If you’ve read our Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ post, you know that Magic Kingdom, unlike the other parks, doesn’t have Fastpass+ tiers. Similarly, this list actually isn’t going to break down into “must ride” and “other”, like our other lists. Why? There’s a pretty good argument for every ride at Magic Kingdom that it’s a must ride.
Call it nostalgia. Call it “Magic.” Whatever. I’m not going to tell you to stay off PeopleMover because it’s boring or to avoid Space Mountain because if you don’t have back problems it might give you some (kidding, mostly).
While we hold Disneyland in higher esteem, there’s no denying that Magic Kingdom is a titan of a theme park. If you can find a way to experience everything, do it.
In This Post...
- Best Rides At Magic Kingdom (One Day Itinerary)
- Magic Kingdom Rides Guide (Intro)
- Main Street, U.S.A.
- Liberty Square
Best Rides In Magic Kingdom (Sample One Day Itinerary)
Since we're giving you an overview of all the Magic Kingdom rides on equal footing, we'll at least also give you quick example of what we targeted as our favorite rides in a single day with three people in June 2018.
This was a trip we took with a friend who was making her first visit, so it pretty accurately captures what we think a good “Magic Kingdom Day” will consist of.
On this particular day, we actually broke around 10AM for breakfast at Kona Café and then for dinner at Skipper Canteen around 7PM. Moreover, we had a decent amount of time for taking in the park. Finally, it’s pretty obvious we weren’t cramming in as much as possible, nor were we interested in riding anything twice.
Here’s what we were able to accomplish in a single day (and how):
Fastpass+ (Advance Reservations)
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Splash Mountain
Rope Drop (Extra Magic Hours)
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Mad Tea Party
Rope Drop (Park Opening)
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Haunted Mansion
Fastpass+ ("Tap, Grab, and Modify" Same Day)
- The Many Adventure of Winnie the Pooh
- Under the Sea
- Space Mountain
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Jungle Cruise
Midday Waits (<5 minutes)
- Walt Disney’s Carrousel of Progress
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- “it’s a small world”
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
The Complete Magic Kingdom Rides Guide
This rides guide is meant to provide you with an overview of all the rides at Magic Kingdom. Each gets at least a short description and our personal thoughts. Some get longer descriptions.
Currently, the guide doesn't include shows or character greetings, except for Enchanted Tales With Belle.
For the best and most popular rides at Magic Kingdom, or for ones we think merit a quick bit of advice, we include a “Riding It” blurb with tips for fitting it into your busy Magic Kingdom schedule.
As the above list shows, using “tap, grab, and modify” is very helpful at Magic Kingdom. If you're not familiar with that term, check out our Fastpass+ strategy to learn how to get the most out of your time at Walt Disney World. In the descriptions below, we refer to those Fastpass+ reservations that we grab for the same day while in the park as “same day” or “day of” Fastpass+ slots.
Main Street, U.S.A.
All visits to Magic Kingdom start on Main Street, U.S.A. Besides being the thematic entryway to the rest of the park, the land is mostly a place for restaurants and shops. However, there are two rides on Main Street, U.S.A. as well.
Main Street Vehicles
The Main Street Vehicles are almost a “hidden” attraction at Magic Kingdom. They don’t run all day, and they don’t even run every day. The ride consists of a quick trip down Main Street, U.S.A. in an open-air vehicle designed to look old-timey.
They usually stop running in the mid-morning around 10AM or 11AM, when you probably should still be hopping on other rides before lines get long. Families with tiny children and repeat guests are the only ones who should try and fit the vehicles in.
Walt Disney World Railroad
Type: Slow / Outdoor
Walt Disney World Railroad actually has three stops—Main Street U.S.A., Frontierland, and Fantasyland. The railroad encircles the park, giving you unique views of some of your favorite attractions and lands. There are also some small scenes unique to the attraction itself, but nothing amazing. The loop takes about 20 minutes.
Tomorrowland is located on the east side of the park and is the first park you'll encounter if you go counterclockwise (i.e. right) after walking down Main Street, U.S.A. The Tomorrowland rides are all open during morning Extra Magic Hours.
Type: Aerial Carrousel
This Dumbo-style ride ride sits on top of The Lunching Pad and PeopleMover. While the elevated position and rotating design provide for some pretty good views, the ride isn’t much better than Dumbo or Magic Carpets, and the wait can get very outsized.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Type: Dark Ride / Shooting Game
A somewhat surprising staple of Disney castle parks worldwide, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is a shooter style dark ride where you and a partner ride through a battle between Buzz and the Evil Emperor Zurg, shooting your laser at targets throughout the ride.
