by Amy Kawa
The Magic Kingdom is what the majority of Disney-goers equate with Walt Disney World. Although there is so much more to Disney World than just one park, the Magic Kingdom is what started it all in central Florida.
With six themed lands, it really does feel like all of your dreams can come true in the Magic Kingdom. Plunder and pillage with pirates in Adventureland, find your “laughing place” in Frontierland, take a ride with some hitchhiking ghosts in Liberty Square, set sail on the happiest cruise that ever launched in Fantasyland, join Star Command in Tomorrowland, and take a stroll down Main Street USA through a model turn-of-the-century Marceline, Missouri. There is literally nothing you can’t do in Magic Kingdom.
Since opening day in 1971, the Magic Kingdom has seen a lot of changes, but the magic that has resonated with theme park goers for decades, continues to be present within each new attraction and with each refurbishment (ok, besides Stitch’s Great Escape). New Fantasyland was added to the park map in 2012, bringing with it two new castles and Storybook Circus – the biggest in-park expansion to date (with Hollywood Studios’ Toy Story Land and Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge set to take its place). The Magic Kingdom will also see a new Tron-themed roller coaster before 2021 in Tomorrowland. Walt wanted the Magic Kingdom to be ever-evolving; a work of art that’s never finished. With all of these recent additions, it looks like Walt’s vision is firmly intact.
Just like we have done for each of the other theme parks, we have created a list of each attraction in Magic Kingdom and alongside each attraction, you will find our ratings on a 10-point scale as well as how important it is to use a Fastpass+ on the attraction. Our ratings may not be exactly in line with other guide books or Disney websites, but hear us out. The ratings are based on overall impressiveness, fun-level, ability to immerse the audience in another world, and add in a pinch of nostalgia.
*Magic Kingdom does not have tiers for its fastpasses, so you can fastpass any three of the attractions we list as fastpass-eligible.
Magic Kingdom- Attractions and Shows
Astro Orbiter (6/10)
Call this attraction the futuristic Dumbo on steroids. Towering high above Tomorrowland, you get views of the whole park as you spin around and around at a surprisingly fast pace.
*Fastpass+ is available. Wait times hover around 30-40 minutes all day and the line is uncovered for the most part, so it’s not a bad option in theory, but there are plenty of other attractions you’ll want to use your fastpasses on first.
The Barnstormer Starring the Great Goofini (5/10)
The quintessential kiddie coaster that the Magic Kingdom undoubtedly needs to have, The Barnstormer is what it is. I have no problem with a good kiddie coaster, but this one seems abnormally short to me. It is literally 30 seconds. 30 seconds. For wait times that can be in the 30-35 minute-range, that just seems like a bad ratio.
*Fastpass+ is available, and should be used if you have very little kids who need to take a ride on their first coaster and/or you want to get a handle on their thrill level before you ride other attractions.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (8/10)
One of three of Magic Kingdom’s famed mountain range (excluding the Mine Train), this runaway train ride in the wild west is sure to leave you grinning from ear to ear. You’ll dip and dive over hills, take hairpin turns, and bump up and down in your seat the whole way through.
*Fastpass+ is available. Big Thunder is my least favorite of the three mountains, so I would use my fastpasses elsewhere, but with wait times upwards of 60 minutes, you really can’t go wrong using it here either.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (10/10)
Board a car with two laser canons, while you use that canon to shoot targets marked with a “Z” to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg. Targets are worth different point values, and your score is tracked on your vehicle’s scoreboard. The laser can be a bit hard to track to find exactly where you’re shooting, but you’ll get the hang of it the more times you ride. The original video game-style attraction, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is my all-time favorite attraction in the Magic Kingdom. Again, people will call me crazy for that, and I can take it. Sure, it’s lost some of its luster since 2001, but it is just as cool to me now as it was then. Oh, and I’m a member of the Galactic Hero club, so join me and max out at 999,999!
