Friday, July 18, 2014

Magic Kingdom touring plan | 1 & 2 day Itinerary | Magic Kingdom Dining

Let's talk about Magic Kingdom! From the moment you step onto Main Street, you're transported to well, a magical kingdom. It's everything you're imagining when you set your sights on a Disney vacation. There's always something new, yet what enchanted you the last time you visited is as wonderful as you remember it.
This is the most overwhelming park to create a plan for touring. I'm happy to share what works wonderfully for us.

Below, you'll find recommended touring plans for both 1 and 2 days in Magic Kingdom (MK). We devote 2 full days to MK, which allows us to take most of it in at a moderate pace. I prefer to begin and end our trip with MK.   
2 days, with the itinerary below, allows us to fit in everything on our wishlist including thrill rides, under 10-type rides, parades, night time shows, etc. You could certainly spend 1 day & hit many attractions if you eliminate: under 10 rides, roller coasters, parades, or character meeting.

Key planning points: 
  • Fastpass+ allows us not to have to arrive early & still be able to enjoy popular attractions without waiting. (What is Fastpass+? Click here). Rider Switch Pass will allow you to ride height-restrictive rides, if your party includes someone that doesn't meet the requirements (toddler/baby) and it works along with Fastpass+. Your kids could ride twice with no wait, & one adult doesn't have to miss out. (More on Rider Switch Pass here
  • Arrive for Rope Drop (Magic Kingdom Welcome Show) to maximize the time before the crowds arrive on at least one of the days.
  • We use Character Dining for meeting characters, so you won't find that built into our plans.
The new Festival of Fantasy parade was spectacular enough that we made time for it each day, same for Celebrate the Magic & Wishes fireworks at the end of the night. We also set aside 45min-1 hour prior to the parade/show to secure a good spot-taking turns using restrooms or grabbing snacks during this time.

Fantasyland Favorites
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the newest. Go there 1st, if you wish to ride w/out FP+. Requires 38" & Rider Switch Pass is available, so if your party includes littles, get your pass & ride Pooh or the Carousel while older ones ride the Mine Train, then switch or save it for later that day. 
Enchanted Tales with Belle is an interactive storytelling with Belle, herself. Each participant (they accommodate all willing kids) gets a moment alone (& photo opp) with Belle. The duration is long, so it's not the best option when packing-in attractions during early hours. FP+ is recommended after 10:30.
*All ages: Peter Pan, Little Mermaid Under the Sea, (indoor. a fun trip through each story)
Dumbo has a fun playground indoors that can be played on whether you are riding or not.
*The Barnstormer (35") (next to Dumbo) is a small roller-coaster younger ones can ride, but surprisingly thrilling for all. Casey's splash pad, with no line is across from this, especially great for younger ones. These 3 are good for a mixed ages group, but could be skipped entirely, if you're interested in packing in more thrilling rides.  
Especially appealing to under 10: 
Pooh (indoor. trip through Pooh's imagination. the line may be more fun than the ride) & Carousel
It's a Small World (a classic. a boat ride featuring the children of the world. a nice rest.)
Tea Cups (classic)
Mickey's Philharmagic: a silly 3D concert. Great when it's raining or hot, typically low waits.

Haunted Mansion (frightening & silly at the same time, parents of younger kids, beware). It is close to It's A Small World, just beyond Rapunzel's village (restrooms) so it can be planned along with Fantasyland attractions.

Frontierland Favorites:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (40")
Splash Mountain (40") A covered playground near the exit for little ones
Meet Woody & Jessie here

Adventureland Favorites:
Pirates of the Caribbean. Creepy-ish boat ride that inspired the movie. Fun souvenir shop.
Tinkerbell meeting & another fairy (we met a spunky, Vidia)

Tomorrowland Favorites:
Buzzlightyear Space Ranger Spin: all ages, interactive shooting game to defeat Zurg
Monster's Inc Laugh Floor: indoor, interactive comedy show. great escape from rain or heat. Typically lower waits
Space Mountain: not a favorite, but a classic.
Tomorrowland Speedway: exciting for younger ones to drive!

