Park Guide, Tips & Strategy
Magic Kingdom is not just the most visited park at Walt Disney World, it is the most visited theme park in the ENTIRE world. While it may be possible to have a perfectly lovely day without doing a ton of planning, you definitely won't get as much done – and you'll likely have to skip some experiences altogether since they require advance reservations.
Attractions that Require a Virtual Queue
TRON Lightcycle/Run - Learn More
Rides that are NOT Included in Genie Plus
TRON Lightcycle/Run*, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train*, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Prince Charming's Regal Carrousel, Astro Orbiter, Liberty Square Riverboat, Walt Disney World railroad, rafts to Tom Sawyer's Island
*Offers Individual Attraction Lightning Lane
Magic Kingdom often hosts after hours events. On these dates, the park will typically close at 6:00 pm - check the hours on the calendar before you pick your Magic Kingdom day(s).
Cinderella's Royal Table and Be Our Guest are very popular table service restaurants because they let you dine inside their respective castles. Be sure to book these reservations REALLY early (as in the first moment they become available to book) if you want to dine there.
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Early Entry Strategy
Make the most of those extra 30 minutes!
Guests staying at qualifying Disney World resort hotels can enter the parks 30 minutes before everyone else. Unlike the other parks, at Magic Kingdom you are limited to Main Street USA, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. If you want to ride the most popular ride(s) first – which is what most everyone else will be trying to do, as well – you really need to arrive at least 30 minutes before early entry begins. Otherwise, you will spend all of your early entry time in line for that first ride.
Most Popular Early Entry Attractions
Magic Kingdom Early Entry Tips
1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
This line gets very long, very fast
2. Peter Pan's Flight
It's nice to see the lovely queue, which you miss when you use a Lightning Lane
3. Space Mountain
Less popular than the first two, but good to cross of the list (or ride twice)
Disney buses will typically start running 1 hour before early entry, though they can arrive as early as 2 hours before (it's rare, but we have seen it happen).
The Monorail typically starts 1 hour before early entry at Magic Kingdom, though it can start as early as 90 minutes before. This is also true of the different boats and Skyliner, though keep in mind they are tied to the early entry time(s) of the parks they are headed to.
TRON Lightcycle/Run currently requires a Virtual Boarding Group, which you can book starting at 7:00 AM on the day of your visit. If you have an early boarding group, they may call you during early entry. If this happens, we recommend riding things during early entry first and then visiting TRON after it ends. While the Virtual Queue will get longer later in the day, it will still be quite short in the first 30 minutes of regular park time. Just make sure you get there within 60 minutes after your group is called.
Rope Drop Strategy
No early entry? Do "rope drop" instead!
You'll hear lots of Disney folks talk about "rope drop." It's even become a verb - "we rope dropped Jungle Cruise" is something you might hear in casual conversation. All this means is that you have arrived early - before the official opening time of the park – and lined up to be among the first non-early entry guests to enter when they drop the rope to let people inside. At Magic Kingdom, most folks will line up at the entrance to Adventureland for rope drop because you'll be allowed inside the park much earlier and the rope will be set up at the entry to different lands. Since early entry folks are already allowed into Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, Adventureland becomes a top pick for regular rope droppers.
Our Recommended Rope Drop Attractions
Even though lots of rope droppers will follow the siren song of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan's Flight, those rides are likely already full of folks from early entry, so head to these instead:
1. Jungle Cruise
This has the biggest payoff because the line will get massive later in the day
2. Big Thunder Mountain
Not as many people head here, so you can often ride a couple times if you like
3. Haunted Mansion
This is a great pick in the fall when folks are looking for the spooky rides
Magic Kingdom Rope Drop Tips
There will often be large crowds at the tapstiles to enter the parks leading up to rope drop, but keep your eye out for shorter lines farther away from where the buses, ferries and monorails let people out
If you are parking at the Transportation and Ticket Center, there's a Joffrey's coffee right by the entrance to the monorail that will have better coffee and a WAY shorter line than Starbucks on Main Street. Trust us, rope drop is better with coffee.
If your TRON virtual boarding group gets called, go there first or right after you exit your first ride. Even though it is a virtual queue, the line tends to get massive the longer you wait.
Genie Plus Strategy
If you're trying to conquer the Magic Kingdom in a day, the Genie is a must.
Magic Kingdom boasts a massive number of attractions with Genie Plus Lightning Lanes. It's also the park with the most attractions that DON'T offer a Genie Plus Lightning Lane. There's a ton of stuff to see and do at this park and it is impossible to do everything in one day. Genie Plus is the best way to come close, though – and even then, you'll need to be on top of your Genie game. Watch our 27 Tips video to learn to play those Disney Genie Slots.
Most Popular Genie Plus Lightning Lanes
Magic Kingdom Genie Tips
1. Jungle Cruise
This one gets hard to book as the day goes on
2. Peter Pan's Flight
The standby queue for this one can be brutal
3. Space Mountain
This one is easier to grab if you have 4 or less in your party
4. Big Thunder Mountain
On less crowded days, this one becomes a lot easier
Plan to jump in the lines for attractions that don't offer Genie Plus Lightning Lanes while you are waiting for your next ride's time slot to begin - there are a LOT of non-Genie attractions to fit into your day
Groups larger than 4 will have a hard time booking the most popular Lightning Lanes later in the day. For this reason, start early and focus on those popular rides first.
Try to avoid using the "2-hour rule." While you can book another ride 2 hours after booking the most recent one, you are much better off modifying your Lightning Lane and attempting to get an earlier return time. Once you tap into that ride, you can immediately book another. This is the key to getting lots of rides done at Magic Kingdom
5. Ariel's Grotto (Meet Ariel)
The problem here is capacity - there just aren't a lot of slots available