The Magic Kingdom is many guests’ favorite Walt Disney World park, and understandably so! It’s the most iconic of all WDW parks, after all. But how much do you actually know about this theme park? Here are our top tips and secrets about the Magic Kingdom – we’re sure you’ll discover your own when you visit!
1. Secret Song and Dance
Looking for a quiet place for a break? Take the first side street on your right as you go down Main Street USA towards the Castle. Have a seat at a table at the end of the street, and if you listen carefully, you’ll hear a voice singing scales, and the sounds of someone tap dancing, coming from the music and dance schools above.
2. Rolling Window Credits
While you’re on Main Street USA, take a look at the second floor windows lining the street. They’re inscribed with fictitious shop and shopkeeper names, and all of these names are actually the names of real-life individuals who were imperative in the development of Walt Disney World (Walt Disney’s brother, Roy, and his father, Elias, both make appearances).
3. Castle Magic
Cinderella Castle is a whopping 189 feet tall, 100 feet taller than Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland! And because of forced perspective (where the “bricks” in the Castle get smaller the higher you get), it seems even taller than it actually is.
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4. Secret Cinderella Suite
You’d never know it from looking at it, but there is a gorgeous suite of rooms high within Cinderella Castle. It was initially built as an apartment for Walt Disney and his family, but sadly he didn’t live long enough to use it. Don’t get your hopes up about staying here – it now serves as a prize for lucky contest winners, and no matter how much money you have, you won’t be able to buy a stay here.
5. Fake Flags
When you walk down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, the American flags you see aren’t actually American flags. Actual American flags must be raised, lowered, and flown at half-mast (impractical for WDW), so most of the flags are purposely missing a star or a stripe, which means they are not considered true American flags, and can therefore be left up permanently.
6. Parade Spot
If you’re looking for a spot for the afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade, try standing under the train station at the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. You can find some shade here, and you’ll also be in an excellent position to beat the crowds out of the park once the parade is done.
7. Horse Heaven
Speaking of parades, a little known fact is that you can actually visit the horses that pull Cinderella’s coach during the parades down Main Street USA. Head to the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort to see where these beautiful animals live.
8. Great Hall Ghosts
When you ride Haunted Mansion, pay special attention to the ballroom scene. The waltzing ghosts are created using an old theatre effect involving reflecting illuminated objects onto glass. When Disney Imagineers built the animatronics for the ballroom, they built them as you would expect, with the men leading their female partners. But when the figures were illuminated and reflected, they appeared in the reverse – which means the female ghosts you see in Haunted Mansion actually lead their male partners!
9. Haunted Ring
Along with the many, many Hidden Mickeys that can be found throughout the Magic Kingdom, there’s a special Disney Easter Egg in the interactive queue area of Haunted Mansion. It’s an official haunted ring, and it’s embedded in the pavement where a bit of metal has remained after an old turnstile was removed. Countless proposals have actually taken place here.
10. Down Time
Make sure you plan some down time in your day at the Magic Kingdom! Believe us, you’ll need it. And there are lots of places to relax indoors (The Enchanted Tiki Room, for example) or to cool down with some water fun (spitting camels, Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak).
11. Skip the Buffets
If you’re looking to save some money on your vacation, try skipping the character buffets. While popular, they’re definitely much more expensive than other meal options in the park, so opt for a cheaper meal, and instead visit a character meet and greet to get your fill of princesses and classic Disney characters.
12. Early Bird Magic
The Magic Kingdom tends to be least busy the first couple of hours of the day. So if you want to maximize your time in the park, make sure you’re there for rope drop, when crowds are lightest!
13. Ride at Night
Even if you’ve already ridden them, it’s worth riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain again at night. They seem like entirely new rides in the dark, and if you time your ride perfectly, you can even see fireworks as you ride!
14. Extra Magic Hours
Every day in Walt Disney World, at least one of the parks is open an hour early or stays open up to 2 hours late, only for guests staying on property. So if you’re staying at a Disney World resort, take advantage of Extra Magic Hours to spend time in the Magic Kingdom with fewer crowds.
15. Book Early
No one likes waiting in line. So make sure you book your FastPasses+ as soon as you’re eligible (30 days in advance for guests staying off property, 60 days before check-in for those staying at a Disney resort), to increase your chances of snagging a FastPass+ for your favorite ride.
16. FastPass+ Selections
The Magic Kingdom doesn’t tier its attractions, which means you can choose any 3 FastPasses+ for every day you’re in the park. Peter Pan’s Flight regularly has lines that are hours long, so this is a great option for a FastPass+; Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, as one of MK’s newest attractions, also routinely has longs lines. We also try to get a FastPass+ for Splash Mountain, which can have quite a wait on a hot day.
17. Plan, Plan, Plan
Perhaps the best tip for enjoying the Magic Kingdom is to have a plan. Plan out your day in the park well in advance, including your route around the park, taking into account your FastPasses+ and meal reservations. This will save you from back-tracking and wasting time.
Did you know there’s actually a labyrinth of not-quite-secret tunnels under the Magic Kingdom? They’re called Utilidors, and this is where all the less-than-glamorous functions of the park are carried out. You can book a backstage tour to explore these legendary tunnels yourself.
19. Dining Reservations
Make sure you book your dining reservations 180 days before your stay to maximize your chances of booking your favorite restaurants. But, if you’re not able to snag a table, don’t give up! Keep trying to make reservations as your vacation approaches, and if all else fails, visit your restaurant of choice the day of – because of cancellations, there are sometimes openings last minute.