You only have one day at Disney World and you want to do it right! You are looking to have the most magical day ever at the Magic Kingdom and go rope drop to park close, so scroll on for the itinerary to have the most perfect day ever. In this itinerary, we will not be using the paid Genie+ program or Individual Lightning Lanes. Instead, we are opting for a more casual day that will allow us to enjoy the park without stressing over the app. Here is a breakdown of our one day Magic Kingdom itinerary.
First things first: If we know we are only going to Disney World for ONE DAY then plan ahead as much as possible! Walt Disney World sells park tickets up to one year in advance. That might be a little overkill, but as soon as you know your date, buy your tickets and make your reservations. You cannot enter a park without a park reservation so do it immediately. These do sell out!
Sure, it’s possible to get lucky and snag a day-of dining reservation, or a spot on the walk-up waitlist, but you only have one day in the Magic Kingdom! You don’t want to leave it up to chance. Dining reservations can be made 60 days in advance, but you are a Disney ninja… You’re not going to casually scroll through the app to book a dining reservation sometime around the 60-day mark. No! Here’s what you’re going to do:
- Create a countdown to find out exactly when your 60-day mark is. We recommend the app Countdown for Disney.
- Set your alarm. A Disney ninja knows that the online reservation system opens at 6:00 AM EST. Sometimes it is even opening reservations at 5:45 AM EST, get your coffee early! Well, earlier…
- Know what is close:
- Restaurants in Magic Kingdom are Tony’s Town Square, Crystal Palace, Skipper Canteen, The Diamond Horseshoe, Liberty Tree Tavern, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Be Our Guest.
- Restaurants in closeby resorts are California Grill, Chef Mickey’s, and Steakhouse 71 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Citricos, and Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Ohana, and Kona Cafe, at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and Storybook Dining at Artist Point, and Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
It’s Magic Kingdom Day!
Set Your Alarm
The most important tip for a one-day Disney vacation is to wake up early! Rope drop is the term for the physical rope that cast members hold to quarter off sections of the park until it officially opens. You want to be there! In fact, you want to show up 30 minutes BEFORE the park opens, so wakey, wakey, eggs and bakery! If you are staying off site and want to be in the Magic Kingdom early, you want to be at the TTC 1 hour before Magic Kingdom opens.
TTC? What the heck is the TTC? I thought I was going to the Magic Kingdom?!
If you are not staying in a Walt Disney World Resort, you will be arriving at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) before actually walking through those magical turnstiles. When you arrive, there are 3 different modes of transportation to choose from to get to the Magic Kingdom: Monorail, ferry, or bus.
You’re at the TTC and see the ferry to your left and the monorail to your right. Before you make a run towards those monorail stairs, remember that everybody and their brother knows that the monorail is a piece of iconic history and no trip is complete without a ride. If that’s you, go for it! If you are simply looking for the fastest way to the castle, go left! Get on the ferry and walk all the way to the front and stay on the first floor. That way you will be one of the first people off the boat. Plus, there is something magical about watching the castle come closer and closer as you near the Magic Kingdom.
You’re in, Now What?
You did it! The Mickey light turned green and dinged you into the Magic Kingdom at 8:30 AM. The park officially opens at 9:00 AM, so now you have time to take it all in. Hear the music, smell the popcorn, see the castle, and take more pictures than you will ever print in a lifetime.
You’ve got your obligatory castle photos and are ready to start the day. While most of the crowd is pushing to get to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or wait in a crazy line at the Main Street Bakery, AKA Starbucks, you are going to go left to Adventureland! Don’t follow the sheep and stop at the first line!
Most people will stop at Jungle Cruise because it is the first line, you know better and will keep walking. Just past Jungle Cruise is Pirates of the Caribbean, and it is one of the best attractions in the park. You know the best part? You will likely walk right on!
After Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain should be open and will likely be at its lowest wait time of the day. Both Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain are your next rides. You want to do them early because of the low wait times and also because they are among the first to close at any sign of lightning. Since Florida is synonymous with storms, it’s a good idea to knock these out early.
