(Ed. Note: Welcome to the first post by a new DISDads.com contributor, Jeff Stillwagon. You can find Jeff on Twitter posting as @DisneyWagon. He’ll be contributing content to the site regularly – welcome to the DISDads Jeff!).
The most important question to answer when developing a theme park plan of attack is “What do I ride first to save the most on time standing in lines?” Today, I’m offering my take on the best plan of attack for the most popular United States Disney park of all – the Magic Kingdom. First, before you even head to the park, make sure to check and see if it’s an Extra Morning Magic Hour morning at the Magic Kingdom. (While Extra Magic Hour days are usually published months in advance, during busier times of the year Walt Disney World has been known to add additional EMH mornings, or move park opening times even earlier to accomodate the large crowds, so ALWAYS double-check).
If it’s not an EMH morning at the Magic Kingdom you’ll want to arrive at the park 45 minutes to an hour before park opening time, to make sure you can get a good spot for the Welcome Show. The Magic Kingdom is the last Walt Disney World park that still has a special opening show, and it is not to be missed. It’s a great way to pump up your Disney spirit even more as you start your day (and you may even shed a tear on your way into the park). At rope drop everyone piles through the tunnel entrance to the park. Prepare to gasp with wonder as you exit the tunnel and the vista of the Magic Kingdom opens before you.
I recommend that you head for Fantasyland, in the back of the park, because most the crowd will go to the right to Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. On the way, you’ll get another sentimental moment as Cinderella’s Castle is revealed to you at the top of Main Street. But keep on moving at a steady pace, you can come back and get your photo taken in front of the Castle later, when you’re not trying to get a jump on the crowds at the attractions. Once you pass through the Castle into Fantasyland, the first attraction your should ride is Peter Pan’s Flight. The line there backs up quickly, and it will have the longest wait later in the day. Next up should be Under The Sea: Journey Of The Little Mermaid. There are some great hidden gems in the standby queue, so keep your eyes open for them (and there are enough gems there to prefer the standby line to the Fastpass line). Also nearby is The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh ride, and that should be your next stop. Again, the wait is minimal in the first hour after park opening, but the line quickly builds up after that. That first hour is the key to this plan of attack – you want to complete the attractions you want to enjoy in Fantasyland all during the first hour, as Fantasyland attractions tend to be the worst combination of slow loading and very popular. And the best part is that none of these Fantasyland attractions have height requirements, so everyone can ride them all.
Next, head over to Dumbo The Flying Elephant in the Storybook Circus part of Fantasyland. The attraction should be a walk on this early. After flying around with Dumbo, jump in the queue for The Great Goofini’s Barnstormer. This is the first attraction on the list with a height requirement. If you’re traveling with a very small child (under 35″) you can use Rider Swap to allow anyone tall enough to ride while you take turns having someone stay with the small child. At this point, you will have knocked out five attractions that have long waits later in the day in less then a hour. The other attractions in Fantasyland, like Mad Tea Party, It’s a Small World, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, and Prince Charming Regal Carousel, you can always ride later with reasonably short wait times.
Best of all, you’ve accomplished all of this without using any Fastpasses! If you are using Fastpass+ as part of a Magic Band test, you have access to 3 Fastpass+. I recommend using them for: 1) Space Mountain; 2) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; 3) Splash Mountain (Ed. Note: If you have children who want to meet Belle, Enchanted Tales with Belle is your single most important Fastpass+ reservation to make. Paper Fastpasses are not available for this attraction, and the line gets very long very quickly). If you’re not using Fastpass+, I recommend heading over to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain right after you finish the long-wait-time Fantasyland attractions. The Space Mountain wait time shouldn’t be bad yet, and leaves your Fastpass windows open to be used in Frontierland.
Hopefully this Magic Kingdom plan gives you a start to your day that saves you time in lines on your next Walt Disney World trip.
What do you think of Jeff’s recommended plan? Tell us about it in the Comments!