The Walt Disney World Resort covers almost 30,00 acres, housing twenty-seven themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, several golf courses, miniature golf courses, a camping resort, and Disney Springs, a newly expanded Disney-themed outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex. The Magic Kingdom, one of the four theme parks, covers 107 acres and is made up of six themed lands: Main Street, USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. It seems mind boggling, but it is possible to tour this most magical kingdom in one day, with planning and Magic Band FastPass+ Reservations. Let me give you a step by step way it can be done. As Peter Pan would say, “Come on everybody, here we go!”
1. Reserve your FastPass+ attractions to coincide with your Magic Kingdom itinerary.
With the purchase of Disney World tickets, you can reserve your FastPass+ 30 days in advance, or 60 days in advance if you are staying at a Disney Resort. Have a quick snack for breakfast and arrive early at the Magic Kingdom. As you stroll down Main Street, USA, take that all important photo of your family in front of Cinderella’s Castle, or have one of the Disney Photo Pass photographers take the picture of your entire family or group. I would recommend reserving FastPass+ for three of the most popular attractions that are relatively close to each other. The first could be for Space Mountain, then the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and thirdly, Peter Pan’s Flight. These three attractions are the most popular in the Tomorrowland, Fantasyland area and the hardest to get reservations for. As soon as you have used all three reservations, you can then reserve a FastPass+, but only one at a time, so choose wisely.
2. Check out attractions between FastPass+ reservations.
Depending on the times of your initial FastPass+ reservations, there are a lot of attractions to visit in the vicinity of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. You may be able to catch a ride on the Astro Orbiter, the People Mover, Carousel of Progress, or Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. In between your FastPass+ reservations, you can check out Dumbo’s Storybook Circus, where you can enjoy a ride on the Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction, or the Barnstormer (a short, small roller coaster). If you have time, you can stop by Pete’s Silly Sideshow, where you can visit with Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Donald Duck, and Goofy. You can hang around with Dumbo and his circus attractions and characters for as long as you can until your ride reservations are close to expiring. The line to the Journey of the Little Mermaid is usually not too long, and it is a continuous moving ride in a giant clam shell, so watch your fast pass times, and hopefully, you can take a quick ride “under the sea” with Ariel and all her friends. If you plan ahead of time, your FastPass+ should be reserved in a manner that will keep you moving to attractions that are on the way to the next land. For example, let’s say your first FastPass+ reservation is for the Space Mountain at 9:30 am. Your next reservation is for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride at 10:00 am. It is approximately a 10-minute walk to this attraction, so you should be just in time after your Space Mountain experience. If your third FastPass+ reservation is for Peter Pan’s Flight, it is a 5-minute walk from the Mine Train ride to Peter Pan’s Flight, and your Disney World day has gotten off to a great start. If there is a bigger time spread between your ride reservations, visit some of the attractions suggested earlier. Also, It’s A Small World is right across from Peter Pan’s Flight, so if the line is short, hop aboard a boat and take an enchanted musical journey through many different countries hosted by children singing, dancing and celebrating the beauty, culture, and costumes of their native lands.
3. Know when to pass on the FastPass+.
After a quick bathroom and drink break, and a few minutes to plan your next FastPass+ reservation using your smartphone app, you’re ready for the next phase. Right around the corner from Fantasyland is Liberty Square, home of the Haunted Mansion, and this is another continuous moving attraction in a Doom Buggy through a haunted mansion, so I would probably not use a Fast Pass+ reservation for this ride. I would, however, definitely reserve a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a very fast moving, rollicking train ride through a haunted mine dashing in and out of desert caverns, a very popular attraction boasting to be the “wildest ride in the wilderness!”
4. Consider the distance between attractions.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is all the way at the far corner of Frontierland, so remember this when you reserve your fast pass. Splash Mountain is only a few yards from Big Thunder, so while you’re in the area, take a seat in a hollowed out log for a flume ride through the fantastic world of “Song of the South”, with music, animation and a 5-story drop toward the end, whoosh and splaaaash! Before or in between these two attractions, take a ride on a motorized log raft over to Tom Sawyer’s Island, and spend a little while discovering the make believe world of Tom Sawyer. Families can cross a barrel bridge, swinging bridge, explore caves, an old Fort, or just relax a few moments in a rocking chair while watching the Liberty Belle steamboat rolling along on the Rivers of America. After touring this adventuresome island, step aboard one of Tom Sawyer’s rafts for a quick trip back to Frontierland to continue your magical day at the Magic Kingdom.
5. Take a lunch break.
Now would be a good time to chow down for lunch at a very popular quick service eatery, called the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. This old west saloon and dining establishment offers some delicious Tex-Mex style menu items, such as a fajita platter, taco burger, beef nachos, southwest salad with spicy beef or chicken, etc. There is plenty of seating, and the service is quick serve, so you won’t have long to wait before your food is ready. Take a load off for a little while, enjoy your flavorful lunch, pull out that smartphone and reserve your next FastPass+. Here are my suggestions: Pirates of the Caribbean, or the Jungle Cruise, which are both just around the corner from Pecos Bill’s in Adventureland. If I had to choose, I would pick the Jungle Cruise, because it has a slower moving loading and unloading process, and the ride itself is longer than Pirates. You really don’t want to miss out on either of these two very popular attractions.
