Disney’s Magic Kingdom Best Tips for 2017 and Beyond

DisneyWe are Florida parents and now we are the grandparents in Florida, so we have lost count of how many visits to Disney’s Magic Kingdom we have made in the last forty plus years.  Magic Kingdom remains the best park by far, especially for the youngest grandchildren.  Seeing Magic Kingdom anew in from each grandchild’s eyes and seeing their joy makes another visit worthwhile.  Although, since we are on our youngest, we do count how many more times we have before us!

Please read this Grandma’s last blog post on Magic Kingdom, “Grandchildren’s Magic Kingdom and New Fantasyland at Disneyworld in Orlando,” for great tips on the best attractions by age, and more.  If you have toddlers or preschoolers, see blog post “Disney World for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Do’s and Don’ts.”

The new section of Fantasyland is in full swing, Time marches on, or I should say electronics march on, and there is something new to learn with each visit to Magic Kingdom.  Here are the best tips for 2017 and beyond.

PRICING

Disney’s prices are going up again.  The best tip, if you are a Florida resident, is to buy the $139 three day pass for use between January and September, even if you do not intend to use three days.  We recently found the resident pass the best price for two days, significantly cheaper than buying two individual days.  You need one day in Magic Kingdom, and then select between Epcot and Animal Kingdom for your second day.  See post: “Epcot at Disney World in Orlando.

A blog post on Animal Kingdom tips is coming.

And, if you are a Florida resident grandparent taking out of state grandchildren, if you purchase their park admission tickets, which we invariably always do, you can purchase Florida resident tickets for the grandchildren!

HOTEL

See my previous Magic Kingdom post for more details.  With the youngest grandchildren, it is still best to stay at the Contemporary on property, on stop back to your hotel, unless you are coming with a convention or meeting, then you should take advantage of those prices wherever in the park they are.  With Chef Mickey as your best character breakfast, it is easy staying at the Contemporary.  There is a new vacation property, Bay Lake Tower,  adjacent to the Contemporary, which sometimes has better prices.

PARKING AND UBER

If staying off property, parking is now being raised to $40 a day.  If you are not staying at a Disney resort and are staying within 15 minutes of the Magic Kingdom, consider taking Uber.  They drop you off and pick you up at the transportation center, entrance to the monorail.  No trams necessary.  We waited only five to ten minutes for Uber to arrive each way, and it was much more convenient and much less than $40 roundtrip.  If you need a car seat in your Uber, be prepared to wait 10-20 minutes and pay a bit more.

FASTPASS+, MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE APP, AND SELECTIONS

If you have not been to Disney in a while, you may not know that you can reserve FastPass+ on rides on line long before you arrive at the park.  You should absolutely do this.

There are many blogs and websites about FastPass+, My Disney Experience app and selections, and all they did was confuse me and make me apprehensive about going on the Disney website and app.  The FastPass directions on line on the Disney website are a breeze to follow, so skip the blog posts about how to use FastPass+.

You can make FastPass+ selections on My Disney Experience app or Disney website in advance of Magic Kingdom visit, or via in-park kiosks for guests who don’t have smart phones or who don’t purchase tickets in advance. The FastPass+ is then stored on the MagicBand or your park tickets. (Magic Bands are not required to use FastPass+.)  You get a MagicBand if you stay at a Disney Resort or can purchase one.  We did not have one this trip and we did not miss it.

You are able to select 3 rides for FastPass+ in a day, on the My Disney Experience app or website in advance of visits, or via in-park kiosks for guests who don’t have smart phones or who don’t purchase tickets in advance.  With downloading the Disney App, you can change those during the day, add others, and monitor the wait time on rides during the day.  However, it is easy to note that first thing after opening is the best time to go on the most popular rides and in the afternoon, you are even looking at a 90 minute wait for It’s A Small World.

The availability of selections of rides for FastPass+ at Magic Kingdom first depend how far in advance you are able to make the selections.  About two weeks out, there were no fast pass times left at all for Seven Dwarf Mine Train and only one available time for Peter Pan and Buzz Lightyear.  Buy your tickets on line early and immediately select FastPast+ rides.

Second, select rides for Fast Pass+ on the age of the child and the popularity of the ride.  Some rides, such as It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean, you should go on early and not fast pass.  The most popular fast pass rides for the young grandchildren are Tomorrow-land Speedway (32″ height requirement), Seven Dwarf, Mine Train (38″ height requirement), Peter Pan’s Flight, and Dumbo.  If you have a Frozen devotee, then consider Elsa and Anna.  If you have a Little Mermaid devotee, then consider Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid.

The most popular fast pass rides for older grandchildren are Space Mountain (44″ height requirement), Buzz Lightyear (arguably for the younger ones too), Big Thunder Railroad (40″ height requirement), and Splash Mountain (40″ height requirement).

When to select rides during the day and spacing is also the subject of many blog posts, but this Grandma found the advice conflicting and confusing.  I found it best to do one late morning before lunch, and two in the afternoon, when wait times increase.  I put one near 5 pm, about when the youngest would have had enough of waiting on lines and might be ready to leave.

Yes, if you do not get a FastPass+ for Seven Dwarf, Mine Train, run there as soon as the park opens.  In the afternoon, there was an 120 minute wait!

LUNCH AND CHARACTER OPPORTUNITIES

Chef Mickey is clearly your best character breakfast, and it is easy if you are staying at the Contemporary, but even worth using the Monorail to get there for breakfast before the park opens.  It allows the grandchildren to see Mickey Mouse and friends up close and personal with the least stress for the grandparents.  Eating such a large buffet breakfast means just a snack lunch, saving time in the park, not only for food, but for searching for and waiting for characters.

If any in your group have allergies or food needs, the best place for lunch is the Crystal Palace.  The chef comes by and makes special accommodations with each guest who needs such.  As a matter of fact, this is the best place to have lunch inside the entire Magic Kingdom park for more reasons than just this.  The food is fresh and edible, and plentiful in variety and amount, and tastier than other places.   They even have sliced steak. There is a child station with the typical chicken fingers and mac and cheese, but more from which even children can choose.  Best of all, it affords an easy way to have character interaction with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eore, and march around the room with them.  There is ample time for pictures and signing of autographs.  The location of the Crystal Palace is convenient for anywhere you find yourself in the park.  We went to Pirates of the Caribbean right before our reservation and it took us about five minutes walk to get there.

SHOWS AND PARADE

The younger grandchild loved the shows and the parade.  The most time efficient way to do both is to go to the 2 pm character performance, now Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, in front of the palace at the top of Main Street and then turn around and sit down at the edge of the road, bringing the children a snack to carry them over until the parade starts.  The program says the parade starts at 3 pm, but a few marching bands start a bit earlier.  This is the time to give the grandchild an electronics break and have a front row seat to the start of the parade.  It is fun for us adults to just people watch until the fabulous parade starts, and the parade is always fabulous.  With a front row seat, the dancers come right up to the children.

On your way out of the park, think about the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party at 5:45 PM, as a last opportunity to watch characters at the bottom of the castle, and head down Main Street after. Yes, you might want to split up the younger and older grandchildren at Magic Kingdom.  The rides that appeal to both are different, and the younger children may need to leave a lot earlier.  We saw the older children using the app to scope rides and move quickly around the park, gathering more Fast Pass+ rides as they used ones they had.

And, yes, there will come a time when we can let our grandchildren hit Magic Kingdom with their teenage friends, and we can just sit by the pool, getting their texts and Instagram to keep up.  We will just be surprised it still interests them.

 

Joy,

 

Mema

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