Lifestyle (Home, Travel, Family),Travel

Tips for Magic Kingdom First Timers (From First Timers) – 2018

tips for magic kingdom first timers - from first time guests

When I asked for help on Facebook you guys came running with tips for this Magic Kingdom newbie.  I wanted to share some of the information here for others who might be considering their first trip to Disney World.

Tips for Magic Kingdom First Timers (From First Timers) – 2018

tips for magic kingdom first timers - from first time guests

We just got back from our first family trip to Orlando and the Magic Kingdom!  This trip was planned last minute, with help and advice from all of you!  Our trip was four days, three nights. While it went well, if I knew then what I know now it would have been that much easier.  If you’re planning your first trip to Magic Kingdom hopefully some of these tips will help.

Making the Plans

Both my parents were in the hospital in January so we weren’t planning to travel this Winter.   When both were doing well we decided to throw together a last minute short stay in Florida.   We planned the trip just 1.5 weeks before we left.

This is the first do NOT.  The more time you have to plan, the better.  We were held hostage by our short time frame with hotels already at capacity and even planning meal reservations was a challenge.

We visited in February at the end of a holiday weekend.  It was already 85 and sunny every day!   The temperatures can vary but even the evenings were warm during our short stay.  Magic Kingdom was crowded but many schools were on break the day we went.

tips for magic kingdom first timers - little boys enjoying a hotel pool

Where to stay

We used credit card points to stay off Disney property at the Sheraton Vistana Resort about three miles from Disney World.  This saved us a lot of money, but we had to manage getting to and from Magic  Kingdom.  If you have a car and can drive yourself to the grocery store and the parks this is a good place to lodge.   I would have loved to use the kitchen in our room for breakfasts and lunches.  Not only would that have saved us money but we would have had healthier meal options.  We didn’t have a car so we didn’t grocery shop.

We chose to only visit Magic Kingdom and for only one day because I had work to do in Orlando as well.  If you are planning to get more out of the parks than that and can afford it, I definitely recommend staying at one of the Disney hotels.  They offer MUCH easier access to the parks.  There is a wide range of prices depending on how easily you want to access the parks and what perks you’re looking for.  Our hotel charged about $150/night, while hotels on the monorail to Magic Kingdom will cost in the $400-$600 range.  You can follow Disney specific blogs and pages to find lots of deals on rooms and dining plans but I didn’t get my act together in time.  Our hotel room was great and the kids loved the pools.  That said, travelling to and from Disney via uber or shuttles was not ideal and the quality of the food was poor so I would only stay at the resort we used again if we had a car.  Several people mentioned to me after the fact you can now order grocery delivery (Amazon and other services) but I didn’t think of this during our stay.

tips for magic kingdom - where to rent a stroller on pinterestingplans connecticut lifestyle blog


The food at and around our hotel was not good in my opinion.   At the Disney World parks it is a kid’s heaven of sugary treats and I struggled to find healthy options for myself.  Looking back I would have brought in some healthy snacks to limit the junk food intake.  You can bring as much food and drink into the park as you want (as long as it’s not in a glass container).  You can also pre order food at some restaurants through the My Disney experience app to cut down your wait time.  

We made plans too late to get dinner reservations at any of the popular restaurants in Magic Kingdom.  If you plan your trip with enough notice, make sure to make these reservations right away.  The best dinners for the family seemed to be Cinderella’s Castle, The Crystal Palace, and Be Our Guest.  Per the advice of a host at The Crystal Palace we showed up for dinner at 4 pm and got on the walk-in list and were seated quickly.  The dinner was buffet style and actually served vegetables!   Winnie the Pooh and friends greeted the kids during the meal.

 tips for magic kingdom - character dinner at the Crystal Palace

Managing kids

Disney World means walking and waiting in lines.  Like me you probably want to avoid each of those as much as possible.  We rented a stroller at Magic Kingdom right inside the entrance ($30 for the day).  The stroller was difficult to maneuver, not too comfortable for the boys, and had very minimal storage.  The website Kingdom Strollers has MUCH nicer strollers you can rent for not much more money and they deliver them right to your hotel!  We did not have time to make the arrangements but that’s a better option. With a nicer stroller you can also carry more water and snacks. 

tips for magic kindgom - where to rent a stroller

Fast pass

Our day at Disney consisted of two parts, pre Fast Pass understanding and post Fast Pass understanding.  Needless to say the latter was much more enjoyable!  When you purchase park tickets, you get three Fast Pass vouchers.  Download the My Disney Experience app and you can see each ride’s wait time in real time and schedule your Fast Pass vouchers.  Most people, like my husband, plan the rides they want to go on the most and sign up.  We signed up for rides at 11am, 3pm, and 830pm.  

