In this post, we are going to look at my go to plan for a stress free day at the Magic Kingdom. MK is a huge park, with a ton to do, and it can be overwhelming if you don’t go in with a solid plan of attack. Fortunately, if you know what you are doing, it can also be a super laid back experience while still being super fun.
To follow this plan, you will need to do the following ahead of time.
- Book Fastpasses 60 days out for
- 7 Dwarves Mine Train: 9:00 am – 10:00 am.
- Peter Pan’s Flight: 10:00 am – 11:00 am.
- Splash Mountain: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm.
- Make a dining reservation for 6:00 pm. We suggest Jungle Skipper Canteen. Its affordable, has good food and a fairly unique menu as far as theme parks go. If its a special occasion or once in a lifetime trip, you may want to go for Cinderella’s Royal Table instead.
Obviously, Magic Kingdom’s hours vary from day to day throughout the year. For this post, we are going to assume a 9 am opening and a 10 pm closing w/ a moderate crowd level (4-6 on a scale of 1-10). It will also assume a 2:00 pm showing of Festival of Fantasy and a 9:00 pm showing of Happily Ever After.
So once you have your fastpasses set and your dining reservation made, lets fast forward to the morning of our “stress free” day at the happiest place on earth. For this plan, you are going to want to arrive at the park for rope drop. For any of those unaware, rope drop is just the term for the official daily opening of the park.
Now, most people arriving at rope drop are going to head straight for Fantasyland, more specifically for Peter Pan or 7DMT. This is what most Disney planning sites would recommend and i’ll admit it’s probably the most efficient plan of attack.
This post however, is not necessarily about pure efficiency. Its about having the best day possible at Magic Kingdom and avoiding any stress along the way. Not only do you have to arrive super early (45 minutes to an hour) to get near the front of the pack, but you will have to deal with the angry mob mentality of many folks headed in that direction (Josh from EasyWDW doesn’t have a black belt in “elbow throwing” for no reason.)
Instead, we are going to start things off by heading in a different direction. This leads us to step 1:
Rope Drop Tomorrowland
Heading to Tomorrowland first will allow us to arrive at Main Street 5-10 minutes prior to opening rather than 45. It will also allow us to enjoy the welcome show at Cinderella Castle, then enjoy a more laid back walk over to our first attraction.
Since, we don’t have a fastpass for Space Mountain, we are going to knock that out first. From there head to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. Finally, after getting off Buzz, start to walk towards Fantasyland and hit up Tomorrowland Speedway on the way if you like (we would personally skip it unless our nieces were with us).
Fantasyland Fastpasses Part I
All three of the Tommorrowland attractions above should be walk ons if done in the order we suggested. This will allow you plenty of time to get over to 7DMT in time to use your 9:00 – 10:00 am fastpass.
Ideally, you want to arrive there about 9:50 am as that will allow you to head right over to Peter Pan and use your 10:00 – 11:00 am fastpass immediately after. If you are running a little behind, no worries as the next item on the list is not until 10:30 am.
The Muppets Present… Great Moments in History
After Peter Pan, head over to Liberty Square to catch the (typically) 10:30 am showing of “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in History.”
This is our favorite daytime show in all of WDW and is not to be missed. Obviously the 10:30 am schedule could potentially change, but its had a showtime in the slot for all of our recent trips over the past year or so.
Country Bear Jamboree and Early Lunch
Because we don’t recommend getting breakfast inside the parks, hopefully by now you’ve started to work up a good appetite. Head over to Frontierland and enjoy a nice air conditioned showing of the national treasure that is Country Bear Jamboree.
The show will exit right into Pecos Bills where you can grab an early lunch. Take your time and relax while you eat.
Fastpass Splash Mountain.
Once ready, take the short walk over to Splash Mountain where you will use your third fastpass.
This next part is very important. As soon as you scan your Magic Band (or park ticket) at the fastpass entrance, take out your phone and bring up the “My Disney Experience” app and look for additional fastpasses for your group.
Specifically, look for a Pirates of the Caribbean fastpass. You should be able to get one which can be redeemed within the next half hour or so. If you do not see what you are looking for at first, don’t be afraid to refresh the screen a few times. Cancellations are always happening and its common for new options to pop up every couple refreshes. You can even score hard to come by fastpasses often using this method.
After you’ve got your next fastpass lined up, enjoy a ride on our #1 ride in all of WDW.
Head to Adventureland and use your newly acquired Pirates of the Caribbean fastpass.
Again, after scanning at the initial fastpass entrance, load up the app and book another fastpass. There is a chance the Jungle Cruise will be available for a near return time. If it is book it. If not, choose a most likely instant return time for Flying Carpets of Aladdin.
Enjoy your ride on Pirates, then head over to your next fastpass.
If you were lucky enough to score a Jungle Cruise fastpass, then use your phone again and book Flying Carpets for after you get off. If you are heading right to Flying Carpets from Pirates (don’t worry, we’ll come back to the Jungle Cruise later), then use the app to book a fastpass for the Haunted Mansion. Again, you should be able to get a pretty quick return time.
