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 bring your own 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, Polynesian, or Grand Floridian Resorts, you can commute directly to the Magic Kingdom by monorail (guests at the Contemporary can walk there more quickly). The Polynesian and Grand Floridian also offer shared boat service to the Magic Kingdom. If you stay at Wilderness Lodge and Villas or Fort Wilderness Campground, you will take a boat or bus (boats will not run in inclement weather). 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.

Getting Oriented

At the Magic Kingdom, stroller rentals are in the tunnel under the train station, on the station's ground floor. ECV and wheelchair rentals are to the far right before you go under the tunnel to enter Main Street. Lockers are by ECV rentals. On your left as you enter Main Street is City Hall, the center for information, lost and found, and guided tours. Times Guides and maps are available as you go through the tunnels to enter Main Street/Town Square as well as in gift shops, restaurants, and food and merchandise kiosks throughout the park.

Unofficial Tip

Grab a park map and Times Guide as you go under the train station to enter Town Square.

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.

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 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. The castle is an excellent meeting place if your group decides to split up or is 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.

Related Blogs on the Magic Kingdom
Top Five "Free Adventures" at Disney World (featuring Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom and A Pirate's Adventure)
SATURDAY SIX: Six Iconic Snacks of the Magic Kingdom