The Magic Kingdom still attracts millions from around the world, drawn here by the opportunity to experience the fun and fantasy that only Disney can deliver. Attendance, at slightly under than 21 million before the pandemic, makes this America's most popular theme park. The 107-acre Magic Kingdom is filled with more than 40 attractions, unique shops, and themed restaurants. Its most recognizable feature is Cinderella Castle, the park's icon and centerpiece. And surrounding the castle are the park's six themed lands, stretching out like the spokes of a wheel.
Arriving & Departing — The proof that you’re about to experience a fantasy realm comes in the effort required to enter it. Designers wanted arrival to be a big to-do. Many guests brave three forms of transportation before they see a single brick of Main Street. (Guests at Disney-run resorts are conveniently dropped off by the front gate, skipping all that.) Guests who drive themselves will park (there are two main sections: Heroes and Villains). If you park in Aladdin, Woody, or Jafar, it’s not too far to walk, but you won't get a choice at the standard parking price. Take the parking tram to the security checkpoint at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). You must pass through security and have your bags inspected. Guests who use Uber or a taxi will also be dropped there, but ask to go to the Contemporary Resort instead; from there it’s just a 5-minute walk to the park, saving you lots of transit time.
From the TTC, a mile away, the Magic Kingdom gleams like a promise from across the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon, but you still have to take either a monorail (after a 2009 accident, guests are no longer permitted to ride in the cab) or a ferryboat (often piloted by affable elder men) to the other side. Transit time is more or less equal; it can take 45 minutes from your car to the park. I recommend doing one in each direction—the monorail carries about 300 people but each ferry can handle 600, so take those numbers into your calculations as you eyeball the waiting crowds. Ferries are named for execs who helped build Disneyland and this park.
All told, the time it takes to get from your car to Main Street, U.S.A., is somewhere around 35 to 45 minutes, sometimes longer. And that total doesn't include the time spent in lines if you have to stop at Guest Relations or rent a stroller. You'll face the same agony (complicated by escaping crowds) on the way out, so relax. This is one of the most crowded parks, so plan to arrive an hour before the opening bell or an hour or two after.
Upon arrival, take the requisite photo at the Floral Mickey in front of the train station. Then head through the tunnels of the mansard-roof train station. There, by the right-hand tunnel, you’ll find the only place in the park to rent strollers and wheelchairs. Note the stylized paintings of the big attractions, done like old-fashioned travel posters. They are a tradition here. If you don't want to use your smartphone much, the most important thing you can do upon arriving at the park is to pick up a copy (or two) of the Magic Kingdom guide map (if you can't find one at the turnstiles, stop at City Hall or the nearest shop). It provides an array of detailed information about available services, restaurants, and attractions.
If you have questions, all park employees are very knowledgeable, and City Hall, on your left as you enter, is the park's main information center. To the right is a center of a different sort, the Town Square Theater -- now a place to meet and greet Disney's favorite costumed characters. Other character greeting places are featured on the guide map.
At closing time, hordes stream out of the gates in a popcorn-fueled death march and clog movement like a Times Square throng on New Year’s Eve. “Stay close,” mothers whisper to their children when they see the throngs. Tip: Put off your day’s souvenir shopping until the posted closing time and then spend 45–60 minutes in the stores (which stay open after the rest of the park) before trying to leave.
Hours -- The park's hour vary wildly. In peak season, it's open until 11pm or midnight, but sometimes, it closes around dinnertime and forces you to buy a separate ticket for the evening. Check the Disney World app calendar to be sure of the hours on the day you go.
Services & Facilities in the Magic Kingdom
Most of the following are noted on the handout guide maps in the park.
ATMs -- Machines inside the park honor cards from banks using the Cirrus, Honor, and PLUS systems. They're located near the main entrance; in Frontierland, near the Shootin' Gallery; and in Tomorrowland, next to Space Mountain.
Baby Care -- Located next to the Crystal Palace at the end of Main Street, the Baby Care Center is furnished with a nursing room with rocking chairs and toddler-size toilets. Disposable diapers, formula, baby food, and pacifiers are sold at a premium (bring your own or pay the price). There are changing tables here as well as in all women's restrooms and some men's.
Cameras & Film -- Film and Kodak disposable cameras are available throughout the park, but digital camera equipment is in far shorter supply. Services, which vary from location to location, include CD burning, film developing, and minor repairs.
First Aid -- It's located beside the Crystal Palace next to the Baby Care Center and staffed by registered nurses.
Lockers -- Lockers are located in the arcade below the Main Street Railroad Station. $10–$12 per day (multi-entry)
Lost Children -- Lost children in the Magic Kingdom are usually taken to City Hall or the Baby Care Center. Children younger than 7 should wear name-tags inside their clothing.
Package Pickup -- Any package can be sent by a shop clerk to Guest Relations in the Entrance Plaza; allow at least 3 hours for delivery. If you're staying overnight at a Disney resort, you can also have all packages purchased by 7pm sent to your hotel (they will be delivered by noon the next day). This perk is sometimes suspended for operational reasons.
Pet Care -- Boarding is available at the Best Friends Pet Care Center, located on the Bonnet Creek Parkway (tel. 407/824-6568). Proof of vaccination is required.
Strollers -- They can be rented at the Stroller Shop near the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. The cost is $15 for a single and $31 for a double, with length-of-stay rentals available for $13 per day for a single and $27 per day for a double. Full payment is required upfront for a length-of-stay rental.
Wheelchair Rental -- For wheelchairs, go to the gift shop to the left of the ticket booths at the Transportation and Ticket Center, or to the Stroller and Wheelchair Shop inside the main entrance to your right. The cost is $12 for a regular wheelchair, or $50, plus a $20 refundable deposit, for electric convenience vehicles.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.