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Planning a Trip to Magic Kingdom? Here's What You Need to Know

What to Know Before Your Magic Kingdom Trip - Pinterest

When Magic Kingdom Park reopened in July 2020 after having been closed for months, a lot of emotion hit me at once as we finally walked down Main Street, U.S.A. with Disney music blasting from the speakers and Cinderella Castle glistening in the background. Fast forward to now, and the progress for "returning back to normal" has slowly (but surely!) been moving in the right direction. Many of the health and safety measures continue to evolve. Character experiences and entertainment still have modifications, but we're starting to see the return of more character dining options, the Electrical Water Pageant and fireworks!

Speaking of fireworks, make sure to catch Happily Ever After, the nighttime fireworks spectacular, at Magic Kingdom before the show retires Sept. 29. Check out our Magic Kingdom fireworks viewing guide for all of the best spots to watch. We look forward to seeing this frog-favorite show a few more times before making way for Disney Enchantment, the new fireworks show that will feature dazzling projections all the way down Main Street!

Disney World had limited capacity in its parks when it first reopened a year ago. Now that capacity is increasing, we imagine you have many questions: How has the park experience changed? What are the character experiences like? Are lines really long? Well, we've been frequently hopping to the park this past year to keep an eye on things, so we can help you prepare if you decide to return to the parks in the near future.

Getting into Magic Kingdom Park

Ticket and Transportation Center - Magic Kingdom Parking Lot

Just like the other Walt Disney World theme parks, you'll need a Disney Park Pass reservation and valid admission if Magic Kingdom will be your first (or only) park — so reserve your spot as soon as you're able to! Now that crowds have returned, we'd suggest arriving the earlier, the better. The parking trams are not running, so keep that in mind when you arrive and leave at the end of the day.

The entry process operates smoothly, and we usually zip through security checkpoints. Security now has the contactless, high-tech metal detectors that allow you to walk through without having your bags searched — unless the detectors are set off. If you have any large items with metal, such as an umbrella or DSLR camera, take them out of the bag and hold it straight in front of you as you walk through. Smaller items, such as cellphones and car keys, shouldn't set off the alarm, so those are fine to keep in your pocket or bag.

Ticket and Transportation Center - Monorail entrance

Due to evolving safety measures, the monorail and ferryboat are quickly returning back to normal. Starting June 15, masks are only required on buses, monorails and the Skyliner. Dividers on the monorail have been removed and more parties are allowed in each cabin. While we prefer the ferryboat for its open air, both can get you to Magic Kingdom easily. The bus station, walkway from Disney's Contemporary Resort and resort ferries are operating as well. Each have their own security bag checks.

If your ticket includes park hopping benefits, you'll only need a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park you'll be hopping to. Park hopper hours generally start at 2 p.m. and run until the park closes. If traveling by bus, cast members may scan your MagicBand to confirm you are eligible to hop and to check that the park is still available (since parks are still subject to capacity limits). If you're planning a whole day at Magic Kingdom, that's even more reason to arrive as soon as the park opens and take advantage of extra time without park hopping guests in the afternoon!

Magic Kingdom Attractions and Wait Times

Magic Kingdom Reopening - Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Initially, wait times were significantly lower upon reopening. Now that crowds have returned to Magic Kingdom, you can expect the popular rides, such as Splash Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, to have about 90-minute wait times while the majority of the rides stick to 60 minutes or less. Sometimes, the lines end up being actually much shorter than the posted wait time. So far, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has been a consistent example of a ride queue that moves swiftly despite having a line that extends beyond the entrance. Every time we've gotten in line, the ride takes about half of the posted time. Recently, Jungle Cruise had a 65-minute wait but we only ended up waiting about 35 minutes.

Rides may still have health and safety measures in place, including touchless hand sanitizer dispensers near the entrances and exits. Interactive elements in queues, such as the jewels in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, may be roped off. There are no FastPasses available. However, people with a DAS card or those taking advantage of Rider Switch will typically use the FastPass+ line.