6. Go shopping on Main Street and take in the parade!
It is now late afternoon, and you have just made a circle tour of the Magic Kingdom, so now it’s time to take in a few shops along Main Street, USA, and also visit some of the attractions that were missed earlier. The Main Street shops are filled with Disney souvenirs, clothing, toys, Mickey Ears, Disney ball caps, collectibles, magnificent jewelry and highly popular Dooney & Burke or Vera Bradley handbags and accessories. Take a leisurely stroll through all the shops and maybe even purchase those “gotta have it” items. There is a very handy service that will enable you to have your purchases sent to a designated location near the front entrance for convenient pickup as you exit the park, so you can pick them up on your way out. If you are staying at a Disney Resort, you can have your purchases sent to your room for later pickup. Usually around 3pm every day, you don’t want to miss the “Festival of Fantasy Parade”, and the best place to watch this magnificent parade is at the top of the stairs at the Main Street Walt Disney World Railroad Station. This afternoon parade is one of the most sensational parades Disney has produced. It is a magical mix of fabulous floats, colorful costumes, original music, and a cavalcade of Disney characters from your favorite Disney stories. This is a 25-minute long parade, so be sure to plan your next FastPass+ reservation accordingly.
7. Take a train tour.
After the parade, get ready to board a vintage steam locomotive for a relaxing full circle tour of the Magic Kingdom, with stops at Frontierland and Fantasyland. There are four restored working narrow gauge trains operating and arrive at the stations every four to ten minutes, so the wait time to catch a train is very minimal. The train ride is so gentle, with the rocking back and forth in the open air cars, a gentle breeze, the sound of the steam engine and “thump, thump, thump” of the tracks. “Wake me up when we get there” is my motto when it is late in the afternoon and I am really tired. But for those who have only one day to get in as much as they can of this most magical world, I would suggest disembarking at Fantasyland, and hopefully, you have been lucky enough to get another FastPass+ for the very popular “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train” attraction. If not, visit some of the attractions you missed earlier. A few attractions not mentioned are the Winnie the Pooh ride the Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Mad Tea Party teacups all located in Fantasyland, and the Grand Prix Raceway, which is located in Tomorrowland, near the teacups. I would hang around Fantasyland for a while and take in all the sights and sounds of this beautiful, fun-filled land where dreams really do come true. Of course, bathroom breaks are a necessity, and the great thing about Walt Disney World is that there are numerous, large and convenient facilities in all the lands, in all the theme parks.
8. Grab a quick dinner.
After your grand adventure in Fantasyland, and just around the corner from Peter Pan’s Flight is another excellent quick dining restaurant, “Columbia Harbour House”, serving scrumptious fried fish, shrimp, or chicken baskets, lobster rolls, New England clam chowder, and grilled salmon. There are also choices of specialty salads and sandwiches, including a gluten-free menu. The food is delicious and there is abundant seating, including a second-floor area. The atmosphere is that of a quaint fishing village in early America. This is a great restaurant to get a good, hot meal, refreshing beverages, and take a break to get refreshed for the next phase of your one-day journey through the Magic Kingdom.
9. Get ready for the fireworks!
For the next few hours, before the 9:00 pm “Wishes” fireworks extravaganza, stroll around the different lands, enjoying the sights and sounds of whatever land you are visiting, and also experiencing the attractions you may have missed earlier. Some of the better places to enjoy the fireworks show are the Walt Disney World train station, sitting at a table at the Liberty Square Market, sitting at a table at Pinocchio Village Haus outdoor seating area, the bridge over Tomorrowland, in front of Gaston’s Tavern, behind Cinderella’s Castle near the Carousel, and the most popular place and the most crowded is the Cinderella Castle hub at the end of Main Street. For this location, you really need to arrive early, and for the next hour or so you will be standing or sitting on the ground awaiting the start of the show, and, beginning May 12, 2017, a brand new fireworks spectacular will begin, entitled “Happily Ever After”, which will be immensely popular. It will incorporate more lasers, more lights, and more projections than ever before. Characters and scenes from more than 25 Disney films will be featured through state-of-the-art projections, enchanting new music, and awe-inspiring fireworks. There is talk of drones also being used to enhance the show.
10. Soak it all in before you leave!
After the glorious fireworks exhibition, either “Wishes” or “Happily Ever After”, and depending on where you are located, a majority of the crowds head for the exit gates, but my best advice would be to not exit right away and enjoy the rest of your day or evening riding more attractions, or if you’re too tired to wait in line or walk to an attraction, find a quiet place to sit and watch the crowds pass by. Purchase a hot or cold beverage and a snack and enjoy the parade of people on their way out. Some of the conversations can be amusing or even sad, for those youngsters who are not ready to leave. Whether you choose to end your day with a bang or a relaxing reminiscing of your wonderful Disney World adventure, you will probably begin thinking about your next visit and making sure you have more time to soak up all the magic and fantasy of this wonderful place called the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
Well, there you have it; my advice about how to enjoy the Magic Kingdom in one day. Of course, I don’t believe anyone would be able to guarantee a one-day plan that would enable you to visit every attraction and every show presented at the Magic Kingdom, including the exciting Parades and fireworks. There is a way, however, that you can plan ahead and save time through FastPass+ reservations, which will enhance your visit by giving you more options and opportunities to enjoy your favorite attractions. Whether you spend one day or a number of days at the Magic Kingdom, each and every visit is a one-of-a-kind experience that you will remember forever!