We find this to be one of the more fun rides in Magic Kingdom. If you know the right targets to hit, it’s pretty easy to score 999,999 and become a “Galactic Hero.” If you do hit that score, be sure to take a picture and talk to a Cast Member at the gift shop. They’ll give you a sticker and a Magical Moment certificate.
Riding It: Space Ranger Spin is a pretty quick ride, and we usually fit it in as part of rope drop during Extra Magic Hours. You can also usually grab a same day Fastpass+.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
Type: Interactive Stage Show
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor is an interactive show where audience members become a part of a comedy show put on by the Monsters. While we typically pass, this can be a good way to pass a few minutes, and it definitely can be enjoyed by all ages.
Height: 44in / 113cm
Type: Roller Coaster (Indoor, Dark)
We’ll always remind you that the Disneyland version is better, but there’s no denying that Space Mountain is a staple of every Magic Kingdom experience. Disney’s indoor space coaster is a fun, surprising ride through the dark.
Much of what sets the ride apart isn’t actually a direct part of the experience. The building’s unique architecture was conceived to allow for the coaster to have space to operate indoors. The ride is actually quite compact, something that you'll notice if you’re not distracted by the general thrill of the ride.
Problems? While it’s fun, there’s really no story. As Disney moves toward more interactive queues, we’ve actually found this to be a downgrade to the Space Mountain queue, which previously had a sort of beautifully eerie “alone in space” feel to it. It’s also just an incredibly jerky experience.
Riding It: Space Mountain is worth an advance Fastpass+ reservation. If you can arrive at Extra Magic Hours and head straight to Space Mountain or Mine Train, whichever you don't Fastpass+, you'll be off to a good start.
Height: 32in / 81cm
Type: Go Kart
Tomorrowland Speedway is the rare ride in Disney parks that is unequivocally more fun for kids than adults. The ride is a simple go-kart type ride around a course in Tomorrowland.
The course doesn’t provide any really notable views that would make it worth it for adults. While kids will enjoy getting a chance to drive, most adults will be unimpressed and probably more concerned with the nauseating fumes. If your kids have to ride the go karts at every amusement park they visit, Tomorrowland Speedway fits the bill.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Type: Slow / Outdoor
PeopleMover is one of those classics that some people won’t enjoy. It’s a slow, elevated ride through Tomorrowland in four-person, open-air carts. While it has some cool “behind the scenes” moments where you ride through other rides in Tomorrowland, it’s mostly just a chance to relax for a few minutes and enjoy some views you can’t get anywhere else.
Walt Disney’s Carrousel of Progress
Type: Indoor Animatronic Stage Show
Carrousel of Progress is billed as being the stage show with the most performances in the history of American Theater, having debuted at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. The attraction is a rotating theater that takes you through four scenes about technological progress and the American family. The 21-minute show begins in the decade of the 1900s and concludes around modern times.
Honestly, Carrousel of Progress can be a bit boring. People fall asleep, and we don’t blame them. Personally, we get a kick out of some of the humor (both intentional and unintentional, surely).
The ride does have a huge nostalgia factor, as it is home to the great Disney parks classic tune “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” and is widely known to be one of Walt’s favorite attractions.
The show starts every five minutes and almost never has a wait beyond that. If you find yourself in the middle of the day feeling like you’ve made good progress, take a second to enjoy the classic. If you don’t fit it in, there’s always next time.
Fantasyland is located on the north side of the park. Most of its rides are open during morning Extra Magic Hours.
Height: 35in / 89cm
Type: Kiddie Coaster
The Barnstormer is a kiddie coaster located in the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland. The ride isn't anything spectacular, but it has a height requirement that makes it a little more accessible than some of the other thrill rides in the park.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Type: Aerial Carrousel
Dumbo the Flying Elephant is such a classic that many writers (including us) refer to all “aerial carousel” rides at “Dumbo rides.” Due to its popularity, the Magic Kingdom version of the attraction has two identical carrousels. On the attraction, guests hop into their Dumbo vehicles, which rotate around a center point while they move the vehicles up and down.
Of the three aerial carrousel rides, Dumbo is the most classic and, owing to its higher capacity, will typically have the shortest waits.
Enchanted Tales with Belle
Type: Interactive / Character Meet
Enchanted Tales with Belle is a different sort of character interaction. Rather than the traditional meet and greet with autographs and a simple photo, guests on Enchanted Tales will get to reenact parts of Beauty and the Beast with Belle.
Kids and adults alike will be asked to participate, so be prepared! This typically won't be worth using an advance Fastpass+ on unless you're skipping the coasters.
“it’s a small world”
Type: Slow / Indoor Boat
This indoor boat ride is based on the 1964 World's Fair New York Walt Disney classic. Over 15 minutes, you’ll ride past about 300 animatronic figures from different countries, all singing the “it’s a small world” tune in their native language.
