If you have not yet read the introduction to this post click here.
Our visit to Magic Kingdom was one of the longest days I can recall of any vacation ever! It is big, and busy and oh so humid. Because we stayed on property, our transportation to the park was free, HOWEVER the buses that pick you up are legit the coldest vehicle you will ever sit in. If you have room in your bag, bring a small shall or sweater for the kids. A lot of kids were complaining about how cold they were. We used a shall and draped it over our legs.
We got to Magic Kingdom right when the park opened, which honestly wasn’t all that necessary, but perhaps with kids it might be. We got to see the morning parade down Main Street which was an amazing welcome into the park, so part of me is glad we got there early, but by the time the fireworks start you have been there for almost 12 hours so its a seriously long day. I would for sure bring a stroller for any kid 4 and under. I know that sounds crazy old for a stroller, but a lot of the kids we say by mid day looked tired and cranky, and a stroller nap probably would have done them some good. Wagons are’nt allowed at Disney parks so this isn’t an option.
When you buy your MK park passes you’re going to be prompted to download the app. It’s insanely useful app so definitely do that right away because the planning doesn’t end with the pass purchase. You can use it to manage all your park reservations, and there are a lot of extras you can purchase that you can load onto the app. Now unlike Universal Studios you cannot purchase a fast pass that gets you onto all the rides quicker. Instead you will be given three complimentary fast pass+ that you can schedule in advance and you will schedule these through the app. What you choose is important, but its also flexible. We originally scheduled Space Mountain, Meeting Mickey, and Big Thunder Mountain. But here’s the thing…once there, the app also tells you how long the wait is for rides. So let’s say you are in the vicinity of Space Mountain and you see that the line for the ride is rather short, 15 mins or so, you can swap out your fastpass+ for something else and get in the Space Mountain line. I would suggest Ariels Grotto, or the Dwarf Mine Train. Those were always busy. BUT, and this is a big but, ALWAYS use a fastpass+ on meeting Mickey. The line for this is always long, and why would you go to Disney World if you aren’t going to meet Mickey? Trust me, he does not just walk around casually. If you wanna see Mickey, you gotta make an appointment.
You can also manage your dining reservations on the app. There are two main types of restaurants at Disney; Quick Service and Table Service. You can make your reservations up to 180 days in advance, and the first to book up will 100% be Cinderella’s Royal Table (dinner in a castle!). It’s also the most expensive, so I wasn’t to heart broken about that. We opted not to do any character dining, as it’s more expensive and we didn’t have a kid in tow, but if you’re going with the fam you’ll probably want to book your character dinners well in advance as these book up quickly too. We had lunch in the Beasts Castle (Be Our Guest Restaurant), and the food was awesome! Also, not as expensive as we had anticipated. The Beasts Castle is quick service for lunch, but table service for dinner, so the prices increase considerably but the menu also changes. We had dinner at The Plaza Restaurant on Main Street, which is close to all the shops. It was perfect because we were over the rides by dinner time, and just wanted to hang out near Main Street, do a bit of browsing in the shops, and then get a good spot for the Once Upon a Time Fireworks Spectacular (now Happily Ever After).
The ideal time to purchase your park passes is 180 days (6 months) in advance so you can lock in your fast passes and dining reservations. This is especially true if you want to dine in Cinderella’s Castle.
You can bring food into Magic Kingdom but there are of course rules you will need to follow. You can bring in snacks or food that don’t require heating. You can’t bring in glass containers, but the exception to this is baby food in glass jars. You also can’t bring in alcohol (boo!). You also can’t bring plastic straws into Animal Kingdom, so that’s something to keep in mind if you are packing juice boxes and planning to visit that park. Bringing snacks is a great way to cut down your food costs so bring things that travel easily like cereal bars, fruit candies, or fresh fruit in plastic Tupperware. Also, DO NOT forget your refillable water bottles. You can fill these up almost anywhere. Finally, make sure you tell a cast member upon entry that you are bringing food into the park.
Now, what to do with your day….
No matter where you are or what you are doing, you HAVE TO head over the the castle for the 3pm Festival of Fantasy Parade. Do your best to go early and get a good spot. This was my second favourite part of the day, after the fireworks of course. If you get a good enough spot you will get up close and personal to all the Disney Princesses and Princes, and classic Disney characters. Similar to the parade, you’ll want to get a good spot for the fireworks as well. My favourite spot for the fireworks is right behind the Partners statue, so you can get a shot of the Walt/Mickey silhouette with the fireworks behind it. I unfortunately couldn’t get this spot when I was there 🙁 Another thing to consider is booking a dessert reservation at the Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace. You’ll get a nice cozy Terrace seat for the show and some desserts. Personally, I preferred to be up close to the show, but if you have a big group this is a great option to keep everyone together.
Everyone around us had Magic Bands on, but because we only went to the one park for the one day we didn’t bother. The Magic Bands are your hotel room key, park pass, photo pass and more. You can buy things from the gift shops and charge them to your on-property room, you can load your dining plan onto your Magic Band, you can gain entry to your Fastpass+ selected rides. If you are staying for multiple days, and going to multiple parks, then the Magic Band makes a lot of sense.
Now when it comes to souvenirs, this is where Disney World has everybody beat. You can shop till you drop and it will all be waiting for you in your hotel when you get back. This was one feature of the park that I really loved. We bought a couple of souvenirs right at the top of our day and just got it out of the way, but we didn’t have to carry it around with us all day. Amazing! But also slightly dangerous lol.
Finally, the Photo Pass. We didn’t opt for the photo pass. Again, we kept things low cost as we weren’t there with a child. Basically, for $170 – $200 USD, depending on package selection, you can have photographers all over the parks take photos of you and your family and it will instantly load right onto the app. BUT, newsflash, you can also just hand a cast member your cell phone to take a photo and they won’t say no.
Now I want to tell you a bit about….
Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) is a collection of bars, restaurants, shops and entertainment. Just when you think you haven’t had enough Disney, here comes DS to really overstimulate you! We actually loved Disney Springs. The shopping was awesome and the food selection was far superior than anything we experienced in the park. We had the most amazing Jumbalaya at the House of Blues, and got to listen to some amazing live music. As you walk the boardwalks of Disney Springs you’ll be greeted by entertainers of all types. The place is vibrant and lively and a must visit during any Disney trip.
Now on to Universal. For details on our Universal Experience click here