Parades: 
The new Festival of Fantasy parade is spectacular!
Celebrate the Magic projection of Disney movies on the castle; it's exceptional! If 2 showings are available, choose the 2nd because it's far less crowded & transportation to the resorts is too. 
Wishes fireworks show over the castle. Also spectacular!
Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Street Party. If you're walking near Main St. it will be hard to resist the enthusiasm & opportunity to dance beside your favorite characters, including Woody & Jessie

Recommended 2-day tour of Magic Kingdom:
(Scroll down for a 1 day plan)
Day 1: Magic Kingdom
2 hrs prior to opening: Wake up call in room (put it on speaker or hold to your child's ear (it was Olaf in May '14!)
{eat breakfast in room/en route}
Bus by 1hr 15min before park opening. (bus from Moderate & Value Resorts. Deluxe resorts on the Monorail require less time)

Rope Drop (called Magic Kingdom Welcome Show on MDE). The fanfare begins 15 min prior to opening and ends with Mickey and friends (currently including Elsa & Anna) arriving to welcome you & finally, officially opening the park. We arrive 1 hour before park opening & hang out with one eye on the train station and the other eye on the entrance.
Park Opening: Head directly to Fantasyland.
Depending on how much you want to fit in before the masses begin arriving at 11am, stop for a photo in front of the castle & maybe Starbucks on Main St.
Choose 5-7 rides in Fantasyland to ride.
Hit Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 1st, Winnie the Pooh, Ariel (Under the Sea)

Barnstormer (35"),  Dumbo
Tea Cups & Carousel
Meet Rapunzel at Fairytale Hall
Meet Ariel in her Grotto, if you don't plan to dine at Akershus at Epcot.
(Mickey's Philharmagic, It's A Small World, and Enchanted Tales with Belle are not a good use for this time because they are longer in duration.)

QS Lunch: Be Our Guest (beast's castle) when it opens (10:30-11am). (how to get a FastPass+ for this here

12:00-1:00: FastPass+ Enchanted Tales with Belle (next to Be Our Guest) an interactive storytelling with Belle. A personal favorite; I've teared up each time my son was chosen to dance with her.
1:00-2:00: FastPass+ Peter Pan's Flight. A fantasy ride that appeals to all ages.
*Check the kiosk nearby for Bonus Fastpass+ for after the parade*

2pm: Get a good spot for Festival of Fantasy Parade. Send at least a couple people from your party to secure a spot. Check with cast members to be sure you're in a spot that won't get blocked off.
3pm: Festival of Fantasy Parade

Grab a snack during the parade or when it's over if you want to hold off on dinner.
Use your bonus FastPass+ 
Longer, indoor attractions at this time of day are always a plus (Mickey's Philharmagic, It's A Small World). 

Dinner (recommendations below)

Certain attractions have extra nighttime appeal: Haunted Mansion, a stroll through Rapunzel's village (restrooms) when the lanterns are lit are nice options, Dumbo gives a nice view of the castle all lit up. 

If you are finished in Fantasyland, & feeling ambitious, try getting Bonus Fastpass+ (or short standby waits) for rides in Tomorrowland like, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Monster's Inc Laugh floor, or Indy Speedway.

The Electrical Parade is a classic & fun for the littles, but not a can't-miss. If you want to sit awhile, sit en route. If not, hit the rides while crowds are tied up watching it.

1hr prior to start: Secure a spot for Celebrate the Magic and Wishes. The best spot is central Main St. between the end of the shops (Casey's & Plaza Ice Cream Parlour) and the Partners statue. There's a tad bit of an incline in the street so you can see well.

Day 2: Magic Kingdom
Revise this itinerary based on Day 1-add repeats, remove attractions you've done.
(Rope Drop/MK Welcome Show: optional & if so, hit Tomorrowland first OR add your Fantasyland favorites from Day 1)

Arrive: depends on how much you want to fit in before the crowds without FP+
Adventureland
Pirates of the Caribbean

Frontierland:
11am Fastpass+ Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
12pm Fastpass + Splash Mountain

1-2pm: Lunch: Pecos Bill or Turkey Legs (cart) Frontierland

2pm: Get a spot for the parade, if you want to watch again
3pm: Festival of Fantasy Parade
IF NOT PARADE again, you may want to choose an earlier Fastpass+ or
try the Jungle Cruise (Adventureland) or Meet a character that you won't be meeting at Character Dining while crowds are busy at the parade.

Tomorrowland
4pm Fastpass+ Space Mountain (44")
Check standby lines or retrieve Bonus Fastpass+ for:
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
Monster's Inc Laugh Floor
Tomorrowland Speedway (32")
(We aren't fans of Stitch's Great Escape or the Astro Orbiter)

If you skipped the Festival of Fantasy Parade today, you may be up for the Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! street party or dancing with The Incredibles in Tomorrowland.

7ish: Dinner
Try for Bonus Fastpass+ or buy souvenirs

45min-1 hr prior to show: secure the best spot for the Celebrate the Magic & Wishes show
After the show, let the crowds rush out. Grab ice cream at the Parlour or a hot dog at Casey's. Wait until 30 minutes after the park closes for the very special Kiss Goodnight on the castle. You'll be glad you did. You'll feel like you're not supposed to be there, but it's allowed. You'll feel like an insider. You'll cry because you don't want to go home tomorrow!

