The most attended theme park in the world can be a little intimidating, especially for a Disney “beginner.” With the advent of FastPass+ guests are clambering to ensure they select the right FastPass for the right attractions and the right time. Let’s take a look at the attractions at Magic Kingdom that don’t require FP+ so you can use those precious time slots for other attractions. We’ll also review the attractions that are definitely worth your time even if FastPass+ is not offered.
Some Disney fans might say that Tomorrowland is the land that time forgot. The problem with lands and attractions based on the future, is the future comes a lot faster than you realize and suddenly the concept becomes outdated. Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin are decent FastPass+ options, but there are three attractions that are worthy of your time without needing to use valuable FP+ time slots.
A classic among many Disney fans is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. Its simple charm is hard to resist. A circle tour of Tomorrowland elevates riders above the crowds. It continually loads and has a respectable hourly occupancy, keeping wait times relatively low. Not only will you enjoy views of Tomorrowland, you’ll catch sweeping views of Cinderella Castle and journey through the interior of Space Mountain, Mickey’s Star Traders, and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
Besides the TTA, there is another classic has a special place in the hearts of many Disney fans. Carousel of Progress is not without its flaws, but its historical significance alone make it worth a visit. In an age where it’s all about the newest, fastest, and most in your face thing, a few beacons of nostalgia need to be retained. Carousel of Progress could use some TLC, but if you want a sprinkle of Disney during Walt’s days, then you must take a trip to the great big beautiful tomorrow of yesteryear.
To round out our Tomorrowland list, let’s visit some monsters. The Monsters Inc Comedy Laugh Floor is a great choice when you need a break, some air conditioning, and most of all a few chuckles. This is perhaps the most interactive attraction in all of Magic Kingdom. Guests can send in silly jokes via text message during the preshow and once inside the actual laugh floor, talk with the monsters and help out their comedic performance. The theater itself is a converted circle vision theater with long bench sitting and low lighting, presenting an ever so slight lounge feel. The employment of real time animation and interaction with the cast makes each experience slightly different and memorable.
There’s plenty here that would be a good use of FastPass+, namely Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Peter Pan’s Flight. However, there is also a nice selection of attractions that can be enjoyed without booking in advance. My personal favorite is Mickey’s Philharmagic. This 3D show never fails to make me smile and get all the feels. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone, of any age, not enjoy this show.
Ariel’s Under the Sea Adventure is a great dark ride that makes use of newer technology while maintaining a classic ride feel. Some would argue that the queue outshines the ride itself, which is one reason to not use a FastPass+ on this attraction, moreover if you visit in the evening you can usually enjoy a 20 minute or less wait time. The Mad Tea Party, aka tea cups, is another staple attraction. It is one of the most photographed and most used attractions in Disney marketing. As much as I enjoy a spin on this ride, it is not worth using a FastPass+ for and usually doesn’t have too hefty of a wait time.
Then there’s the song that everyone loves to hate having stuck in their head: it’s a small world is a quintessential classic Disney attraction. With a landmark song written by the Sherman Brothers (seriously, have you actually read the lyrics?) and scenes that have come to define the nostalgic magic we love about Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.
This is perhaps the most underappreciated land in the Magic Kingdom, but if you pay enough attention there are some great details here. The signature attraction of this land is, of course, the Haunted Mansion. FastPass+ for this attraction is really not necessary and does not save you a whole lot of time since you will merge with standby line before entering the mansion.
If you want to take a moment to relax and enjoy the view hop aboard the Liberty Belle riverboat. This attraction is simple Disney magic. Some say it may be on the cutting board in the next few years, though I hope this to not be the case. It is one of the attractions that lovingly forces guests to just take it easy for a few moments. Relax and enjoy the view of the riverbanks of Frontierland and Tom Sawyer Island. Take a moment to walk to the back of the riverboat to admire the power of the paddle wheel. In a theme park that is almost always packed with guests, this moment of calm is a welcomed treat.
The big stars here are of course Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. Both attractions are worth grabbing a FastPass+. So, that really just leaves Country Bear Jamboree. This show is simply not what it used to be. The length was cut down and the pace has been quickened, which is understandable considering the shortened attention span of today’s average park guest. What’s more is the wonderful Christmas holiday version is no more. Still, if you’d like to experience an attraction that is tongue-in-cheek and oh so 1970’s Disney then mosey on down to the jamboree.
The jungle drums are beating and the tropics are calling. Adventureland is one of my favorite lands to explore, the music, the lush vegetation; there’s lots to enjoy here. Pirates of the Caribbean is another staple Disney attraction. Much like The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean’s queue was designed eons before FastPass came into existence. Therefore the addition of FastPass+ to these two attractions has really messed up the flow of the queue. The same is true for The Jungle Cruise.
If the big mountains (Space, Splash, and Big Thunder, and even Seven Dwarfs Mine Cart) are not on your list then using FastPass+ for either Jungle Cruise or Pirates of the Caribbean would not be a bad choice. I would give Jungle Cruise the slight edge over Pirates as being worth using FastPass+ and that is simply due to the differences in the queues. Jungle Cruise’s queue is all outside and not too exciting compared to Pirate’s queue which is all inside, in a Spanish fort, dark, cold and full of little visual treasures.
The highlight for me here is Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. This attraction is a must-do if you want to take a fun trip back in time when audio animatronics were a new, nearly mind-blowing technology. Thank the tiki gods this attraction was returned to essentially the original version just a few years ago. The show is simple, but I love how it builds. Each song brings in a new level, building until the tiki gods cause a storm inside the tiki room using one of my favorite effects in any attraction.
One last parting suggestion: the Walt Disney World Railroad is another simple, but lovely attraction that often gets overlooked. I love riding it as a farewell to the Magic Kingdom. After a day of enjoying the attractions and shows at Magic Kingdom a ride around the perimeter of the park is a great way to savor the memories of the day, and get one last dose of Disney magic at the Most Magical Place on Earth.