With so much to see and do in the Magic Kingdom Park, it can be confusing what you should prioritize. Though different families will prioritize different experiences, it’s always good to have a game plan of which well-known and lesser-known experiences that are most worthy your time. Here’s a list of must-do activities in Magic Kingdom.
#1. Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover
The Peoplemover was Walt Disney’s original idea for transporting citizens of his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Though this idea ended up being the inspiration for the EPCOT park and not an actual city, the Peoplemover is still a beloved favorite from die-hard Disney fans everywhere. Part of that support is from the fact that no other Disney Park in the world currently has a Peoplemover!
The ride also has many nods to past Disney history, including a model of EPCOT, references to previous Tomorrowland attractions like Flight to the Moon, and a narrative appreciation of Walt’s Carousel of Progress.
Even if you have no interest or appreciation for Walt Disney, the ride still offers an amazing opportunity to tour Tomorrowland from above. The trains have comfortable seating, which makes the entire 12-minute trip very relaxing. It travels past Tron and into Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, giving you an excellent preview of the attractions to help you decide where to go next. On less busy days, you can even ask the cast member to stay in the car for a re-ride!
#2. Cinderella’s Wishing Well
This hidden spot in Magic Kingdom is on the least traveled path in the whole park! It’s located just to the right of the castle if you’re looking straight at it. The path connects the Fantasyland bridge to the back of the castle. Right in the middle you’ll pass by Cinderella’s Wishing Well, a physical structure with water inside. It’s a great spot for pictures and a side view of the castle and to make a wish! Any coins in the fountain (or other Disney bodies of water) are periodically collected and donated to charity.
#3. Country Bear Jamboree
This Frontierland show is too much of a rootin-tootin good time to pass up. The short show features more than a dozen animatronic bears who sing silly folk songs. Originally, the show was designed for a planned Disney Ski Resort which never ended up being built. The lyrics of the songs are hilarious, the animatronic movements are entertaining, and the whole thing is just a wonderful surprise for first-time viewers. It’s a great show to view in the middle of the day when you need a bit of a rest, or when you need to buy a quarter hour while you wait for a Lightning Lane return time or the parade.
#4. Dapper Dans
The Dapper Dans of Main Street are a barber shop quartet that have been performing for decades at Magic Kingdom. They perform a combination of classic Disney and Americana songs together with the help of Deagon Organ Chimes. Their performance times are listed in the Times Guide you can grab on your way into the park or view in the My Disney Experience App. They’re also a part of the special flag retreat ceremony which happens daily at 5pm (with the help of a specially selected veteran).
#5. Pirates of the Caribbean
Walt Disney originally had the idea of a walk-through wax museum featuring pirates. After a few of the figures were created, he decided they were too dull and wanted to create a more exciting pirate attraction, and Pirates of the Caribbean was born. Yes – the Pirates movies are actually based on the ride, not the other way around. Disney used to be mostly original in the parks, but unfortunately this is no longer the case as they attempt to drop in favorite characters everywhere to boost merchandise sales.
Regardless of its history, the ride still stands firm as one of the quintessential rides in the park. The atmosphere and theming of the ride is awesome, the cannonball fire and smells completely immerse you in the adventure, and the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbossa make the experience familiar if you’ve seen the films.
#6. The Hall of Presidents
As another classic park attraction, the Hall of Presidents is an inclusion in the park directly due to Walt Disney. He had an immense respect for the history of the country and its greatest leaders, and wanted an attraction dedicated to them. Though he died before he could see it, his legacy lives on in the show.
The show features fully functioning animatronics of ALL U.S. presidents, past and present. It also has a history of the American presidency and includes Lincoln delivering his famous Gettysburg Address. It’s an all-around amazing show and should make you proud to be an American (or envy not being one).
#7. The Haunted Mansion
Like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion is an original Disney ride that simply cannot be skipped. The start to finish experience, from the queue to the exit, is a bundle of spooky fun. Original Imagineering plans for the attraction were split between making the ride silly and filling it full of interesting magical illusions, and the result is a wonderful marriage of the two concepts.
There are tons of interesting details you should pay attention to when experiencing the attraction. Start in the queue by reading the riddle on the headstones of the first gravestones you see when entering the graveyard area. The answer to this riddle is included in a portrait toward the end of the ride following its graveyard and “grim grinning ghosts” section. After the exit to the ride, there’s a pet cemetery up on the hill to the left which includes and homage to Mr. Toad, of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, which was a former attraction in the park replaced by Winnie the Pooh. Inside the mansion, before you even get onto the ride vehicle, it can be worth it to take an extra second to exit the stretching room – you can hear spooky voices whispering.
#8. Sonny Eclipse
Moving on to something you probably won’t see on any other Disney information site, seeing Sonny Eclipse (my favorite animatronic in the park) is a must. He performs all day at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café, the popular Tomorrowland restaurant. His songs and voice are from the late Kal David, who died just recently at the age of 79.
The songs he sings and the silly comments he provides are simply an awesome part of the Magic Kingdom experience. It’s something little in the scope of the park, but is an awesome detail to stumble upon when you’re going about your day. If you’re eating at Cosmic Ray’s, be sure to sit as close as you can to hear the music! If you’re not eating at the café, be sure to stop by and watch his performance for at least a couple of minutes.
#9. Festival of Fantasy Parade
If you’re in the parks during the afternoon at Magic Kingdom, be sure to at least catch the parade as it passes by (usually 3pm to 3:30pm depending on the area of the park). Don’t worry about wasting time grabbing a spot and waiting for it (unless you have kids who love the characters) since you can see everything easily even if farther away. If you’re ready at 3pm, head towards Frontierland and Liberty Square to see its start. If you’re ready for it later, catch it in front of the castle or down Main Street at 3:20.
The parade features all sorts of festive floats, costumed dancers, and of course characters. Catch Anna & Elsa, Belle and the Beast, Naveen and Tiana, Ariel, Merida, Mickey, and more!
#10. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
A final piece of must-do attractions at the Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. As the name suggests, Walt also personally had a hand in this attraction, too. It’s a musical performance of about a hundred birds, flowers, and tikis which create a unique experience. There’s truly nothing like this show in any other theme park.
Overall, it’s a great hidden spot in the park to relax a bit, especially during a hot afternoon. The queue is next to lush foliage and waterfall that looks out into Adventureland. Inside during the show, you’ll be surprised at all of the moving parts. The show never has a wait, so it’s easy to pop in and see while you’re passing by.
Honorable Mention: The Walt Disney World Railroad
As of this article’s writing, the railroad is currently STILL NOT OPEN, which is a travesty. Walt Disney loved trains, and the fact that the railroad has not been open for about 5 years, including during the park’s 50th anniversary, is frustrating. However, the attraction should be set to reopen in early 2023 and offers guests a ride all the way around the entire Magic Kingdom Park. With stops on Main Street, Frontierland, and Fantasyland, it’s also a convenient way to get around without having to walk!