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A Guide to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

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Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Let your inner child run wild at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida! With so much to offer for every age group, the Magic Kingdom can take you back to the glory days of your youth and fill you with magic and joy.

***NOTE: The Magic Kingdom is for adults to!

How can you make the most of a day at the Magic Kingdom?

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How Much Time is Needed?

To be totally honest you could spend a week visiting just the Magic Kingdom and still not be able to experience everything it has to offer. The Magic Kingdom is huge and full of great rides, amazing dining experiences, unique shows and parades, plenty of shopping opportunities, a variety of special events, and magical character experiences.

However, if your time is limited, the Magic Kingdom is still worth the visit. In one day you can experience much of what the Magic Kingdom has to offer. If you have an extra day on your vacation and are having a drawback about what park to visit a second time, the Magic Kingdom should be it!

How Much Does It Cost?

Tickets can be purchased as one day tickets or in a package. The longer the number of days you are visiting the less you will pay per day for the tickets.

One day tickets to the Magic Kingdom will vary based on the time of year, but generally range from $109 to $129 for a single day ticket. If you are looking for a longer stay, park combinations, and park hopper options visit Disney’s website for package deal pricing.

Getting There

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For guests staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort there is a walking path available, taking approximately ten minutes to reach the park.

The Monorail is available for guests staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort, and the Grand Floridian that will take you right to the front gate.

Guests staying at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness can reach the Magic Kingdom via ferry.

Guests staying at all other Disney Hotels can reach the park via Disney buses or van. Buses transport guests throughout the day, from about an hour before park opening to after park closing. Disney now offers transportation through Minnie Vans which will transport you from your resort to the park gates. If you desire, you can also use Uber to get to/from the park.

For guests who are driving to the Magic Kingdom there is parking available with transportation options to the front gates (you can find more information below).

Parking

If you are arriving to the Magic Kingdom by car there is parking available, but it can be a bit pricey. For on-site guests staying at a Disney resort parking is complimentary. However, for offsite guests not staying in a Disney resort the daily parking fee is $25. Preferred parking is $50 a day and gets you closer to the Transportation and Ticket Center. Do note, however, that once you have paid the fee for the day you can park at any of the other Disney parks at no additional fee assuming you provide proof.

At Disney’s Magic Kingdom the parking lot is located about a mile away from the park entrance. Visitors can park there and then have the option to take either the Monorail or a ferry to the park entrance. The parking lot at the Magic Kingdom is quite large and a tram is offered to bring guests parking in the back sections of the parking lot to the Transportation and Ticket Center.

***Note: if you are going to be using the monorail or ferry to get into the Magic Kingdom allow an extra 30 minutes to an hour to get to the park.

Operating Hours

While the hours may vary depending on the time of year and whether or not there is a special event going on (such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party), the Magic Kingdom will generally be open from 9am to 8pm. During special events, the Magic Kingdom generally stays open until 12 midnight.

Extra magic Hours: Extra magic hours are a perk of staying at one of Disney’s on-site hotels. Hotel guests are allowed into the park either before the park opens or after it closes for enjoyment of the rides with less crowds (speaking from experience-these extra magic hours are well worth getting up a little earlier! We were able to do so much in the so little time). Be sure to check the daily park hours for your visit to the park so you don’t miss these extra magic hours.

Fast Pass

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Fast Pass + is a great service offered to all guests, included in the price of your ticket. For guests who are staying in a Disney World resort fast pass reservations can be made 60 days in advance and for ticket holders staying off grounds reservations can be made 30 days in advance. It is recommended to make your reservations as soon as possible for the best availability.

You can make up to three fast pass reservations at once per day. Once you have used the three fast pass reservations you can then schedule up to three more. For this reason, I would recommend making your fast pass reservations for the morning so you will have the afternoon to make new fast pass reservations.

****Note: Fast pass reservations will be limited on the day of, so don’t expect to get reservations for the best attractions after you have used up your three already made reservations. There will, however, be some availability, so don’t hesitate to make three more reservations.

Beginning the Day

The Magic Kingdom has an opening show each day-Let the Magic Begin. Guests wishing to view the opening ceremony are allowed to enter the park an hour early and head down Main Street USA to the castle. The show takes place on the stage of the castle and features trumpets announcing the arrival of the Royal Herald and Mickey Mouse. All guests with tickets to the Magic Kingdom are permitted to enter for the show. Also during this time many shops along Main Street U.S.A. will be open, so if you want to spend some time shopping with fewer crowds this may be the time to do it. Guests will be allowed to enter the park shortly before 8am for the opening show when park opening time is 9am.

