• Magic Kingdom Ride Strategy

Magic Kingdom Ride Strategy

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Feb 08, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

Magic Kingdom Ride Strategy
  • Tron Lightcycle Run
  • Space Mountain
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mickey’s Philharmagic
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Peter Pan’s Flight (optional)
  • Jungle Cruise (optional)
  • Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid (optional)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (optional)
  • Tomorrowland Speedway (optional)
  • Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater (optional)

If you plan on buying Disney Genie+, start reading this.

If you want to Rope Drop or have access to Early Entry, start reading this

If you want to check the best Kid-Friendly rides, start reading this.   

Oh, I know why you are here. You plan to visit Mickey Mouse’s (un)official home, say hi to Minnie, Donald and the rest of the gang, right? All while embarking on a magical ride by visiting all time classics like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean. Well, you have come to the right place. Here we will talk about (almost) every ride available at the Magic Kingdom, rate them and plan an itinerary which is 100% totally right 80% of the time.

Magic Kingdom is one of the most well known theme parks in the whole world, full of classic Disney characters, beautiful landmarks like Cinderella’s Castle and over forty attractions that can feel overwhelming at first. Relax, Famvia is here to help you with overall tips when it’s time to plan your itinerary, select the most popular rides and optimize your time in the Happiest Place on Earth.

Magic Kingdom Seven Dwarfs Mine Train snow white.webp

Your preparations for enjoying the Magic Kingdom at its fullest begins before the gates officially open. At the time of this writing, the roller coaster Tron Lightcycle Run can only be experienced if you apply for a Virtual Queue or pay for an individual Lightning Lane. Virtual Queue opens two times a day: at 7am and at 1pm. We will be aiming for that 7am slot!
With that in mind, make sure you have the My Disney Experience app downloaded on your phone. Get plenty of rest the night before your visit and make sure you are awake before 7am. 

Apply for a place in the Virtual Queue just a minute before 7am and keep trying. There is a chance that the app might take a while to load or even crash - it’s getting hammered by guests, after all - but don’t give up. Once you are in, you will receive a time slot which is when you need to be in front of the attraction’s entrance and ready to go inside.

Disney Magic Kingdom Main Street 2.webp

Just keep in mind that a ride will use the Virtual Queue system for one, two years before letting go of it. There is a good chance that Tron Lightcycle Run will transfer to a standard queue sometime late in 2024. You can always check the My Disney Experience app just to see which attractions are available through the Virtual Queue system and plan ahead.

This park itinerary is mostly aimed at a group of adults, or a group of adults and teenagers. You also won’t need a Disney Genie+, even if that service is highly recommended for such a packed theme park like Magic Kingdom. Yep, remember this: Magic Kingdom is crowded. This is probably the most popular park in Florida, so queue times are usually very high. You won’t be able to see everything in a single day, even with Disney Genie+, so make sure to come here at least twice.

Well, let’s get started! If you got here super early, make sure to check our Rope Drop guide for Magic Kingdom, which includes extra strategies. It's fine if you got here around 10-11am, just make sure you got a spot for Tron Lightcycle Run. Some popular attractions like Peter Pan's Flight and Jungle Cruise are in the "Optional" section since they are better experienced with the help of Disney Genie+, or if you have kids in your party, so keep that in mind and change your itinerary accordingly. 

For this guide, let’s say that Tron Lightcycle Run is your first stop. Let’s go!

Tron Lightcycle Run

Rating: 8/10

Magic Kingdom Tron Bike.webp

Finally, a new major ride launched in Magic Kingdom back in April 2023! Is it as good as Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind? Nah. Is it a good addition to Magic Kingdom? For sure. Tron Lightcycle Run is a fast roller coaster with a great launch system that even uses some elements from Space Mountain. The vehicles are basically cyberpunk motorbikes full of neon lights which are the same designs used in the 1982 Tron movie. 

You can’t enter Tron Lightcycle Run with a backpack, but you will find lockers inside to store everything you can’t keep in your pockets. You can bring your phone and wallet, but there isn’t anything mindblowing about the queue that you will feel the need to snap pictures.

