Our Magic Kingdom Strategy Guide: A Disney World Must-Read

Magic Kingdom is the heart of Walt Disney World, a place where dreams come true, and every day is filled with enchantment. With so many attractions, shows, and experiences to enjoy, it’s crucial to have a game plan. In this comprehensive strategy guide, we’ll help you make the most of your visit by maximizing your time on attractions and experiences. So, let’s get started!

Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom

Rope drop refers to the moment when the park rides officially open, marked by the literal dropping of the rope barrier at the entrance to each themed land. Getting in the park before rope drop is the best way to get a jumpstart on the crowds, allowing you to experience some of the most popular attractions with little to no wait!

Photo of the exterior of the Tron attraction at Magic Kingdom, in Walt Disney World

Tips for Getting to the Park Early and Making the Most of Rope Drop

  1. Plan ahead: Look up the opening time for the parks on the day of your visit and aim to arrive at least 45-60 minutes before the gates open. Ya, it’s going to be easy but this will give you ample time to go through security checks, enter the park, and position yourself close to your first desired attraction.
  2. Prepare the night before: Save time in the morning by packing your park bag with essentials such as sunscreen, water bottles, and snacks the night before. Layout your outfits for the morning as well, and make a game plan to get coffee – the most important meal of the day.
  3. Grab breakfast on the go: Consider having a quick breakfast in your hotel room or bringing something to eat while waiting for the park to open. You can grab a bite at one of the breakfast spots near the park entrance, but honestly it’d be a waste of a rope drop entry!
  4. Have a game plan: Research the park’s layout and identify the attractions you want to prioritize during rope drop. Knowing your route in advance will help you navigate the park more efficiently and avoid wasting time figuring out where to go.

Which Attractions to Prioritize During Rope Drop

At rope drop, focus on these attractions to capitalize on shorter wait times and make the most of the early morning hours:

Photo of Cinderella castle from the Main Street hub in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, on a cloudy day.
  1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: This family-friendly roller coaster is a fan favorite and should be one of your top priorities. Wait times for this attraction can quickly reach well over an hour as the day progresses, and reservations are not available through Genie+. You can purchase individual lightning lanes, but that can get expensive quickly. So riding it during rope drop is a smart move.
  2. Peter Pan’s Flight: Embark on a whimsical journey through Neverland on this timeless dark ride. Despite its classic status, Peter Pan’s Flight is notorious for having long wait times throughout the day. Reservations are available through Genie+, but prioritizing this attraction during rope drop will save you time later on if you are not purchasing Genie+ (or allow you to ride twice if you are).
  3. Space Mountain: Experience an exhilarating adventure through the cosmos on this thrilling indoor roller coaster. Space Mountain is another crowd-pleaser, and its queue can grow quite long as the day goes on. It’s best to conquer this galactic voyage early in the day to avoid lengthy waits. Space Mountain is also available to reserve through Genie+
Photo of the entrance for Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World

By focusing on these high-demand attractions during rope drop, you’ll kick start your day at Magic Kingdom and get a head start on creating magical memories.

Genie+ at Magic Kingdom

Genie+ is a paid service that allows you to reserve access to the Lightning Lane entrance for select attractions, bypassing the standard standby line. With Genie+, you can make reservations for one attraction at a time and become eligible for a new reservation once you have used your previous one. This service helps you optimize your time in the park and ride more attractions with reduced wait times.

Exterior sign reading 'Pirates of the Caribbean' on the sail of a broken ship mass in front of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Tips for Making the Most of Genie+

  1. Start early: Begin making reservations as soon as your Genie+ booking window opens, typically at 7 AM on the day of your visit. By starting early, you get the best chance of reserving your top choices before they fill up.
  2. Book high-demand attractions: Prioritize attractions that are known for having long wait times or limited availability. Securing Genie+ reservations for these popular attractions will save you time and enhance your overall park experience.
  3. Be flexible: Have a list of alternative attractions in case your first choice is unavailable or has limited Genie+ reservation times. Being open to adjusting your plans will help you make the most of the Genie+ service.
  4. Check out our full guide of Genie+ tips, tricks, and hacks!
Photo showing the backside of Cinderella castle through a stone arch in the New Fantasyland section of Magic Kingdom, at Walt Disney World.

Which Attractions to Prioritize with Genie+

The attractions below are recommended for Genie+ reservations due to their popularity and typically long wait times:

  1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: This thrilling mine train roller coaster takes you through a haunted gold-mining town and is a fan favorite. Securing a Genie+ reservation for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ensures you don’t miss out on this exhilarating experience while minimizing your wait time.
  2. Haunted Mansion: Embark on a spooky tour through a mansion filled with happy haunts. This classic attraction is always in high demand, so using Genie+ for the Haunted Mansion gets you in and out while most guests are still in standby!
  3. Jungle Cruise: Set sail on a hilarious and adventurous riverboat tour through the world’s most exotic rivers. It should come as no surprise that the infamous back side of water is one of the most popular cult classics in Magic Kingdom, and the line can grow to sell over an hour in the afternoon. Book this one for midday if you can, and check out late night standby for a second ride (because yes, it is THAT good!)
An oval shaped stone sign reading "Haunted Mansion," hung on a red brick wall. Outside the entrance to the Haunted Mansion ride in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Lightning Lane

For an additional cost, you can purchase individual Lightning Lane access to certain high-demand attractions. In the Magic Kingdom this includes just the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. However, we don’t recommend paying extra for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, as you can prioritize it during rope drop instead. By using the rope drop strategy you’ll save money and still experience the attraction without a lengthy wait. Plus you’ll want to save your Lightning Lane budget for when you truly need it, like Rise of the Resistance!