Don’t schedule a late Fast Pass time.  Once all three Fast Pass vouchers are used, you can use one at a time for the rest of the day.  While in line for our last ride, we kept refreshing the app until a ride we wanted was available for Fast Pass right after the one we were going on.  TIME SLOTS COME AND GO WITHIN SECONDS!    REFRESH YOUR APP – you should be able to get onto the rides you want with much waiting.  We did this for the rest of the day.  

The first half of the day we barely managed to experience two rides.  For the next few hours we went on 10 more rides, some even three or four times until we all but sick of going Under the Sea with Ariele!  This was a game changer.  

tips for Magic Kingdom - rides for preschool age kids - Dumbo flight on pinterestingplans blog

Coming and Going

If we stayed off site again I would rent a car to drive to the parks (and grocery store).  If you stay at a Disney Magic Kingdom hotel (The Contemporary, The Grand Floridian, or The Polynesian Village Resort) you can take the monorail to the parks which is ideal.  I’m not that familiar with the Disney properties so I don’t to speak to any more particulars of the hotels.

The shuttle at our hotel was not at convenient times and was running late the day we used it.  Magic Kingdom opens at 9am and we paid for the first shuttle from our hotel which didn’t get up there until 9:45 am.

I recommend getting to the transportation terminal by 8:40am.  The 20 minutes waiting for the park to open will spare you the hours of time we stood in lines just to get from the parking terminal to the Magic Kingdom.

Leaving the park is just as critical.  There are daily fireworks at 7:55pm every night that last 18 minutes.  After the show there is a mass exodus.  This would be the worst time to plan to leave.  If you want to see the show, plan on staying another hour before leaving.  Since we were able to go on so many rides during the second half of the day and my two year old hates loud noises we chose to leave just before the fireworks.  Leaving was effortless.   If we had waited for the hotel shuttle to pick us up it would have been at their scheduled time – after the fireworks.  We opted to Uber back to the hotel on our own timeline.

What my kids loved most

My kids were TERRIFIED of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.   It’s dark and filled with skeletons and it wasn’t for them (2 and 5 year old boys).    They LOVED:

  1. the Dumbo ride (which has an air conditioned playroom/waiting area if you aren’t using a Fast Pass)
  2. It’s a Small World
  3. Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  4. Tomorrowland Speedway

Some of those we did several times.   I am sure they’d have loved others but we were there for them and they wanted to binge ride certain options.

Thanks again for all of your TIPS FOR MAGIC KINGDOM

In retrospect, the real gem of this post is how to use the Fast Pass and I owe it all to you guys that reached out a helping hand!  The My Disney Experience app COMPLETELY streamlined our trip through the Magic Kingdom.  It has a park map, the ability to make dining reservations and order food for pickup in addition to scheduling Fast Pass rides.   REFRESH the app often – information is CONSTANTLY changing and time slots opening up.

Do any of you have plans to visit Disney World soon?  Or any Disney experts that want to add tips for Magic Kingdom newbies?  I certainly have LOTS to learn and we only made it to one park.

Thank you so much for stopping by!  I’ll be sharing what I wore in Florida next week :).  


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  • Laura
    February 23, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Hey Rachel! Awesome post! I’m leaving Disney to head back to CT today. Thank GOD for my boyfriend’s mother who planned this trip for the entire family. While we don’t have kids ourselves, we traveled with niece and nephew (5 and 9). I don’t remember having to plan so far in advance when visiting Disney as a child myself. However, she planned this trip for months in advance- a schedule of rides, meals, fireworks, etc. Im still in awe as to how she managed to plan so much- yet it still felt like a relaxing vacation. Apparently FastPasses are released 180 days prior- and you can get them loaded to your magic band. I was stunned by the food options and really enjoyed the food at Grand Floridian- where we stayed. While I stuck nowhere near my usual paleo-ish/dairy free diet- I did eat relatively healthy. GoMacro bars were my usual afternoon snack while others enjoyed churros and ice cream. We ate at some great places inside Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. I’m glad you had a nice first Disney trip with your kiddos. And you’re so right- the humidity caused some majorly frizzed our hair. ❤️

    • Rachel
      February 23, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      OMG I so would have loved to follow someone around who had planned it for us :). you really lucked out.
      the grand Floridian is SOOOOOO beautiful. I would love to stay there next time. I heard you can buy (or rent) Disney vacation club points (or whatever they call them) to upgrade to those hotels for much cheaper. not sure if she did this.

