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    Magic Kingdom Overview

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Arriving at Magic Kingdom

If you drive, the Magic Kingdom Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) parking lot opens about 2 hours before the park’s official opening. 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 & Boulder Ridge 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.

NEW SECURITY SCREENING PROCEDURES All visitors to the Magic Kingdom go through an airport-style security screening prior to entering the park. Disney changed the location of these screenings in 2017 as follows:

  • Guests arriving by car will be screened at the TTC prior to boarding a monorail or ferry.
  • Resort guests arriving by monorail or boat will be screened at their resort before boarding.
  • Resort guests arriving by bus will be screened at the Magic Kingdom bus depot.
  • Guests arriving on foot from the Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower will be screened along the walkway to the Magic Kingdom.
  • These changes get you into the parks faster by distributing the screening work to many more locations. They also prevent large clusters of guests from forming in the constrained area between the Magic Kingdom entrance turnstiles and train station tunnels, an important security concern.

    NEW OPENING PROCEDURE In 2017 The Magic Kingdom began opening Main Street, U.S.A., to guests a full hour before the park’s official opening time on days without morning Extra Magic Hours. Thus, if the park opens at 9 a.m., the Magic Kingdom will allow guests to enter the park and roam Main Street and the Central Plaza starting at 8 a.m.

    Main Street’s larger shops, such as the Emporium, are open early, in case you need sunscreen, ponchos, or aspirin. The Main Street Bakery Starbucks and the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor are also open for breakfast.

    This extra hour has pros and cons. On the positive side, it’s a chance to get great family photos of some of the park’s most iconic places, bathed in gorgeous morning light, with relatively few crowds.

    The downside—and this is significant—is that the extra hour creates large crowds in the Central Plaza to get in line for popular rides such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. On a recent visit, for example, we estimated a crowd of between 700 and 900 people packed into just one walkway between the Central Plaza and Fantasyland, all headed directly to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. (Similar, smaller lines form on the walkways to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain, and Adventureland and Frontierland for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder.)

    These groups rush to their rides as soon as the park opens. In the case of Seven Dwarfs, this created an immediate 60-minute standby wait whose line stretched back to Storybook Circus. Prior to this new opening procedure, it would have taken 15–30 minutes for that kind of line to form.

    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.

    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.

    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 Your Day In Magic Kingdom

    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.

    Last updated by Len Testa on August 22, 2017

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