If you’ve been visiting Magic Kingdom at Disney World for many years as I have, you know one thing is guaranteed: midday crowds are no fun. Guests are still arriving to fill in the Park and queues are filling up at even the least popular attractions. The sun is also high overhead beating down with that special kind of Florida heat. I learned early on how to avoid letting the midday crush from dampening my day.
Many Disney World vacationers plan an all day Magic Kingdom marathon. They get up early with the goal of staying until fireworks shoot off at the end of the day. What really happens is many run late, especially those with young children, and by the time evening festivities roll around they are dead on their feet. I’ve seen parents have toddler level meltdowns by dinner time. We’ve learned to avoid turning our Disney World vacations into stressful experiences by managing our time more effectively. This often starts with splitting our days to avoid the worst crowds.
My favorite way to experience Magic Kingdom is half a day at a time. This means rope dropping early in the morning and/or arriving after dinner when many are making their way out. In fact, Magic Kingdom at night is simply amazing with everything lit up and less people. The new opening routine Disney put into place in early 2017 has also made mornings more enjoyable. I have two strategies to get around the midday crush, whether doing a half day at the Park or visiting morning and evening.
Magic Kingdom Mornings
The key to visiting Magic Kingdom in the first half of the day is known as ‘rope dropping,’ or arriving before actual Park opening time to take advantage of low crowds. The new opening process at Magic Kingdom works really well for beating the midday blahs. (Read my post about the new Rope Drop routine for more info.) Make sure you arrive at the Park an hour before opening time, then you can do some shopping or eat breakfast and stroll around Main Street. After rope drop, either hit a few high priority rides or plan on tackling one of the Lands. If you head to Splash Mountain and Big Thunder first, you can enjoy those rides without the big lines and still have time to wander Frontierland or head to Adventureland for more excitement. After that, leave.
Escape from Magic Kingdom
That’s right. Head out of the Park before it gets crazy and hot. Don’t bother with lunch, the restaurants will be packed. At this point in the day we typically head back to our resort. Return transportation is empty and most resorts have good places to eat. Go back to your hotel for lunch, then hit the pool, lounge, take a nap. Relax. Once evening rolls around, head back to Magic Kingdom or visit another Park feeling refreshed. While other guests are ready to pass out from exhaustion, you’ll be ready for several more hours of excitement.
Short Escape from Magic Kingdom
Another option, especially for guests not staying at a Disney World Resort, is planning a short escape from the Park. Magic Kingdom is connected to three hotels by the monorail and others by boat. The Contemporary, Polynesian Village, and Grand Floridian are right outside Magic Kingdom and all offer excellent table service and counter service eateries. Enjoy sitting in a quiet and air-conditioned restaurant instead of crowded outdoor tables in the heat. Bonus: The Polynesian has its own Dole Whip counter with shaded seating and the Grand Floridian offers interesting shops to peruse.
Another fun getaway is taking a boat to the the Fort Wilderness campground. The ride itself is relaxing and there are some fun activities there, such has pony rides for the kids. The boat also stops at Wilderness Lodge, where lunch at the Whispering Canyon Cafe is an adventure in itself.
Guests staying off site, may even consider hopping in the car and heading outside of Disney for lunch or to their hotel if it’s not too far when Magic Kingdom has longer hours.
Now that you have a better idea of how to avoid the worst of the crowds and heat at Magic Kingdom, you can look forward to enjoying it all instead of worrying about if you’ll survive. This is especially true for parents. I can’t imagine my daughter ever making it through a whole day at Magic Kingdom without a break. Remember, have a plan, take a break, and focus on taking it easy.