Experiencing Magic Kingdom with small children can be next-level amazing. For one thing, the authentic looks of awe on their tiny faces lets you know they truly believe in magic—and it’s so precious! But managing a chaotic park in one day with little ones means you’ll need to do some serious pre-planning. We’re here to help.
Before you Go:
As we mentioned in our 6 Steps Planning, you’ll want to figure out FastPass+ reservations and Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) before you enter the park. You know your party’s A-list, but here are our general suggestions for parties with small children:
1. FastPass+: Peter Pan, Princess Fairytale Hall Greetings (the current most popular princesses), Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
All of these have no height restrictions and have historically long lines. Obviously, you’ll need to choose something else if you don’t have princess lovers…or if you have only princess lovers. Another option is to go ahead and get FastPass+ for the “big” rides and just stagger which adult stays out with the little one(s). This can be a useful strategy for those with bigger kids to accommodate too, but remember Rider Swap is always an option (discussed below). If you choose to go with the latter, good picks would be: Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, or Splash Mountain.
Schedule FastPass+ reservations for early in the day, ideally 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00 if you can.
2. ADR: Cinderella’s Table OR Crystal Palace OR Be Our Guest
If table service dining is important to your family, I’d suggest you choose a character meal so it’s a special, fun experience for your little one(s). However, you may want to choose just ONE (or none at all) on a 1 day stop in Magic Kingdom to save time for attractions.
All right, here we go!
1. Early Morning
Arrive BEFORE opening. (Little ones never sleep in anyways, am I right?) If the park opens at 9:00 you should be at the gate no later than 8:45, which means you should be in the parking lot/at your transportation spot no later than 8:10.
2. Rush Ride
We mentioned this before. Put off the normal castle photos that everyone is doing, and get in line straight away for one of the popular rides that you did NOT get a FastPass+ for. My recommendation—head straight for Seven Dwarves Mine Train. If your little one does not meet the height restriction, leave one adult out with them and notify the cast member that you’d like to do Rider Swap. (Rider Swap means that the adult that stays out will receive special FastPass+ ticket(s) to avoid another full wait in line.) Since the regular line should be at its shortest at this point, you’re maximizing your time. Do Prince Charming’s Carousel while the second adult rides Mine Train.
OK, now relax. Start checking off your FastPass+ reservations. Your window for your first FastPass+ is probably near closing. Go there first. Then check off a few other rides around it if possible. Example: If your first FastPass+ is Peter Pan from 9:00-10:00, you’ll probably get there around 9:45 or so. Then ride Small World and maybe do Enchanted Tales with Belle if you’ve got time.
Stop at Gaston’s for a cinnamon roll. Mmmm!
5. Late Morning
At this point, it’s probably nearing 11:00 and the window for your second FastPass+ is probably about to close. Go there now. Assuming you’re doing Princess Greetings, then you can probably do Under the Sea and/or Winnie the Pooh before heading to your third FastPass+ with Buzz before noon.
Since you’re in Tomorrowland, head to Cosmic Rays for counter service. Animatronic Sonny Eclipse will entertain your little one in air conditioning. While there, reserve another FastPass+ on your My Disney Experience app. (I’d suggest Jungle Cruise for around 3:00–see below.)
7. Early Afternoon
Finish off Fantasyland with the Teacups and/or Dumbo.
8. Nap Time
At this point (probably around 2:00) your little one is probably getting very sleepy. Since you’ve only got one day, I’d suggest NOT leaving the park, but just strapping them in the stroller and taking a long stroll to the other side of the park so they have time to settle in for a snooze. Head to Frontierland where the adults can do Rider Swap on Thunder Mountain or Splash Mountain. (Splash Mountain for sure if it’s hot.)
9. Snack and Parade
Grab a Mickey Bar or Dole Whip for everyone and settle in for the Festival of Fantasy Parade. An ideal spot would be in the shade near the tunnel to Adventureland, by Country Bear Jamboree. Your little one will probably wake up once the music of the parade begins.
10. Late Afternoon
Head directly to your new FastPass+. Assuming you chose Jungle Cruise, there will still be a little bit of a line…reserve another FastPass+ while you wait to board. (FastPass+ options will be slim at this point. If a Mickey Mouse greeting for after dinner is available, that’s a good choice.) Check off other Adventureland/Frontierland things like Magic Carpets, Pirates of the Caribbean (though beware—possibly scary for little ones), or Woody and Jessie greetings. This might also be a good time to go back for those iconic Cinderella’s Castle photos.
If you’ve made an ADR for table service, that’s your plan. Otherwise, check out Pecos Bill’s for delicious Tex Mex.
Now is the time to check off anything you missed above or add a few extras if you’ve got time. Rider swap for Thunder Mountain, Tiki Room, or meeting Mickey or Tink in Town Square are all good options.
13. Late Night
Fireworks, of course. Check the time schedule on MDE app.
14. Late Late Night
After the fireworks, there will be a mad rush for the exit. But the park isn’t closing! If your little one can handle it, head for a few more rides. This might be a good time to Rider Swap Space Mountain and do the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. As long as you enter the line one minute before closing time, you’ll get to ride.
You’ll notice there are quite a few things left off this list. In the interest of time, you simply will not be able to do everything…maybe not even everything listed above. That’s OK! No matter what you fit in, it will be a magical day. That being said, here are some other great little kid options that you may want to put in your schedule.
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic – Do this while in Fantasyland if you need to sit in the A/C.
- Mickey’s Friendship Faire – A great show on the Castle Stage. Opt for the latest show in the afternoon so you’re not sweltering in the heat.
- Characters – Meet the classic gang near Dumbo. (BUT don’t waste time on this if you’ll be going to another park—you can meet them there. Mickey in Town Square is the exception if you have time because he’s the only one who “talks”.) Also if your child has a favorite like Ariel or Merida, put them on the list. Just prioritize carefully—you could literally spend your entire day just meeting characters in Magic Kingdom.
- Tom Sawyer’s Island – Kids love the freedom of the trails, caverns, fort, and playground, but just be aware that it will eat up a good chunk of time.
- Muppets Great Moments in American History – If your child likes the Muppets the show will be funny, even if a little over their head.
- Country Bear Jamboree – A cute show if you need to sit down and cool off.
You May Want To Skip:
There are some things that you may definitely NOT want to put in your schedule with little ones.
- Haunted Mansion – too creepy.
- Liberty Belle – takes too long for squirmy toddlers; very little seating.
- Carousel of Progress – kids don’t get it.
- Hall of Presidents – again, little kids don’t get it.
However you choose to schedule it, have a memory-filled Magic Kingdom day with your small kiddos!