Visiting The Magic Kingdom in One Day (or Two)

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here’s how you can plan to visit the Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

For my family’s trip to Walt Disney World this summer, our main goal was to spend two days there – and to ride every ride at the Magic Kingdom. To accomplish this, we bought a two-day pass and used it exclusively at the Magic Kingdom.

We did ride everything at the park – and the longest we waited for a ride was 30 minutes.

Our days went so smoothly and were so much fun – but I truly believe it was easy because of the thorough planning that went into our trip.

My planning timeline

My husband and I knew we wanted to schedule the trip a year ahead of time. Six months ahead of time, I started researching, by reading Disney books from the library and checking out helpful blog posts.

Five months out, we set the dates of our trip – I consulted a crowd calendar to find a less busy day in the summer. I also made a lunch reservation for Be Our Guest Restaurant. Disney visitors can begin making meal reservations six months before their visit – I highly recommend this. (Walk-ins are unheard of; and it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation at the most popular restaurants a month or two before your travel dates.)

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

Since my family opted to not stay at a Disney resort, we were able to schedule our Fast Pass + reservations 30 days before our trip. If you stay on property, you can schedule Fast Pass + 60 days in advance.

It’s important to note that you can begin to schedule your Fast Pass + selections at 7 a.m. EST. (Here’s a helpful tutorial from Touring Plans how to schedule a Fast Pass + reservation.)

Using Fast Pass + to your advantage

Before you are able to make Fast Pass + reservations, make sure you know what you want to ride. I encourage you to list the rides you definitely want to experience, and check out the average wait times with these charts from Easy WDW. (Scroll down to the graph on this page … it shows average wait times each hour of the day. This was a fantastic planning resource for me, as it helped me judge what rides I needed to schedule with the Fast Pass +.)

I spent about three hours figuring out what rides we wanted to Fast Pass and what rides we could skip if necessary – as well as the order we should tour the park.

Another chart that came in handy for my family was Easy WDW’s Magic Kingdom Map … it showed when to ride particular rides. We tried it – and it was spot on.

Magic Kingdom rides with the longest waits are Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. All are fantastic rides, and all are worth Fast Pass + reservations.

An important thing to remember as you plan your Walt Disney World trip is this: Use your Fast Pass + reservations! Every visitor gets three – and they are amazing.

I’ll admit I was nervous to schedule them – and I did end up tweaking them several times as my family discussed what rides we did not want to miss.

I recommend scheduling your Fast Pass + selections for the afternoon – when wait times are typically long and it’s a hot and humid wait.

Once your three Fast Pass + reservations are finished, book other Fast Pass + selections one at a time – either from your mobile device or handy kiosks scattered around Walt Disney World. (If you change your mind, you can also cancel a reservation and look for a new one.)

The best way to avoid lines

To take advantage of short ride times, make sure you get to the theme park when it opens.

Don’t forget to plan ahead for long transportation rides to get into the park. If you use a parking lot, you’ll need to wait for a shuttle to take you to a monorail or ferry to get into Magic Kingdom. Once you’re at the gates, you’ll need to wait for security checks, until you’re allowed in. After that, it takes time to walk through Main Street USA to get to your first rides.

Getting to the park as it opens ensures short wait times for nearly every ride. If you try to plan to fit in as many rides as possible in the first hour or two, you can relax your pace later in the day when you’ll need to deal with crowds.
Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

Here’s my family’s wait for the Dumbo ride … we didn’t have one!

A word about wait times

We discovered that the wait times displayed at the Magic Kingdom were slightly exaggerated. It was a great surprise to not have to wait as long. Any sign that said a 10-minute wait typically meant we could walk right on.

Mapping everything out

As you’re planning your trip to Magic Kingdom, I suggest getting familiar with the map of the park ahead of time. At the very minimum, try to remember where the different lands are, and where they are in location to each other.

Then, as you’re planning out your schedule, try to stick to attractions in the same land – and even in the same area of each land – so you’re not running all over the park to get to each attraction.

Once you have your plan, write it out – I kept our family’s on an index card in my pocket. I knew that to see everything in two days, we needed to try for two rides every hour. Once we actually were there, we got to ride on three rides an hour in the first two hours the park was open.

While my family didn’t want to feel married to a schedule, having a little bit of structure helped us to see everything – in fact, in our first day we were able to see all but five rides (and we rode several rides two and three times in the first day). Some of the five rides we missed were already reserved through Fast Pass + for the next day.

Seeing the Magic Kingdom in 2 Days

If you have two days to enjoy the Magic Kingdom, I’m sharing the schedule my family used to ride everything. We loved it, and if we got to experience the trip all over again, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Day 1

8 a.m.
  • Arrive at the Magic Kingdom parking lot.
  • Take shuttles to the Magic Kingdom.

