How to Do Magic Kingdom in One Day

How to Do Magic Kingdom in One Day

Of all the theme parks in Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom is the most visited. With the largest number of rides, characters, and shows, it’s important to have a strategy if you’re hoping to fit it in one day. And as Walt Disney World’s smallest park, you will feel the crowds fastest and be left wondering how you’re going to fit it all in. Thankfully, we have pulled together a 1 Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary to help help you maximize your day in Magic Kingdom. 

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Plans

Walt Disney World has changed a lot in the last few years. And with the addition of Lightning Lane and Disney Genie+ getting onto rides has become more complicated. So, how can you strategically plan your day to where you actually get to do everything you want to do?

From deciding your top rides, to where you’re going to eat and which restaurants will need reservations, to shows, fireworks, and more. There is so much to do that a few decisions upfront can make your One day in Magic Kingdom easy, fun, and manageable! Get ready to plan your day. 

When does Magic Kingdom Open? 

Magic Kingdom is typically open from 9 am to 9 pm. Though hours throughout the year do vary. Sometimes the park will open at 8 am, and sometimes it will stay open until 11 pm. It’s critical to check park hours for each park throughout your vacation, so you can match your vacation days to the park with the best hours each day.

Be sure to arrive at Magic Kingdom at least 30 minutes prior to opening. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort you’ll have access to both Early Theme Park Entry and Extra Evening Hours throughout your stay. Check the 5-day Disney Calendar for the schedule. 

Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland Rides

Planning Magic Kingdom Rides for One Day

With the arrival of Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane Passes riding rides at Magic Kingdom is a little more complicated than it used to be. But never fear, there are many ways to ride rides at Magic Kingdom. And you should plan your one day at Magic Kingdom to make the most of it. 

What are Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane?

This new service and skip the line ride pass system have replaced FastPass throughout all of Walt Disney World. This allows you to wait in a “shorter” line than the regular standby line and therefore add more rides to your day. 

And while you can use the Disney Genie service as part of your My Disney Experience app, to help plan your park day the paid version gets you access to 2 Lightning Lanes. Disney Genie+ is a service you pay for, daily, for each person in your party who will want to take advantage of the Lightning Lane Passes. Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane Passes only include certain rides. As part of Disney Genie+, you can only hold one Lightning Lane reservation at a time. And you can’t choose what time your Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation is for, which makes planning your Magic Kingdom day tough. 

If you are a Disney Resort guest then you get to make Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane reservations early- at 7 am- which means you have a better chance of getting your highest priority ride. 

Read about the Rides included in Disney Genie+ at Walt Disney World.

An alternative to purchasing Disney Genie+ for everyone in your travel party is to purchase Individual Lightning Lane Passes. These passes are most costly than Disney Genie+ but do include different rides that may be on your Magic Kingdom day bucket list. 

Read about the rides included in Individual Lightning Lane.

What are the Best Rides at Magic Kingdom? 

If you only have one day at Magic Kingdom your time is limited! And so much of it will depend on crowds. And some rides are naturally more crowded than others. 

Highest Waits

  • Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train – Individual Lightning Lane or Wait In Line (45-90 minutes)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight- Rope Drop with Early Morning Theme Park Entry
  • Haunted Mansion- Disney Genie+
  • Jungle Cruise- Rope Drop with Early Morning Theme Park Entry

Average Waits

  • Space Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Splash Mountain

Low Waits

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic

What are the Best Rides to Use Disney Genie+ for in Magic Kingdom?

These rides are the best rides to try for if you’re using Disney Genie+. And overall, Magic Kingdom rides you’ll want to add to your 1-day itinerary regardless. 

  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Splash Mountain 
  • Big Thunder Mountain

What are the Best Rides to Use Individual Lightning Lane for in Magic Kingdom?

The ride included as Disney’s Individual Purchase Lightning Lane at Magic Kingdom is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. 

Disney Characters at Magic Kingdom Park

Characters at Magic Kingdom

If you’re adding characters to your day in the park, there are two character meet and greets to plan. Mickey Mouse can be found at Town Square Theater on Main Street USA and certain Disney Princesses are available at Fairytale Hall. 

Keep in mind that Disney characters are also available at several restaurants in the park, so if you’d rather skip the line and have a meal instead that’s always an option. Character Dining options in Magic Kingdom are Cinderella’s Royal Table featuring Disney Princesses and Crystal Palace featuring Winnie the Pooh and Friends. There are also times when you can meet the Beast at Be Our Guest, but this is only offered during dinner. 