*Fastpass+ is available, and while I love this ride, I would not recommend using one of your original three fastpasses here. There are several times throughout the day, particularly later at night, when you can essentially walk right on this attraction without a wait, and there are plenty of fastpasses still available throughout the day after you use your original three.
Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak (N/A)
This incredibly well-themed splash pad doesn’t really get a review because it’s not a real attraction, but I still wanted to give it a special nod. When it’s 90+ degrees in July, sometimes you just want to run through a sprinkler, so head over to Storybook Circus and your wish is my command. Casey Jr. has come to town and he has brought with him a team of giraffes, camels, and a few mischievous monkeys to spray, sprinkle, and hose you down in the Florida heat.
*Fastpass+ is not available or needed – just hop on in and get cool!
Country Bear Jamboree (9/10)
If you want classic Disney, then look no further than the Country Bear Jamboree. Join your MC Henry in Grizzly Hall, as he introduces some of his bear friends and bands to sing some folk songs. Favorites include, the Sun Bonnet Trio’s “All the Guys That Turn Me On, Turn Me Down,” Teddi Barra’s “Heart, We Did All That We Could,” and Big Al’s “Blood on the Saddle.” Sure, this isn’t the most politically correct show to ever exist, but it’s cute, funny, and a no-stress show for the little ones.
*Fastpass+ is not offered and would not be needed. The show runs continuously throughout the day.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant (8/10)
A classic, rite of passage ride that every kid (and adult) should experience, Dumbo is the quintessential Disney ride. It’s the ride you see on all of the Disney commercials and is the one kids want to go on again and again. Slow-spinning and gentle as can be, Dumbo is less thrill and all pure nostalgia. A refurbishment in 2012 added a second Dumbo to Storybook Circus, so now there are two “dueling Dumbos!” Ride Dumbo at night when it comes to life in a world of color for an extra magical experience.
*Fastpass+ is available but really shouldn’t be used, even with little kids. Dumbo’s line doesn’t really get long enough to warrant a fastpass, especially compared with the wait times of other kid-favorite rides. There is also a play area for the kids to run off some steam under a circus tent while they wait to ride.
Enchanted Tales with Belle (7/10)
Step inside Belle’s cottage and through a magic mirror that will transport you to Beast’s castle for a re-telling of the classic Beauty and the Beast story by the beauty herself. Any child that wishes can have a role in the story, as they carry their props, march around, sing “Be Our Guest,” and listen as Belle tells her story. For younger kids, this attraction is outstanding. It is completely immersive and interactive and offers great photo opportunities for Belle fans.
*Fastpass+ is available, but because this is more of a “show,” the wait will probably be until the next story starts at the very least anyway, so best to save your fastpasses for other attractions.
Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade (6/10)
The shootin’ arcade is a fun little extra tucked away in the heart of Frontierland. Pick up your rifle and aim at different targets in a wilderness-themed scene. It costs a dollar (a change machine is on-hand) for 30 shots. With each hit of the target, different effects happen, making it pretty interactive and a fun way to see how you’re doing.
*Fastpass+ is not available and not needed. Just grab your change and you’re good to go!
The Hall of Presidents (9/10)
A celebration of our nation’s leaders, the Hall of Presidents makes history fun. As a kid, I used to think this attraction was a snooze-fest, but the older I have gotten, the more of an appreciation I have found for the Hall. Morgan Freeman narrates a compelling history of some of our most well-known Presidents, including George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln, before all 44 Presidents come together on stage (well, at least the audio animatronic versions of themselves). It truly is a celebration of how far we have come as a nation under the remarkable men who have led us here, making you undeniably proud to be an American.
*Fastpass+ is not offered and would not be needed. The theater is ginormous and the show runs continuously throughout the day.