The Sections of the Magic Kingdom

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The Magic Kingdom consists of seven different areas (or lands):

  • Main Street U.S.A
    • Main Street U.S.A. is the first section that guests will see upon entering the Magic Kingdom. Main Street U.S.A. is home to many dining and shopping options, some character experiences, and a working barber shop.
  • Frontierland
    • The Old West of the 19th century themed section of the Magic Kingdom. The shops in this section of the park feature western themed souvenirs and food options including burritos, taco salad, and fajitas. Frontierland can be reached by passing through Adventureland or passing through Cinderella’s Castle and then heading to the left.
  • Fantasyland
    • Fantasyland is the one that your child is likely to enjoy the most. It has many child themed rides featuring many of their favorite, classic characters. Fantasyland is a favorite for guests and quickly becomes swamped with crowds. You can enter Fantasyland by passing through Cinderella’s Castle or by passing through Tomorrowland or Liberty Square.
  • Adventureland
    • A combination of a tropical island and jungle theme. Popular Disney rides including the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean can be found here. Also in Adventureland is the home of Dole Whip-the Aloha Isle and many other fruit-flavored treats. Adventureland is to the left when you come to the end of Main Street U.S.A.
  • Liberty Square
    • Colonial America themed section of the Magic Kingdom, and home to the popular Haunted Mansion. Liberty Square holds a replica of the Liberty Bell and Liberty Tree. It can be reached to the left of Cinderella’s castle.
  • Tomorrowland
    • This section of the Magic Kingdom represents a depiction of the future and features many space themed attractions. Tomorrowland is home to the people mover and Disney’s Carousel of Progress. It can be found to the right at the end of the Main Street U.S.A.

Must Sees At The Magic Kingdom

While everything at Disney’s Magic Kingdom is worth seeing/experiencing, there are several attractions that you won’t want to miss!

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  • Cinderella’s Castle-One can not visit the Magic Kingdom and miss this iconic feature. Cinderella’s Castle sits at the center of the Magic Kingdom and is the site of many performances throughout the day. Located inside the castle is the story of Cinderella told through gorgeous mosaics, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (a salon where children ages 3 through 12 can be transformed into their favorite princess or prince), and Cinderella’s Royal Table (a unique restaurant with character dining).
  • The Walt Disney Railroad (A train ride that allows you to see much of the park as well as provides transportation to different sections of the park. The railroad stops in Frontierland and Main Street USA)-note the railroad is currently closed for construction.
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant-if you are able to get reservations (reservations can be made beginning 180 days before arrival if staying at a Disney World Resort) this is a must! I would describe the food as average, but the scene is stunning! (As someone who grew up with Beauty and the Beast as a favorite movie-this restaurant was like a dream come true.)
  • Meet Mickey Mouse-how can you visit Disney and not meet the mouse behind it? You can meet Mickey at the Town Square Theater at the Magic Kingdom.
  • The Festival of Fantasy Parade-once daily you can join Disney characters as they parade down main street with music and dancing.
  • Happily Ever After fireworks show-end of the night show with fireworks and illuminations on the castle.
  • The coasters-The Magic Kingdom is home to a few coasters (some smaller, some bigger, but all fun nonetheless), including Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, the Barnstormer, and the even Dwarfs Mine Train.
  • Meet a Princess-as the home of Cinderella’s Castle, it makes sense that the Magic Kingdom would be home to meet and greets with the Disney Princesses. Choose one of them or aim to meet them all (options include Cinderella, Tianna, Belle, Rapunzel, Ellena, and Ariel)

The Rides

Here is a quick list of the rides available in each section of the Magic Kingdom.

  • Fantasyland
    • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
    • Enchanted Tales with Belle
    • Its a Small World
    • Mad Tea Party
    • Mickey Philharmagic
    • Peter Pan’s Flight
    • Prince Charming Regal Carousel
    • Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train
    • The Barnstormer
    • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
    • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
    • Walt Disney World Railroad (currently closed for construction)
  • Liberty Square
    • The Hall of Presidents
    • Haunted Mansion
    • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Frontierland
    • Big Thundermountain
    • Country Bear Jamboree
    • Splash Mountain
    • Tom Sawyer Island
  • Tomorrowland
    • Astro Orbiter
    • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
    • Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor
    • Space Mountain
    • Stich’s Great Escape (temporarily closed)
    • Tomorrowland Speedway
    • Tomorrowland Transt Authority People Mover
    • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
  • Adventureland
    • Jungle Cruise
    • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
    • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
    • Swiss Family Treehouse