Tony's Town Square Restaurant at Magic Kingdom

Planning Magic Kingdom Meals for One Day

We are big fans of the Disney Dining Plan layout; the best of which is 2 quick service meals and 1 table service meal per day. This setup gives you the treat of having a special meal and is a good way to stick to your Disney Dining Budget.  If getting the Disney Dining Plan as part of your Disney Vacation Package this will be built in for you as meal credits. 

Breakfast at Magic Kingdom

For many, Breakfast at Magic Kingdom includes grabbing a sandwich and coffee at the Starbucks on Main Street USA. Other options include grabbing a quick-service breakfast at Sleepy Hollow, which includes fruit and chocolate hazelnut waffles, or Friar’s Nook, which has tater tot breakfast bowls intermittently throughout the year. If looking for a more elaborate Magic Kingdom breakfast, we recommend breakfast at Crystal Palace for a nice buffet meal that includes all the makings of a good breakfast. 

Lunch at Magic Kingdom

Lunch at Magic Kingdom can be a great table service restaurant or a quick service meal. Unfortunately, the quick service offerings at Magic Kingdom are very much “theme park” food. Caseys offers hot dogs, Cosmic Rays Cafe serves up burgers, Pecos Bill’s offers tacos and burritos, etc. Of the quick service options available Columbia Harbour House, and Pinocchio’s Village Haus are decent bets. As an alternative, we like to make the lunch hour a true break with a table-service meal instead. Options for lunch include Be Our Guest, Skipper Canteen, Crystal Palace, and Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.

Dinner at Magic Kingdom

Dinner at Magic Kingdom can easily be something simple either in the park or at any of the Monorail Resorts. Dinnertime at Magic Kingdom gets rather busy with people either grabbing food or racing to their last rides of the day. We highly recommend mobile ordering food if you’re heading to a quick-service restaurant. Pinocchios Village Huas has simple flatbreads and ample seating indoors if you’re looking for something cheap and easy. 

festival of fantasy parade

Planning Magic Kingdom Entertainment for One Day

Morning Shows at Magic Kingdom

Let the Magic Begin is the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show on the Cinderella Castle Stage and begins at 8:55 am. 

The Main Street Trolley Show happens intermittently throughout the day on Main Street USA. And often includes dancing, singing, and seasonal overlays with the Dapper Dans and Citizens of Main Street. 

Afternoon Shows and Parades at Magic Kingdom

Character Cavalcades at Magic Kingdom happen throughout the day between 11 am and 5 pm and feature short parades, set to music, with Disney characters dancing and waving from whatever magical vehicle they’re riding in. 

Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is the afternoon show at Cinderella’s Castle featuring Princess Tiana, Rapunzel, and Anna and Else. Along with favorite friends from those films. Shown at 1:05 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:30 pm, 5:35 pm, and 7:00 pm this show is a great way to fill time between rides and see the Disney characters in the park. 

Festival of Fantasy Parade is shown at 12 pm and 3 pm daily and shows off all the best fairytale characters, on floats, to music. This parade even features a mechanical fire-breathing dragon! A must-see during your Magic Kingdom day. 

Evening Shows at Magic Kingdom

Beacons of Magic is a digital projection show covering Cinderella’s Castle special for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World

The Enchantment Fireworks Show is 360-degree fireworks show that happens at Cinderella Castle, with digital projections, crawling the buildings of Main Street. The ideal location for this show is about halfway down Main Street USA. However, it is typically very, very crowded, with many people waiting an hour or two ahead of time to claim their spot. We recommend the Enchantment Dessert Party ticket if you’re determined to have a good view of this show and don’t want to waste precious park hours saving your spot. 

crowds at walt disney world

Magic Kingdom Park Itinerary for One Day

If you’re looking for a way to add in all your favorite things at Magic Kingdom consider the following lineup. While everyone will have their favorite things to try, here’s our daily park plan for Magic Kingdom. Note that not all rides are included, and really it is about personal preference and time.  For us, we never take time for Hall of Presidents or Country Bear Jamboree, the same as you’d rarely find us at Barnstormer or Dumbo the Flying Elephant. That said, if these are priorities for you, just add them in! This isn’t by any means a one-size-fits-all situation, just a template to help you get started. 

If purchasing Disney Genie+ for your Magic Kingdom Day plan to buy it between 12 am-7 am the day you’re hoping to use it. That way you will already have Disney Genie+ attached to your travel party before you need to select your Lightning Lane selections. This will give you your best chance at getting the ride at a decent time. 

If purchasing Disney Individual Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train you have to grab that the second you step into the park. 