Haunted Mansion (10/10)
Another attraction that is considered classic Disney, the Haunted Mansion is spooky, silly fun. From the minute you enter Master Gracy’s mansion, your Ghost Host sets the tone for your tour, explaining that this is no ordinary home you walked into. Once you board your “doom buggy,” you’ll tour some haunted rooms, like the library and some creepy corridors. But, the tour really comes to life in the dining room as the “happy haunts” materialize, dancing and eating together. Then, it’s off to the graveyard where the haunts have really taken over in their gleeful, sing-songy manner. Oh, and be sure to say, “hello” to Constance Hatchaway and Madame Leota – they’re “dying” to meet you!
*Fastpass+ is available and is a good option, as wait times can creep up to 40 minutes or so, and the queue can be rather slow-moving. However, the standby line has some really fun elements to it, so it’s not like you’ll die of boredom having to wait for this one.
It’s a Small World (9/10)
Set sail on the happiest cruise that ever launched! It’s a Small World is another Walt Disney original. This kid-friendly attraction instills an important lesson that the world could use a little more of right now: no matter where we come from or what language we speak, we are all connected in some way, on a deeper level – as human beings. Sure, the song will get stuck in your head and it won’t be the most exciting thing you go on all day, but it’s a must-do on every trip because you have to respect its history and what it stands for.
*Fastpass+ is available, but should not be used here, as wait times rarely exceed 20 minutes in a queue that is also completely covered.
Jungle Cruise (10/10)
Pack your bags and head on a three-week journey along some of the world’s most famous rivers with a skipper who will tell some of the worst jokes you’ll ever here. The jokes are so corny that they’re actually hysterical – if you’re into that kind of thing. You’ll see elephants, hippos, crocodiles, a pack of lions “babysitting” a sleeping zebra, a shrunken heads salesman who has a special going on… one of your heads for two of his, and the backside of water! If you play along with the skipper, Jungle Cruise will be a favorite of yours; if you don’t and think you’re too cool, then you probably won’t have a lot of fun in the Magic Kingdom in general.
*Fastpass+ is available and is actually a great option if you want to ride Jungle Cruise during the day, as lines can reach 60 minutes in the heat of the day. However, I would recommend riding this one at night when the skippers are punchier and the heat isn’t as bad since it’s really an open-air ride.
Liberty Square Riverboat (3/10)
The Liberty Belle in itself is pretty cool to look at and is an engineering feat, but the actual ride is a bit of a bore. A narrator tells you some tidbits about the scenery you’re passing, focusing on Tom Sawyer Island (which is all but abandoned these days). The trip down the Rivers of America and back takes about 17 minutes, which I think could better be spent elsewhere.
*Fastpass+ is not available and not needed, as the boat is never full and offers rides from about 10:00 a.m. to dusk.
Mad Tea Party (6/10)
Go around and around like the Mad Hatter in Wonderland on this classic theme park ride. The Mad Tea Party is pretty self-explanatory – you sit in a teacup with a wheel in the center that controls just how much you spin. Kids love it. Parents hate it.
Fastpass+ is offered but would not be needed, as this ride has some of the shortest wait times in the whole park.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (8/10)
Take Dumbo, make it Aladdin-themed, add a spitting camel, and you have The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Twirl around on your carpet, and you’re off to Agrabah! What makes this incarnation an 8/10 is the simple fact that as you go around, there is a chance you will get hit by a camel who spits water on riders. It makes the attraction so much fun!
*Fastpass+ is available, but this attraction never boasts long wait times, so do not use one of your three fastpasses on the carpets.
Main Street Vehicles (5/10)
The trolleys and old-school firetrucks that take guests up and down Main Street USA are actually considered attractions, but don’t offer much more than a peaceful ride and something cool to look at. You can pretty much walk faster down Main Street than these vehicles can carry you, but you ride the trolley for the atmosphere and old-timey nostalgia. They are definitely cool to do one time, but I don’t think it’s worth all the fuss to ride over and over.