It’s a good, classic ride, though one that certainly could make a person go a little mad. The ride is cute, but nothing about it is really awe-inspiring. For the most part, it’s nice to ride it for the sake of nostalgia if you can grab a Fastpass+ day-of or catch a standby wait of 15 minutes or less.
Mad Tea Party
Mad Tea Party, a.k.a. “the teacups” is spinning ride. Guests sit in a teacup on a large platform. The platform itself rotates and guests can control (mostly) the rotation of their individual teacups. While those with average stomachs should be able to survive a minimal amount of rotating, it only takes one adventurous spirit in your party to send the teacup on a dizzying course.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Type: Dark Ride
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a dark ride in Fantasyland, with a more conventional ride design than Peter Pan's Flight, the other popular dark ride in Fantasyland. The ride takes you through a Winnie the Pooh storyline that occurs during a storm.
The actual story is a bit bizarre, but it leads to some fun scenery. The Imagineering is much better than the plain Under the Sea (the dark ride based on Little Mermaid), and the Fastpass+ availability is much better than Peter Pan’s Flight.
Type: 3D Show
Mickey’s PhilharMagic is a 3D show with songs from Disney classics set to a story of a magical orchestra gone awry. It’s a nice show to fit in when you need to beat the heat or get out of the rain. We’ve actually just thrown it on the end of our day a few times as any wait that might build up during the day will definitely be gone by the later hours.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Type: Dark Ride
Peter Pan’s Flight is the subject of much love, much confusion, a little ire, and even a conspiracy theory. As the best of the Fantasyland dark rides, Peter Pan is a major attraction for families with small children. It’s also a fun one because, unlike most dark rides, you "take flight" in your vehicle on this ride, seeing the scenes of Peter Pan from above.
It’s a good ride, but it’s absolutely bonkers how long the line gets. There’s no doubt that planning for families with young children will often focus first on Peter Pan’s Flight.
Riding It: Fastpass+ and rope drop are really the only two options here. Though the queue is noted as one of the better ones at Magic Kingdom, the midday wait, which can hover around two hours some days, just isn’t worth it. Better to convince the kid that Winnie the Pooh is the dark ride to set their heart on.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
This is a carrousel. It is not unlike any other carrousel.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Height: 38in / 97cm
Type: Roller Coaster
It’s not the most intense of the Magic Kingdom roller coasters, but Mine Train is the smoothest and arguably the prettiest. The ride has some dark ride elements using clever Imagineering and modern animatronics to tell the story of the Seven Dwarfs. It’s a straightforward ride that kids and adults will love, making it the most popular ride in the park and the cornerstone of most Magic Kingdom planning.
Riding It: This ride usually maintains the longest line throughout the day, so consider heading there at rope drop if you’re unable to get a Fastpass+ slot in advance. If your family is torn between starting the day at Mine Train or Peter Pan, go with Mine Train. You’ll have a slightly easier time finding Fastpass+ spots for Peter Pan day-of.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
Type: Slow / Dark / Indoor
Under the Sea is probably the worst ride in Fantasyland (though we still get a kick out of it). It’s as standard as dark rides come—a ride in a shell through the story of the Little Mermaid. Unless there’s a real love of the Little Mermaid in your household, this is totally a “filler” ride. Grab a Fastpass+ slot the day of or hop on it with a short wait.
Liberty Square is a small land nestled between Frontierland and Fantasyland.
The Hall of Presidents
Type: Animatronic Stage Show
The Hall of Presidents is a 25-minute film and animatronic stage show about the presidency. The stage houses animatronics of each president, and the show culminates in the current president reciting the oath of office.
Type: Dark Ride
I consider Haunted Mansion to be one of the best Disney rides in the world. The ride is brilliant, through and through. Will everyone think that the first time through? Definitely not. Is it always worth at least one visit each trip? Definitely. Fit for all ages, hop into your “Doom Buggy” and check out the haunted house occupied by 999 happy haunts—will you be #1000?
Riding It: Fastpass+ is usually an option day-of. Otherwise, visit it at rope drop when the park opens after you’ve checked off Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise. The Haunted Mansion queue has become part of the story and is one of the better waits in Walt Disney World. We’d hop in it with a 30-minute or even 40-minute wait.
Frontierland is on the west side of the park, north of (and parallel to) Adventureland.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Height: 40in / 102cm
Type: Roller Coaster
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is an outdoor roller-coaster ride themed as a rail trip through a mine in the American Southwest. It’s one of Disney’s better roller coasters, with fun theming and thrills. It's also one of the most popular rides in the park.
