**This is NOT a sponsored post. Just sharing our experience!**
We spent a week at Walt Disney World and Universal, thanks to my parents. What an adventure! After scouring Pinterest, I learned that there was no post, anywhere, that could really walk me through planning an entire trip to Disney. Throughout the series, I shared our days at the parks, tips and tricks, taming the souvenir beast, money saving ideas, things we learned and photos we captured. They’re all linked below. Enjoy!
Day 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation
Day 2: What We Wore to Disney
Day 3: EPCOT: A Mom’s Guide
Day 4: Magic Kingdom: Plan a Visit That’s Fun for All Ages (this post!)
Day 5: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal: A Family Guide
Day 6: Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios: All in One Day!
Day 7: Character Meals & Meet/Greets: 13 Tips to Make Them Awesome
Day 8: 10 Things to Buy/Borrow/Make For Your Disney Vacation
Day 9: 6 Tips to Capture Your Disney Vacation on Film
Day 10: Meeting Anna & Elsa: An Honest Account
Most folks see Cinderella’s Castle and think Magic Kingdom is all about the princesses. I mean, it can be, but boy are there a million things to do! Today’s post is all about experiencing Magic Kingdom with a wide range of ages and daredevil streaks.
We spent two days at Magic Kingdom, so it made sense to divide the park up and just concentrate on certain “lands” rather than run from one attraction to the next. The first day, we focused on Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland and the evening parade/Wishes. Our FP+ for day one were Dumbo, Splash Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Meeting Tinkerbell. I tried forever (and I do mean forever) to get FP+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but the only time I could get it was for a time we weren’t in the park. I did snag one for Anna & Elsa, but again, it just didn’t work with our schedule. Don’t worry, we got to do both! Day two we spent exploring Tomorrowland and doing all the things we didn’t get to do on day one. Our FP+ for day two were Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain/Tomorrowland Speedway (we split this one), Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor and It’s a Small World.
Park Crowd Level
5/10 for Saturday (average) and 3/10 for Sunday/Mother’s Day (below average). If our Saturday was a 5, I’d hate to see the park at a 10. Wow. We could definitely tell a difference with Sunday’s lower crowds.
DAY ONE: Top 10 Highlights of the Day + Insider Tips
Magic Kingdom Welcome Show. Much to our dismay, the park opened at 8am the first day and that meant a ridiculously early wake-up call. Because it can take up to an hour to park, unload the vans, board the monorail and proceed through gate check, we left early. That paid off since we parked right up front (and I do mean right up front) and set foot at Magic Kingdom shortly after 7am. We had plenty of time to take pictures and landed a great view of the welcome show. The mayor of Main Street greets everyone, singers appear and then Mickey and the gang (almost every character you know and love) arrives on the steam train. All the kids enjoyed this, even the biggest bigs.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The hype is real. Because we couldn’t land FP+ for it, we simply made it our top priority for the day. As soon as the welcome show was over, we used the two strollers to power our way through the crowds and head straight to the ride. Because you have to be 38″ to ride (hooray, Luke could ride!), that left the two babies to wait with my brother and I. We grabbed our child swap passes and had fun. The posted wait was 40 minutes when we got back there (crazy, since the park just opened), but our group only waited about 20.
Mad Tea Cups. While most of our group enjoyed mine train, my brother and I took over the teacups. We were the only ones on them! It’s a Disney classic and it did not disappoint. It was just as fun as I remembered as a kid. I had great fun watching my nephew Jack while Daniel got a kick out of watching Gianna as we spun around! Side note here about unhappy Clare. She was upset because the cast members told her she had to ride with a parent since she was under 7. She rode with her aunt and uncle and feared that didn’t count. Oh, Clare…
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. We tried to hop on this ride while we waited on the rest of the group, but it broke down just as we got in line. True story. Fortunately, they honored our FP+ a half hour later when it reopened. Another Disney classic and the kids loved the Tigger part the best, when the honey pot bounces. I loved that even babies could ride it. When we reunited with our group, the majority went over to the teacups and my brother and I grabbed a few kids and rode Mine Train. I tell ya, if the line hadn’t been so long, I would’ve waited for it again!