*Fastpass+ is not available. All you have to do is line up at the flag pole area or down by the Castle to take the vehicle, operated by a cast member, in the opposite direction either up or down Main Street.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (8/10)
The silly old bear has gotten into some trouble yet again. Board a honey pot and join Pooh and all of his friends in the Hundred Acre Woods as they face a windy day, a rainy day, and some pesky Heffalumps and Woozles. Just like any good Winnie the Pooh story, the gang all gets together for a spot of honey and a celebration at the end of the attraction. This ride if just pure goodness mixed in with a whole lot of adorable and is any Pooh-lover’s dream.
*Fastpass+ is available, but for all of the attractions is Fantasyland, Pooh is one of them with the shortest wait times, usually topping out around 35 minutes during the busiest part of the day.
Mickey’s Philharmagic (10/10)
“Philharmagic” is a Disney word that represents the combination of music and magic. This attraction is Disney at its best and is one of the few attractions that displays the “Golden Age” of Disney animation of the late 1980s-early 1990s. Sing along to songs from The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and others as Donald tries his hand at conducting an orchestra meant for Maestro Mickey Mouse in this 4D movie. Aside from the 3D nature of the film, you’ll smell the food from Lumiere’s kitchen, feel the water under the sea with Ariel, and the wind in your hair aboard a magic carpet with Aladdin and Jasmine.
*Fastpass+ is available but should never be used, as the show is never full and plays continuously to a large theater throughout the day.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (10/10)
Welcome to Monstropolis! You’ve entered the Monster World in this attraction, where Mike Wazowski is your MC (“Monster of Ceremonies”) for this comedy show. Monsters come and do some improv for the audience, interacting with the audience in real-time through some cool technology (Somehow, they can see us but we can’t see them!). Because the show depends so much on audience participation, it is a different show every time, making it downright hysterical and a favorite to go on over and over again.
*Fastpass+ is available but shouldn’t be used as the wait times never really get higher than the wait until the next show (20 minutes).
Peter Pan’s Flight (7/10)
It’s off to Neverland! Join Peter, Wendy, Michael, and John as they leave their nursery, fly over London, and land in Neverland. Battle the notorious Captain Hook and look out for the Tic-Toc Crock! You board a slow-moving pirate ship that flies through the air via a wired track above you.
*Fastpass+ is available and is an absolute MUST if this ride is on your must-do list. Wait times are a minimum of 50 minutes and only go up from there throughout the day. In fact, next to the Mine Train, this attraction will consistently have the highest wait time in the park. The line is also painfully slow-moving but was refurbished recently to add some fun elements to make the wait feel slightly less painful.
A Pirate’s Adventure – Treasures of the Seven Seas (7/10)
Arrghh! Pick up your treasure map and follow clues to unlock different interactive elements throughout Adventureland. Watch a canon shoot across the street to ring a bell, see a pirate skeleton come to life, or make a parrot talk in this scavenger hunt-type game.
*Fastpass+ is not offered, as it is essentially a scavenger hunt. Just pick up your map from the Seven Seas Headquarters (across from Pecos Bill’s), and you’re off!
Pirates of the Caribbean (10/10)
The last attraction that Walt ever worked on, Pirates of the Caribbean is among the Disney royalty of attractions. You start off in an ominous pirate graveyard of sorts before dropping in (literally) on a fiery cannon battle between pirate ships. Then, see how the pirates live- plundering and pillaging towns, collecting their loot. Keep your eyes peeled for the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow too! “Drink up me hearites, yo ho!”
*Fastpass+ is available but not really needed. Pirates is known to have shorter wait times later in the day, when Adventureland typically clears out a bit.
Prince Charming Regal Carousel (6/10)
A carousel is a carousel is a carousel, but this one is particularly cool, as it was built all the way back in 1917. This carousel is literally a work of art with 90 wood-carved horses to ride, all painted a bit differently, under the glow of 2,300 individual lights. With the Disney tunes playing in the background as you ride, a ride on the carousel is a must for every first-time Disney goer.