Get there Early

Frankly, the earlier the better. Whether you’re grabbing breakfast at Starbucks, or heading to your favorite ride, being there earlier is better. It doesn’t matter how you arrive at Magic Kingdom. Monorail, Ferry, Walking Paths, and parking your car at the TTC are all ways of getting there. Know that the busiest times for guest arrival are typically between 10-11 am. With heavy crowds happening from 11 am- 6 pm each day. While this 1-day itinerary for Magic Kingdom focuses on trying to complete your top priority rides before 2 pm, this is a lot easier when you get to the park early! 

Do Popular Rides in the Morning

When figuring out what to do at Magic Kingdom aim for getting the rides you want to do most DONE in the early part of the day before lunch. The exception here is if you are visiting on a day with Extra Evening Hours. Knowing that if you wait until later to ride your top priority rides, you may be stuck standing in line and/or missing out on them entirely. 

7:30 AM: Arrive

Breakfast: Plan an early morning breakfast reservation at Crystal Palace, or head to the Starbucks at Magic Kingdom as soon as you arrive. Note that the Starbucks line is consistently long in the mornings, so be ready to stand in line and wait if that is your breakfast choice. 

30 minutes before Park Opening ( Early Theme Park Entry)

Both Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are open for Early Theme Park entry, which means you can head to Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and/or Space Mountain. 

8:30 AM: Early Entry Starts

Head to Peter Pan’s Flight or Jungle Cruise as soon as the park opens. Or Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train if you haven’t bought the Lightning Lane pass. While waits during rope drop may be about 30-45 minutes long once you get to the ride, these are popular rides, and getting them done early, will help you tackle rides with lower waits the rest of the day. Rides with the asterisk* can be pushed to evening hours as well if unable to get to earlier in the day.

  • Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train
  • Peter Pan’s Flight*
  • Jungle Cruise

Let the Magic Begin Welcome Show ( 5 minutes before park opening)

9 AM Park Opens

Head to Frontierland and Liberty Square

  • Haunted Mansion*
  • Ride Splash Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Pirates of the Caribbean*

Mickey’s Friendship Faire Show (1:05 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:30 pm, 5:35 pm, and 7:00 pm)

Ooey Gooey Cake at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Plan a Late Lunch

1:30/2 PM Lunch: The sweet spot time for Lunch at Magic Kingdom is 2 pm. We recommend you grab a snack to hold you over throughout the morning. That way you can aim for a good table-service restaurant to have your lunch. Why spend the middle of the day sitting for an hour in a restaurant to eat lunch? Well, because between 2-4 pm, the parks are the most crowded and the busiest. And since it’s Florida, it’s also the hottest time of day. Plus, lunch reservations are easier to get than dinner reservations, so you have a better chance of getting your favorite restaurant. That said, Magic Kingdom does not have the best quick-service restaurants. So, if you’re looking to save money and grab a quick-service lunch instead, we’d actually recommend leaving Magic Kingdom and heading to a monorail resort just outside the park. 

Our best recommendation for a Table Service Lunch is Liberty Tree Tavern or Skipper Canteen.

The best Quick Service Lunch Restaurants near Magic Kingdom to consider are Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.  

Maximize Late Afternoon

3 PM Festival of Fantasy Parade

If you’ve prioritized the main and most popular rides in the morning, you’ll have ample time in the afternoon to get in everything else you’re hoping to do. Since crowds and waits don’t start to die down until 6 pm it’s time to head to lower-wait rides. And to aim for rides that are indoors.  

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Mickey’s Philharmagic
  • PeopleMover
  • Dumbo
  • Barnstormer
  • Mad Tea Party

4-5 PM Character Cavalcades Wrap up

If you’re waiting to see Disney Characters on the cavalcades the hours between 4-5 pm are the last times they run at Magic Kingdom. Disney Character Cavalcades are a great way to see the characters without having to wait in line. 

disney resorts

Break for Dinner

Depending on where you are at this point in the day, anytime after your second group of rides is a good time to take a break. During the 5-6 pm hour at Magic Kingdom, people flood the restaurants for dinner, head to rides they need to get in before they leave, and descend upon the gift shops. For this reason, we recommend you take your break and/ or dinner outside of Magic Kingdom at the Monorail Resorts. These resorts are easy to get to within 5 minutes, via the Resort Monorail just outside Magic Kingdom’s gates. 

For a Quick Service dinner, we like Captain Cooks at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, or Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. 

For Table Service Dinner, we like the Grand Floridian Cafe at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort or ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. 

If you’re committed to staying inside the park, any quick-service restaurant will do. Frankly, all the quick-service restaurants at Magic Kingdom are equally sub-par. Thankfully, they mostly all take Mobile Order, which at least you can save you some time. 

Evening Rides

Evening hours are typically spent grabbing any favorite rides you may have missed, and save your spot in front of the castle for the Enchantment Fireworks show. It’s also a great time to grab one last Snack at Magic Kingdom for the day. 

