Brimming with enchantment, this vast wonderland of dynamic shows, exhilarating rides, and unadulterated joy is truly the world's entertainment capital.
If you're lucky enough to check this epic destination off your bucket list, you're in for an uplifting experience. They don't call it "the happiest place on Earth" for naught. You can't help but smile as you walk down lively Main Street U.S.A. toward Cinderella's Castle with the scent of freshly baked cookies around every corner. Can Magic Kingdom be done in one day? We say yes! with a little bit of pixie dust, Walt's ingenuity, and our handy Magic Kingdom guide! The man who built a dream out of a swamp would encourage you to try!
We've broken down the lay of the land and highlighted the different key attractions, giving you a broad view of what you want to see and do as you discover how to do magic kingdom in one day.
Walt Disney World Backstory
Walt Disney developed "The Florida Project" in 1960 and designed it to supplement Disneyland in California. Walt's initial blueprint called for a planned community, the "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" (EPCOT). When he died in 1966, Walt's older brother Roy Disney came out of retirement to ensure Walt's dream came to fruition.
Construction began to replicate Disneyland in 1967. The Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, followed by EPCOT in 1982. Roy insisted the name of the complex be changed from Disney World to Walt Disney World.
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With an average attendance of over 58 million, Walt Disney World® Resort is the most visited vacation attraction in the world. It's also the biggest at 27,000 acres. In addition, the flagship Disney theme park recently commemorated its 50th anniversary.
Key Tips to Follow
We're not going to lie to you; conquering this magnificent park is no joke. Although two or three days to get through Disney World's parks are ideal if you've only got one – we've provided some quick tips to follow to help you make the most of your epic Magic Kingdom encounter and answer the burning question of "can you do Magic Kingdom in one day?"
- Reserve discount Magic Kingdom Passes in advance with MagicBands for the whole family.
- Before you head out, start with a good breakfast. You'll be walking seven to ten miles, close to a mini-marathon, so you need to fuel up!
- Bring a backpack with snacks and drinks. You'll want to stay hydrated with all the calories you're burning. Disney even allows coolers.
- Wear comfy clothes and bring a light jacket. It may be cool mornings and evenings.
- Check out our seasonal guides to Walt Disney World. We've got you covered during summer and winter!
- Wear a hat, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes. Not new ones that may give you blisters.
- Arrive early! This is vital to beat the thralls of visitors. Try to be at the head of the line for the great "rope drop," which signals the park's opening. Take advantage of this and hit your top attractions early. The first hour or two will be noticeably less crowded.
- Take a picture of your parking row (i.e., character) before leaving your car.
Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lane
Since there are over 40 can't miss Magic Kingdom attractions here, it's nearly impossible to do them all in one day, but here are some valuable tips to get you through a great many. Disney Genie has replaced the former FastPass+. This free service makes suggestions based on your selected Disney interests. Then, from the Disney Experience app, you can check the Tip Board to see when you're eligible to make another selection. It's almost a necessity on our best one day Magic Kingdom plan.
There's also the Genie+ upgrade that allows you to make ride reservations for an additional fee of $15 plus tax per ticket per day. The service works with the Disney MagicBands. Genie+ is a same-day reservation system. Selections can be made starting at 7:00 a.m. for everyone, regardless of whether you're on or off-site. Experts say you should be able to reserve up to three attractions on a crowded day via Genie+.
Individual Lightning Lane Passes
For the highly demanded venues, guests can purchase Lightning Lane entrance access individually and select an arrival window, one at a time for up to two attractions a day. This option is available for all guests-with or without Disney Genie+. Pricing and availability vary, with rides starting at $7 per attraction, up to $17 depending on the ride and dates. Check the My Disney Experience app on the day of your visit for current prices and availability.
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Pro Tip: Guests of a Disney Resort Hotel can make their first purchase for Individual Lightning Lane attractions at 7:00 a.m. on the day of their visit. All other guests can make their first purchase when the park opens.
The Genie+ and Lightning Lane might be your best option for must-do rides and attractions. If you're willing to spend extra money, you'll spend less time waiting in line.
Magic Kingdom Lands
Follow along as we highlight the rides and shows within each land to see what interests you, what you can pass on, and what you simply must do!
Each of the six Magic Kingdom lands offers its own unique celebration and vibration. Like spokes on a bicycle wheel centered around Main Street, the various lands make it easy to navigate through the park.
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Photo Alert: Take a picture on Main Street at "A Legendary Bench" for a great frame with the Castle in the backdrop. You can pay extra to hold Tinkerbell in your hand for that added magical touch. Never ask "where is Tinkerbell in Disney World" ever again! She's right in the palm of your hand.
Here we've underlined the logistics of the rides and endless attractions for you to choose from. First, list your top choices—these will be the ones you want to hit early in the day.
To the left of Main Street, Adventureland has two sub-areas, the Arabian Village and the Caribbean Plaza, home to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. In addition, you'll find the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Swiss Family Treehouse in the remote jungles of Africa.
Pro Tip: Pirates and the Jungle Cruise are two can't-miss Disney favorites. They're close to the entry, so you may want to get there first. However, Pirates is dimly lit, and it could be a tad scary for little ones, so you might want to check it out first before bringing the whole gang.
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Go back in time on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad around the park. Frontierland also houses the must-do Splash Mountain. This is a refreshing ride on a hot day, but get ready for a big, wet drop at the end!
Fun Fact: Do you love Splash Mountain enough to decorate with it? Check out this Splash Mountain blueprint. It will make any space magical!
