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If I Only Had One Day at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, I Would…

Maybe you’ve only got a couple of days off from work. Perhaps there’s just one day when the whole family can get together. Or maybe you’re doing all four parks over a four-day period and you only have one day to dedicate to visiting Magic Kingdom. Whatever the reason, if you are on limited time at Disney World’s first theme park, make the most of it. How? Well, everyone enjoys Magic Kingdom in different ways, but here’s what I would do if I only had one day to visit.

 

10. I would get there before the park opens.

Magic Kingdom offers something special early in the morning that the other Disney theme parks do not—an opening ceremony. And it’s quite a production! Have you ever seen fireworks before 9:00 a.m.? You will during this exciting opening show that takes place in the forecourt of Cinderella Castle. Mickey and Minnie are there to welcome Guests to the park, and Disney princesses, heroes, heroines and other beloved characters take part in the festivities as well. The only way to see this early morning show is to arrive at Magic Kingdom before it opens. Check the My Disney Experience app to see what time the park opens on the day you’ll be visiting Magic Kingdom, and then remember that if you’re headed to the park from an off-property location, it can take up to an hour to get from the parking lot into the gates of the park and down to Cinderella Castle, so leave early.

9. I would browse Main Street U.S.A.

After the amazing opening presentation, it’s great to hit up Starbucks on Main Street and then take the time to explore the shops along the iconic street. Don’t buy those souvenirs just yet—you don’t want to carry them around all day in the park. Window shopping alone down Main Street U.S.A. is quite the treat!

8. I would see the Festival of Fantasy Parade.

This fantastic colorful parade takes place each day at Magic Kingdom in the afternoon, weather permitting. All your favorite Disney characters take part in the parade that showcases big, bold, beautiful floats and brilliantly colored costumes! Don’t miss it!

 

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7. I would do the classics.

Magic Kingdom was the first of the Disney theme parks to open at Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971. Many of the Opening Day attractions are considered “Walt classics” because they were inspired by Walt’s work in building attractions for Disneyland in Anaheim, California. If you’re a Walt fanatic, or if you just really love Disneyana and Disney nostalgia, be sure to experience these classic attractions—Jungle Cruise, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean (all three are in Adventureland), Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s a Small World, Haunted Mansion, Hall of Presidents and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. It’s a tall order, but you won’t regret experiencing each one of these attractions at least once.

6. I would tour the Haunted Mansion.

The Haunted Mansion attraction is fascinating. Don’t worry—it’s not your typical “haunted house”—no gore, no inappropriateness whatsoever. Instead, it’s a 15-room riding tour of an old mansion in Liberty Square that’s home to 999 happy haunts. The special effects used in this attraction will have you wondering how Disney did it, and most of us still wonder whether that Portrait Chamber is truly stretching. How is that candlestick floating in the hallway, and how in the world do those “hitchhiking ghosts” get into the doom buggies with Guests? On your one day at Magic Kingdom, see if you can decide “how they did that” when you visit the Haunted Mansion.

5. I would eat dinner at Be Our Guest.

This is by far one of the most difficult dining reservations to score, but if the Magic grabs you and you get the chance to experience it, dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant at Beast Castle is out of this world! Enjoy steak, broiled chicken, French onion soup, salads, ratatouille and more. For dessert, of course, try the Grey Stuff. Not only is the food good, but you and yours will be seated in either the West Wing, the Castle Gallery or the Grand Ballroom, and each room looks like it’s straight out of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Beast doesn’t sign autographs, but he does meet Guests at the castle after dinner, and you can have your picture made with him as well.

4. I would do the mountains.

It just wouldn’t be a day at Magic Kingdom without the mountains—Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. If you’re not the thrill junkie of your traveling party, at least encourage the rest of your crew to experience the mountains. But be prepared beforehand and make your FastPass+ selections 30 days before your visit if you’re not staying on Disney property or 60 days in advance if you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.

3. I would see the nighttime spectaculars.

A fabulous mix of music, special effects, projections and pyrotechnics wows Guests of the Magic Kingdom each night, weather permitting. See the Once Upon a Time nighttime spectacular hosted by Mrs. Potts and Chip from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. During this show, Cinderella Castle is illuminated with projections of scenes from different Disney films, and the music is great too! Later enjoy the Happily Ever After spectacular and see more lights, special effects, projections and pyrotechnics than any other nighttime spectacular in Magic Kingdom’s nearly 50-year history! It’s truly a magical grand finale to your day at Magic Kingdom.

2. I would buy the $12 balloon.

Yep, back home a $12 balloon would be ridiculous, but at Disney World, there’s something about that clear balloon with the colorful Mickey head inside that adds that last touch of magic to the day at Magic Kingdom. If you don’t have little ones who are crazy about balloons, buy one to give to another child as a random act of kindness—now that’s magical!

1. I would commit to visiting again ASAP.

Truth be told, you simply cannot experience everything Magic Kingdom has to offer in just one day. You’d be hard-pressed to do it all in two days. But if one day is all you have, make the very most of the magic, and promise yourself you’ll be back soon—very, very soon!

About Rebekah Tyndall Burkett

Rebekah grew up in Forney, Texas and lives just outside of Dallas. She’s been a Disney superfan since childhood, experiencing the magic at Walt Disney World for the first time at the age of 11. Journeys to Neverland are at least a yearly occurrence for her, her husband and her four children (the Fab Four). When they go to the parks, they stay in Florida for three weeks at a time. Rebekah loves exploring the history of the parks, the genius behind the Magic in the person of Walt Disney, and she is intrigued by all things Disney World and Disney Imagineering. When in the parks, Rebekah and her husband Scott make the most of their time by enjoying every minute with their Fab Four, by delving deeper into Walt’s vision for the parks and into the history behind the Walt Disney World Resort, and by photographing the many different types of architecture at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and on the World Showcase at EPCOT. When she’s not in the parks, Rebekah is excitedly setting travel dates and planning her family’s next adventure to their happy place deep within the Sunshine State. On breaks from planning her next trip, Rebekah is a writer, journalist and children’s author, penning children’s books about kids with special needs that she affectionately calls “believement-achievement” stories. Her hobbies include creative writing, paper crafting and interviewing Imagineers. She is also an advocate for Autism Awareness and for children with developmental disabilities of all kinds.