1) Arrive early
Arriving at the Magic Kingdom early in the day is one of the best tips I can give for getting the most out of your day at this park. The Magic Kingdom will become increasingly busy as the time for the afternoon parade nears, so your best bet (especially if you want to experience attractions with minimal waits and see the parade) is to arrive early. If you get to the park right at park opening, you should have a good couple of hours with short lines, whereas if you arrive later in the day, you’ll have missed out on the opportunity to have short wait times without using a Fastpass.
2) Be selective with Fastpass times if possible
With the exception of a certain few attractions, there are a couple of times throughout the day where you more than likely will not need a Fastpass. If you arrive to the park when it opens, you shouldn’t need to use a Fastpass before about 11:00 AM. The crowds are typically so light in the morning that it just isn’t the best use of a Fastpass at that time. Likewise, certain attractions tend to empty out later in the day. This means that you should also plan on using Fastpasses for those certain attractions earlier in the day. The best time to use Fastpass? The middle of the day– this is when the park is the most crowded and wait times will be at their highest, AKA the time you’d want to have a Fastpass!
3) Stay out late
If you hate dealing with crowds, or you have a tough time getting the Fastpasses you want, your next best option is to stay in the park late, especially on Extra Magic Hours nights or just nights when the park is open for a substantial amount of time after Happily Ever After. Once the fireworks are over, the park will start to empty out, and the wait times for your favorite attractions will be shorter compared to the middle of the day. If you don’t mind missing the fireworks or parades, those can also be good times relatively early in the evening to hit some of your favorite rides with short wait times.
4) Make advanced dining reservations
The Magic Kingdom is home to some of Walt Disney World’s most popular table service restaurants, including Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and the Crystal Palace. If you have your heart set on eating at one of these locations, I would recommend making a reservation in advance, even 180 days out if you’re able to just to guarantee that you’ll have a table there for the meal of your choice.
5) Dine at a monorail resort
This tip can be especially helpful if you either could not get reservations for the park restaurants, or if you simply prefer the options at the resorts. At the Magic Kingdom, it’s really easy to dine at the resorts since the monorail is right there. It’s extremely convenient to hop on the monorail and get off at any of the three resorts in the area for a meal, or maybe some shopping. This is also a nice way to get a little break from the park if you want to avoid the middle of the day and come back to spend the evening in the Magic Kingdom.
6) Take lots of photos
The Magic Kingdom is one of the best places at Walt Disney World to capture photos. There is no better backdrop than having Cinderella Castle in the back of the family photo on Main Street USA, and chances are you’ll be meeting lots of your favorite characters and photographing those experiences in this park as well. Don’t want to purchase Memory Maker? No worries– the PhotoPass cast members will happily take your picture using your own camera for free.
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7) But not too many photos
Unless you’re a serious photographer with goals of getting certain photos during your trip, don’t be too focused on taking pictures. I know this might sound crazy, but trust me, you’ll have a better time if you experience everything with your own eyes instead of through a camera lens. There’s nothing wrong with taking lots of pictures, just make sure you at least allow yourself to experience whatever it is you’re doing without the smart phone, before you hold it up and look through a screen.
8) Have a plan
Without micromanaging too much, you should have some basic idea of how you’re going to be spending your day in the Magic Kingdom. At the bare minimum, you should know what time the shows and parades are that you want to see, and you should plan on keeping updated with the times guide for character meet and greets.
9) Use your Fastpasses wisely
Your Fastpasses will be used most efficiently if you save them for rides, instead of using them on shows, fireworks, and parade viewings. When you use Fastpass for a parade or firework viewing, you’re getting access to a reserved viewing area, however you still need to arrive fairly early to get the spots with the best view. At that point, you could have just arrived early without a Fastpass and had a similar view. When you use the service for a ride, you’re experiencing the ride with little or no way, so the greater benefit is seen when using Fastpass on rides.
10) Take in all the details
As a result of all of the attractions in the Magic Kingdom, many guests tend to rush between attractions, and they never get the chance to take in all of the smaller details that really make the park special. While visiting the park, make sure you do take some time to slow down, and notice the details in the parks design, and enjoy some of the street performers and lesser known, but just as fun, experiences (like the Frontierland Shootin Arcade, and Tom Sawyer Island for instance.)