Updated: May 21, 2015

Guide to Disneyworld Magic Kingdom - Best Rides

People often confuse "Magic Kingdom" with "Disneyworld", but they are not the same thing. Disney World is the 30,000 acre resort near Orlando, FL, and it houses several theme parks and hotels and water parks. One of these parks is called the Magic Kingdom, which is like Disneyland in Florida - the big castle, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, etc. The Magic Kingdom is the most popular of the Disney parks in Florida, the others being Animal Kingdom, Disney MGM Studios, and EPCOT Center. Visiting the Magic Kingdom requires some planning if you want to get the most out of your vacation. Let's start with the biggest, bestest, rides, the ones with Fastpass option. What is Fastpass? Check out our MGM Studios Guide for complete details on what Fastpass is and how Fastpass works.

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Which Magic Kingdom rides at Disneyworld use Fastpass?

Here is a list of the attractions at the Magic Kingdom that allow you to use Fastpass tickets:
  • Jungle Cruise - this "faux" water safari hasn't changed much in almost 40 years -- even the jokes are pretty stale (which is part of the charm, I suppose..). Not a real exciting ride, but kids seem to like it, and a Fastpass helps you avoid an hour long wait much of the day.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Disney's fun, outdoor rollercoaster, with little hills and tight turns, even non-coaster fans can enjoy it, as do most kids 6 and up. The first few hours of the morning, lines are usually bearable, but as noon approaches you are better off using a Fastpass to skip the 45+ minute wait. Minimum height requirement is 40 inches.
  • Splash Mountain - located next to Thunder Mountain in Frontierland, this is kind of an odd combo between a very juvenile Song of the South interior and a very frightening looking plunge at the end of the ride. The actual "splash" is usually not that bad - you may get damp, but a real soaking is rare. The dark approach to the hill and the subsequent drop usually spooks kids under 6, so ride with caution. This is a ride that is best ridden in the afternoon when it is warm, but the lines are long by then. Consider grabbing a Fastpass first thing in the morning and then coming back afternoon to ride. Minimum height requirement is 40 inches.
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic - located in Fantasyland near the Carousel and Small World, this new attraction is a fun-filled 3-D movie theater experience. Getting a FastPass will guarantee you admission to the showtime on your ticket, but it runs every 20 minutes and sits hundreds of guests - so it is unlikely you will ever wait more than about 35 minutes for this one.
  • Peter Pan's Flight - believe it or not, this simple kids ride has a Fastpass option. Unfortunately, these rides sometimes build up long lines for a 90 second experience, so a Fastpass is the way to go if you are trying to ride after noon and you see a big line.
  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - another surprise Fastpass attraction. This kids ride is short and sweet, not worth standing in line for 60 minutes for. Get a Fastpass if you must ride and the line is huge.
  • Space Mountain - OK, now this is the kind of ride that deserves a Fastpass! This is Disney's fast indoor in-the-dark roller coaster, delighting fans since it's introduction in 1975. This is a fast ride with sharp turns - no gigantic hills, no loops -- and lots of fun. Recommended for kids 7 and up if they like coasters. Minimum height requirement is 44 inches. One of our favorites, Space Mountain is still hard to take after a 1 hour wait in line - use Fastpass to keep it at 15 minutes or less.
  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin - this is more of an active participation attraction than a ride, where you move past scenes in your space car and fire a laser gun at targets, scoring points for the hits you make. For my family, one time on this ride is enough - not very exiciting, not very memorable.
  • Stitch's Great Escape - last and least, this is a rehash of the old alien ride, except this time it is Stitch sneaking around the theater in the dark, sniffing at you and touching you. This ride tends to scare small children, and is not too entertaining. Our advice - don't even waste a Fastpass, just skip it.

Tips for Visiting Magic Kingdom - Secrets for having the best visit

The biggest tips we can give families visiting the Magic Kingdom are these - first, get there 30 minutes before the park opens. You will be near the front of the line, and the first two hours of park time are the least crowded. You can see 10 or 12 rides in the first 90 minutes that would take you 3-4 hours to see later. Second, look for Extended Hours, when the park opens an hour early -- those days give you 2+ hours of less crowded park time - you can usually go on all the rides you want before noon, then take the afternoon off to hang out at your pool while the other poor slobs wait in 1 hour lines for every 2 minute ride. Third, use Fastpass as often as possible. The passes are good all day, so grab your first one when you enter, get the second one 40 minutes later, get the third on hour later, etc. Keep them in your wallet and use them later in the day - you CAN visit attractions AFTER the Fastpasses say they expire, so build them up and use them when you want. Also, if you DONT use them, give them to someone else when you exit the park -- what a great gift, walk-on passes to all the hottest rides as soon as you walk in the gate -- you will really make someones day.


Most Popular Magic Kingdom Rides

The best Magic Kingdom rides, apart from those listed in the Fastpass section, are probably Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Small World, and Indy Speedway (the car ride). All of these are popular with kids - the Haunted House is really barely scary - just being in the dark makes it seem scary than it is, but all that really happens is that your car moves past knocking doors, a dinner party with ghosts, and a graveyard. Yes, a few things pop-up around the graveyard, but most kids 5 and up can handles the Disney scares. The Pirates ride has enjoyed even more popularity since the release of the movies of the same name - expect crowds all day. If the lines comes out of the building and into the covered area, expect a wait of 15 to 40 minutes. If the line is inside the building, the wait should be less than 15 minutes. Small World tends to have short lines up until about noon time. The ride loads quickly and each boat handles many guests. It is also a fairly lengthy rides, so even if you wait 20 minutes for 10 minute ride, it is not too bad. The old car ride seems to enchant children, but it doesn't do much for grown-ups. Lines here can be long and slow -- try to ride early in the morning to avoid long waits.

Magic Kingdom Map

Where can I see a map of Magic Kingdom? This is a common question. Disney posts maps on their Disneyworld website that show you where the various attractions, restaurants, bathrooms, etc., are located throughout the park. Go here, then click on the MAP item at the bottom right of the animated picture greeting you. You can zoom in and out on the map and drag it around to see whatever you want to see. You can also see a large labeled map of Magic Kingdom here.

Suggested Magic Kingdom Itinerary

If you are planning a day at Magic Kingdom, here is what we suggest as an itinerary. You MUST get there before opening time, otherwise you waste the critical low-crowd morning hours. So assuming you are there in line 30 minutes prior to opening, here's what we do. If you have little kids, you MUST tackle Fantasyland first thing. Go on Dumbo with a 1 minute wait instead of 1 hour. Get a Fastpass for PhilharMagic. Go on Snow White, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh. Hit the Tea Cups and Carousel. You can do all of this in 40 minutes if you get there first thing. Head over to Pirates of the Caribbean, but first get a FastPass for Splash Mountain. Then ride Thunder Mountain and head for the Haunted Mansion. Then grab a Fastpass for Jungle Cruise and hit Small World. Enjoy lunch and go to Tom Sawyer Island. Head to Tomorrowland and get a Fastpass for Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyear. If you can handle waiting for the Astro Orbiter, ride it, but that line moves SLOWWW... Head back over to Frontierland and use your pass for Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise. Relax and shop, and then head back to Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyear. We recommend skipping Toontown entirely, unless you are happy to browse and avoid the rides.