The Magic Kingdom, Part 2: Beating the Crowds at Disney World

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Our second stop – no line for us, but an 80 minute wait time later that day!

We spent two days in the Magic Kingdom this summer, and we never stood in a line for more than 20 minutes (okay, once!). How did we achieve this magic, you ask? Here’s our strategy!

First, we had to get our buns up out of bed to arrive early at the park. The park didn’t open until 9:00, but we made sure we were at the park by 8:00 to catch a boat in time to be at the gates by 8:30. A 7:45 arrival might’ve been a little better!

Tip: you can’t walk to the Magic Kingdom entrance gates from the parking lot. From the parking lot, you must take a bus, the monorail, or a boat (our favorite) to get to the gate.  Consider it your first ride of the day!

One way to experience the park would be to follow its circular design, but this requires a lot of waiting in line. Instead, once the gates opened we went directly to the newest ride, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Of course this ride had to be at the farthest point in the park! We did not run, but we did not dawdle.

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride is new and the most popular ride in the park – we hit it first!

A thousand of our closest friends had the same idea, so there was a short line when we got to the ride. However, the line moved continuously and the interactive displays found throughout the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue made our 20 minute wait more interesting. When we got off the ride the wait was up to 75 minutes. Later in the day it was 90 minutes!

From the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we went immediately to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad — where we had no wait. Then we popped over to Splash Mountain — where we had no wait. Next on the list was Pirates of the Caribbean — where we also had no wait. Heading to the most popular rides immediately and all in a row eliminated waiting!

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Pirates of the Caribbean – we rode it three times in two days and never waited more than ten minutes for it!

So, during our first 90 minutes in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, we had ridden four of the major rides with very little wait time. By doing so, we were able to go to some of the other attractions like the Haunted Mansion, the Hall of Presidents, It’s a Small World, and the Country Bear Jamboree later in the day with very little waiting. To help us plan our route, we simply checked their wait times in person or via the My Disney Experience app.

The excellent My Disney Experience app is free, provides maps and wait times for rides, and lets you book dinner reservations and FastPasses. The FastPass system gives visitors quick access to attractions via separate entrances that bypass the long lines. Using the app, visitors can choose a one-hour window of time to visit an attraction via a FastPass line. With a maximum of three FastPasses per day, be sure to use them for attractions that otherwise have long wait times. We used ours for Space Mountain, the Jungle Cruise, and a return trip to Big Thunder Mountain.

The FastPass system is a bit tricky: we found ourselves having to try and try and try again to find a combination of times that worked well for the particular rides we wanted to go on, but our persistence paid off each day. Linking all of the members of your group to your FastPass app allows you to book everyone’s FastPasses together!

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Our group of 5 used the FastPass system to avoid the lines for the Jungle Cruise!

Our plan to minimize wait times did require a lot of fast walking, sometimes retracing our steps around the park, and a making good plan — but it was definitely doable. (The second-longest line we stood in was for Dole Whip at Aloha Isle — sorry, no FastPass — cold, delicious, and worth the wait!) Visitors who move more slowly may want to consider renting a scooter to make this plan work.  Scooter renters sometimes received priority entrance and seating on attractions, as well.

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Splash Mountain was the only ride we waited a long time for, and that was on day 2, but it was worth the wait!

Do you have a good strategy for avoiding lines at Disney World? Leave us a note in the comments and have a magical week or weekend.

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

BONUS TIP: If you’re celebrating a special occasion, ask for a (free) button at the ticket gate – EVERYONE will wish you well.

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