Best Magic Kingdom Rides and Attractions

By Christina
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

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Disney’s Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, and was the first of the four Walt Disney World theme parks in Florida. It is modeled after the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California. The other Orlando theme parks, in order of their openings, include EPCOT (1982), Hollywood Studios (originally named Disney MGM Studios) (1982) and Animal Kingdom (1998). In this article, we’ll take a look at the best rides and attractions Magic Kingdom has to offer.

The Magic Kingdom is the best of the four parks to meet princesses, villains, Aladdin, Buzz, Mary Poppins and of course, Mickey and Minnie. Scattered around the park, there are designated meet-and-greet areas where FastPasses can be used to decrease wait times in anticipation of autographs and photo-ops.

What Is a FastPass?

A FastPass is a reservation for a ride or character meet-and-greet. It must be used within a certain time frame on a specific day, both determined when you secure them.

FastPasses can be made 30-60 days ahead of your arrival to the Disney Park depending on whether or not you’ll be staying at a Disney Resort. You can book 60 days prior if you will be staying at a Walt Disney owned resort, and 30 days if you are not. FastPasses can be booked on the My Disney Experience App or online at

Unlike the other three parks, there are no FastPass “tiers” in the Magic Kingdom. This can truly make your vacation planning a little bit easier. There are 25 attractions that you can book FastPasses for in Magic Kingdom, but still no more than 3 can be booked at a time until they are used or their time has passed.

Having 25 rides/experiences to choose from, planning your day will take a bit of strategizing. For example, if a ride has an interesting or interactive queue, don’t waste a FastPass on it. An example is The Haunted Mansion. It’s interactive wait line includes a murder mystery surrounding the busts of the Dread family, touch activated musical instruments on a tomb, a touch activated pipe organ adorned with skulls, the tomb of a sea captain that squirts water, and a small graveyard full of humorously written grave stones. Although the line may be long, the wait can be fun!

In the other three parks at Walt Disney World, rides and meet-and-greet experiences are organized in two “tiers”. You’re only allotted a single “tier one” ride and two “tier two” rides at any given time. Once you’ve used those FastPasses or the time frame that you were given expires, you can book new FastPass reservations via the My Disney Experience app or online at

Best Rides and Attractions at Magic Kingdom

Below you’ll find what our insiders consider to be the five best rides and attractions at Magic Kingdom. We highly recommend you read through this list before you visit Magic Kingdom. You don’t want to miss these!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Guests riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Guests riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

This is the newest of the park’s roller coasters and is extremely popular. Although it’s based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it’s not a ride for the little ones under 38”. The ride cars are actual mine carts that rock side to side as it travels forward. It slows down briefly to go through the mine as the Dwarfs sing “Heigh Ho.” The animatronics are, of course, Disney-amazing, and the brightly colored gems against the darkness of the mine, are quite beautiful.

Since this is the newest of the park’s roller coasters and it’s overwhelming popularity, the lines can be two hours long without a FastPass. So if you are able to get a FastPass for it, that would definitely be the way to go. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is located in Fantasyland. If you’re looking for a savory snack after your train ride, check out The Friar’s Nook, also in Fantasyland. Their loaded buffalo chicken tots are almost magical.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of Magic Kingdom’s originals. It’s based on the legend of a haunted railroad from the 1800’s. This ride suits adults and kids over 40”. The queue is decorated like an old mining office and as it winds around, has a full outside view of the mountain that the train travels up, down, and around. There are twists, turns and a few sudden drops.

Lines can get long, so ideal times to hop in line are during the parade or Extra Magic Hours if you’re staying at a Disney resort. If you don’t snag a FastPass and choose to wait it out, know that the standby line is covered overhead so it’s not terrible on a hot day.

Space Mountain

Space Mountain ride vehicles.
Space Mountain ride vehicles.

The wait time for Space Mountain, which is located in Tomorrowland, is always one of the longest in the park. While the line travels inside, making the wait pretty long and dark, the payoff is so worth it. The cars on this fully indoor roller coaster are little rockets, fitting 3 people single file.

The ride begins as though the rockets are blasting off, even seeing some astronauts along the way. It travels at 28 miles per hour in almost complete darkness. It’s a double track so there are other rockets zipping around at the same time. There are steep and sudden drops and the height restriction is 44”.

You’re definitely going to want to use your FastPass on this ride. During the peak weeks, wait times can reach 2+ hours. When exiting the ride, you’ll pass through the gift shop which offers interesting items such as astronaut snacks (a dehydrated ice cream sandwich), Disney themed phone covers, and a variety of candy and t-shirts.

Splash Mountain

Dangerous thorns await on Splash Mountain.
Dangerous thorns await on Splash Mountain.