Character Meet & Greet: Alice and White Rabbit. These two were stationed right by the teacups and we caught them just as they appeared. Talk about luck. I think what I loved most was how Rabbit cocked his head so he could align his glasses with signing his autograph. Have I mentioned how much I love characters at Disney?
Dumbo. The whole ride, I just kept hearing Gaffigan’s spiel. Who’s the Dumbo now? Evidently we were. I’m pretty sure you can’t call it a trip to Disney without riding Dumbo. It’s new and improved now with TWO duplicate Dumbo rides. We rode this mid-morning and even then, I’m so glad we had a FP+! The lines were already filling up. The best part was waving to the rest of our group from one ride to the other while we were flying. So cool.
Splash Mountain + Character Meet & Greet: Woody and Jessie. On the way, got a little distracted by the Evil Stepsisters and Tiana (we lost my dad somewhere around the Castle but finally found him!). We tried to get Luke on Splash Mountain and he was halfway down the ramp when they called him back – and subsequently said he was a half inch too short to ride. Cue another crying fit. I caved and bought him popcorn and after 15 minutes we finally had him calmed back down. Thank God for child swap. While half rode, the other half camped out for lunch in a great shady spot we found. The Mountain ended up being terrific and on our way out of Frontierland, we spied Woody and Jessie. Oh, they were fun, goofing around with each other and with the kids.
Notice Will’s cap? That’s courtesy of Woody. The picture of Anna-Laura with Jessie showing off her Toy Story ears gets me every time.
Dapper Dans. This barber shop quartet was highly touted on the internet. And the internet does not lie. As we were leaving the park, they were stationed right on Main Street. As much as Scott and I wanted to stay and listen, the kids were over it. So to the house we went for a good afternoon of naps and downtime.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I could probably write an entire blog post about this experience, but I’ll sum it up like this. The boutique isn’t for every family with girls. All ours loved it, they looked really cute, but it is pricey. I’m grateful we got a family picture in front of the Castle before the girls washed their hair. In hindsight, I would’ve scheduled this for lunchtime and not washed hair for a day or two afterward so we could’ve enjoyed it a bit longer. Some of the hairdo’s are a bit over the top, that’s your fair warning. The “fairy Godmothers” were incredibly kind and attentive, but that boutique was tiiiiny! We chose the Downtown Disney location and it ended up being a crazy couple of hours since they’re doing a ton of construction. And we got lost. It’s all good, though. We made it back to Magic Kingdom just in time for the parade!
Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes Nighttime Spectacular + Character Meet & Greet: Tinkerbell. The Castle had some construction, so some of the sight lines were obstructed. A few of the places I had mapped out for viewing weren’t as good as we hoped. Two things we learned: 1) kids don’t care where you stand, they’re just excited and 2) bring your own glow-in-the-dark paraphernalia. They have two parades (7 and 9pm) and then Wishes is at 10pm. THAT was worth staying late for, hands down. It was phenomenal. There was a moment when my sister-in-law looked at me, while holding her daughter, and said, “that was pretty magical.” Agreed. That crazy long, hectic, sometimes very hot, day was worth it. We ended it with a nice air-conditioned visit with Tinkerbell on our way home. She was bubbly, cute and the kids adored her – exactly how you would envision sweet Tinkerbell. A perfect end to the day. The kids slept like rocks!
DAY TWO: Top 10 Highlights of the Day + Insider Tips
Character Meet & Greet: Anna and Elsa. I’m saving that goodness for when my brother guest blogs.
Character Meet & Greet: Stitch. While my brother and his crew sprinted to Anna and Elsa, we headed toward Tomorrowland. As fate would have it, Stitch walked right out, grabbed Luke’s hand and they processed to his picture spot. Honestly, y’all, it was more than adorable. Luke felt like a rock star.
AstroOrbiter. I found a shady bench and nursed Gianna while the rest of the crew rode AstroOrbiter. Basically, it’s Dumbo in Tomorrowland.