Restaurants To Experience

  • The Crystal Palace
    • The Crystal Palace is a buffet style restaurant that offers character dining. The Crystal Palace offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner experiences. Guests can enjoy meet and greets with Pooh and friends (including Tiger, Piglet, and Eeyore. Prices for The Crystal Palace range from $15-35 for breakfast and $35-60 for lunch and dinner.
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant
    • The Be Our Guest Restaurant is one of the most popular and fills up very quickly. Reservation must be made well ahead of time. Be Our Guest is a quick service restaurant located in Fantasyland. For dinner, a sit down three course meal is offered with a special appearance from the Beast. While the food at this restaurant is decent, it is the scene that makes it so popular. It is located within the beast’s castle with three different dining rooms available for guests to choose from: The Grand Ballroom, The West Wing, and the Castle Gallery. Don’t forget to try the Gray stuff…its delicious! Pricing ranges from $15-35 for breakfast and lunch, and a set $62 for adults and $37 for children for the dinner meal.
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table
    • Cinderella’s Royal Table is located inside Cinderella’s Castle. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While enjoying your meal you can enjoy meet and greets with several Disney Princesses. Character experiences include Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother, Ariel, Aurora, Jasmine, and Snow White. Pricing ranges from $62-$75 for adults and $37-45 for children.
  • Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen
    • A table service dining option with cuisine options from Asia, South America, and Africa along with the same humor and jokes you find on the Jungle Cruise ride. Prices range from $15.99 to $35.
  • Casey’s Corner
    • Casey’s Corner is a quick service American themed restaurant located on Main Street U.S.A. Options include hot dogs, corn dogs, and french fries. To drink try a refreshing lemonade slushie. Prices are generally $15 and under.
  • Gaston’s Tavern
    • Gaston’s Tavern is not a full service restaurant, but it does offer some great snacks and alcoholic beverages. Outside of Gaston’s Tavern you may find Gaston himself-one of the most interactive and humorous characters you can meet. You can also get a souvenir mug featuring Belle or Gaston. Prices are generally $14.99 and under.

Find Gluten Free Dining Options

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Must Try Snacks at the Magic Kingdom

  • Dole Whip (pineapple and soft serve ice cream treat)-available at Aloha Isle, Adventureland
  • Egg Roll-an inexpensive snack available at the Adventureland snack cart
  • Citrus Swirl (mix of soft serve vanilla ice cream with frozen orange juice)-available at Sunshine Tree Terrace, Adventureland
  • Churro (fried dough pastry topped with cinnamon and sugar)-available at Frontierland Cart.
  • Lefou’s Brew (frozen apple juice with toasted marshmallow and topped with a passion fruit-mango foam) available at Gaston’s Tavern
  • Mickey Ice Cream Bar (okay, it is just vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate, but there is something magical about this Mickey Mouse shaped treat)-available at multiple places throughout the Magic Kingdom
  • Turkey Leg-available at Cool Ship, Tomorrowland

Entertainment at the Magic Kingdom

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is plenty full of things to do, and in addition to the great rides and dining options, the Magic Kingdom also offers shows and parades.

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  • The Festival of Fantasy Parade
    • The parade takes place daily, starting in Frontierland near Splash Mountain and continuing down through Main Street U.S.A. (2pm during seasonal special events and 3pm all other times of the year).
  • Move It, Shake it, Dance and Play It!
    • Dance party that takes place twice daily along Main Street U.S.A featuring singing and dancing with Mickey and Minnie. The dance party generally takes place twice daily, but be sure to check the entertainment schedule for times during your visit.
  • Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
    • Stage show that takes place in front of Cinderella’s castle multiple times throughout the day. The show features many Disney characters, including Tiana, Rapunzel, Olaf, Elsa, Anna, and of course Mickey.
  • Happily Ever After Fireworks Show
    • End of the night fireworks and light show that takes place at Cinderella’s Castle. Watch as the castle comes to life with lights and lasers.

***Note: While I certainly recommend checking out some of these shows/parades, if you choose not to this is a great time to get on some rides with shorter wait times. Especially during the Festival of Fantasy Parade, which is offered only once a day, the crowds will be lined up to watch the parade, thus leaving less crowds on the rides.

