Elsa, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, The Seven Dwarves, Tinker Bell, Peter Pan, and Jiminy Cricket.
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is a free interactive scavenger hunt. Stop by the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. to sign up and receive your Sorcerer Key Card, Merlin’s mystical map and spell cards.
A Pirate’s Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas is an interactive treasure hunt throughout Adventureland. You can collect details of how to participate in the Crows Nest.
Happily Ever After was the new fireworks show for 2017 replacing Wishes. This new show is the most spectacular in Magic Kingdom history and is incredibly popular. Make sure you check the My Disney Experience App for showtime, it does not run every night!
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. Make sure you check the My Disney Experience App for showtime, it does not run every night!
Special Events & Festivities at The Magic Kingdom
Throughout 2020 there will be regular Special Events & Festivities at The Magic Kingdom.
Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom
Disney After Hours runs throughout the year. These hard-ticket events, which are not cheap, allow you to experience the park for 3 hours after regular closure. You are promised little-to-no wait for attractions, unique experiences, and character greetings. Ice cream, popcorn, and select beverages are also included in your admission. During the summer there will be been a special Disney Villans After Hours.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is an annual event with limited tickets, special entertainment including fireworks, rare characters and spooky overlays of certain attractions. Unlike, Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal Orlando this is a family party.
Christmas at The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is transformed at Christmas with spectacular decorations and 2020 will be no different. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a hard ticket annual event held on Select Nights between November and December.
Highlights of the party include fireworks, Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, snowfall on Main Street, exclusive entertainment & characters, and unlimited cookies & hot chocolate.
News & Rumors The Magic Kingdom
The world’s busiest theme park never stays still for long. Back in 2012, we welcomed New Fantasyland. Expect several announcements throughout the year as we come closer to the park’s 50th anniversary in 2021. However, 2020 is going to be a fairly quiet year for new attractions at the Magic Kingdom. To learn about new attractions at Walt Disney World in 2020 visit our guide.
The most significant new attraction is coming to Tomorrowland in 2021. Tron Lightcycle Run is based on a similar attraction at Shanghai Disneyland. This coaster-style attraction will allow riders to board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles for a thrilling race through the digital frontier.
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 and is full of tips & tricks. The information will be useful for both first-time and repeat visitors to Walt Disney World.
Also, we have created a selection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips which might help your vacation planning.