Monday, July 24, 2017

How We Made the Most of Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Just One Day: Part 1

Thank you to Disney Parks for providing me with complimentary park tickets. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own.

Do you dream in Disney? I've been a Disney fan since I was a little girl, and fell in love with movies like 101 Dalmatians, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Jungle Book, and my all-time favorites, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. I didn't take my first trip to Disney World until I was seventeen years old. I loved it- the experience was incredibly magical, even at that age. When I became a mom, I knew that I wanted to be able to experience the magic of Disney World with my family, and dreamed of what it would be like to see my children soaking in every ounce of magical Disney fun and adventure that their wonderful parks offer.


Of course, my day dreams of spending a day at Disney's Magic Kingdom were flawless. There were no tears, there was no heat, no rain, and there were no crowds. The reality- you have to expect all of those things when you head to any theme park, especially when you have kids in tow. As Disney newbies, I did a lot of research and planning before we actually went to Disney World. Me being a Type A personality, this was no surprise to my husband, and he was actually very thankful and appreciative that I did a little legwork before the big day of our Magic Kingdom adventure. Now, it's important to note that we went to Magic Kingdom for one day. We were in Orlando so that I could attend a conference, and one day was all we had to devote to the park. Did we want to be at Disney for an entire week and go to all of the Disney Parks? Indeed, we did! We are already planning a big trip back to Disney (hopefully) in 2019.


Here's what you need to know before you go, if you're planning a day trip to Disney's Magic Kingdom...

Buy Your Tickets in Advance

Whether you book tickets online or call to order tickets, if at all possible, purchase tickets before you arrive at the park. Ticket prices also go down if you plan to spend more than one day at the park- so if you can swing two days in the park instead of just one, by all means- do that. It'll give you more bang for your buck. If you want to be able to explore other Disney Parks the same day as your trip to Magic Kingdom, purchase the Park Hopper Passes. This will grant you access to all of Disney's Parks in one day. *We had park hopper passes, but did not use them to go to other parks. If hubby and I had been there by ourselves, we would have tried to go to Disney's Animal Kingdom early in the morning, and Disney's Hollywood Studios sometime that same day. It was impossible for us to think that we could hop to different parks during the same day with a 14-month-old, and a six-year-old.

Download the My Disney Experience App

Once your tickets are purchased, go ahead and download the My Disney Experience App. It’s free on Google Play. This app will allow you to link your tickets and make use of the FastPass+ program. Choose up to 3 FastPasses a day, and select rides you want to ‘skip the line’ on. You can change your FastPass reservations the day of your visit, as many times as you need to. The Disney App also gives you access to wait times on the rides, a map of the parks, access to restaurants, and more. Make your dining reservations right through the app! The app was a time saver for us! It helped us map out which rides we wanted to hit and showed us the best times to head to them. It also listed wait times for character meet and greets, showed where the restrooms were located, directed us to shops and dining, had our Photo Pass info, shared info on events through out the day, and more!

Packing our own lunch and snacks saved us a lot of money!

Pack a Lunch, Water & Snacks

One of the things that we really appreciate about Disney World, is that they allow guests to bring in their own food and drinks. I am so glad that I checked on this before we went to the park. I packed an insulated cooler with our lunch, as well as snacks, bottled water, and juice pouches. We brought along foods that would keep well on ice blocks, like ham and cheese wraps, grapes, string cheese, and crackers. We also packed fruit snacks, puffs, and other small snacks to help us get through the day. There were plenty of places for us to take breaks to sit and eat. We chose to have our lunch while we were in Tomorrow Land, because there were tons of tables with umbrellas set up in that area of the park. Packing your own lunch will save you money, and then you can splurge and take the family out to eat at one of the amazing Disney restaurants in the Magic Kingdom.

Bring water bottles! Along with bringing your own food into the park, you can bring reusable water bottles. You can refill the water bottles at the water fountains in the park. They’re located all over the park. You can also request free tap water from restaurants and kiosks in the park. Purchasing bottled water at the park will run at least $3.00 per bottle. It was hot, hot, hot the day we went to Disney World- near 100 degrees! Staying hydrated was our number one priority, and Disney made it easy for us to do so without having to worry about spending a ton of money, or any money at all. Check the park rules for a complete list of what you can/cannot bring into the parks.

MagicBands might save you time!

MagicBands Are a Thing & They're Worth the Money!

You may see posts on social media of families with their personalized Disney MagicBands. These electronic bands sync with your park ticket, FastPasses, and more! Buy one per person and they can be used on each visit to the park, lasting for six years! We didn't purchase MagicBands for the whole family. In fact, I hadn't thought about purchasing them at all until we got to the ticket counter, and I saw them on display. We bought one for B, and I later wished that I had gotten bands for myself and my husband, too. It would have saved us even more time when we were using our FastPasses. There are tons of Disney shops that carry MagicBands & accessories, so be sure to check those out! You can purchase the bands through out the parks, and can jazz them up with those cool add-ons.

