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Practical tips for Walt Disney World travel
2002 Magic Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan
In this session, let's explore a one-day touring plan of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park, which is based on the experiences of many guests who have recently visited WDW.
As with all touring plans, there is no guarantee this one works exactly as described. Such factors as crowd levels, time of year, park and attraction operating hours, and weather can work singly or together to throw off the best plans.
As always, I encourage everyone to customize any WDW trip-planning advice to fit their family's needs.
Touring Plan Life Expectancies
With the many books on WDW out there, you are sure to find plenty of touring plans. However, how up to date are these plans? The Magic Kingdom theme park has evolved in many ways over the last three decades. As the park changes, so must we change our navigating procedures through this magical place. As attractions come and go and new theme-park functionality such as Fastpass is developed, these plans must also evolve.
The best way to develop a plan is to go by the success of others who have recently visited Walt Disney World. Keep this in mind as we go through the plan.
Basic Objectives and Assumptions
Before we start, let's establish some assumptions and objectives:
Assuming we have 12 hours to navigate through the Magic Kingdom, we should recognize the importance of good time management, as this plays a key role in how well we meet our objectives. Let's not waste time.
What are the most popular attractions to the general public? That is, which attractions draw the largest number of guests, and hence take longer to cycle these guests?
At a recent visit to The Magic Kingdom, one of the more experienced CMs pointed out that it's easy to figure out the most popular attractions in the park by looking at the E-Ride Night attractions. He said, "We determined the top nine attractions and packaged them together."
The E-Ride Night attractions are:
Although some attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan are not part of E-Ride Night, let's tack them on to the original "most popular" list.
This gives us the following quantity of attractions:
Since we want to make the best use of time, let's concentrate on one spoke of the Magic Kingdom wheel at a time rather than go from one end of the park to another. Based on attraction popularity, our plan of attack should look like this:
As we go through our tour, we will address meals, parades, and the "Fantasy in the Sky" Fireworks.
Regardless of what some people tell you, there are ways to control how your day should go, starting with determining how you will break up your day with meals. Here are the popular suggestions:
The Tomorrowland Mini Tour
We start in Tomorrowland, which recently has become the busiest of all the lands. One thing to keep in mind is to always try to have a Fastpass in hand. Here is the Tomorrowland plan:
Assuming you got into the park right at 9:00a.m. and the crowd level was moderate, it should now be between 11:30a.m. and 12:30p.m.
The Frontierland Mini Tour
Let's move to Frontierland. Expect some longer waiting times as the park begins to fill up.
Hopefully you are eating lunch sometime between 1:30 and 2:00, especially if you want to enjoy the afternoon parade. I suggest you schedule a lunch at the Plaza Restaurant for 1:30. If you have a light lunch at the Plaza around 1:30 or so, then you may be able to enjoy the 3:00 parade.
Again, parade viewing can sometimes toss a wrench into the best of tour plans.
The Fantasyland Mini Tour
The 3:00 parade is most likely over between 3:30 and 3:45. At this point in the afternoon, you may find Fastpass distribution times to be longer. It is also a time of day where young families tend to wear down and elect to leave the park. For these reasons our next stop is Fantasyland:
All this may take you as much as 2 hours to accomplish.
The Toontown Mini-tour
From the Tea Cups, we can quickly move to Mickey's Toontown Fair and spend about an hour doing some of the attractions there. There really isn't a key Toontown plan to go by, so my only suggestion is that if you are a family with young children, then Fantasyland and Toontown should be the first two lands you visit before you go to Tomorrowland.
From Toontown, take the Walt Disney World Railroad to Main Street USA and enjoy dinner at Tony's Town Square Restaurant. Your dinnertime should be about 2 hours to 2 1/2 hours before the scheduled evening parade (presently Spectromagic).
Now here is where it gets tricky. Some guests feel that after dinner at Tony's, you should find a location in the Town Square to watch the parade. However, a slight majority feels there is a better option. We are off to Adventureland.
After dinner go to Adventureland and follow these steps:
Now here is the key point in selecting this option. Make your way to the Splash Mountain area. You should be able to find an area roped off for the nighttime parade. Since the parade starts in Town Square, you should be in plenty of time to grab a spot before the parade arrives, which is about 30 minutes from the scheduled start. Another key viewing area is between the Country Bear Jamboree attraction and the Frontierland Shooting Gallery.
Again, parade viewing may prevent the completion of our one-day tour, but we'll give it a shot.
Liberty Square Mini Tour
Okay, it gets tricky here so pay attention to these steps.
Fantasy In the Sky Fireworks
With luck, perseverance, and a whole lot of energy, you should be able to enjoy The Magic Kingdom's fireworks display... but maybe not from Main Street USA.
When you come out of the Haunted Mansion, turn left towards Fantasyland. If time allows, you should be able to enjoy the fireworks from just to the left of It's a Small World.This spot is rarely crowded, and you have a speaker behind you that provides you with the music as well.
If you are real quick, you can make your way to where the former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine attraction existed. This is the closest you can get to the fireworks display.
I really find visiting any theme park in one day turns into work and not a vacation.
Some guests are limited in time, and hopefully I have provided some guidance on how best to navigate this theme park
Throwing meals, parades, and fireworks into the mixture presents everyone with a challenge. Thinking about using this plan? I offer you good luck, and I ask that you keep me informed of any adjustments or changes that need to be shared.
Remember: Touring plans always need adjusting.
Next time, let's take a shot at a one-day tour of Epcot Center.
Photos on this page by Brian Bennett unless otherwise noted
Here's a list of the trip reports that Mike has written that are part of MousePlanet's archives!
Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, "The Trip Planner" for more travel planning information!
The first Disney trip report that I ever read was a report by Mike Scopa that I downloaded from the America Online travel library in late 1994. The report was a detailed description of the Scopa family's trip to WDW in the summer of that year.
As soon as I was done reading it, I was hooked.
I picked my own brain and documented my own trips and the things I'd learned from my own experiences. Then, in 1995 I actually wrote a report as the trip unfolded. I took a laptop with me and spent some time in the evenings documenting what had happened that day. (I've repeated that process for my own reports ever since.)
In July 1996, I started my Disney trip planning Web site. Besides including my own reports, I asked for permission from the authors of several other reports and added them to the offering. Since then, the number of reports has expanded greatly. In 1997, I added an information summary for each report to make it easier to sort through the reports that are available.
I still 'blame' Mike for hooking me on this Disney habit.
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