Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration is just THREE MONTHS AWAY! Can you believe it? It’s almost here!! So, what better way to tour the Magic Kingdom theme park during your 2021 Walt Disney World vacation than to follow my vintage Magic Kingdom touring plan?
This 1-day touring plan focuses on the attractions, rides, and eats that were available to guests on opening day….October 1, 1971. Follow this plan for a relaxing Magic Kingdom day experiencing the nostalgia and fun of all the classics!
(I recommend arriving for park opening and following my suggested touring order for best results and lowest wait times.)
#1 PETER PAN’S FLIGHT
First stop of the day head straight back to Fantasyland, bonus points if you can walk through the castle to get there! The perfect classic attraction to start your day! Often the longest standby line of all the classic attractions, so hitting this ride first will help reduce your wait time. Peter Pan’s Flight is a dark ride, but not a scary ride – so perfect for all ages. During the ride queue, you will receive your sprinkling of virtual pixie dust – to not only take you over London and Never Land in your flying pirate ship but to last all day long for a most magical experience!
#2 HAUNTED MANSION
In my opinion, one of the best rides in Magic Kingdom! The Haunted Mansion has been playing host to “999 happy haunts” for nearly five decades….but the ride experience never gets tired. My Scare Factor for this dark ride is “mildly scary’“ as all the resident ghosts are friendly, but some of the littlest visitors may get spooked! (Fun in-ride Photo Pass photo, too!)
#3 TOMORROWLAND SPEEDWAY
Drivers, start your engines……and head back through Fantasyland to Tomorrowland to experience the Speedway (originally named Grand Prix Raceway on opening day)! Visiting before 10:00 AM will give you an advantage over the longer mid-day standby lines and a bit cooler temps than the afternoon. The racetrack is 4/10ths of a mile long, the car speeds top out at 7.5 miles per hour and guests as small as 32” can take the wheel (when accompanied by a passenger at least 54” in height).
#4 MAD TEA PARTY
Being located just steps from the exit of the Speedway makes this the perfect time in your day to hit the teacups! Spin the wheel in the center of your ride vehicle to give your teacup some extra twirl.
#5 PRINCE CHARMING REGAL CARROUSEL
Head deeper into Fantasyland for another sping but this time on a carrousel. While being an Opening Day 1971 attraction, the carrousel’s history doesn’t just start there! The attraction was originally built in 1917 for a park located in Detroit, Michigan. It was later moved to and operated in a park in Maplewood, New Jersey before it arrived in the Magic Kingdom and received its royal refurbishment!
#6 IT’S A SMALL WORLD
Just across the way now it’s time to catch an earworm. This is the ride with the catchy tune you will likely never forget! As you float along in your world-touring boat, take note of all the change that has been tossed in the water by park guests. Each year, the money is removed from the attraction (approximately $20,000 per year!) and donated to charity.
#7 PECOS BILL’S TALL TALE INN
It’s time for lunch in the heart of Frontierland! Pecos Bill’s has been serving up great Mexican food for nearly 50 years! In 2021, you have the advantage of placing your mobile order early to make your lunchtime stop quick and easy.
#8 DAPPER DANS & #9 THE EMPORIUM
As the afternoon crowds start to drive up the attraction wait times, head back to Main Street, U.S.A. to enjoying a Dapper Dan barbershop quartet performance and browse through The Emporium for some park souvenirs. While you are there, catch a few of the character cavalcades that make their way down Main Street a few times per hour!
#10 THE CITRUS SWIRL SNACK
This is THE Opening Day 1971 park snack that is still available at Magic Kingdom today! Head to Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland for the Citrus Swirl is the perfect blend of frozen orange juice and vanilla soft serve ice cream. The perfect treat for a warm afternoon in the park.
#11 SWISS FAMILY TREEHOUSE
Right at the entrance to Adventureland will you find this unique house. The Swiss Family Treehouse is a walk/climb-thru attraction that allows you to tour this treehouse replicated from the Swiss Family Robinson movie. As you consider this attraction, keep in mind there are stairs and rope bridges leading you through.
FUN FACT: The tree is covered with 330,000 fabricated leaves! During your afternoon in the park, you will be thankful for the shade they provide.
#12. WALT DISNEY’S ENCHANTED TIKI ROOM
Staying in Adventureland it’s time to all sing like the birdies sing, tweet, tweet, tweet! Originally named Tropical Serenade, the Enchanted Tiki Room is a combination comedy and music show hosted by the lovable animatronic macaw parrots Jose, Fritz, Michael, and Pierre. The Tiki Room show runs for 15 1/2 minutes, so settle in for a nice air-conditioned reprieve.
#13 COUNTRY BEAR JAMBOREE
While not always a guest favorite, this IS a classic attraction and offers up a few chuckles and some additional time in the cool air conditioning on a hot afternoon. The show runs for approximately 12 minutes.
#14 CRYSTAL PALACE
Settle in for a nice dinner in this beautifully themed, Victorian-inspired restaurant that overlooks Cinderella Castle. Getting a table near the windows provides an unbeatable view during your meal. This restaurant requires a dining reservation (currently can be made 60 days in advance) and I recommend a dinner reservation between 5:30-6:00 PM.
#15 JUNGLE CRUISE
Originally intended to be an educational ride experience, over the years this attraction has evolved into quite a hoot! As you float through the “jungle” you will encounter many tropical “animals” and indigenous “natives” – all while your boat’s skipper delivers some fun one-liners and puns. This ride has truly become a can’t-miss, park favorite for many! Ride experience and all humor is family-friendly.
#16 DUMBO THE FLYING ELEPHANT
Lastly, I recommend making Dumbo the Flying Elephant the final ride attraction of your vintage touring plan day. Why, do you ask? When you were in Fantasyland earlier in the day and could have experienced this classic attraction then? The answer is…..the nighttime lights on this attraction are outstanding! PRO-TIP: ride in separate ride vehicles to get some of the best photos of your entire trip!
While the original fireworks nighttime show (Fantasy in the Sky) has changed and evolved over the last 50 years, you simply can’t leave the Magic Kingdom without experiencing the current nighttime spectacular (Happily Ever After will be restarting on July 1st!). So settle into a comfy spot in the Castle Hub area and be amazed at the breathtaking fireworks display and the amazing transformation that Walt Disney World has experienced in the last 50 years, all while being a magical experience for their guests!
Jen McConnell is based near Detroit, Michigan, and is a travel agent with Magical Travel. She has traveled to Walt Disney World more than FIFTY times and has planned hundreds of magical trips for clients, family, and friends!