Three rides down and most of the day’s guests haven’t even gotten out of bed yet. You deserve a snack… and caffeine. Break out your My Disney Experience app for your first Mobile Order of the day. Just a short walk into Liberty Square is Sleepy Hollow, a small, unassuming snack building. Disney calls it a snack stand, but we believe that is deceiving since it is an actual building amongst snack carts. Perhaps the best breakfast in all of Walt Disney World is the Fresh Fruit Waffle, a hot waffle filled with nutella, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas all folded up taco-style. Don’t forget to add a french vanilla Joffrey’s iced coffee to your order!
Why Mobile Order? Why not just walk up?
You, oh smart momma, Mobile Order on your walk over because when you arrive you get to your order, you breeze past the line of people, walk right up to your designated window, and voila! You’re done. So, the better question is, why wouldn’t you Mobile Order?
After you grab your order, go find some sweet shade by the Liberty Bell. This area is often empty and quiet. You can read all about the history of that liberty bell, as well as the tree. Also, listen for the music change, it’s almost time for the Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade, and it’s going right by you!
Say Hello to Madame Leota
The Haunted Mansion is the one ride that appears in every single Disney park and it is different in every park. This opening day attraction is iconic and easily the best Imagineering in Magic Kingdom. The wait time for this ride is going to start creeping (see what I did there?) higher and higher so best to get in line now before lunch! Be sure to pay attention while in the cue, there are tons of Easter eggs and fun things to see.
Beat the heat. And the crowd.
It’s around noon on our magical day and the stroller gangs have arrived. Main Street is packed and Fantasyland is shoulder to shoulder. No thanks. Not on our best day ever. It’s time for us to mosey on over to our late lunch reservation. We recommend you take a break between 1:00 – 2:00. On your way to your lunch go ahead and indulge in a little shopping. If you’re leaving the park for lunch here’s a tip about Main Street, you can bypass most of the crowds by going into The Emporium. The Emporium is a series of shops on Main Street, and many people do not realize that they are all connected.
You’re back and refreshed, fed, and cooled off! Instead of being in a big rush for rides like at rope drop, take in all that is Main Street, USA. Listen to the Dapper Dans, say hello to the Suffragettes, and stick around for the 3:00 parade. Now is a great time to appreciate the details that you missed in the morning. Check out the windows, the flags, the fire department, and look for hidden Mickey’s.There are so many hidden treasures in this park!
It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
It’s time to head on over to Tomorrowland to stir up some healthy competition between you and your group! Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin has no height requirement, and typically not a long wait. Be sure to check out ways to beat the game and show off your Galactic Hero sticker if you max out the score!
Now that you’re ready for space travel, cross the way to go to Space Mountain. Do you dare raise your hands on this dark indoor roller coaster?
Well, now that your blood pressure is up, let’s go get our laugh on. The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is such a charming underrated attraction. This is a stand-up comedy show that involves the audience along with our favorite friends from Monstropolis. No animatronics here, these jokes are done in real-time.
You have probably walked by the elevator for the Astro-Orbiter all day and didn’t even notice it. Notice it now, my friends, because you can see the whole park from up there! I know people say that it is just another Dumbo, but there is something so different from being up so high.
Whew! You’re starting to get a little tired, not to mention hot, but you still have about 4 hours until park close! Cue a nice long air-conditioned piece of history. The Carousel of Progress never has a line and is about 20 minutes of the typical American family over the last 100 years experiencing the latest modern conveniences. And thanks to the Sherman Brothers, you will be singing that song for the rest of the night!
Time to be a Kid Again
After moving through Tomorrowland, we recommend making your way through Fantasyland around dinner time and after. You’ll start to notice the stroller mafias start to disperse as day turns to evening.
Now, have fun and just hit every attraction down the line! Coming from Tomorrowland, attractions down this strip are The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, and It’s a Small World. Don’t let the grumpies in your group steer you away from It’s a Small World. It is iconic and adorable. …And I actually like the song.