People Mover. By this time, my brother and his family made it back from their Frozen encounter, Scott and the boys sprinted across the park to ride Big Thunder Mountain since the wait time was low and the rest of us rode People Mover. My dad claims it as the best ride in the park, telling us if we needed to find him the rest of the day, he would just keep riding! It was a great, cool, easy ride that everyone can do. If you need some downtime with a view (and a breeze!), I highly recommend it.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The boys declared this a great coaster. One night, there were four of us adults that headed back to the park and rode this during the parade. It was a thrilling coaster with a pretty fantastic view at night.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. We are huge Toy Story fans, so I knew this ride would not disappoint. Again, it was an “everyone can ride” and the kids had a blast trying to beat each other’s scores.
Space Mountain + Character Meet & Greet: Buzz Lightyear. Does it get better than Space Mountain? Well, if you ask my dad he might not agree. Poor thing. He thought it was like an easy coaster through space. He had no idea it was completely in the dark. I’m not sure he will ever forgive my brother for telling him to ride it. We had to do some swapping of FP+ since the littles weren’t tall enough (or brave enough) for this coaster. Thank God for child swap because it allowed my sister-in-law and I to catch some great rides. We happened upon Buzz, too. Caught the line before it got nuts and Luke was tha-rilled to show off his new Buzz Lightyear car to Buzz. Like, beside himself.
Tomorrowland Speedway. This was the one thing Luke wanted to do. It was hotter than the blazes on that asphalt, but the joy on his face? Immeasurable. For a kid who kept getting turned down because of his height, this ride saved the trip for him. Now, I’m not 100% sure of his driving skills, but we laughed the entire way through the course.
Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor. We had a FP+ for this, but I’m not really sure we needed it. It’s similar to Turtle Talk with Crush at EPCOT. An interactive screen with lots of laughs. Guests were encouraged to text in jokes before the show and we were so proud when one of Will’s made the cut! “Why did the football coach go to the bank? To get his quarterback.” Bwahahaha. Crowd favorite. When they asked for volunteers during the show, somehow Clare’s hand popped up, but she got so embarrassed! I wish I would’ve captured it on video. It was so cute. I was just grateful for a cool place to nurse Gianna during the show!
Character Meet & Greet: Tigger and Pooh. This one was never on our “must-do” list, but as we passed by the character spot, we saw the line was short and knew we only had a quick walk to our last ride of the day. It was just Pooh signing autographs, but when we got in line, Tigger bounded to the front. Score!
It’s a Small World. We managed to squeeze in one last FP+ this day before heading back to EPCOT for a late lunch with the princesses at Akershus. Gotta end on a classic, right? This ride has been completely refurbished and while my boys were all “this is lame,” all the littles and adults loved it. As my brother said, “Parents: this one is for you. Sit back in the AC and enjoy.” And enjoy we did.
- Make a list of your top 3-6 rides at Magic Kingdom. Get as many FP+ as possible for them, and for the ones you don’t? Head there first. That paid off for us on Mine Train and Anna & Elsa.
- I think it’s possible to hit the highlights at Magic Kingdom in a day, but you’d have to run from one thing to the next without many breaks. We opted to break it into two days and slow the pace down, knowing that we’d have some kids that would hit the wall. And we were right. Saturday was a barn burner of a day. Even though we took a three-hour break in the afternoon, we didn’t arrive back at the house until almost midnight!
- There’s a great spot to eat your lunch, in the shade, right by Splash Mountain.
- Use the Character Map, through the MDE app. We found that we hit a lot of characters between 9-11am, before the lines got long, and then again right around noon when everyone else was eating lunch.
- Biggest regret? Not making it in time to do Peter Pan’s Flight with the kids. We waited too long and the line got crazy.
- If the posted wait is five minutes, that means no wait.
- If there’s a ride you really, really want to catch? Go during the parade. Our last night at Disney, we put the kids to bed and my parents crashed while me, Scott, my brother and sister-in-law headed back to Magic Kingdom. We were able to knock out Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain and Peter Pan’s Flight (whole other blog post!) in less than 45 minutes. Yes, we were those crazy people. But there is nothing that beats riding Big Thunder when the Castle fireworks go off. Spectacular!