Are you spending one day in Magic Kingdom and want to maximize your experience?
Here is the ultimate guide to the best touring plan to spend one day in Disneys World Magic Kingdom so that you get the most out of your experience.
Disney World Magic Kingdom Overview
The very first thing that you have to realize is that Disney’s Magic Kingdom is huge. Just enormous and really you just have to accept that you are not going to be able to experience everything in just one day.
You have to have a plan, and choose which Magic Kingdom attractions that you really want to experience. Do not be that person who thinks they can do it all. Even the most expert of Disney World visitors know that you can’t see all of Magic Kingdom in one day.
But you really can have an amazing experience in Disney’s Magic Kingdom even if you just have one day.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is much larger than its California predecessor, Disneyland. In many ways, it is the same, but in so many other ways it simply isn’t. The basic structure and plan were the same, but the Magic Kingdom is a huge upgrade on Disneyland.
Yes, I know some people will disagree with that, but for me, the ultimate Disney park is Magic Kingdom in Orlando.
Walt Disney himself knew that there were issues with Disneyland, which is exactly why he went to such great lengths to purchase an enormous amount of land for Disney World.
Every lesson Walt learned with Disneyland, he put into his dream of Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. Sadly though, he never got to see it.
Why are Disneyland and Disney World so different? It really is a matter most simply of scale. Walt Disney World is so much larger with 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and a large entertainment district at Disney Springs.
In addition to the increased walking distance, there are tricky transportation systems to master. You have to double the time it takes to experience Disneyland.
Often times you will also contend with extreme heat and maybe even tropical storms.
So, what do you do as a Disney World first timer, when you are only allowed time for one day in each park? To get the most out of a short time you have to plan.
It will most definitely enhance your Disney World experience.
Each Disney park can be completed in one day by following a unique set of guidelines for that park.
These guidelines simplify the experience and maximize your time. They’re all you need to know to get the most out of touring Magic Kingdom in just one day.
Plan out attractions and food stops. Try to target ten attractions of Magic Kingdom that are really important to you.
This is your goal for the day since there is no way you can do absolutely everything in the park.
Ten attractions in one day are something you should feel really good about accomplishing.
Arriving at Magic Kingdom
One thing which surprises first-time visitors is just how long it takes to get into Magic Kingdom.
Unless you are staying in one of the monorail hotels you are going to have to set aside some time to even get to the park entrance.
Unlike the other Disney World parks, where you walk from the parking lot, it is a two-stage process to get to Magic Kingdom.
You first need to get to the Transport and Ticket Center. You park your vehicle and then it can take some time to get to the entrance to the TTC.
From here, you either take the monorail or the ferry to Magic Kingdom. Depending upon how busy the parks are, you can spend a considerable amount of time in line waiting to get on the monorail.
Always factor in at least 30 to 45 minutes from arriving in the TTC parking lot to the Magic Kingdom entrance.
It is always a good idea to arrive early – ideally before the park opens. Most people arrive mid-morning.
If you get there before the crowds the lines for the attractions will most likely be shorter.
Magic Kingdom Attractions
Mastering the Fast Pass system really is key to optimizing your experience of the parks.
Right now, of course, all rules are out of the window as we have a very strange situation with limited park attendance and no Fast Passes.
However, we are sure this will soon go back to normal and Fast Pass will be the key once more.
Schedule your Fastpasses for early in the day and try to keep them close together. Look at a map of Magic Kingdom so you get an idea of where the attractions are.
If you don’t plan it right you can spend a lot of time zig-zagging around and walking from one attraction to another.
Walking between attractions can be huge time water if you don’t get it right.
Try and group Fast Passes or ride strategy together or you will spend a lot of time walking between Magic Kingdom attractions.
For example group, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan, and It’s a Small World together. When your Fast Passes are used you can start getting more, so don’t space them out.
Remember too, there are plenty of significant attractions unique to Magic Kingdom history that do not require a Fast Pass to experience such as The Hall of Presidents, The Country Bear Jamboree, The Peoplemover, Carousel of Progress. and The Enchanted Tiki Room
I am a huge fan of the Transit Authority. It’s not a thrilling attraction, but it is one of those Magic Kingdom attractions that most likely won’t have a wait and is really worth experiencing.
