Only have 24 hours to visit Disney World? Make the most of only ONE day at Magic Kingdom by following our Disney tips and tricks.
During our trip to LEGOLAND Florida Resort, we decided to stay one more night in the Orlando area so we could take the kids to Magic Kingdom for one day. Although one day isn't ideal for any of the Disney World parks (maybe Hollywood Studios until Star Wars opens) we definitely made the most of it by following a few tips and tricks.
Tip #1 for Seeing Magic Kingdom in One Day
Enter the park early - We are early birds when it comes to traveling, so this is easy for us. It is true at Disney that the "early bird gets the worm". More than a year ago, Disney started allowing guests to enter Main Street early at Magic Kingdom. When you enter the parks early and hit the rides at rope drop, you can ride more rides in one hour than you can in half a day in the afternoon!
The shops on Main Street are open before the rides, so you can take time to stroll the street and even enjoy a coffee at Starbucks. We grabbed a coffee at Starbucks then had the Mickey Waffles Platter for breakfast at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. This is the perfect place to grab your breakfast since it's right on the corner of the central hub and not very busy before the rides open.
What Does Rope Drop Mean?
Rope drop is a term used at Disney parks as the official time the rides open. At Magic Kingdom, you can typically enter Main Street early and walk right up to the castle (central hub) where Cast Members are standing to block off all the walkways to the different sections until official opening time. After the opening show, those walkways are opened and guests race their way to the rides. Sometimes ropes are used to block the paths, and if they are they are gently pulled aside, not exactly "dropped".
Tip #2 for Seeing Magic Kingdom in One Day
Stay at a Disney Resort - If you stay at one of Disney World's resorts, you get the benefit of using magic hours. Magic hours are not available every day at every park, so plan ahead and try to visit when magic hours are available for Magic Kingdom if you are staying at the resort for this reason. Sometimes the magic hours are morning hours before the park opens, and sometime they are evening hours after the park closes, so plan accordingly.
If you decide to stay at the resorts and budget isn't an issue, I recommend booking a room at Disney Contemporary Resort. It is the most convenient location to Magic Kingdom with a 10 minute walkway to the gate. Definitely a game changer when you're pressed for time!
What Are Magic Hours?
Magic Hours are special hours reserved at the park for guests of Disney resort hotels only. Select rides will be open before or after normal operating hours for Disney World resort guests only -- on the day magic hours are available. It is necessary to check the schedule daily to see when magic hours are offered.
Tip #3 for Seeing Magic Kingdom in One Day
Utilize FastPass+ Plans - Every guest can take advantage of FastPass+ plans for select rides. If you do not already have a FastPass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it is likely you will not get one so I recommend hitting that ride at rope drop. However, depending on the time of year you visit, you should be able to obtain FastPasses for most other attractions.
Rides that typically have longer lines and would mostly benefit from FastPass+ plans are
- Buzz Lightyear
- Peter Pan
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Meeting Mickey
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Thunder Mountain
I also sometimes grab a FastPass for Winnie the Pooh as it's one of my favorite rides and the line can often be longer than I'm willing to wait.
What is FastPass+?
FastPass+ allows you to skip the line on select rides. You can sign up for 3 selections at a time. Once all 3 are used up, you can select one more at a time for the rest of the day, or until all FastPasses are used up!
You can select your FastPass+ plans on Disney's website by signing in to your Disney account (if you don't have one, I highly suggest signing up now -- it's free!). Or, you can manage your FastPass+ selections on Disney's mobile app -- I definitely recommend. Which leads me into my 4th tip for seeing Magic Kingdom in one day.
Tip #4 for Seeing Magic Kingdom in One Day
Download My Disney Experience Mobile App - If you have Disney's mobile app on your phone you can use it to manage your daily plans, including FastPass+ selections, dining plans, hours of attractions, etc. It includes maps of the parks to help you navigate your way around, and you can view the hours of character showings, parades and other attractions. Most recently, Disney added the feature to order food from your phone through this app so you do not have to wait in line at select quick service restaurants. Nice!
How To Use Disney's Mobile App
I use My Disney Experience Mobile App all day while at the parks. I can continue to refresh the options while standing in line for a ride to check for the dining hours and location I want for dinner, or find more FastPass selections. You'll be surprised at how often a time will pop up and become available after hitting refresh! Some of you won't care to do this as much, but it's become like a little game for me.
Tip #5 for Seeing Magic Kingdom in One Day
Take Rest Breaks - Since you only have one day, you will be tempted to rush around trying to see everything. Realize now that although it is impossible to see it all in one day, you will not leave feeling like you missed out. So, take breaks and let your legs relax here and there, especially if you have kids. Your kiddos will be much happier if you allow some downtime to let them rest.
Best Places to Take a Break at Magic Kingdom
In my opinion, if you are doing Magic Kingdom in one day, the best way to rest is to find a way to rest that allows you to still take in what Disney has to offer. Some of my favorite ways to do this are:
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority (PeopleMover): Wait to ride the PeopleMover when your legs need a break. It's a longer relaxing ride and takes you through the Tomorrowland area with sites you would not see otherwise. You'll go inside Space Mountain and gets great views over the park.
- Mickey's PhilharMagic - This is a wonderful interactive theater show that your kids will also love! It's indoor with air conditioning and comfortable seating.
- Watch a parade - Many will tell you to skip the parades if you're doing Disney in only one day. If this is your first time at Disney and kids are with you, I definitely suggest watching at least one parade. Find a spot farther back to sit up with a higher view so you can see, but you're not having to sit and save a spot for an hour. This gives you downtime while being entertained. Because you aren't sitting front row, you're able to sneak out before the parade ends and head to a ride before the lines gets long again.
- Walt Disney World Railroad - Take a ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad. Another option to sit and see the park from another angle. This ride has a couple of stops through out the park, but I suggest taking it all the way full circle to see it all at least once.
We didn't stay to watch the fireworks because the kids were tired and we were waking up at 4AM to drive home. We were able to hear the show and see fireworks as we beat the crowds to head to the parking lot. We still didn't feel like we missed anything because we used these tips and tricks for making the most of our one day!
Other Helpful Disney World Articles:
10 Disney Tips from Our Disney World Trip
How to Ride Avatar Flight of Passage Without a FastPass