S, taking a snooze on my lap after lunch in Tomorrowland.

Take Breaks

We wanted to see and do it all while we were in Magic Kingdom, but there was a lot of walking, a lot of stroller pushing, and yes, even some whining, due to the heat. We made sure to take plenty of breaks through out the day. We headed to indoor spots to cool off, we took in some shows (The Carousel of Progress gave us a good 20 minutes to cool off), and we made an early dinner reservation so we could sit and enjoy our dinner in an air conditioned restaurant.

Dressing comfortably made our day at Magic Kingdom much more enjoyable.

Dress for Comfort

I wanted everyone in our family to have adorable matching shirts to wear for our day in the Magic Kingdom. My hubby vetoed my idea, but said he'd be down for everyone dressing in Star Wars shirts. B and hubs already owned tons of Star Wars shirts, so that left me to find shirts for myself and for Baby S. I was able to find a women's Star Wars shirt at our local Disney Store, but couldn't find one small enough for Baby S anywhere! Instead, I bought her a cute dress, which featured Ariel, my favorite Disney Princess! She was cool and comfortable all day in her dress and diaper cover, and I was glad for that. The rest of us wore our t-shirts, lightweight shorts, and comfortable sneakers, as we walked over 17,000 steps in the park that day! For our next trip, I will do better to plan themed outfits according the days we visit the different parks.

A late day storm didn't dampen our fun at Magic Kingdom.

Expect Rain

If you're heading to Disney in the summertime, you've just got to plan for and expect that it's going to rain (at least a little) sometime during the afternoon. The rain held off until about 6:15 pm when we were at the Magic Kingdom. We expected it would storm- it was June, we were in Florida... so yes, we prepared for the rain. What we didn't expect, was the storm that came with the rain! Thunder, lightning, downpours for over an hour had a lot of rides shut down, and people jamming into any covered space available. Even with rain jackets, we were soaked! Thankfully, we had FastPass reservations to ride Pirates of the Caribbean at 7:25, during the tail end of the storm. The ride was still operating, and there was hardly anyone in line. It was perfect timing... we just had to make a run for it in the rain to get over to the ride on time. Bring rain gear- jackets, umbrellas, ponchos, and remember that it's just rain, and people can't actually melt from it.


Make Your Dinner Reservations in Advance

We were undecided as to whether or not we were going to make a dinner reservation until the day before our park visit. Through the My Disney Experience App, I was able to browse restaurants in Magic Kingdom, look at prices, and menus. We selected Tony's, and made an early dinner reservation for 4:45 pm. We wanted to beat the crowds, and eat early enough that we had plenty of time left to enjoy the park. The dinner reservation was completely worth it! We were so glad that we made a reservation, rather than trying our chances of getting into a restaurant. We were offered cold water while we waited, and only waited a few minutes from the time we arrived to the time they called us to our table. Was the meal pricey? Yes- it was, but we knew it would be, and chose to spend around $100.00 on a nice dinner. We ordered two adult entrees, two drinks, one kids meal, two kids drinks, and a dessert to share. A child's dessert was included with the kids meal. I thought my meal was incredible, and hubby was pretty pleased with his Disney steak.

Don't Miss the Fireworks!

If you can swing it, plan to ride Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride at 9 pm. The Magic Kingdom fireworks show starts at Cinderella’s castle at 9 pm. If you’re on Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride, you can go way up high and fly in the sky during the fireworks show and have a magical view. This was the most magical moment of our entire day in the Magic Kingdom. To be on a flying carpet with my loves and see their faces light up as those magical fireworks lit up the skies over the park was amazing! We rode Aladdin's Magic Carpet two times in a row, just to get that aeriel view! The fireworks lasted a good half an hour, so we still had plenty of viewing time on the ground, near the castle after we hopped off of the ride. Hubby and I both agreed- Disney's fireworks are the best we've ever seen.

Let everyone else exit the park for the day while you wrap up the your day in Magic Kingdom with some shopping or browsing.

Plan Your Park Exit Strategy

Stick around the park after the fireworks end. Just about everyone will be trying to leave the Magic Kingdom right after the fireworks end. The shops stay open until the park closes (11 pm), so plan to shop for souvenirs while others filter out of the park to avoid crowds on the Monorail or the Ferry. If you need to head out, the ferry is the fastest way out of the park and back to the trams, which will transport you back to your parking lot.

I have so much more to share with you about our day at Disney's Magic Kingdom. We had a truly magical experience. Check back soon for my next post, where I'll be sharing what we did (rides, shows, food & shopping) while we were at Magic Kingdom.

Want to plan your own Disney World Experience?

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Special thanks to Walt Disney Parks for hosting us at Magic Kingdom! *Note- we were provided with (2) 1-Day Park Hopper Passes. We purchased an additional child's 1-Day ticket for Magic Kingdom, and Baby S was free, and did not need a ticket to the park. All Disney meals and park purchases were made by us, and not comped by Disney Parks, including parking fees.


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