It’s great to just have a rest – do not underestimate the attraction of somewhere you can just chill out in Magic Kingdom.
I can’t say this too often. Prioritize what you really really want to do.
Accept that you won’t do it all.
If you do it with this mindset you will make the most out of your day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom Food Choice
There are so many food choices in Magic Kingdom and it can be overwhelming. Remember that having a sit-down restaurant meal can be a great experience, but it will take more time out of your day than eating counter service meals.
It really is a matter of choice as to how important dining in one of the Magic Kingdom restaurants is to you.
There are some great restaurants to dine when you are in a hurry at Disney World. These include such favorites as having lunch at Be Our Guest.
Cinderella’s Royal Table is always a favorite, but it is also one of the most difficult Disney World restaurants to actually get a reservation for.
It is popular as it is the only chance you get to go inside Cinderella Castle – but if you are only in Magic Kingdom for one day it is probably not worth spending the time, and indeed the considerable money, that it takes to dine here.
If you are just looking for a cool place to eat a good sandwich or a burger, grab a late afternoon bite at The Plaza Restaurant and get some limitless hand-scooped milkshakes.
If you don’t have the budget or the reservations for a table service meal, it’s not a big deal.
There are two great counter service restaurants on the west side of the park: Columbia Harbor House and Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe.
If you don’t mind the calorie and sugar overload, there are plenty of snack opportunities like this to tempt you.
If it’s a hotdog you’re after, only go to Casey’s Corner. There are also refreshment stands like Aloha Isle, Sleepy Hollow, Friar’s Nook, and Gaston’s Tavern to keep you going.
Magic Kingdom Parades
Whilst they may not be running right now, one day they will start the Parades at Magic Kingdom again. If you only have one day in Magic Kingdom you really do have to set aside some time to experience a Parade.
Know the parade times and route before you dive in. People start grabbing the best spots over an hour prior to the start time.
You do not need to be one of those people.
True, you won’t get the absolute best view, but there are plenty of spots to see the Parade without having to sacrifice so much time getting the absolute best spot.
The Parade travels through Frontierland from the west side and rounds the hub before heading south to Town Square via Main Street.
Magic Kingdom Touring Plan
Once inside the park, grab a map and show the schedule.
Head under the Train Station and march straight over to Cinderella Castle. Do not stop to look at the stores on Main Street right now!
Head to Fantasyland
You should have Fastpasses set in Fantasyland that you can knock out fairly quickly. If not it should still be early enough that you can beat the crowds to a couple of rides.
You don’t have to do everything. Plan to return to Fantasyland at night.
Walk To Liberty Square
Fantasyland naturally transitions into Liberty Square on the left side, by the Tangled toilets. The first attraction you hit here is The Haunted Mansion.
Check the My Disney Experience app often for attractions you’re headed to for wait times and Fastpass openings.
Liberty Square is also home to The Hall of Presidents, Columbia Harbor House, Liberty Tree Tavern, and Sleepy Hollow.
Unique stores to shop at are Memento Mori, for the Haunted Mansion fan, and Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe.
Magic Kingdom Frontierland
Over by the Golden Horseshoe Saloon there is a bridge and a change in the appearance of the ground. That’s because you have symbolically crossed over the Mississippi and begun the journey west.
Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain Railroad are at the back of Frontierland.
The best way to experience both in the least amount of time is usually to get a Fast Pass for one and wait in the stand-by line for the other.
It is more time-efficient to ride them at the same time or you will end up having to walk quite a way back to them.
Remember though that you most likely will get wet on Splash Mountain. Plan to either ride when it is hot and you will dry off quickly, or make use of one of those ponchos!
The two best ways into Adventureland are by going around/through Pecos Bill’s, and the Breezeway in front of the Country Bear Jamboree.
The difference is whether you want to get to Pirates of the Caribbean (Bill’s), or The Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, and Aloha Isle (Bears).
If you’ve skipped Hall of Presidents or The Country Bears, you can head back in the direction of Liberty Square via Frontierland once you’ve had your fill of Adventureland.
I have to confess I am not a huge fan of Country Bear Jamboree, so I wouldn’t visit this on a one-day Magic Kingdom touring plan.