This log flume ride, located in Frontierland, is based on the Disney film, Song of the South. It’s half inside and half outside. It takes the rider through a few small drops as it passes beautiful animatronic scenes from the movie while Brer Rabbit. Brer Fox and other characters sing the two songs “How Do You Do” and “Ev’rybody’s Got a Laughin Place.” You and your family will be singing them for days afterwards.

The queue resembles caves, and makes the wait interesting, but use of a FastPass for this one is highly suggested. It’s always one of the longest waits in the park, and usually doesn’t dial down until the sun starts to set.

Once on the ride, there are a few nice views of the park. You can see people passing down below as you travel outside, then inside caves with stalactites and stalagmites. You’ll eventually build up to the climactic foot drop. You’ll experience many small drops throughout the ride, making the 60 foot drop at the end feel surprising!

Right before the final drop, there’s a great view of the park, if you’re brave enough to keep your eyes open! It doesn’t matter where you sit – you’re going to get wet. At the end of the ride, all of the characters are on a rocking riverboat singing “Zippity Doo Dah” with a beautiful sunset backdrop. You’ll want to do this again and again, especially on a hot day. After exiting the ride, you’ll come upon the gift shop. Here you’ll be able to purchase a Splash Mountain themed beach towel or t-shirt, just in case you got soaked.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirate in crows nest in front of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Pirate in crows nest in front of Pirates of the Caribbean.

This ride is located in Adventureland. The queue for Pirates of the Caribbean can be long at times, but it’s completely indoors. It’s a pleasant break from the Florida heat. This water ride brings you through the scenes of the movie while staying fully indoors. This generally calming boat ride can sometimes be bumpy, with one drop, and the 17th/18th century pirates feel very realistic.

This ride actually inspired the movie series Pirates of the Caribbean, unlike most rides which are created post-movie success! Several updates to the ride have taken place over the past few years. One of the updates includes an audio-animatronic Captain Jack Sparrow. They also changed a scene in the town square that some considered sexist. Now you’ll see a woman chasing her husband around with a broom!

The animatronics are amazingly life-like, right down to the hair on the leg of one of the drunken pirates. This 16-minute long ride is relaxing and enjoyable. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is reminiscent of the original rides that Walt Disney had a direct hand in. It is actually the very last ride that Walt had overseen before he passed in 1966.

If you’re looking for a sweet snack after spending time with Captain Jack Sparrow, check out Aloha Isle This can also be found in Adventureland, right around the corner from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Their Dole Whip cup or cone, which is creamy pineapple flavored soft-serve, that can also be swirled with soft-serve vanilla, comes highly recommended.

Character Meet and Greets

FastPasses are highly recommended for character meet and greets. The wait times can be as long as 2 hours! This is not what you want to be doing with a young child waiting to see their favorite Disney character.

Meet and greets available for FastPass are Cinderella, Tiana, and Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall, and Ariel in her Grotto, both located in Fantasyland. Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbelle can be found at Town Square Theater at the front of the park.

Top 3 Rides to Not Use a FastPass On

While these rides are equally as awesome as the others, it’s not always necessary to use a FastPass on them.

It’s a Small World

"it's a small world"
“it’s a small world” it’s a small world” (CC BY 2.0) by HarshLight

This ride originally premiered at the 1964 world’s Fair in NY. It features 300 dolls in their native dress, representing countries from all around the world. It’s a constantly moving boat ride so the lines don’t back up very much.

Most of the waiting area is covered. You can probably fit this in between, while waiting for your other FastPasses. It’s a Disney World “must do” at least once, and a nice 10 minute boat ride on a hot day.

Carousel of Progress

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress Act 1 - 1900s.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress Act 1 – 1900s.

Another ride that made its first appearance at the 1964 World’s Fair is the Carousel of Progress. An audio-animatronic “host” discusses new inventions and family as we travel with him through the decades of the 20th century.

It’s one of the oldest attractions at Walt Disney World. The 21 minute ride is unique because the theater rotates around then scenes in the center. Wait time is never more than a few minutes because it stops between scene changes to let more people in. The theater is big, dark, and cool, which is a great opportunity to enjoy the show (or to take a quick cat nap).

Tomorrowland Transit Authority (aka Wedway People Mover)

Point-of-view on the PeopleMover.
Point-of-view on the PeopleMover.

The boarding area for the TTA is located beneath the Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland. The moving ramp up to the loading area leads to another moving platform that backs up against the cars that are traveling at the same speed. There is a ceiling over the track for a little shade while it’s traveling outside. The cars move at a nicer speed and there’s a wonderful breeze, making for a very pleasant and relaxing 10 minute ride. It travels through a small inside area of Space Mountain and over areas of Tomorrowland. It has an exceptional, but brief view of Cinderella’s castle. TTA can be squeezed in between your other FastPasses or if you just want to take a load off and get a bird’s eye view of Tomorrowland.

With all of the things to do at Magic Kingdom, you can easily spend two days here. From the rides and shows, to the meet and greet experiences and snacks to try, you’ll want to return to do it all again and again.

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