Characters at the Magic Kingdom

Character Meet and Greets vary, but there are a few main characters you can count on meeting (99% chance) at the Magic Kingdom:

  • Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell (located inside the Town Square Theater)-Wait times can be long, but fast pass options are available. I have also found that waiting until the end of the night or while a show/parade is going on will result in less waiting time.
  • Pluto and Chip& Dale-located in Town Square. These characters will vary on occasion-we have seen Stitch at this location on more than one occasion.
  • Captain Hook-located in the Pirates of the Caribbean Courtyard
  • The Beast-found exclusively at the Be Our Guest restaurant dinner
  • Cinderella, Eleana of Avalor, Rapunzel, and Tiana-located inside Princess Fairytall Hall. Again, the wait times can be quite long, but fast pass is available.
  • Belle-located in the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction.
  • Ariel-located at Ariel’s Grotto in Fantasyland
  • Gaston-located in Belle’s Village Courtyard
  • Winnie the Pooh and Tiger-located outside The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Buzz Lightyear-located in Tomorrowland near the Carousel of Progress
  • Donald, Daisy, Minnie, and Goofy (The Astounding Donaldo, Madame Daisy Fortuna, Minnie Magnifique, and The Great Goofini) located at Pete’ Silly Sideshow in Fantasyland
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Shopping at the Magic Kingdom

Main Street U.S.A is full of shops where you can find souvenirs, apparel, artwork, jewelry, and treats. Each section, or “land” of the Magic Kingdom will have shops with merchandise linked to the theme of that land.

  • Emporium: the largest shop with the widest selection located on Main St. USA
  • Big Top Souvenirs and Big Top Treats-located in Fantasyland, shop for all types of souvenirs and enjoy some special Disney treats.
  • Plaza Del Sol Caribe Bazaar-for some pirate themed souvenirs visit Plaza Del Sol Caribe Bazaar near the Pirates of Adventure ride.
  • Mickey’s Star Traders-for Tomorrowland themed souvenirs.

***Note: If you are staying at a Disney World resort and shopping in the parks you can have your items delivered to your hotel room. Guests who are not staying in a resort can have their items sent to the front of the park to be picked up on their way out.

Unique Experiences at the Magic Kingdom

Early Entry Options

  • Early Morning Magic at Fantasyland- a ticketed special event that allows you early access to Fantasyland and all its attractions, as well as an all you can eat breakfast at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Check-in begins at 7:30am and guests are allowed to enter the park at 7:45am. Select rides will be available for guests, including It’s a Small World, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan’s Flight, Princess Fairy Tll Hall, Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, and Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid. Tickets run at $89 for adults (10 and older) and $79 for children (3 to 9). Please note you must also purchase regular admission tickets to the park.
  • Pre-park opening dining options (these restaurants open at 8am, even on days that the park opens at 9am, giving you a head start to the day):
    • Be Our Guest Restaurant
    • The Crystal Palace
    • Cinderella’s Royal Table

Entertainment Options

  • The Bibbidi Boddidi Boutique:
    • a salon where children ages 3 to 12 can be transformed into their favorite princess or prince. Reservations are required and can be made up to 180 days in advance. Packages range from $75 to $450, depending on what you want included.
  • Harmony Barber Shop
    • You can get a haircut at the Magic Kingdom at the Harmony Barber Shop.
  • Keys to the Kingdom Tour
    • A five hour walking tour that dives into the history of the Magic Kingdom, takes you to hidden locations, and reveals secrets about the functioning of the park. The tour is $99 a person. (Not something I would recommend if your time is limited).
  • The Pirates’ League
    • Similar to the Bibbidi Boddidi Boutique, guests can be transformed into pirates or mermaids. Pricing ranges from $19 to $45.
  • Disney’s Villains After Hours
    • A special ticketed event that takes place on select nights throughout the year. The after hours goes for 3 hours after the park closes when the villains take over and guests can experience spooky entertainment, themed treats, and unique photo pass options. Entertainment includes Villains Unite the Night (a stage show featuring popular villains including the Queen, Maleficent, Jafar, and others), themed lighting, and music. Ice cream, popcorn, and beverages are included in the admission price and can be found on carts throughout the park. Pricing is $145 per person.