You have been cruising through your day and experiencing minimal waits. Until Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This coaster/dark ride mash-up always has long waits. Unless you purchase an Individual Lightning Lane, you will be waiting. Never fear! It is still the best day ever! That is because the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has an outdoor cue. That means you can enjoy a nice snack while you wait!
Mobile Order Time!
Friar’s Nook and Storybook Treats are next to each other right across from Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Storybook Treats has simple ice cream sundaes, as well as limited offering character cones with various dole whip flavors. Storybook Treats does not offer Mobile Ordering, so wait in line to get some ice cream, and while you’re there Mobile Order some savory snacks at Friar’s Nook! Friar’s Nook has things like buffalo chicken tots, hot dogs, and other savory snacks. Load up! If you are waiting in a 60+ minute line, it will fly by if you’re sharing some snacks and treats with friends.
Where it All Began…
Fantasyland is where the whole idea of Disneyland began. It all started with a carousel… But that’s a story for another day! This area you will find Fairytale Hall to meet four different princesses, Mickey’s Philharmagic, a 3D movie that defies explanation, and of course, a carousel. Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel is often overlooked, but this gorgeous carousel is a piece of history in and of itself. Did you know that this carousel is over 100 years old?! When you go to ride it, see if you can find Cinderella’s horse.
Magic Kingdom at Night
The Magic Kingdom is a whole nother place when the sun goes down! Start walking down main street towards the Main Street Confectionary. The Main Street Confectionary is filled with nostalgic treats that just bring joy. Caramel apples, mickey marshmallows, rice cereal treats, and more are waiting for you to come and enjoy. From the second you smell the delicious aroma of sugar, your will power will be put to the ultimate test. Don’t forget to walk past the bakery case into the popcorn room! Here you can choose a type of popcorn: plain or caramel, and then choose a chocolate drizzle and candy mix-ins.
Now you’ve got your snack it’s time to stake out your spot for the Enchantment Fireworks show. What makes Enchanted unique is the projection shows that happen down the buildings on Main Street. Any area on Main Street is a perfect spot. If you don’t care about the projection show, the area behind the castle will be virtually empty and you can see the whole fireworks show.
The fireworks end around 9:30 and then the mass exodus will ensue, but you will not be one of them! The park is still open for another half hour, so enjoy the much emptier park to snag another ride or two! Think of it this way, you can stand in line for an hour for a bus or a half hour for a ride. Not a very hard choice. While everyone is rushing to the exit, make your way back to Adventureland to jump in line for The Jungle Cruise, or any other ride you missed out on, or one that you just want to ride one more time! Pro tip: Splash Mountain and Astro-Orbiter are awesome at night.
Bonus Tip: Don’t fret about the wait times being after after park close. As long as you enter a cue before the technical park close, then you are going to get to ride, no matter how long the line is.
You did it. The park is officially closed and you finished your last ride. The castle is giving the remaining guests the “Kiss Goodnight”. While you are making your way out, be sure to say goodbye to the man who made it all possible at the Partners statue, (the one with Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney). Snag pictures in the empty park, but remember to be courteous to the Cast Members and not stay too long.
Take it all in.
What a day! You did all of the major rides, ate all of the things, and saw the parade and cavalcade, all in one day. We know that you want to get it all in, but remember, you want to enjoy your day. Take it all in and remember that Disney World isn’t about the rush, it’s about pure joy. Every area you’re in, every line you are in, even when you’re looking for the bathrooms, look around at all of the details. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? Stop for the castle shows and get an autograph from a character. Perhaps the biggest mistake people make in Walt Disney World is being in such a rush to “get it all done” that they miss out on the joy.
WHEN IS YOUR NEXT TRIP? Let us know in the comment section below.
I am a mother of three that has refused to grow up. Adulting is for the birds, so I go to Disney World every chance I get for that magical escape from reality. I believe that Haunted Mansion is the best ride in all of the Disney Parks, and I am fervently in team Happily Ever After for fireworks spectaculars, (sorry, not sorry, Enchanted). Finally, I hope I never grow tired of skipping down Main Street, USA, and my dream come true would be “friends with” the Fairy Godmother in my old age.