Magic Kingdom Reopening - Rider Switch & DAS at Space Mountain

The majority of attractions are open at Magic Kingdom except Enchanted Tales with Belle. Happily Ever After, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover and Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak recently reopened, and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor returns Aug. 8.

Character Experiences at Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Reopening - Magic Kingdom Cavalcade

Instead of parades, you can still see your favorite characters in cavalcades throughout the day. While you may not be able to hug them, they will wave and blow kisses to you from afar. Recently, you can now view cavalcade showtimes in the My Disney Experience app, so be sure to check while in the park for the most up-to-date times. There are several different cavalcades so you can see a variety of characters:

  • The Royal Princess Processional: Merida & Angus, Rapunzel, Tiana, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Elena, Jasmine, Mulan, Snow White, Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother (Typical showtimes: 11:45 a.m., 1:50 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:15 p.m.)
  • Mickey & Friends Cavalcade: Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Daisy and parade dancers (10:40 a.m., 12 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:55 p.m., 5:20 p.m.)
  • Magic Kingdom Cavalcade: Gaston, Moana, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Aladdin and Mary Poppins (2:05 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 4:35 p.m., 5:40 p.m. – days vary)
  • A Goofy Cavalcade: Goofy, Max, Clarabelle Cow, José Carioca, Panchito and parade dancers (10:25 a.m., 11:35 a.m., 2:25 p.m., 3:35 p.m. – days vary)
  • Tinker Bell & the Lost Treasure: Tinker Bell (10:10 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 2:35 p.m., 3:45 p.m. – days vary)
  • Main Street Philharmonic 

All of the above cavalcades and processionals move along the normal parade route from Frontierland to Main Street, U.S.A. Shortly after the conclusion of a cavalcade, some characters will appear above Town Square at the train station. We've regularly seen the princesses and Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Pluto greeting guests down below. While not advertised as its own cavalcade, we also seen Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, accompanied by Eeyore, Piglet and Rabbit riding in a Main Street trolley. They travel down Main Street, venture around the Cinderella Castle hub and end their journey back in Town Square. The Hundred Acre Woods friends alternate with the Dapper Dans.

Magic Kingdom Reopening - Royal Princess Processional with Mulan and Cinderella

Recently, there have been changes to some of the cavalcades. Mulan has joined the Royal Princess Processional. It's rare to see her at Magic Kingdom with her fellow princesses! Moana is now part of the Magic Kingdom cavalcade, which is also very exciting because we normally only see her during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. We love that these character appearances switch up every once in a while to keep the magical surprises coming! You can still have a possible short greeting with characters too — Lily toadally beamed that the Fairy Godmother told her "Happy birthday!" from atop her float!

You may also spot additional characters at designated locations throughout the park. Buzz Lightyear and Stitch can be found sporadically (raised on the Rockettower Plaza Stage) in Tomorrowland. The Country Bears, along with Chip 'n' Dale, greet guests from the balconies of the Country Bear Jamboree theater (in fact, one peeked down to ask for a bite of Leap's Dole Whip!). Jack Sparrow may suddenly appear in Adventureland. Our personal favorite interaction was Anastasia and Drizella bickering behind Cinderella Castle.

Magic Kingdom Reopening - Buzz Lightyear

Restaurants and Retail at Magic Kingdom

Certain restaurants may be using mobile ordering exclusively, including Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe and Pinocchio Village Haus. You select an arrival time window — like a choosing a FastPass+ window — when you order, and once you're near the restaurant, you can hit "I'm Here, Prepare My Order." If you're prepping your meal during a busy dining period, it may take a while before your food is actually ready for pick up as there are a lot of other orders being processed, so take that time into consideration.

We recently mobile ordered at Aloha Isle to get some much needed Dole Whip. There was still a regular line but mobile order was highly promoted and recommended. Due to it being a peak summer afternoon, we waited in line over 20 minutes once our phone said the order was ready for pick up (since it's made in front of you once you give your order number, the order was still fresh and cool). This was the longest wait we had for mobile order, so we recommend either avoiding peak times or being prepared to wait a bit for some pineapple goodness.

