It’s no secret that we are planning our trip Back to the Magic, which is getting closer and closer! I had such fun planning our first trip back in 2011 and wanted to be able to pass on the things I learned from that first trip, and how I’m planning our second trip by creating posts with tips and advice that you might find helpful.
This post is dedicated to the most magical of all theme parks – Magic Kingdom!
I think the best way for me to handle sharing my tips with you, is to start at the very beginning, before you even enter the park!
Tip #1 – get there early!
You can do more in the first few hours of the park opening that at any time througout the day! The park opens at 9am. (Unless there are Extra Magic Hours) We aim for 8am. The park has been known to open its gates up to 45 minutes early.
Tip #2 – have your money ready for parking!
This photo below is of Toll Plaza where you pay the car parking fee (currently $18 per day, but you can park at any of the Disney theme parks on the same day if you’ve paid once already). This is your first step to getting to Magic Kingdom! You can ask for a park map here when you pay – or you may be given one.
Tip #3 – take the ferryboat if it’s your first visit!
Getting to the park gates of Magic Kingdom is a journey in itself! Once you’ve parked and taken the tram (or walked if you are close enough) to the Transportation & Ticket Center, you still have to cross the Seven Seas Lagoon! You can do this two ways – by monorail which is the quickest option.
Or, the exciting, especially for first timers, option: take the ferryboat! This tip was passed to me, and wow was I glad of it. The feeling you get when you see Cinderella’s Castle come in to view, is awesome! We’re definitely going to cross by ferryboat again when we go back very soon!
Tip #4 – be there for rope drop!
I’ve suggested getting to Magic Kingdom early, and the reason for this is so that you can be there for Rope Drop. Rope drop is the official opening of the park for guests. At Magic Kingdom there is a welcome parade with singers, dancers and the Character Train bringing the characters for the meet and greets in Town Square! One lucky family gets picked (at random) to open the park by sprinkling pixie dust!
Tip #4 – meet the characters!
If meeting the characters is your thing, and it should be – it is super cool! Then you can find out where and when the characters will appear by visiting City Hall when you first enter the park. For the record, Chip ‘n’ Dale are the best characters to meet! They’re so playful and we had a riot with them each time we met them!
Tip #5 – go whichever way you want!
Now you’re in the park, and there are, as the guide books say, 3 ways to tackle Magic Kingdom. Once you reach Cinderella’s Castle, keep left for Splash Mountain, stay center for the Fantasyland rides or go right for Space Mountain. Us, however, ignored the guide books! And we went in August! We took our time to savour the walk down Main Street towards the castle. This was our first visit and we wanted to be able to take it all in! We looked in shop windows, got a pastry at the Main Street Bakery and I took lots of photographs! Of course, if you want to adopt another tactic – go for it, but this worked for us!
Tip #6 – watch Dream Along With Mickey!
In front of Cinderella’s Castle is a stage, and I highly recommend that you watch Dream Along With Mickey. It’s a 20 minute show with all the razzamatazz that you would expect from Disney and the USA! I cried like a baby watching it – the emotion of being there. Really being there, hit me like a juggernaut!
Tip #7 – book an ADR for Crystal Palace!
This is one that you would have to do before you go, and that is to book an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) at one of the big sit-down restaurants – if you want to dine in such an establishment. We are booked this year for Crystal Palace for lunch, which is a Character Dining Experience with Winnie the Pooh and Pals. You can book your ADRs on the Disney Website.
Tip #8 – keep an eye on your FastPass+ times
If you want to ride one of the big and popular rides – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Buzz Lightyear’s Ranger Spin, I highly recommend you book your FastPass+ selections for at least one of them. You’re not going to escape queues completely I’m afraid, you may still have to wait even if you have a FP+ (unless you go off season), but, the lines are often themed and all part of the experience – at least, that is what I tell myself when we are lining up!! Learn more about FastPass+ on the Disney Website.
Tip #9 – use Disney Photographers!
Of course, you’re going to be taking lots of photographs/video (at least, I know we did!), but you can also make use of Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers. If you’re the one behind the lens, you are often left out of photographs – especially ones with your family/friends – so use the Disney PhotoPass Photographers to get those shots! I’m glad we did :)
Tip #10 – buy a balloon!
Magic Kingdom is the place to let your inner child out so buy a balloon! Yes, they’re expensive, but man oh man are they cute! Especially the Mickey balloons inside another round balloon! I didn’t buy one last time, but this time I plan too. I don’t care that I can’t take it home, it can float in the villa until we leave :P
Tip #11 – ride the Walt Disney World Railroad!
Want to give your legs a rest? Why not take a ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad which goes around the whole park? I personally think it’s pretty cool to see the other parts of the park that you wouldn’t see on foot!
Tip #12 – watch a parade!
Stake out a spot to watch the parades so that you get a good view as the floats go by. When we were in Disneyland Paris, we didn’t realise the importance of this and I was stuck behind the crowd. Me being a shorty, couldn’t see very much at all! We found being in front of the castle was a great spot as it’s where the floats turn, so that is our personal spot of choice.
Tip #13 – go on the rides during parades!
A good time to avoid the long queues is to go on the rides in the evening when when every one else is watching the parade and fireworks! The evening parade was PACKED in comparison with the day time parade. We plan to do that this year as we are aiming to visit Magic Kingdom several times during our stay.
Tip #14 – hang out after the fireworks!
After the evening’s festivities every one will be making the same beeline for the exit…hang back a little and enjoy an ice-cream! Believe me – I wished we’d done that because it was ram-jammed! The park doesn’t close immediately after the fireworks have ended, so you’re okay to hang around and let everyone else battle their way through!
Tip #15 – watch the Electrical Water Pageant!
This one will only work if you do make an exit after the fireworks! Watch the Electrical Water Pageant that floats around Seven Seas Lagoon, it’s pretty cool and worth seeing if you can!
Tip #16 – catch the Monorail back to the parking lot!
Finally, at the end of a long day, catch the monorail back to the car park – it is quicker than the ferryboat. You’ll probably be shattered, (but hopefully my comfort tips will have helped a bit with that), want to get back to your car (remember that photo you took so you can locate it!) and get back to your accommodation as soon as you can! When we went in 2011, the monorail actually broke down, and it was quite the nightmare having everyone pile onto the ferryboat! I took this photo of what I think was the fix-it vehicle! Don’t think that is seen to often (I hope!)
I wrote these tips after our 1st visit to Magic Kingdom in 2011… I will be updating them with my new found knowledge after 2 more trips!