Unlike neighboring Splash Mountain, Big Thunder fits snugly into the Frontierland theming, reflecting American enterprise in the 19th and early 20th century. While the Disneyland version benefits from a recent rebuild, the Magic Kingdom ride isn't too uncomfortable. We make sure to visit it at least once a trip.
Riding It: Typically we try to grab a Fastpass+ for BTMR or Splash Mountain and visit the other one at rope drop when the park opens. If you’re stuck without a Fastpass+ for either, visit BTMR first.
Country Bear Jamboree
Type: Indoor Animatronic Stage Show
Country Bear Jamboree is an indoor animatronic performance, much like Enchanted Tiki Room or The Hall of Presidents. This stage show consists of bears singing country music. Much like the other animatronic performances, some people love them, some people can't stand them, and some people pay them a visit just for nostalgia (or to escape the heat).
Height: 40in / 102cm
Type: Dark / Log and Water Ride (Large Drop)
Splash Mountain (or “the water one where people take the pictures,” as one friend put it) is a combination dark ride and log drop ride based on the tales of Song of the South, a Disney film you never heard of because it’s racist.
As we wrote in our Top Disney Rides In The World post, Splash Mountain would be a great dark ride even without the drop at the end. With the drop, it’s one of our favorite rides in Disney World. The ride really has it all—charm, story, a catchy tune, a decent queue, and a big payoff at the end.
Riding It: Typically we try to grab a Fastpass+ for Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and visit the other one at rope drop when the park opens. If you’re stuck without a Fastpass+ for either, visit BTMR first. Don’t delay Splash Mountain too long, though, as the afternoon heat will draw lots of guests to it.
Tom Sawyer Island
While neither Disney nor we would ever endorse leaving your child unattended in their park, there’s no doubting that Tom Sawyer Island is a place many families visit in the middle of the day to let the kids be a little more free. The island is only accessible from the rest of the park by raft, and it is designed as a place for kids to explore, with caverns, bridges, and a few hidden gems.
Visiting It: If you’re on any sort of schedule, skip Tom Sawyer Island. Were it accessible by bridge, we’d definitely recommend at least passing through it. The rafts create a real challenge though. You have to account for an additional 10-20 minutes of waiting and raft time. If you wind up on the island at peak time, lines to exit can be even longer.
Adventureland is located on the west side of the park, south of and parallel to Frontierland.
Type: Slow / Outdoor Boat
Jungle Cruise is an outdoor boat ride through jungle scenes from around the world, complete with a skipper with a clever sense of humor. While it's sort of a “hit or miss”, it is a hit 95% of the time.
Jungle Cruise is a must-ride. While all Disney rides have their cult followings, Jungle Cruise has a fandom and following that dates back to the opening of Disneyland and which has expanded far beyond the ride itself. Some of the best Disney bars, restaurants, hotels, and rides around the world share a connection to Jungle Cruise.
Riding It: We’ve had good luck finding day-of Fastpass+ times for Jungle Cruise, so we very rarely head there at rope drop or otherwise wait in standby. If you’re looking for a rope drop approach, we’d say to visit Big Thunder Mountain or Splash Mountain (Fastpass+ the other if you can), then head to Jungle Cruise, then to Haunted Mansion.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Type: Aerial Carrousel
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is a Dumbo-style ride. It's really only worth a ride if the other two similar rides, Dumbo and Astro Orbiter, have longer waits.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Type: Dark Ride / Indoor Boat
Though much shorter than the Disneyland original, Pirates of the Caribbean is still a classic. The ride is fun, exciting, and a bit gimmicky (although at this point most fans will probably be confused about which elements inspired the film and which were inspired by the film).
There are a couple small drops in there (you may get a little wet), but for the most part it’s a typical boat ride through the dark, taking you past different scenes of pirate life in the Caribbean.
Riding It: You can usually grab a Fastpass+ the same day. Due to its length, we usually skip it in the morning when we're trying to speed through rides.
Swiss Family Treehouse
Swiss Family Treehouse is a walkthrough attraction through a treehouse based on the 1960 film, Swiss Family Robinson. It isn’t Imagineering at its most amazing, but there are some cool parts to the house. It almost never has a wait and you can walk through it in about ten minutes. Just stick it into the middle of your day somewhere. Usually we visit it after we’ve grabbed an upcoming Fastpass+ for something in Adventureland or Frontierland.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Type: Indoor Animatronic Show
The Enchanted Tiki Room was the first Disney attraction to feature audio animatronics. The 15-minute show features a series of tiki-themed performances by audio animatronic birds. While the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom versions of the show have both gone through a number of versions and refurbishments, they’re both now largely faithful to the original show. Of the animatronic shows at Magic Kingdom, this is the one we visit most often.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
Don't forget to master your Disney World Fastpass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.