Otherwise, you can travel through Adventureland all the way to the Hub, passing Sunshine Tree Terrace for another treat on the way to Main Street USA.
You now have tackled around half of Magic Kingdom.
This is always a good time to slow things down and take in Main Street with a little bit of shopping.
Fewer guests are coming in and not many people are leaving yet. So if you schedule around the parade time which is usually 3 pm for the first parade the stores won’t be too crowded.
Remember too that if you do purchase things you do not need to carry them around all day. If you are staying at a Disney World Hotel Resort your purchases can be delivered to your hotel room.
If you are staying elsewhere you can ask for your purchases to be sent to the pick-up point, so that you can collect them at the end of the day.
I highly recommend that you watch the parade. It’s been a long day and this is a great way to get your second wind to finish things off.
However, if you really think that you want to spend more of your limited time experiencing the attractions then during the parade is a good time to do that.
Half of the park guests will be lined up around the parade route, so the lines for the attractions always ease off a bit at this time.
Walk to Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland is a great place to end things or transition back into the parts of Fantasyland you may have missed.
Make sure to get your Space Mountain Fast Pass and time your ride experiences accordingly.
From Tomorrowland, you can enter the east side of Fantasyland, by the Mad Tea Party. This is the best way to end the day at Magic Kingdom.
The crowds will have dissipated and you can walk on a lot of the attractions in the area. It’s a nice end to a 10-12 hour day of excitement.
Watch The Fireworks
The time should be nearing 8:00 pm and that is when the WDW Railroad stops.
The Magic Kingdom fireworks really are an experience not to be missed, particularly if you only have one day in the park.
It is at this point though that you really have to think about how you are going to exit the Magic Kingdom ultimately.
Imagine all the people in Magic Kingdom trying to leave the park and get on the monorail at exactly the same time. That is pretty much what happens every day. If you give it some thought you can minimize the pain!
IF you are going to stay in Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks I would suggest reserving a spot as close to the exit on Main Street as possible.
Obviously, you want a great view of the fireworks (and so does everyone else).
One thing that you could do, but it does cost more money is to consider getting tickets for the Happily Ever After Dessert Party. You’ll have access to a dessert and beverage buffet at Tomorrowland Terrace and an exclusive viewing area.
You will need to arrive at 7:30 for the Dessert Party so this does take a chunk of time out of your Magic Kingdom touring day.
However, you will most likely have been in the park for close to 12 hours by this point, so you will probably just be welcoming a chance to sit down at this point!
Another idea is to watch the fireworks from behind Cinderella Castle in Fantasyland. No, it isn’t quite the same, but it is a good alternative to having to stake out your spot hours before the fireworks start.
Of course, you don’t see the projections on the Castle, but you do get a good view of most of the fireworks and you can hear the music. It is certainly a lot less crowded back there.
The downside of watching the fireworks behind Cinderella Castle is that there will be a huge crowd in front of you surging to get out of the park and onto the monorail and boats.
The best tactic here is just to accept that this will happen, so wait for a while before leaving. If you have a nice seat, a beverage, and a snack, this helps with the wait.
You can also watch the fireworks from a distance, by reserving a late dinner at California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
This is a very popular option and you would have to get Advance Dining Reservations ahead of time.
It is a Signature Dining Restaurant which is Disney speak for fine dining (and expensive).
However, this is an amazing way to round off your one-day tour of Magic Kingdom if you can work this one into your budget.
Other great options which are a little unconventional, but will mean you are far from the crowds. You can watch the fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian Resort.
This is one of the most relaxing ways to experience the fireworks. Simply take the monorail to the Polynesian and make your way through the lobby to the beach at the back of the resort.
Another idea is to watch from the boat dock at the Transport and Ticket Center. This is one of my preferred options. If you exit Magic Kingdom shortly before the fireworks are due to start you can get on the monorail or boat without too much of a wait.
Then get a spot near to the Ferry Boat Dock so that you can see across the Seven Seas Lagoon. Once the fireworks have finished you can walk briskly to your car. You will most likely be back in your hotel room before some others have even made it onto the monorail!
Do you have a favorite touring plan for one day in Magic Kingdom?
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.