Magic Kingdom Reopening - Dole Whip

For retail locations, pay attention to the signs when entering or exiting a shop, especially the Emporium, which has multiple entryways. There is a designated entrance near the middle of the Emporium. If possible, try to get your shopping done earlier in the afternoon, as opposed to waiting until just before the park closes. Walking through the Emporium before park close can feel a bit chaotic, and during our most recent visit, there was a long line to get in at park closing.

Touring Advice for Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Reopening - Haunted Mansion Bound Family

We always recommend arriving early, ahead of the official opening time. Instead, we have found that frogs are spread fairly evenly throughout the park. Splash Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are some of the popular rides with higher waits, followed by Space Mountain. Not too much of a surprise there!

During our repeat visits, we noticed that the attractions in Frontierland and Adventureland consistently had higher wait times all day, and were shortest first thing in the morning. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train averages 75 to 90 minutes, but dips down in the late afternoon and early evening. Meanwhile, most attractions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland have lower wait times that stay the same for the majority of the day.

If you're a big character person, Magic Kingdom is the best park (so far) to see the most characters. We know it's strange not being able to get close to them, but we think these cavalcades are pretty neat! We don't normally see this many princesses together, and the Magic Kingdom Cavalcade has a unique mix of characters. Never knew I needed to see Aladdin and Mary Poppins on the same float!

Magic Kingdom Reopening - Main Street Philharmonic

Early on during this initial phased reopening, we noticed crowds thinned out considerably by the late afternoon. While it still holds true that the later half of the day is less busy, it seems that more and more frog families are staying until park close. With the return of park hopping and fireworks, crowds have fluctuated more in the afternoons and evenings.

Additional Magic Kingdom Tips and Tidbits

  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor returns to Tomorrowland Aug. 8.
  • Because there are a lot more rides at Magic Kingdom, we still suggest getting your higher priority rides done earlier in the day, so you don't risk the chance of not being able to ride them due to cleaning or weather delays.
  • Make sure to see the nighttime fireworks spectacular, Happily Ever After, before it retires Sept. 29!
  • Take some time to get photos or video of Cinderella Castle's new colors at many different angles! Seriously though ... Tad has done some of his best work to date.

Do you have any questions about Magic Kingdom reopening? If you're planning to visit the parks, let us know what you're most excited about in the comments below.

Related: All of the ~Magical~ Details about Disney World Reopening

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments
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Aug 14, 2021 at 2:40 p.m. J Says...

If we don’t have a park ticket, are we able to park at magic kingdom? Looking to continue our annual tradition of drinks and some dole whip at the Polynesian, and the dining reservations are booked on our dates. Was thinking of paying to park and walking over to keep the tradition alive.

Aug 16, 2021 at 9:24 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi J!

We have a few suggestions:

1) Keep looking for dining reservations. Some may pop up due to cancellations, and then if you snag one, you can park at the Poly with no issues.

2) Pay for parking at TTC, with a slight caveat: We have been asked before if we have a park reservation, but it doesn't happen every time (depending on the cast member you get). If the cast member does ask and you have to say no, then it wouldn't hurt to explain the situation. We can't see why it would be a big issue (especially since you're willing to pay the parking fee), but we're also not exactly sure what happens if someone says they don't have a park reservation.

3) If you're going during a less busy time, it might not hurt to try parking at the Poly without a dining reservation & say you're only there to eat Dole Whips and get drinks and most importantly, that you don't have park tickets (so it's evident you're not trying to cheat the system). To prove that, you could try pulling up your MyDisneyExperience account and show that there aren't any tickets linked. But there's still the chance you could be turned away regardless.

4) Park at Disney Springs and take a bus to the Poly. This option is free and there wouldn't be any issues, but it would take time.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Aug 6, 2021 at 3:39 p.m. Crissy Says...

