If you drive, the Magic Kingdom/Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) parking lot opens about two hours before the park's official opening. After paying a fee, you are directed to a parking space, then transported by tram to the TTC, where you catch either a monorail or ferry to the park's entrance.
If you're staying at the Contemporary, Polynesian, or Grand Floridian Resorts, you can commute directly to the Magic Kingdom by monorail (guests at the Contemporary can walk there more quickly). If you stay at Wilderness Lodge and Villas or Fort Wilderness Campground, you will take a boat. Guests at other Disney resorts can reach the park by bus. All Disney lodging guests, whether they arrive by bus, monorail, or boat, are deposited at the park's entrance, bypassing the TTC.
At the Magic Kingdom, stroller, wheelchair and locker rentals are in the tunnel under the train station, on the station's ground floor. On your left as you enter Main Street is City Hall, the center for information, lost and found, guided tours, and entertainment schedules.
If you don't already have a handout guide map of the park, get one at City Hall or entrance turnstiles.
If you don't already have a handout guidemap of the park, get one at City Hall. The guidemap lists all attractions, shops, and eating places; provides helpful information about first aid, baby care, and assistance for the disabled; and gives tips for good photos. It lists times for the day's special events, live entertainment, Disney character parades, and concerts, and it also tells when and where to find Disney characters. Often the guidemap is supplemented by a daily entertainment schedule known as a Times Guide. In addition to listing performance times, the Times Guide also provides info on Disney character appearances and what Disney calls "Special Hours." Special Hours usually refers to attractions that open late or close early and to the operating hours of park restaurants.
Because Cinderella Castle is large, designate a very specific meeting spot, like the entrance to Cinderella's Royal Table restaurant at the rear of the castle.
Cinderella Castle is the entrance to Fantasyland and is the Magic Kingdom's architectural icon and visual center. If you start in Adventureland and go clockwise around the Magic Kingdom , the castle spires will always be roughly on your right; if you start in Tomorrowland and go counterclockwise through the park, the spires will always be roughly on your left. Cinderella Castle is an excellent meeting place if your group decides to split up during the day or is separated accidentally.
In 2010, Fantasyland began the largest expansion in the Magic Kingdomâ€™s history. The expansion created two new areas that supplement the existing "classic" Fantasyland: Storybook Circus and Enchanted Forest.
Storybook Circus opened in in 2012 and contains character greetings, an expanded Dumbo the Flying Elephant, a redecorated Barnstormer roller coaster, Casey Jr. water play area, an elaborate new train station building, and clown entertainment.
Enchanted Forest opened later in 2012 and offers a new ride (Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid), as well as an elaborate interactive show called Enchanted Tales with Belle. Ariel also regained a dedicated character greeting venue, and Magic Kingdom dining was enhanced with the opening of Be Our Guest Restaurant, an amazingly detailed venue that offers counter service food for lunch and table service dining (including alcohol, a Magic Kingdom first!) by night.
Starting The Tour
Everyone soon finds his or her favorite and not-so-favorite attractions in the Magic Kingdom . Be open-minded and adventuresome. Our personal experience and research indicate that each visitor differs on which attraction is most enjoyable. Don't dismiss a ride or show until after you have tried it.
Take advantage of what Disney does best: the fantasy adventures of Splash Mountain and The Haunted Mansion and the various audio-animatronic (talking robots) attractions, including The Hall of Presidents and Pirates of the Caribbean. Don't burn daylight browsing the shops unless you plan to spend a minimum of two and a half days at the Magic Kingdom , and even then wait until midday or later. Minimize the time you spend on midway-type rides; you probably have something similar near your hometown. (Don't, however, mistake Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as amusement park rides. They may be roller coasters, but they're pure Disney genius.)
Eat a good breakfast early, and avoid lines at eateries by snacking during the day on food from vendors, of better yet, from your fannypack. Except for the Be Our Guest restaurant, fare at most Magic Kingdom eateries is on a par with Subway or McDonald's.