If you only have 1 day for Magic Kingdom:
-->Arrive for Rope Drop (30 min before park opening). 
Head straight to Fantasyland (after your castle-with-nobody-around photo) & ride as much as you can before 10:30am. (We fit in 5-7 rides when it opens at 9am because there's no wait)
Hit Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 1st.

Note: Enchanted Tales with Belle, Mickey's Philharmagic, It's a Small World, & Haunted Mansion (Liberty Square) take more time than the others, so I don't suggest trying to fit them in unless you have extra time before lunch.

QS Lunch: Be Our Guest (beast's castle) when it opens (10:30-11am). (how to get a FastPass+ for this here)  

12pm: FastPass+ for Enchanted Tales with Belle after lunch 
(No Beast or Belle? Finish Fantasyland by 11am. Ride Haunted Mansion & head to Frontierland for lunch. Reserve FP+ for Splash & Big Thunder Mountains. FP+ Space Mt.)
3pm: The Festival of Fantasy parade is spectacular. Get there 45min-1hr prior for the best spot. Skip entirely if you'd rather hit more attractions, as standby lines are shorter when crowds are at parades.
Head to Frontierland through Liberty Square:
4: FP+ Splash Mt.
5: FP+ Big Thunder Mt. Railroad
Hit Pirates of the Caribbean (Adventureland) on the way to Tomorrowland
Try getting a Bonus Fastpass+ for Space Mt, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Monster's Laugh Floor, or the Speedway all in Tomorrowland.  
Electrical Parade is a classic and okay, if you want to sit. Bring glow sticks for the young ones. 
Don't miss Celebrate the Magic & Wishes nightly shows

Magic Kingdom Dining
If your heart is set on eating dinner in the Beast's castle (Be Our Guest), you'll want to set your alarm for 6am EST on the 180th day before your arrival to try scoring an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) online. Cinderella's Royal Table (inside the castle) is another hot ticket. If you're using the Dining Plan, it requires 2 TS credits, which isn't a prudent way to use them.
Generally, the TS options aren't as delicious as elsewhere in WDW, so we choose to use QS for both Lunch & Dinner.

Breakfast: 
We eat in room/en route. I bring Larabars & Kids' Cliff bars, tortillas & Justin's PB pouches, bananas, & fruit pouches from home. 
Starbucks is on Main Street, if you want to take the time to grab something there.
Gaston's Tavern (Fantasyland): cinnamon rolls (1 Snack credit)
Lunch pick: Be Our Guest (Beast's castle) Fantasyland
At lunch, the food is tasty & requires 1 QS credit. (My kids get Croque Monsieur sauce on the side & the Pork is another favorite. The "Grey Stuff" cupcake is a dessert option.

We got a FastPass for lunch at 11:30am here using this website & our 12 digit confirmation # (found in Magical Express confirmation) around 30 days prior. It does not count as 1 of your 3 FastPass+. Disney will not confirm this, & it doesn't show up in MDE, we confirmed our FastPass when the restaurant opened, figuring we'd get in line if needed. It worked!

Dinner:
Quick Service:
Pecos Bill (Adventureland) is usually where we land because some of our party love Turkey Legs, available in a cart nearby and we appreciate the ample toppings bar for hamburgers and salad.
Cosmic Rays (Tommorrowland) is typical American fare in a great location in you're hungry after the parade for an early dinner or coming from Fantasyland or Tomorrowland. The 1/2 chicken & ribs plate is big enough to split.
Try Columbia Harbour House (Liberty Square) for seafood
Hit Casey's on Main Street for hot dogs 

Table Service:
Crystal Palace: if you have a Pooh & friends fan among you, this is a decent buffet meal.
Liberty Tavern: I've heard decent reviews from this place, but never eaten there myself. It's early American food served family-style in a colonial environment.

*Note: You are an easy (air conditioned) monorail ride from delicious meals at Deluxe resorts such as Grand Floridian, Contemporary,  Polynesian (my favorite). You could certainly choose to take a break from the park and eat at one of them, just be sure to leave time to get a good spot for Celebrate the Magic & Wishes.

Snacks:
Plaza Ice Cream Parlour (Main Street) & Storybook Treats (Fantasyland) for "homemade" cookie sundaes & ice cream treats.
Dole Whip or Dole Whip Float at Aloha Isle (Adventureland
LaFou's brew or a Cinnamon roll at Gaston's Tavern (Fantasyland)
Mickey-shaped Ice Cream Bars (where else?!)

MORE DISNEY WORLD TIPS: 






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