Hi! We planning to go to magic kingdom Monday, we wanted to arrive early to start our day, and my brother and his family purchased tickets for the boo event and it starts at 7 pm. I wasn’t able to purchased tickets for that… will we get kicked out of the park at that time or are we able to continue our day ??? Thank you!!

Aug 6, 2021 at 10:50 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Crissy!

Boo Bash only takes place on select nights, so if you're going this Monday, you don't have to worry about it since Boo Bash starts on the 10th! (But even if it had coincided with your visit, daytime guests can stay until the park officially closes at 8:30 or 9 p.m., depending on the date.)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Jun 3, 2021 at 3:24 a.m. Richard Mosko Says...

My wife is handicapped. Do they still give out special pass so that our group can be sent to the special needs waiting line?

Jun 3, 2021 at 6:44 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Richard!

Yes, they do - hop by Guest Relations when you enter the park to see which option best meets your needs.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

May 13, 2021 at 12:46 p.m. Fabiola Ayala de Macias Says...

We are planning on visit magic kingdom on June 20th, but we can't buy ticktes online- any suggestions or why this is not possible?

May 13, 2021 at 9:45 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Fabiola,

In order to visit Disney World right now, guests need both valid admission and a Disney Park Pass reservation. With the Disney Park Reservation system, each park has a set number of reservations for guests to attend each day to maintain capacity limits. For June 20, all parks but EPCOT are currently full (no Park Passes are available). However, you can continue to check back to see if additional availability opens up for Magic Kingdom, as cancellations can happen!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Mar 21, 2021 at 3:13 a.m. asaleh00 Says...


We are planing to go to magic kingdom in May and spend a day only, this is our first time. We would like to know what rides you would recommend recommend for kids age group 3 to 14. Thank you.

Mar 22, 2021 at 12:13 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there!

Wow, how exciting! You are going to have a great time! There are many rides that all age groups will enjoy, including Astro Blasters, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Peter Pan's Flight, It's a Small World, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Jungle Cruise, Tomorrowland Speedway and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train may be a hit for all involved if the littles are feeling adventurous and meet height requirements! Likewise, Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion are thrill-free enough that everyone can ride, but do have a dark and ominous undertone, so that one varies from kiddo to kiddo as to whether or not it'll be too scary. The older kiddos may want to hit all of the mountains - Space, Splash and Big Thunder (which some of the smaller kiddos may be big enough for, as well). Little ones will enjoy Dumbo, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Barnstormer (a very small coaster made just for tadpoles). We hope this helps! Enjoy your visit!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Mar 14, 2021 at 1:58 p.m. Kendall Says...

If you do arrive to the park early are the rides already open to ride or would you just be standing in line waiting for the actual opening time for it to open up?

Mar 15, 2021 at 8:09 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kendall!

At this time, transportation on-site and the parking tolls only open about an hour before the park officially opens, so by the time you're off your chosen mode of transportation, through security, temperature checks, etc., you're in the gates almost right at scheduled opening time :) All of the rides are open at that time, as well. Hope this helps!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Mar 9, 2021 at 1:19 a.m. Courtney Says...

Hello! We are heading to magic kingdom tomorrow. It looks like it will be crowded. What time does the parking lot open? Also, is it best to hit up space mountain first or it’s a small world/Peter pan? Thanks!

Mar 9, 2021 at 7:31 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Courtney!

We may be responding after you've already left - crossing our fingers that you have a great day! The parking lot opens an hour before the park is scheduled to. We'd recommend getting there right around that one-hour early mark; if the parking toll line isn't moving yet, don't worry! In our experience, once it opens up, things move pretty quickly. As for what to hit first, we've hopped to Space, then Peter Pan, on our last few trips, but we're also big Space Mountain fans :) We say go for whichever you'd most like to ride!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Feb 26, 2021 at 4:33 p.m. Alexis Says...

So I go tomorrow on Saturday and have never been before.. do you know if their doing any tea parties with princess or anything ?! Also as far as food goes do I have to make a reservation or do you think it'll be pretty easy to find food there ? A friend suggested packing my own but I feel like that will be more of a hassle unless there's no way to get food without a reservation?