Another must-see ride for brave souls is the beloved classic Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square. Also, guests can experience our nation's humble beginnings at the Hall of Presidents. From Washington to Biden, this enthralling animatronic show truly brings these characters to life. Be aware, in staying true to the times; Liberty Square has no bathrooms.
Main Street U.S.A.
Designed to resemble American small towns during the early 20th century, Main Street was Walt's first vision. You'll find the 189-foot landmark Cinderella's Castle at the end of the street. You can stroll through the castle archway to move from Main Street to Fantasyland, but there is no access inside the Castle.
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Fun Fact: Cinderella's Castle Suite is the most coveted exclusive hotel room at Walt Disney World, but it can't be rented. Only contest winners and other special guests have access.
If you have young children, you might want to start here with the Peter Pan's Flight and the new Seven Dwarf's Mine Train ride, a stellar roller coaster that whips you through enchanting scenery. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is another charming, memorable ride based on the 1977 film.
Fun Fact: While Cinderella's Castle is in Florida, Sleeping Beauty Castle is at California's Disneyland, Disneyland Paris has Le Chateau de la Belle, Hong Kong has the Castle of Magical Dreams, and Shanghai has the Enchanted Storybook Castle.
Some say Tomorrowland is the most popular area at the park. The iconic Disney World ride, Space Mountain, is not to be missed. It's a thrilling intergalactic indoor rollercoaster. This park favorite always has a long wait so keep that in mind, as does Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.
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This "must-do ride" (perfect for all ages) whizzes you through an inside arcade where you can rack up points. Another Disney gem is the park's oldest attraction, Disney's Carousel of Progress, featured in the 1964 New York World's Fair. Nearby, you'll find the Speedway ride that wheels you around a winding track of twists and turns.
Pro Tip: Tomorrowland has several snack stops and restaurants like Cosmic Ray's with indoor and outdoor seating. Also, the Lunching Pad offers burgers, frozen drinks, and Mickey bars. In addition, Mickey's Star Traders in Tomorrowland provides some of the best take-home souvenirs.
Plan Your Disney Day
You're probably overwhelmed, wondering how you visit all these fantastic lands. So, if you're still unsure what to cut and keep for your one-day Magic Kingdom Orlando experience, here's a quick-paced itinerary that may give you some ideas.
Keep in mind that each Disney trip is unique, and since everyone has different tastes and age groups, there's really no right or wrong way to spend your time. Just be present and have fun!
Start in Fantasyland, which typically has the highest number of rides and longest lines. Hit the Seven Dwarfs (It should be your Genie+ pick), Journey of the Little Mermaid, Peter Pan's Flight, and the Teacups are all highly popular. You could also start with the Pirate's ride and Jungle Cruise, which we suggested earlier; it's up to you.
Next, stroll through the rest of Fantasyland before hitting up Tomorrowland. There, you can tackle Space Mountain and meet Buzz Lightyear. He's usually posing for pictures near his Space Ranger ride.
Then, cross over to Liberty Square to ride The Haunted Mansion. By now, breakfast may have worn off. However, Columbia Harbor House is adjacent to the attraction, so you can grab a quick turkey leg and keep moving!
The park offers unrivaled fun, with engaging characters from Mickey Mouse and Princess Jasmine to Buzz Lightyear. So if greeting Goofy or the Princesses is high on your priority list, you might want to meet the characters during mealtimes.
Your time is precious with only one day, and waiting 60-120 minutes to hug Donald Duck may not be feasible. If you make a reservation for lunch or dinner at one of the character dining experiences, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Pro Tip: You never have to pay for water in the park. Just go up to any quick-service restaurant and ask for a cup.
Start the afternoon in Frontierland, where you should use Genie+ to ride Splash Mountain. Even though this ride has been around since the park's opening, it still draws a crowd. In addition, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is right next door. Next, hit Adventureland Aloha Aisle for a sugar boost with a Dole Whip treat. Try to get all the popular rides early so by afternoon you can visit indoor attractions, like Mickey's Philharmagic, in the cool air-conditioning.
You'll need to save your spot at least 30 minutes to an hour to see the parade, which is time you may or may not wish to give up. So, unless you are a die-hard parade lover, you might want to skip the afternoon show to take advantage of the shorter lines and less crowded venues. Also, it's easy to get pulled in to watch one of the entertaining Broadway-quality shows, but you must stay the course if you're going to see everything you want to see!
Pro Tip: If you want to watch the parade, experts say to watch it from Frontierland; you'll be the first to watch it pass from this spot. The parade starts at 3:00 p.m.
The atmosphere at the Magic Kingdom somehow becomes even more enchanting after dark. The park twinkles with light, and nothing quite prepares you for the sight of the Castle. The Enchantment Spectacular, lasting an impressive 15 minutes, brings your favorite Disney characters to life in the nighttime sky. The magnificent streaming fireworks will take your breath away from anywhere in the park. As Tinker Bell flies around the Castle, you may wish upon a star.
Leaving the Park
This may be the least pleasant experience of your magical day. Understandably, people are tired and grumpy with achy feet and cranky kiddos. If you are still standing and have energy, the shops along Main Street may be a nice alternative to beating the crowds. It's best to leave during the fireworks show or hold up a bit and leave after the surge.
We hope you'll have your most excellent day at Magic Kingdom no matter what you do! The treats, shops, and rides are unforgettable. Follow along with these tips to help save you time and energy!
Experience the Best of the Magic Kingdom
Even if your time is short, you can conquer the Magic Kingdom in one day with this itinerary. If you've missed something, that's just a reason to come back!
And remember to bundle your theme park and attraction tickets with our Orlando Hotels and Lodgings for even greater savings.
Have You Been to the Magic Kingdom?
What is your first stop in the park?
Leave us a comment below!