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Visiting Magic Kingdom: With or Without a Touring Plan

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Whether you’re visiting Magic Kingdom for the first time, or an experienced Disney veteran, it can be tempting to just “wing it.” Going in without a plan is okay, but we want to show you how much time you can save with a plan, and how smooth your day can be. Two members of our field research team went into Magic Kingdom on Saturday, October 10, 2020 – one of the busiest days we’ve seen at Magic Kingdom since reopening. Our own Chrissy “Crispy” and Erin went head to head, Chrissy using a one day Magic Kingdom TouringPlan, and Erin going in without a plan.

Not only did Chrissy save lots of time, her experience was less frustrating. Erin approached her visit to Magic Kingdom much in the way a guest who had never been to Walt Disney World might approach their visit. Let’s take a look at their experiences and the lessons learned along the way.

Arriving to Magic Kingdom

Erin arrived at the Saratoga Springs Congress Park bus stop at 7:57 a.m. The TV monitor at the stop said that the Magic Kingdom buses started running at 8:30. A bus pulled up two minutes later at 7:59, and the bus arrived at Magic Kingdom at 8:21 a.m. She went through temperature check and security and was in the park at 8:27 a.m. 

With Magic Kingdom published opening time being 9:00 a.m, Erin ordered a coffee at the Main Street Bakery Starbucks and sat to drink it. It is important to note that guests must be stationary while eating and drinking as part of the COVID-19 safety precautions.

Chrissy arrived at the Ticket and Transportation Center at 7:55 a.m. After parking and walking to the TTC, her temperature screening was at 8:07 a.m. She took the monorail and tapped into Magic Kingdom’s entrance at 8:19 a.m.

it’s a small world Extended Queue at Rapunzel-themed restroom
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid

How much time was saved by using a Touring Plan?

Chrissy and Erin spent all day in Magic Kingdom. The goal was to experience the same 18 attractions. Chrissy followed a one-day TouringPlan, with a focus on minimizing wait times. Erin approached the park as many new visitors do: starting in one side of the park and riding attractions in order of how they are physically located in the park. She started in Tomorrowland and worked her way around the entire park over to Adventureland.

Space Mountain Extended Queue 10-10-20
Splash Mountain afternoon of 10-10-20

Although the published opening time was 9:00 a.m., the “rope drop” occurred around 8:40 a.m. Chrissy headed to her first attraction straight away, whereas “first timer” Erin was not aware this would happen and enjoyed her coffee at Starbucks. We recommend having breakfast before you get to the park if your objective is to get in as many rides as possible. The challenge with this is that Disney does not always “drop the rope” before official park opening. Generally if the park is forecasted to have higher attendance, as was the case yesterday, then they often do open a few areas like Fantasyland and Tomorrowland a little early. Our Lines app will show you the estimated crowd levels.

Another factor that can impact wait times are the extra cleaning procedures of certain attractions. All ride vehicles are given a sanitizing regularly throughout the day. For omni-moving rides like Peter Pan’s Flight and it’s a small world, the ride loading is temporarily stopped so all ride vehicles can be empty and cleaned. This can cause an addition 5 minutes or so in waiting, but certainly worth the extra safety.

Time Attraction Wait Time with Touring Plan Time Attraction Wait Time Without a Plan
8:42 am Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 17 min. 9:07 am Space Mountain 8 min.
8:52 am Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 3 min. 9:20 am Break —-
9:02 am It’s a small world 2 min. 9:32 am Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin 10 min.
9:28 am Big Thunder Mountain 20 min. 9:47 am Carousel of Progress (ride delayed at last scene) No wait
10:00 am Pirates of the Caribbean 32 min. 10:20 am Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 66 min.
11:12 am The Haunted Mansion 12 min. 11:29 am Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 16 min.
 11:29 am Hall of Presidents Less than 5 11:50 am Peter Pan’s Flight 37 min.
11:50 am Lunch at Pecos Bill —- 12:50 pm Lunch at Pinocchio —-
12:40 pm Splash Mountain 58 min. 1:22 pm Mickey’s Philharmagic 26 min.
1:45 pm Country Bear Jamboree 10 min. 1:55 pm Break —-
2:20 pm The Enchanted Tiki Room 26 min. 2:20 pm It’s a small world 38 min.
3:05 pm Swiss Family Treehouse Less than 5 3:06 pm The Haunted Mansion 44 min.
3:28 pm The Jungle Cruise 36 min. 4:01 pm Hall of Presidents 10 min.
4:05 pm Carousel of Progress 9 min. 4:50 pm Big Thunder Mountain 15 min.
4:20 pm Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger 26 min 5:12 pm Splash Mountain 41 min.
4:55 pm Mickey’s Philharmagic 22 min. 6:13pm Pirates of the Caribbean 55 min.
5:30 pm Break —- 7:20 pm The Jungle Cruise 9 min.
6:14 pm Ariel’s Undersea Adventure 12 min. 7:41 pm Exited The Jungle Cruise
6:45 pm Peter Pan’s Flight 23 min.
7:00 pm Space Mountain 19 min.
Pirates of the Caribbean entrance afternoon of 10-10-20
Pirates of the Caribbean Extended Queue

It is important to remember that with the reduction in snack options and counter service dining locations in Magic Kingdom, that all dining options are busier than normal. Make use of the ratings and rankings we have for all Walt Disney World restaurants in our Lines app, that way you can view the best places to eat. (Hint, Pinocchio’s Village Haus is one of the lowest rated options in all of Walt Disney World–sorry Erin!) Once you’ve selected where you want to eat, use mobile ordering in the MyDisneyExperience app to place your order while waiting in line to save time.

Fantasyland Bottleneck near Peter Pan’s Flight afternoon of 10-10-20

Key Differences in Using a TouringPlan Versus Not Using a Plan

  • Chrissy was able to complete all 18 attractions on the Touring Plan.  Erin completed 14 attractions. 
  • Erin’s missed attractions were Country Bear Jamboree, Swiss Family Treehouse, The Enchanted Tiki Room, and Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. She finished her last attraction with only 15 minutes left before Magic Kingdom closed. Chrissy finished her last attraction, Space Mountain, with nearly 40 minutes left in park operation.
  • These missed attractions would have added about an additional hour and a half of wait time to Erin’s visit, which was already an 11-hour day.
  • Being on a Touring Plan allowed Chrissy to take a dinner break.  Erin did not.
  • Neither team member spent any time browsing in shops, getting snacks, or any other diversions. 
  • Touring Plans can be customized. You can build your own plan with only the attractions you want to visit. And you can balance minimizing wait times with minimizing how much walking you will do.

Using a TouringPlan gave Chrissy the ability to ride 4 additional attractions, have an additional 40-minute break, and finish her evening with 40 minutes left before park closing That means she got to experience more rides with nearly two hours to spare!

If you’re curious about yesterday’s actual wait times, we have them on our website. We’re in the parks daily so we can provide accurate data. Become a TouringPlans Subscriber so you can maximize your time in the parks just like Chrissy did.

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Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando Native who loves sharing her hometown with others. She's worked in nearly all of Orlando's theme parks, on board Disney Cruise Line, and in hotel management. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

2 thoughts on “Visiting Magic Kingdom: With or Without a Touring Plan

  • Did Chrissy re-optimize her plan while in the parks? Every time I have been to the Magic Kingdom, my original plan falls apart for one reason or another (ride breakdown, unexpected line at a ride early in the morning), and I optimize the plan. I still usually experience short lines anyway, but adds extra walking to the day (which I’m okay with).

    • Great question. Yes, Chrissy did have to re-optimize her plan a few times.

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