Walt Disney World opened October 1, 1971 with its plus-sized version of Disneyland – the Magic Kingdom. Welcoming more than 20 million visitors each year, the Magic Kingdom is the world's most-visited theme park and the anchor of the four-park Walt Disney World Resort, which also includes EPCOT, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom.
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Our recommendations below come from our ongoing survey of Theme Park Insider readers. Locations with star ratings ★ ranked especially highly among our readers. Vote here to take part in our surveys and submit your picks for top attractions.
Country Bear Musical Jamboree - A new version of the Country Bears show, featuring country-flavored versions of Disney songs, will debut this summer.
Tiana's Bayou Adventure - Disney's "The Princess and the Frog"-themed makeover of the former Splash Mountain log flume ride opens late in the year.
Starting on Main Street, then turning right at the hub into Tomorrowland and continuing around the park.Main Street USA
Elsewhere at Walt Disney World, Theme Park Insider readers recommend Citricos, a Mary Poppins-themed, fine-dining dinner restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel and Topolino's Terrace, serving French and Italian cuisine at dinner with a character meal at breakfast, in Disney's Riviera Resort. In Disney Springs, our readers recommend Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' for a Florida-inspired "farm-to-fork" table-service meal, and The Polite Pig for casual service barbecue.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida – about 24 miles from Orlando International Airport (MCO).
Note that Disney no longer provides free Disney's Magical Express bus service to and from the Orlando airport for its hotel guests.
If you are renting a car while visiting Orlando, you can save on toll road fees by getting a Visitor Toll Pass at the Orlando airport rather than renting a toll transponder from your rental car company: Toll Discounts Return for Orlando Theme Park Visitors
Disney's theme park ticket prices vary by day, so you can use Disney's pricing calendar [scroll down] to see which days have the highest expected crowds. The lower the price for a ticket, the smaller the expected crowd that day.
In general, you will find the lightest crowd levels at the Walt Disney World theme parks during these periods:
Large crowds will fill the parks on runDisney weekends:
In addition, crowd levels are high during:
Whenever you plan to visit, you must make date-specific reservations in advance to use your tickets. You can see which dates are open to reserve on Disney's "Park Pass" availability calendar. See the next section, below, for more advice on planning your Walt Disney World visit.
If you want to visit more than one Walt Disney World theme park on a single day, you will need a "Park Hopper" ticket.
Dining reservations can be made via the Disney World website, and each date's reservations open 60 days in advance, at about 5:45am Eastern Time. Disney's on-site hotel guests may make reservations for their entire stay (up to 10 days) starting 60 days before their check-in date. That gives Disney's on-site hotel guests an advantage in making reservations for the most popular restaurants.
Disney's hotel guests get 30 minutes of early access to each of the resort's four theme parks every day. So hotel guests should plan on an early start each morning to take advantage of empty queues. Unfortunately for guests staying off site, this new early admission policy means that they no longer have any opportunity to be the first to enter any Walt Disney World theme park in the morning.
As for planning your day, Walt Disney World now offers a new tool on its official My Disney Experience app to create a custom itinerary for each day of your visit. In addition, Disney offers two ways for its theme park guests to pay to access shorter wait times for many popular attractions. You can learn more about these options in our posts:
The longest wait here throughout the day tends to be Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so even with Disney's hotel guests getting a head start, it's still a good candidate to make your first ride when the park opens. The next-worst queue is Peter Pan's Flight, though if you wish to skip that attraction, there's better use of your time elsewhere in this park. If Pan's a must, though, hit it after Seven Dwarfs.
Space Mountain, TRON, and Jungle Cruise are the next longest waits in the park. We recommend doing Space Mountain as soon as you can in the morning, perhaps after Seven Dwarfs. But leave Jungle Cruise until mid-afternoon, when the parade draws crowds away from many attractions. Or go for it later in the evening, when crowds come down across the park. It's a great ride at night, too.
After Space Mountain and TRON, cut back across the hub to Haunted Mansion and then pick up rides as you wish, at your convenience.
On most days, you don't really need to buy your way into Disney's Lightning Lanes to experience the top attractions in the park, though we would consider getting the Individual Lightning Lanes for TRON and Seven Dwarfs before buying Disney Genie+ in the Magic Kingdom on its busiest days. Book those as soon as they become available in the Disney World app at 7am, however.