Feb 26, 2021 at 12:06 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Alexis,

The character dining experiences have not yet returned to Magic Kingdom. Currently, I'm seeing some dining reservation availability for Skipper Canteen, Liberty Tree Tavern, The Crystal Palace and Tony's Town Square Restaurant in the My Disney Experience app. If any of those interest you, I'd hop on snagging a reservation, as same-day availability may be harder to get. If you're OK with quick-service restaurants, you'll be able to use mobile ordering to secure your food. There may be a wait, especially if you're dining at a peak time, but we find it pretty easy to use! Hope this helps, and have fun tomorrow!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Dec 11, 2020 at 1:56 p.m. Maru1234 Says...

Hi! Thank you for this tips. Are we alowed to eat seating in a sideway specially if we need to feed the kids with homemade food? Are there little food shops like hot dogs or icecream around the park?

Dec 11, 2020 at 8:05 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there!

Yes, there are lots of stands and restaurants open in Magic Kingdom! You are absolutely able to stop off to the side and get a drink or a bite to eat. There are lots of tucked away places around the park to do so, complete with seating :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Jul 14, 2020 at 6:43 p.m. Shelly St Germain Says...

You recommend arriving, say, 40 minutes after park opens to avoid car lines. If I do that , is there a chance I won’t be able to get in due to too many people, with the limit in each park, even if I did make a reservation for my party?

Jul 14, 2020 at 4:54 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Shelly!

No, arriving a little late will not impact your chances of getting in :) The capacity Disney sets is enforced through the amount of Disney Park Passes it releases, so you can arrive any time! Have fun!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Jul 14, 2020 at 5:39 p.m. Baylor81 Says...

Concerned the two year old I’m bringing this week will not wear her mask all the time. She will only wear it a few minutes then take it off. I’m mean she’s two so can’t expect much. Please note that we are bringing her a mask and will try our hardest to make her wear it as it is Disney rules and we are not trying to be rule breakers.

What I’m wondering is when you were visiting, did you personally see little 2 yr old toddlers wearing them. I understand kids that are a bit older can comprehend but since she is only two she doesn’t understand why something has to be on her face.

Jul 14, 2020 at 4:57 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Baylor 81!

We did see small children wearing them during our visit. We've heard from lots of parents that what worked well for them was explaining that this was Mickey's house rule, and if we want to be at Mickey's house, we have to follow by his rules. We know it can be tough for little ones to understand! We have a post dedicated to mask tips, including tips for tadpoles, here, that may help you all prepare for your trip! We'd also recommend taking advantage of some of the Relaxation Areas so that she can take a brief mask break. Others in the Frog Pond, any tips to share?

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Jul 14, 2020 at 3:35 p.m. M. Q. Says...

Question about the rides...are they loading them to capacity or leaving seats/rows open? How often are rides shut down for cleaning? Thanks.

Jul 14, 2020 at 11:31 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi M.Q.!

Disney is leaving seats and rows open on rides, but that configuration depends on the ride itself. For instance, every party gets their own pirate ship on Peter Pan’s Flight because it’s already a small seat. We were in the front row of Splash Mountain and there was another girl by herself who sat in the last row. Jungle Cruise has partitions to separate parties. Roller coasters have empty rows between parties (but parties that have to be split up remain together). Kilimanjaro Safaris had each row filled, but parties were kept separated by row/the dividers between. Sometimes you have an entire ride vehicle/boat to yourself (Na’vi River Journey). And of course, this can vary depending on how many people are riding at that time. We've been told that rides are cleaned every two hours, and they also are cleaned at the end of the day. We saw cast members cleaning the ride vehicles when we went on Splash Mountain & the Wildlife Express Train. While we were in line for Kali River Rapids, there was an announcement that the ride was delayed for cleaning, but it was probably like a 10-15 minute delay. Hope this helps!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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