Special Events at the Magic Kingdom

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party-ticketed event that takes place on select nights throughout the months of November and December. The Magic Kingdom is transformed into a Winter Wonderland with shows, a Christmas party, shows, a parade, dance parties, and holiday treats. Select rides will also be open during the event.
    • Shows/Parades:
      • A Frozen Holiday Wish (watch as Elsa transforms Cinderella’s Castle into a frozen delight)
      • Once Upon a Christmastime Parade (traditional Disney characters dressed in holiday cheer)
      • Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks show
      • A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas (party with friends in Tomorrowland)
      • Club Tinsel (dance party at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe)
      • Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Desert party at Tomorrowland Terrace
      • Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party (tasty treats and special parade viewing)
  • Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party-a ticketed event that takes place on select nights throughout the months of August, September, and October. The Magic Kingdom is full of Halloween decorations, special character experiences, trick or treating, special Halloween treats, Halloween themed parades, shows and fireworks, and lively dance parties. Special photopass experiences will also be available throughout the park. Select rides are also open during the event with less lines and less waiting. All guests are welcome to come in their favorite Halloween costume, with a few rules that apply (can be found here)
    • Shows/Parades:
      • Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular (end of the night show with fireworks and laser light displays)
      • Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular (stage show featuring the Sanderson Sisters)
      • Boo To You Parade (traditional Disney characters dressed in their Halloween best as well as special appearances from the Haunted Mansion characters)
      • The Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet (singing and laughter)
      • Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Dessert Party (with Plaza Garden Viewing or at the Tomorrowland Terrace)
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Photopass/ Memory Maker

Photopass is a service that Disney offers to capture photos of your whole family on your Disney vacation. There are several photopass photographers set up throughout the park (character meet and greets and other select spots) where you can get your photo taken and then almost instantly they will show up on your photopass account. This can be accessed online or through the My Disney Experience App.

For me, photos are one of the most important souvenirs you can get from a destination, so I always choose to go with Disney photopass. You don’t have to worry about carrying a camera around and capturing the photos and another plus-you can get in the photo as well. Photopass can be purchased in advance for $169, or the day of for $199. It is important to note that if purchasing for the discounted price in advance you will not be able to use it for the three days following the purchase, so you will want to do this far in advance for your trip.

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Important Tips You Need to Know

  • Don’t over do it. You need time to relax as well as the young-lings. Any time I have tried to spend the whole day in the park without taking a break back at the hotel with young children has been a disaster. It takes time out of the day, but will make the time you spend at the park more enjoyable.
  • Download the My Disney Experience App. The My Disney Experience App will allow you to make fast pass reservations and dining reservations, as well as view wait times, character locations, photo pass locations, and can serve as your map to the Magic Kingdom.
  • Prepare yourself for the crowds-if you are not someone that enjoys crowds be aware that the Magic Kingdom is very crowded. You should expect long wait times for certain attractions and don’t go into the park thinking you will see everything-you will just disappoint yourself.
  • Plan to arrive an hour to an hour and a half before park opening. It will take time to park, get transportation to the front gate, time to get through security, and time to get through the ticket turnstiles.
  • Bring plenty of fluids! You are allowed to bring beverages into the park as long as they are non-alcoholic and not glass bottles, so pack your bag with plenty of fluids. You will need them in the Florida heat and it will save you money in the long run.
  • Dress for the weather-Florida weather is hot. Dress appropriately and don’t forget the sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Head to the back of the park-when entering the park upon opening always head to the back of the park. A lot of the crowds will be staying towards the front as people tend to jump on the first attractions they see. This will make the back attractions less crowded first thing in the morning and allow you to do more.
  • You need to do some planning. While going to a theme park does not generally require much advanced planning Disney World is a different story. There is so much to do and see that you need to spend some time planning in order to maximize your time.
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A Guide to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
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18 Comments »

  1. Thanks but it was ten years ago when I went to a theme park with grandkids. But your tips are great and i have sent this to my kids so they can use it for when they go with them again.

  2. FastPass+ is an absolute must-do unless you enjoy waiting in long lines. If a ride goes down before your reserved time and cannot be fixed in time, which of course happened to me, they will let you know and you can book FP+ for another ride.
    BTW, I consider It’s A Small World an absolute must-do!

  3. Blooming ‘eck there is so much to see! This is really helpful.

    I love that your girls got to meet so many characters (even if they look a bit worried near the seven dwarfs!!)

    • I would recommend skipping the character dining if you are looking to save money. They are a great experience, but they can be very costly. If you must do one it is a great experience that the kids will love), limit it to one. If you are up for it I would even recommend leaving the park and eating elsewhere, the food can be very expensive. I would also recommend skipping the souveniers in the park, there are plenty of discount Disney merchandise options in Orlando that will save you tons.

  4. What a comprehensive guide! I haven’t been to Disney’s Magic Kingdom since I was a kid, and it sounds like there are a lot of things to coordinate as a parent! I really like your idea to head to the back of the park early in the morning to avoid crowds near the main entrance.

  5. I am SUCH a Disney fan! I really want to go here but it costs soo much with flights and entry fees and what not but if I ever can afford it, I’ll definitely refer back to this post because it’s so helpful!

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