8 PM Enchantment Fireworks Nighttime Spectacular

The fireworks show at Magic Kingdom is considered a Must-Do for your Magic Kingdom day. And since it is also a Projection show on the castle requires you to save yourself a spot anywhere in front of Cinderella Castle. And down Main Street USA if you’re hoping to have a decent view. 

Disney's 50th Anniverasry Plans

How to Make the Most of Your Magic Kingdom Day

Early Theme Park Entry

Reserved for Disney Resort Guests only Early Theme Park Entry allows you to get into the park 30 minutes before other guests. While Main Street USA is open to all guests, two areas of the parks are reserved for Early Theme Park Entry. This includes Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. This allows you to race to the lines for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, or Peter Pan’s Flight. All of which are popular rides and may not see low waits throughout the day. Our advice is to be at the Magic Kingdom gates at least 30 minutes BEFORE Early Theme Park Entry begins. 

Choose a Day with Extra Evening Hours

Extra Evening Hours are reserved for Disney Guests, staying at SELECT Disney Resorts. Typically, Disney Deluxe Hotels are included. This allows you the opportunity to stay later than park closing on certain days. Often on a 9 pm-close, extra evening hours are extended to 11 pm. This gives you two more hours to ride what you didn’t during the day. 

Take Breaks When You Can

While this may feel counterintuitive, remember you are still on vacation! So, it should feel like a vacation, and less like a checklist. That said, we like grabbing a break as a treat for finishing the main rides in the morning. While this break can sometimes blend into a table service lunch, we find it also helps to just get away when it’s hot in the middle of the afternoon. Head to a Monorail Resort, or the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds area ( via boat) for some walking and beach time. 

Don’t Save More than One Popular Ride for the Evening

Evenings are busy for several reasons. First, most people take stock of wait times of rides throughout the day, and when they see it’s too long of a wait, they just hope it will ease up later. This leaves many people finally giving in at the end of the day to ride the top priority rides they didn’t get to earlier. Second, after 2 pm, Magic Kingdom fills up with people who have park hopped there. This includes locals, pass holders, and other guests who have park hopper tickets. So getting to as many rides as possible before 2 pm is critical.  

Get additional time in Magic Kingdom by attending a party or event

One of our favorite Magic Kingdom day strategies is to book an after-hours event. There are just a few of these available at Magic Kingdom and they all cost extra. But, they also typically have limited crowds and allow you to get to the rides without the heavy crowds. Disney’s Boo Bash and Very Merriest After Hours are seasonal holiday events, and expensive. They also, however, have very limited capacity. 

Mobile Order your Meals

An easy way to keep out of lines, many of Magic Kingdom’s Quick-Service Restaurants offer Mobile Order. This means you can select and purchase your meals in your My Disney Experience App. Quick Service Restaurants we like, that offer Mobile Order, are Columbia Harbour House, Pinocchio Village Haus, and Aloha Isle- which means you can even grab a Dole Whip without waiting in line. 

Make an Advanced Dining Reservation

We highly recommend one sit-down meal for your Magic Kingdom Day. Mainly because taking a break from a whirlwind day is always needed. Plus, there are certain restaurants in Magic Kingdom that may be on your Disney Must-Do List. Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest, Jungle Cruise Skipper Canteen and  Crystal Palace are all difficult reservations to get, but worth it for many! 

Ride popular rides during the 12-2 pm hour

Between 12-2 pm most people are either eating lunch or heading to their next park for the day via the park hopper. This is because 2 pm is the earliest you’re allowed to be at your second park for the day if you’ve purchased the park hopper ticket. This means between 1-2 pm many people are traveling to their next park, leaving parks across Walt Disney World a little emptier as people travel between parks. As a result, 12-2 pm is an IDEAL time to try and finish up your morning batch of high-priority rides. 

While You’re Waiting for Your Lightning Lane

If purchasing Lightning Lane passes or using Disney Genie+ you want to make the most of the time while you’re waiting. Since times given for these scheduled rides has a cushion of waiting, we recommend you fill this time with catching a show or riding the low-wait rides. That way your Magic Kingdom day is filled with fun, even when it’s not scheduled. 

One Day at Magic Kingdom

While we always recommend 2 Days at Magic Kingdom, hopefully, this one-day itinerary has helped you see some options. As Disney’s busiest park it’s easy to get discouraged and feel like you need to spend all day waiting in lines. But that’s not the case! Planning Ahead can help you prioritize each part of your Magic Kingdom day, and make the most of your Disney Vacation. Grab this FREE Printable Fill-In Disney Planner for Magic Kingdom to get started. Happy Planning! 

How can you fit Magic Kingdom into one day? Here's everything you need to know from rides, meals and more.

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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