  • Hebah
    February 23, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Glad you had fun ❤️ we went there 3 times and believe me it’s crowded all year I think it’s more like an international park my kids now into universal studios we went there 2 times but you should definitely wait for your kids to get older it’s all big rides !

  • Maria Perna
    February 23, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Good post for first timers! We leave tomorrow for Disney world! We are staying at Port orlean Riverside we went a few months ago and stayed at the Gran Floridian which was amazing except in September it was so hot. Hopefully we don’t feel like we are slumming it after staying at the Gran Floridian. Following along on your trip made me excited for our trip! Glad you had a nice time and we’re able to get away!

    • Rachel
      February 25, 2018 at 8:47 pm

      AW!!! I hope you have fun. Let us know what you thought of Port Orleans. I’ve heard great things about it. The Grand Floridian looks so regal though :). HAVE FUN!!!!

    • Rachel
      February 26, 2018 at 1:05 am

      We leave tomorrow morning. We are staying at port orlean riverside too! Hope y’all are having a blast.

      • Rachel
        February 26, 2018 at 1:26 pm

        I’d love to hear what you think of it. You can’t really go wrong with a Disney hotel. They’re all so beautiful and kid friendly 🙂
        HAVE FUN Maria!!!

  • Tabitha
    February 23, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Great post! Even though I have no kids, DisneyWorld is still my forever favorite place to go to. Epcot in my opinion is the best and I’m dreaming of going back again. Now if only the park tickets were cheaper lol!


  • Chris
    February 24, 2018 at 2:55 am

    That fast pass truck was such a game changer so glad you are sharing!

    • Rachel
      February 25, 2018 at 8:45 pm

      I think you mean trick 🙂
      YES!!!! not sure how we would have made it through the day without it!

  • Paulina
    February 25, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    This are all great tips!! I myself have never been to Disney World, but I grow up in Cali so Disneyland was the place to go for an easy day trip. Although, I do agreed with your staying away from the main attraction tips, my family and I always do that. Saves money on the hotel, you can grocery shop and buy and make your own food and save even more money. We do try to do at least one nice dinner out at a nice restaurant, but other than that we just buy easy stuff; lunch meat, bread, salad, eggs etc. I think even if you were to rent a car you will still save money than staying close to the resort plus dinning at their expensive restaurants, now that if people have the money to spend, go for it.
    My childhood trips to Disneyland always consisted of my mother never ever buying any food in the park, she will always pack lunches for all of my siblings and me, and will bring drinks aswell.
    I will take in consideration this tips once my little of is of age, I think 7 months old it’s a little bit young to even care lol.

    • Rachel
      February 25, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      Hi Paulina!!
      Yes – I’m not sure a 7 month old could appreciate much that Disney has to offer besides the stimulation 🙂
      You will get there though and both enjoy it in a few years.
      Thanks 🙂

  • Rachel
    February 25, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    Glad you had fun but some of the things you posted on here aren’t really true at all? Granted planning ahead in advance is key for a new Disney goer but you could rent a room at a Disney value hotel for as low as $70 a night! Your quote of $400-$600 is not true unless you’re talking about the deluxe hotels on the monorail. I just had to book a room for a friend next week in Disney and got her a $146 room rate at a moderate resort plus you have to factor in the price of the transportation to and from the airport as well! Also there is a ton of fresh and healthy foods at Disney (I follow weight watchers easily still while at Disney). For next time you don’t have to rent a car to grocery shop you can do amazon now and get 2 hour deliver right to your hotel room! I know you have a lot of followers so I would hate for them to have to be so confused and intimidated by booking a trip at Disney.

    • Rachel
      February 25, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      Thanks so much for the input Rachel. I am certainly not claiming to know a lot after 1 trip 🙂
      I updated the hotel info. I was referring to hotels on the Magic Kingdom monorail but there are PLENTY of other great options. A lot of kids are most happy at the hotel pool – so that’s definitely something to consider.
      I’d love if you could share what place at Magic Kingdom you are getting healthy food options to I can look for them next time! I bought my kids a pretzel at one of the food stands and it came with cheese sauce that said in huge letters across the top “made with engineered food” which was a turn off to me. We did not even have time to look into restaurants ahead of time so please share your expertise 🙂

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