Late Night Hours

During late-night hours at Magic Kingdom, you’ll encounter thinner crowds and shorter wait times. Most guests leave the park after the nighttime shows, giving you the perfect opportunity to enjoy attractions with less competition. By staying a little later, you can re-ride your favorites and create magical memories under the stars.

Tips for Staying Up Late and Making the Most of Late-Night Hours

  1. Take breaks: Schedule rest periods throughout the day to conserve energy for your late-night adventures. Find a shaded or air-conditioned spot to relax or even head back to your hotel to take a quick afternoon nap, allowing you to recharge for the evening.
  2. Stay hydrated and well-fed: Keep your energy levels up by drinking plenty of water and eating lots of snacks, which will help you stay alert and energized during the late-night hours.
  3. Dress comfortably: Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, since you may be on your feet for most of the day. Opt for layers, as temperatures can drop during the evening, ensuring you remain cozy while enjoying the park at night.

Which Attractions to Prioritize During Late-Night Hours

Check out the attractions below to make the most of your late night hours inside the park!

Long range photo of Magic Kingdom's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, in Walt Disney World.
  1. Big Thunder Mountain: Riding at night provides an absolutely stunning backdrop and (usually) a much shorter wait time. Check the times guide for the day and you may be able to ride during the fireworks for a one of a kind view of the show.
  2. Space Mountain: A thrilling indoor roller coaster at Magic Kingdom that takes guests on an exhilarating adventure through the cosmos. As one of the park’s most popular attractions, it’s best to ride it early in the day to avoid lengthy waits. Guests can also choose to purchase individual Lightning Lane access for Space Mountain through the Genie+ service.
  3. Seven Dwarves Mine Train: The wait for one of the newest coasters in Magic Kingdom will often exceed 90 minutes throughout most of the day, but once the sun sets this wait will usually drop to under 30 minutes. Be sure to check current wait times in the Disney World app throughout the night!

By staying late at Magic Kingdom, you’ll not only enjoy shorter wait times and a more relaxed park experience, but you’ll create lasting memories in the enchanting nighttime atmosphere.

Rider Swap at Magic Kingdom

Rider Swap, also known as Rider Switch or Child Swap, allows one grown-up to wait with a non-riding child or guest while the rest of the group rides an attraction. Once the first group has ridden, the waiting grown-up (or grown-ups) can ride without waiting in the standby queue.

Which Attractions Offer Rider Swap

The attractions below all offer rider swap as of the latest update for this article.

Photo of the entrance to the 'it's a small world' ride in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom park.
  • The Barnstormer
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Mad Tea Party
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid

On-Demand Attractions and Walk-Throughs at Magic Kingdom

Not all attractions require a Genie+ reservation. These nearly on-demand attractions and walk-throughs offer a break from the crowds and the heat. They are perfect for guests who need a quick win with rides while have a magical experience with minimal waits.

Carousel of Progress

This classic attraction features a rotating theater that transports guests through the decades to experience the progress of modern technology through song and dance. The show is hosted by an Audio-Animatronic family and provides a glimpse into the future with every scene change.

Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters

Board your own spaceship and join the space ranger, Buzz Lightyear, on an intergalactic mission to save the galaxy. This ride features a laser gun that allows riders to shoot at targets and earn points. It’s a fun and interactive experience perfect for families.

The People Mover

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is a slow-moving tram ride that circles through Tomorrowland. It offers a unique perspective of the park and its attractions. The ride is also a great way to take a break from the sun and relax while still experiencing the magic of Disney.

Under the Sea: Ariel’s Adventure

Embark on an underwater journey with Ariel and her friends on this charming ride. The ride features Audio-Animatronic characters and scenes from the classic movie, The Little Mermaid. The ride is a popular choice for families with young children.

Enchanted Tiki Room

This indoor attraction is a Polynesian-inspired musical show featuring Audio-Animatronic birds, flowers, and tiki statues. The show combines music, comedy, and special effects to create a fun and immersive experience that is perfect for all ages.

These on-demand attractions and walk-throughs are great for park guests who want to take a break from the rides and still have a magical experience with minimal wait times. They are easy to access with minimal lines and are indoors, allowing guests to escape the heat without having to leave the park.

Conclusion

By using these tips and tricks, you can make the most out of your visit to Magic Kingdom. Prioritizing popular attractions during rope drop and utilizing Genie+ can help you bypass long wait times and maximize your time in the park. Staying late to enjoy the rides during the nighttime hours can also be a great way to take advantage of shorter lines. With these strategies, you’ll be able to create magical memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags, grab your Mickey ears, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure at the happiest place on Earth!

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