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

9 a.m.
  • Quick photos outside of Cinderella’s Castle
  • It’s a Small World
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Mad Tea Party
10 a.m.
  • Dumbo (because there was no line, we rode this twice in a row)
  • Barnstormer
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow (Meet Goofy, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck)

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

11 a.m.
  • Under the Sea (because there was no line, we rode this twice in a row)
  • Lunch at Pinnochio Village Haus
Noon
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle (we used our first Fast Pass + at 12:30 p.m.)
1 p.m.
  • Prince Charming Carrousel
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
2 p.m.
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Haunted Mansion (we used a Fast Pass + at 2:30 p.m.)
3 p.m.
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade (my personal favorite part of our Disney trip!)
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (we used our third Fast Pass + at 3:45 p.m.)
4 p.m.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (we added this as our fourth Fast Pass + at 4:10 p.m.)
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Dole Whip snack at Aloha Isle
5 p.m.
  • Swiss Family Treehouse
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (our second time … it was worth waiting in a short line)

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

6 p.m.
  • Dinner at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café
  • Incredibles Super Dance Party
  • Carousel of Progress
7 p.m.
  • Tomorrowland Speedway (we added this as our fifth Fast Pass + at 7 p.m.)
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
8 p.m.
  • Find a seat for Electrical Light Parade
9 p.m.
  • Electrical Light Parade
  • Celebrate the Magic
10 p.m.
  • Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

Day 2

8 a.m.
  • Arrive at the Magic Kingdom parking lot.
  • Take shuttles to the Magic Kingdom.
9 a.m.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight (With a 30-minute wait, this was the longest line we waited in … but it was well worth it.)
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mad Tea Party
10 a.m.
  • Fairytale Hall (Meet Cinderella, Aurora, Rapunzel and Tiana … with absolutely no wait)
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
11 a.m.
  • Stitch’s Great Escape
  • Space Mountain (we used our first Fast Pass + at 11:30 a.m.)
Noon
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant
1 p.m.
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Hall of Presidents
2 p.m.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Main Street USA

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

3 p.m.
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Dumbo
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride (our second Fast Pass + was at 3:45 p.m.)
  • Citrus Swirl snack break at Sunshine Tree Terrace
4 p.m.
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
5 p.m.
  • Splash Mountain (our third Fast Pass + was at 4:55 p.m.)
  • Tom Sawyer Island
6 p.m.
  • Haunted Mansion (we booked this as our fourth Fast Pass +)
7 p.m.
  • Dinner (and dodging a thunderstorm) at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café
8 p.m.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
9 p.m.
  • Space Mountain (our fourth Fast Pass + choice ended our day!)

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

Seeing the Magic Kingdom in 1 Day

If you choose to see the Magic Kingdom in one day, plan on being there from the park’s open to close – because you’ll have lots to do!

Here’s my suggested one-day itinerary:

8 a.m.
  • Arrive at the Magic Kingdom parking lot.
  • Take shuttles to the Magic Kingdom.
9 a.m.
  • Quick photos outside of Cinderella’s Castle
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mad Tea Party
10 a.m.
  • Fairytale Hall (Meet Cinderella, Aurora, Rapunzel and Tiana … depending on the wait)
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Under the Sea

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

11 a.m.
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow (Meet Goofy, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck)
  • Barnstormer
  • Dumbo
Noon
  • Lunch in Fantasyland
1 p.m.
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin OR Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor OR Stitch’s Great Escape (all three are close to each other; check to see what has the shortest wait … or choose what interests you the most)
2 p.m.
  • Space Mountain (use a FastPass)
  • Carousel of Progress

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

3 p.m.
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade on Main Street USA
  • Dole Whip snack at Aloha Isle
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
4 p.m.
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Splash Mountain (you may want to use a Fast Pass +)
5 p.m.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (you may want to use a Fast Pass +)
  • Dinner
6 p.m.
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Tomorrowland Speedway

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

7 p.m.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride (Use a Fast Pass + with this if at all possible, since it’s one of the longest wait times in the Magic Kingdom. You may want to schedule a Fast Pass + reservation right before or after the Festival of Fantasy Parade and adjust this schedule accordingly.)
8 p.m.
  • Find a seat for Electrical Light Parade
9 p.m.
  • Electrical Light Parade
  • Celebrate the Magic
10 p.m.
  • Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

By planning to average two attractions each hour, my family discovered it’s completely possible to see the Magic Kingdom – and have a great, relaxed time – in one or two days.

Thinking of a Disney vacation? Here's how you can plan to see Magic Kingdom in one day (or two).

If you’ve gone to the Magic Kingdom, what attractions were your favorites? What would you want to make sure you do if you had to see the Magic Kingdom in one day?

For more secrets to planning a Disney vacation, check out:

All images courtesy of Hilary Bernstein.

 

Hilary

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2 Comments

  1. I want to know what month you went for these nonexistent wait times. What month and what part of the month?

    1. We went the last week of June, right before 4th of July weekend … what is supposed to be the absolute busiest time at WDW.

      The key was planning ahead of time. (I can’t stress this enough!) By having a good plan for your day before you step foot in the park, getting to the park as soon as it opens (and staying all day), and using your fast passes wisely, it is totally possible. (Get the busiest spots before noon … we were able to ride everything in Fantasyland in the first 2 hours … later in the day, we saw the lines were SO long.)

      Another thing that helped was sticking to just one park a day and not opting for the park hopper pass. One more thing … research the typically busiest days for each park. (Just Google it.) The Magic Kingdom is supposed to be less busy on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so that’s when we planned on going.

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