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Scoping the Parks
Practical tips for Walt Disney World travel
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Mike Scopa

2002 Magic Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan

Cinderella's Castle, at the Magic Kingdom.
Cinderella's Castle, at the Magic Kingdom.

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:

  • The Magic Kingdom is open for at least 12 hours
  • Lunch and dinner is incorporated into the tour
  • Major attractions are visited at least once -- and maybe twice -- and minor ones may be visited once.
  • All parades and "Fantasy in the Sky" fireworks are included in the tour

Time Factor

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."

Space Mountain, viewed from the Tomorrowland Transportation Authority.
Space Mountain, viewed from the Tomorrowland Transportation Authority.

The E-Ride Night attractions are:

  • Space Mountain
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority
  • Buzz Lightyear
  • Alien Encounter
  • Splash Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Railroad
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Country Bear Jamboree

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:

  • Tomorrowland: 5
  • Frontierland: 3
  • Fantasyland: 2
  • Adventureland: 2
  • Liberty Square: 1

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:

  • Tomorrowland
  • Frontierland
  • Fantasyland (and Toontown)
  • Adventureland
  • Liberty Square

As we go through our tour, we will address meals, parades, and the "Fantasy in the Sky" Fireworks.

Control Factors

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:

  • Have a light breakfast just before going to the park.
  • Snack in mid-morning if necessary.
  • Make priority seating for lunch around 1:30-2:00 and for dinner around 6:30-7:00, making priority-seating reservations prior to the day of your visit.

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:

  1. Alien Encounter: Do this immediately.
  2. Space Mountain Fastpass: After Alien Encounter, grab a Fastpass for Space Mountain. You probably now have about 45 minutes before your Space Mountain Fastpass time.
  3. Astro Orbiter.
  4. Tomorrowland Transit Authority [time permitting]: If you still have about 20 minutes before your Space Mountain Fastpass time, take a ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.
  5. Space Mountain: Use your Space Mountain Fastpass.
  6. Buzz Lightyear Fastpass: Grab a Fastpass for Buzz Lightyear. This attraction is a constant-loading attraction so you probably have less than an hour's wait.
  7. Timekeeper or Carousel of Progress [time permitting]: If possible, take in either (if open).
  8. Buzz Lightyear: Using your Fastpass.
  9. Tomorrowland Speedway [optional]: If you elect not to do this attraction, you are done with the major Tomorrowland attractions.

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.

  1. Splash Mountain Fastpass: Grab a Fastpass to Splash, then head to the next item:
  2. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: The line is usually longer at Splash so you may be able to get in a lot of activity before the Splash Fastpass time comes up.
  3. Country Bear Jamboree [optional]: Depending upon your Splash Fastpass time, after you've come off Big Thunder.
  4. Lunch: Is it time for lunch yet? If so then eat, drink and be merry. If not then do Country Bear if you already haven't and then eat.

Parade Time

Mickey in the Share a Dream Come True parade (photo by Sheila Hagen).
Mickey in the Share a Dream Come True parade (photo by Sheila Hagen).

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:

  1. Peter Pan Fastpass: I'm guessing the wait is at least an hour long
  2. It's a Small World
  3. Snow White's Scary Adventures [time permitting]: You may not be able to do Snow White, but my guess is that you will.
  4. Peter Pan: Using your Fastpass.
  5. Winnie the Pooh Fastpass: It could be 45 minutes out
  6. Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  7. Cinderella's Carrousel [time permitting]
  8. Winnie the Pooh: Using your Fastpass.
  9. Cinderella's Carrousel : If you did not ride it yet, or want to enjoy it again
  10. Tea Cups: Make sure to do this last, because this puts us on the edge of Toontown.

All this may take you as much as 2 hours to accomplish.

The Toontown Mini-tour

Toontown (Photo by Karl Buiter).
Toontown (Photo by Karl Buiter).

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.

Adventureland Mini-tour

The elephant pool on Adventureland's Jungle Cruise.
The elephant pool on Adventureland's Jungle Cruise.

After dinner go to Adventureland and follow these steps:

  1. Jungle Cruise Fastpass: Grab a Fastpass to the Jungle Cruise
  2. Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride: Do this right after you obtain your Fastpass.
  3. Jungle Cruise: Use your Fastpass now, or:
  4. [Alternate] Pirates of the Caribbean: Use your Jungle Cruise Fastpass or visit Pirates; whichever one you didn't do in the previous step.
  5. Enchanted Tiki Room [optional]: You could finish with an optional visit to the Tiki Room.

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

Liberty Square.
Liberty Square.

Okay, it gets tricky here so pay attention to these steps.

  • Haunted Mansion: Take in the Haunted Mansion. You may need a Fastpass (if available) but I am assuming that at this point most guests are heading for the "Fantasy In the Sky" fireworks.

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.

Class dismissed.


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!

Michael Scopa -- August 1999 -- Walt Disney World (CSR)

Michael J. Scopa -- July 1997 -- Walt Disney World (WL/CBR)

Mike Scopa -- July 1994 -- Walt Disney World (WL / CBR)

Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, "The Trip Planner" for more travel planning information!


Brian Bennett, author of MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide (and publisher of the Disney Trip Report Archive), writes:

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.

Thanks Mike!

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