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    Magic Kingdom Overview

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Arriving at Magic Kingdom

From inside Walt Disney World if you’re staying at the Contemporary, Bay Lake Tower, Grand Floridian Resort, or Polynesian Village, you can commute to the Magic Kingdom by monorail (guests at the first three can walk to the park more quickly). If you’re staying at Wilderness Lodge & Boulder Ridge/Copper Creek Villas or Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, you can take a boat or bus. Guests at other Walt Disney World resorts can reach the park by bus. All Disney lodging guests, regardless of conveyance, are deposited at the park’s entrance, bypassing the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC).

Driving: If you’re thinking about driving to the Magic Kingdom, consider having a taxi or ride-hailing service drop you off at either the Contemporary or the Grand Floridian Resort instead, especially if you are arriving after park opening; it may cost slightly more than parking at the Magic Kingdom, but it’s significantly faster. Otherwise, you’ll encounter lines to pay for parking, to board trams (or walk) to take you to the TTC, to get through security, or to get on a monorail or ferry to take you to the park. All of this can take up to an hour or more on busy days.

Have your driver go past the hotel entrance and drop you off in the far corner; from here, it’s a short walk to the park, and lines at the security checkpoint there are much shorter. When you’re ready to leave, just head to the Contemporary or Grand Floridian and hail a ride, making sure to wait in front of the hotel. You’ll avoid the morning hassle in reverse.

If you drive, the Magic Kingdom Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) parking lot opens about 2 hours before the park’s official opening. After paying a fee, you’re directed to a parking space, then transported by tram to the TTC, where you catch either a monorail or a ferry to the park’s entrance.

SECURITY SCREENING PROCEDURES All visitors to the Magic Kingdom go through an airport-style security screening prior to entering the park.

  • Guests arriving by car will be screened at the TTC prior to boarding a monorail or ferry.
  • Resort guests arriving by monorail will be screened at their resort before boarding.
  • Resort guests arriving by boat will be screened at the boat dock on the Magic Kingdom end.
  • Resort guests arriving by bus will be screened at the Magic Kingdom bus depot.
  • Guests arriving on foot from the Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower will be screened along the walkway to the Magic Kingdom.

This splitting of security will get you into the parks faster by distributing the screening work to many more locations. They also prevent large clusters of guests from forming in the constrained area between the Magic Kingdom entrance turnstiles and train station tunnels, an important security concern.

OPENING PROCEDURE The Magic Kingdom generally opens Main Street, U.S.A., to guests up to a full hour before the park’s official opening time. Thus, if the park opens at 9 a.m., the Magic Kingdom will allow guests to enter the park and roam Main Street and the Central Plaza starting at 8 a.m.

Main Street’s larger shops, such as the Emporium, are open early, in case you need sunscreen, ponchos, or aspirin. The Main Street Bakery Starbucks and the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor are also open for breakfast.

Being able to enter Main Street early can be a chance to get great family photos of some of the park’s most iconic places, bathed in gorgeous morning light, with relatively few crowds.

The downside is that it creates large crowds in the Central Plaza to get in line for popular rides such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. On a recent visit, for example, we estimated a crowd of between 700 and 900 people packed into just one walkway between the Central Plaza and Fantasyland, all headed directly to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. (Similar, smaller lines form on the walkways to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain, and Adventureland and Frontierland for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder.)

These groups rush to their rides as soon as the park opens. In the case of Seven Dwarfs, this created an immediate 60-minute standby wait whose line stretched back to Storybook Circus.

This video demonstrates the rush getting to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train:

Getting Oriented

At the Magic Kingdom, stroller, wheelchair, ECV/ESV rentals and locker rentals are on the right, just inside the entrance. On your left as you enter Main Street, U.S.A., is City Hall, the center for information, lost and found, guided tours, and entertainment schedules.

Be sure to pick up a guide map at the park entrance or at City Hall. It shows all attractions, shops, and eating places; provides information about first aid, baby care, and assistance for the disabled; and provides tips for good photos.

The My Disney Experience app offers a daily entertainment schedule, info on Disney-character appearances (when offered), and what Disney calls Special Hours, or operating hours for attractions and restaurants that open late or close early.

Main Street, U.S.A., ends at the Central Plaza, from which branch the entrances to five other “lands” (clockwise from the left): Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.

Cinderella Castle, at the entrance to Fantasyland, is the Magic Kingdom’s visual anchor. The castle is an excellent meeting place if your group decides to split up or gets separated.

TouringPlans Tip

Because Cinderella Castle is so large, designate a very specific meeting spot, such as the entrance to Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant at the rear of the castle.

Main Street ends at a central hub from which branch the entrances to five other sections of the Magic Kingdom: Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.

Cinderella Castle, at the entrance to Fantasyland, is the Magic Kingdom’s visual center. If you start in Adventureland and go clockwise around the Magic Kingdom, the castle spires will always be roughly on your right; if you start in Tomorrowland and go counterclockwise through the park, the spires will always be roughly on your left. The castle is an excellent meeting place if your group decides to split up or gets separated accidentally.

Starting Your Day In Magic Kingdom

Everyone soon finds his or her favorite and not-so-favorite attractions in the Magic Kingdom. Our personal experience and research indicate that each visitor differs on which attraction is most enjoyable. Don't dismiss a ride or show until after you have tried it (the exception to this is Stitch's Great Escape, which is lowest rated attraction by our readers in all of Walt Disney World.

Take advantage of what Disney does best: the fantasy adventures of Splash Mountain and The Haunted Mansion and the various audio-animatronic (talking robots) attractions, including The Hall of Presidents and Pirates of the Caribbean. Don't burn daylight browsing the shops unless you plan to spend a minimum of two and a half days at the Magic Kingdom , and even then wait until midday or later. Minimize the time you spend on midway-type rides; you probably have something similar near your hometown. (Don't, however, mistake Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as amusement park rides. They may be roller coasters, but they're pure Disney genius.)

Eat a good breakfast early, and avoid lines at eateries by snacking during the day on food from vendors, of better yet, bring your own snacks. Except for the Be Our Guest restaurant, fare at most Magic Kingdom eateries is on a par with Subway or McDonald's.

Last updated on August 14, 2022