Arriving

If you drive, the Magic Kingdom Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) parking lot opens about 2 hours before the park’s official opening. For driving directions, see page 449. After paying a fee, you’re directed to a parking space, then transported by tram to the TTC, where you catch either a monorail or a ferry to the park’s entrance.

If you bring a stroller, a Ridgewood, New Jersey, family recommends the ferry (which starts operating 30–60 minutes before park opening):

The ferry from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom dock is a must if you’re using a stroller. You can drive the stroller right onto the ferry and then just head to the back of the ferry to be the first ones off when it docks.

If you’re staying at the Contemporary, Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Village, or Grand Floridian Resort, you can commute to the Magic Kingdom by monorail (guests at the first two can walk to the park more quickly). If you’re staying at Wilderness Lodge & Villas or Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, you can take a boat or bus. Guests at other Walt Disney World resorts can reach the park by bus. All Disney lodging guests, regardless of conveyance, are deposited at the park’s entrance, bypassing the TTC.

Getting Oriented

stroller, wheelchair, and ECV/ESV rentals are in the train station; lockers are on the right, just inside the entrance. On your left as you enter Main Street , U.S.A., is City Hall, the center for information, lost and found, guided tours, and entertainment schedules.

Unofficial Tip

Because Cinderella Castle is so large, desig-nate a very specific meeting spot, such as the entrance to Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant at the rear of the castle.

The guide map found there lists all attractions, shops, and eating places; provides 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.

The guide map is supplemented by a daily entertainment schedule, the Times Guide. In addition to listing performance times, the Times Guide provides info on Disney-character appearances and what Disney calls Special Hours, or operating hours for attractions and restaurants that open late or close early. The My Disney Experience app has this same information.

Unofficial Tip

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.

Main Street ends at a central hub from which branch the entrances to five other sections of the Magic Kingdom: Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.

Cinderella Castle, at the entrance to Fantasyland, is the Magic Kingdom’s 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. The castle is an excellent meeting place if your group decides to split up or gets separated accidentally.

Starting The Tour

Everyone soon finds his or her favorite and not-so-favorite attractions in the Magic Kingdom. 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 (the exception to this is Stitch's Great Escape, which is lowest rated attraction by our readers in all of Walt Disney World.

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, bring your own snacks. Except for the Be Our Guest restaurant, fare at most Magic Kingdom eateries is on a par with Subway or McDonald's.