*Fastpass+ is not available and is not really needed, as this attraction has some of the shortest wait times throughout the park.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (10/10)
“Heigh Ho… Heigh Ho!” Follow Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs as they go into work in the mines and then head home after a long day’s work. You’ll dip over hills and bank around curves, as your mine car has the ability to rock back and forth, so your ride is the smoothest of any coaster you’ll ride.
*Fastpass+ is offered and SHOULD be used if you have any intention of riding this attraction. The Mine Train will have the longest wait times throughout the whole day, consistently hovering around 90 minutes.
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (8/10)
Similar to Pirates of the Seven Seas, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is essentially a scavenger hunt that sends you around one of the six lands of the Magic Kingdom in search of clues to defeat a villain who is terrorizing that land. You can sign up for your mission, should you choose to accept it, at the Fire Station on Main Street where you will receive a map and a set of cards that have different spells on them that you will use to defeat the villains. The cards are collectibles, so there’s something you don’t see in Disney very often… free souvenirs!
*Fastpass+ is not offered and is not needed, as cast members control how many people are playing the game in each land.
Space Mountain (10/10)
Disney’s oldest coaster is still its best coaster! Board a rocket and jet off to space. The track is pitch black, so every turn, drop, and dip is a surprise! You feel like you’re going 100 mph and it truly is an “out of this world” experience. Not to mention, how cool does this thing look from the outside?!
*Fasptass+ is available and, in my opinion, should be your second option after the Mine Train.
Splash Mountain (10/10)
“Everybody’s got a laughing place,” and you’re sure to find yours when you drop five stories into the Briar Patch. Follow Br’er Rabbit as he tries to evade the clutches of Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear, all characters from Disney’s not so well-known Song of the South. You’ll find some of the most beautiful sites you’ll see in all of Walt Disney World inside this mountain- from the colors to the audio animatronics- not to mention, the views from the top before you take the plunge and learn how Splash Mountain got its name.
*Fastpass+ is available and is a great option, especially during the hotter months midday when the wait times for Splash Mountain soar.
Stitch’s Great Escape (3/10)
Experiment 626 has escaped in this attraction, and you’ll hear him crawl, breathe, scratch, and even burp. You sit in a circle-shaped theater where a harness with built-in speakers gives you the sensation that Stitch is there in the room with you. While the technology is impressive, the ride itself is pretty boring and is lacking of a good storyline for a dark ride.
*Fastpass+ is not offered and is not needed, as Stitch’s Great Escape is only open “seasonally,” meaning it’s hardly ever open anyway.
Swiss Family Treehouse (2/10)
Explore this treehouse where the Robinson’s had an island adventure after their ship wrecked. It’s basically a walkthrough museum attraction, but the view from the top is pretty cool, if you can survive the boredom and make it there. It’s just hard to justify spending 45 minutes to an hour walking through the Treehouse when Pirates of the Caribbean is only a two-minute walk away.
*Fastpass+ is not offered and would not be needed.
Tom Sawyer Island (2/10)
Hop on board a raft and travel the Rivers of America from Frontierland to Tom Sawyer Island. The 2-minute ride does make you feel like you’re not in the Magic Kingdom anymore, but you’re left on an island without a whole bunch to do. You can explore some caves and trails, but that about covers it. There used to be a lot more to Tom Sawyer Island, but Disney has let the majority of it go by the wayside, so much so that the Island is often closed to park guests.
*Fastpass+ is not offered and would never be needed.
Tomorrowland Speedway (5/10)
Get behind the wheel of a racecar and put the pedal to the metal! Too bad the speed doesn’t go above 7 mph, and it’s nearly impossible to not bump the guardrails. The cars are loud and smelly, but the chance to take the wheel and drive the car on your own as a 6 year-old is what keeps this attraction around and popular.