Our last stop in Adventureland for now is going to be The Enchanted Tiki Room. We recommend grabbing a Dole Whip before heading in and enjoying it during the show. Next, we are going to hang a sharp left out of the Tiki room exit and head back towards liberty square.
Your fastpass for the Haunted Mansion will likely be good to go by now, so use it and enjoy. It should be between 1:00 – 1:30 pm at this point. If you finish with Haunted Masnion in time, catch the 1:30 showing at the Hall of Presidents.
If you’d rather skip this, start heading over towards Main Street and kill some time in the shops until its time for the next step.
Festival of Fantasy, Break Time, Back for Dinner
This next step is kind of cheating, as its really 3 steps in 1, but i’m doing it anyway. We are going to view the 2:00 pm Festival of Fantasy parade from Town Square.
This is the last area to fill up and you can grab a spot on most days right up until around the parade start time. Note: The 2:00 parade won’t actually arrive at Town Square until around 2:15 – 2:20. While you are waiting for the parade to start, load up the MDE app and look for a fastpass for Its A Small World with a return time of around 7:00 pm.
After this we are going to allow a roughly 3 hour break. We like to head back to our hotel and enjoy some pool time before getting ready for dinner. This is your time though so use it however you like.
One thing to consider is that this can be a pain if you drove your own car to Magic Kingdom and parked at the TTC. If we have a car parked at the TTC, we prefer to take the 5 minute walk to the contemporary and then use uber/lyft to get to our hotel and back again later. We hate the process of getting from the TTC to MK and prefer to not have to deal with the round trip twice in a day. Your mileage may vary on this.
You are going to want to return to the park right around 5:30 pm. This will give you time to leisurely head to your 6:00 pm dinner reservation.
Fantasyland Fastpass Part II
After dinner, you are going to head to It’s A Small World and use your fastpass which you made earlier. Continue the pattern of scanning your fastpass and then selecting another right away.
You should be able to get fastpasses for Little Mermaid and Winnie the Pooh without much trouble. Use the refresh trick above if you do not find what you are looking for at first glance.
While your in Fantasyland, feel free to watch Mickey’s Philharmagic and take a ride on Mad Tea Party if you feel like it. Neither should have much of a wait. Big Top Circus also should not be super busy at this time.
Happily Ever After
Assuming a 9:00 pm showtime for Happily Ever After, you are going to want to stake out a spot by around 8:30 at the latest. The best place to watch Happily Ever After is between the end of Main Street and the Partners statue. Anything in front of the statue is a rookie mistake. The castle is too tall and you will not be able to see most of fireworks behind it.
If you have already seen Happily Ever After and want to go super stress free, consider watching from Fantasyland instead. You will not see the projections obviously but it will be far less crowded and you can grab a spot pretty much right up until showtime (it is however much louder which may be a factor when deciding where to watch with young children).
The other no stress option is to book a dessert party, but its an expensive upcharge. If you do book a dessert party, go for the cheaper “Garden Plaza” viewing as it has a much better view than the seated area at Tomorrowland Terrace.
Big Thunder Mountain
Immediately after the fireworks, the hub area is going to be a log jam. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about this except either fight the crowds to get over towards Liberty Square, or just hang out for 10 minutes of so while the crowd dies down. If you watched the fireworks from Fantasyland, this won’t be a problem for you.
Eventually what you want to do is make your way over to Big Thunder Mountain. It will usually have a short wait after the fireworks and is a much better ride at night than it would have been earlier in the day. You should have time for one last ride. If you did not score a Jungle Cruise fastpass earlier in the day, hit that up on your way towards the park entrance. If you already rode Jungle Cruise, take a 2nd ride on either Splash Mountain or Big Thunder.
By the time you ride finish the last ride of your choice, the park will most likely be closed. You have completed your “stress free” day!
Bonus Tip: Stay for the Kiss Goodnight
I know this can be tough if you have young children, but I strongly suggest taking your time when exiting the park. About 30 minutes after closing, the “Kiss Goodnight” occurs in front of Cinderella castle. This is basically the parks way of saying good night. The castle twinkles, the “When You Wish Upon A Star” music plays, and an announcer thanks you for coming out and being a part of the day. The narration is as follows:
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, on behalf of everyone here at the Magic Kingdom, we thank you for joining us today for a magic gathering of family, friends, fun, and fantasy. We hope your magical journey with us has created wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
Walt Disney said that the Magic Kingdom is a world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, magic and make believe are reborn, and fairy tales come true. The Magic Kingdom is a place for the young and the young at heart. A special place where when you wish upon a star, your dreams can come true. Until we see you again, have a safe trip home. Thank you, and goodnight.”
It may seem like a simple thing, but it really is the perfect way to end a day at Magic Kingdom.
In addition to this, the park is just a really cool place to be after closing. The longer you stay the neater it is as there are fewer and fewer people allowing for photos of a near empty Main Street. I regularly stay an hour – an hour and a half after closing and its my favorite time of the the entire day. Again, this may not be do-able with young children, but if you can at least stay long enough for the Kiss Goodnight, I can’t recommend it enough.