*Fastpass+ is offered and should be used if your kiddo is dead-set on driving their first racecar. Lines can get pretty long for the Speedway throughout the day and the attraction is all outside.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (10/10)
Take a tour of Tomorrowland and all of its attractions from above on this emission-free transit of the future. Go inside Space Mountain, Buzz Lighyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and pass by the Carousel of Progress. The PeopleMover is relaxing and the perfect place to people watch. It is a ride my family and I always start our day with at the Magic Kingdom and ride at least four times a trip.
*Fastpass+ is not offered and would not be necessary. Wait times never exceed 10 minutes.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid (2/10)
For a queue and castle that is so beautiful, this attraction is such a dud. A cheaply done re-telling of The Little Mermaid, this attraction doesn’t have good audio animatronics and the sound always seems to be muffled. For a ride that debuted in 2012, it looks like it could’ve come out before the Country Bears in 1971.
*Fastpass+ is available but not needed, as wait times hardly ever exceed 20 minutes for this attraction.
Walt Disney World Railroad (10/10)
Walt always loved trains, so it makes perfect sense that four perfectly restored locomotives make the journey around the Magic Kingdom, making stops on Main Street USA and in Fantasyland and Frontierland. From one of these trains, all built between 1916 and 1928, you can survey the whole park and map out your plan of attack or just enjoy a nice 20-minute, relaxing ride.
*Fastpass+ is not available and not necessary, as the trains serve as a sort of mass transit system within the park, able to carry four sets of passenger cars, and they arrive at each station every 4-10 minutes.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress (10/10)
Originally debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair, Carousel of Progress follows a family through several decades in American history, focusing on the inventions that were revolutionary in each period. Travel back to the turn of the century, the 1920s, the 1940s, and end in the present to see how technologic progress has made our lives better. The theater itself also represents progress, as it rotates to move the audience to the different scenes of the show, spinning like a carousel. This attraction is a cult classic. Disney even tried to reinvent it and then close it permanently in the early 2000s, but the backlash was so great that Carousel of Progress survives to this day. I can’t tell you anything incredibly special or unique about this ride, but for those who love it like me, you just get its charm. The dialogue is so bad that it’s good and the song is so catchy that you’ll be singing for years to come. Oh, and Rover is the best!
*Fastpass+ is not offered and would never be needed. Despite the support and love the attraction receives, it is still pretty sparse on the daily crowd front.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (6/10)
This attraction gets points for nostalgia and its connection to Walt’s guiding, creative hand, but it is overall a snoozer. It lacks a bit of charm and there’s really no coherent storyline. Disney refurbished this ride in 2000, adding Zazu from The Lion King and Iago from Aladdin, adding the ride was “Under New Management.” I might be in the minority that preferred the “New Management” version to the original, but it certainly added some life to the show. “The birds sing words and the flowers croon,” and as long as I have a Dole Whip in-hand, then this show is doable.
*Fastpass+ is not offered and is not needed. The show runs continuously, and the theater is never more than half full (unless there is a thunderstorm).
Happily Ever After (10/10)
The Magic Kingdom’s newest fireworks extravaganza is unlike anything you have ever seen before. Dozens of scenes from your favorite movies are projected onto Cinderella Castle as some of the best Disney songs provide the background for the greatest fireworks show ever in the Disney Parks. This show goes beyond some blasts in the sky, giving some of the most underrated Disney movies a chance to shine – The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, and Tarzan to name a few. The show’s theme song is second to none and so is the message – when you find your dream, only you have the power to unlock your greatest potential and make that dream come true. Now, that’s Disney magic right there.
*Fastpass+ is not available, so it’s up to you to stake out your spot as early as you wish.
Once Upon a Time (7/10)
There were no castle projections during the previous fireworks show, Wishes! So, Once Upon a Time was the only time our favorite movies came to life, projected onto Cinderella Castle. Now, it seems a bit redundant and while still cool to see, just pales in comparison to Happily Ever After.
*Fastpass+ is not available, so it’s up to you to stake out your spot as early as you wish.