The coolest thing about Tron Lightcycle Run is definitely the vehicle, which has guests slightly bent forward and helps with that increased sense of speed. It also helps that it’s very comfortable, which is mostly the case with all recent roller coasters across Florida (thank God). The bikes might seem small at first, but you can always test drive a vehicle in front of the queue to see if it serves you well.  

Lightcycle Run is divided into two sections: a launch sequence which catapults guests forward in an outdoor area where they can spot guests waiting in queue, and an indoor sequence where everything is dark and all you can see are blinking lights and neon signs. This is a fast roller coaster, but don’t expect huge drops of sharp twists. You are here to enjoy the sense of speed, listen to a robotic voice which guides you through the ride and wonder if Disney will ever release a new Tron movie.

As I said, you should definitely go to Tron Lightcycle Run, even if just once. My main problem with it is just how short the ride is. It’s all over in about sixty seconds, which goes by way, way too fast. This could easily be a 10/10 if the ride duration was just a little longer.

One last thing, Tron looks absolutely amazing at night! If you can, try to ride it late into the afternoon, even if you have to buy an individual Lightning Pass for it. The tracks and vehicles are all full of neon and blinking lights, giving it a brand new feel. Looks amazing even if you just go there to take some pictures.

Done? Let’s head to an absolute classic.

Space Mountain

Rating: 9/10

Disney Magic Kingdom Space Mountain.jpg

Ahhh, Space Mountain. One of the most popular rides in the world, which opened way back in 1975! Since then, this indoor roller coaster has gone through major updates, with the original track and vehicles being completely replaced. The charm is still there and, more importantly, this is still a very fun ride that has aged like fine wine. If you are visiting the Magic Kingdom, you need to come here at least once. 

So, what exactly is Space Mountain? This might very well be the first dark indoor roller coaster to ever grace planet Earth. The idea here is that your vehicle is exploring the far corners of the galaxy and challenging the unexpected. There are some blinking lights from time to time - nothing as major as what you saw at Tron Lightcycle Run - so most of the time you have no idea where you are going. You are only guided by the screams of other guests as vehicles zip past you.

As it’s the case with Tron, Space Mountain isn’t about sharp turns, loops or even crazy high speeds. It’s just a very fun family coaster that can be great for young guests, as long as they aren’t afraid of the dark. You know what else is also good about it? The ride is almost three minutes long, which makes it all the more exciting. 

If there’s a small downside about it is that vehicles aren’t that comfortable for large guests. Seats are small and there isn't a lot of space for your legs. If you feel skeptical about it, try out one of the vehicles near the ride entrance and see for yourself if you are good to go.

We could still spend some time at Tomorrowland and enjoy Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, but there is a good chance that the queue time is way too high by now. If it's above 30 min, you should come back here later. If it’s not, you can head there right now! Don’t worry, Space Ranger is usually less crowded after lunch, so you can always come back in the evening.

For now, let’s visit Fantasyland and, guess what? Another roller coaster.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Rating: 7/10

Disney Magic Kingdom Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 1 - Copia.webp

Hey, it’s roller coaster#3! Don’t worry, there is one more after that. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is an attraction very similar to the classic Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which means that it’s a family coaster that won’t give you headaches with nasty bumps or unexpected drops. You will see the entire story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in about three minutes, which is a reasonable time for a steel roller coaster. There are, however, some elements of a dark ride here which adds to the overall ride duration, so expect your vehicle to also move slowly through a few sections as the story unfolds before you. 

This roller coaster also has an incredible queue rich in details, featuring the mines and classic Disney songs from Snow White. Even the vehicles look mesmerizing, as if they were built from real wood. I really enjoy this attraction, but it does suffer from Magic-Kingdom-Syndrome. You don’t know what that is? Well, this means that the queue times for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are very, very high most of the time. From the early morning all the way to late into the afternoon. I am talking about a 70 min queue time for a good portion of the day. In fact, if those queue times are too big for you, you can save this roller coaster for later or even check it as an optional one. It’s a fun ride, sure, but I wouldn’t call it a must see.

Your other option? You can buy an individual Lightning Pass for it and save a lot of time. It’s also a good time to say that not even Disney Genie+ can save you here, since Seven Dwarfs Mine Train isn’t part of it for now.

Even if you decided to skip this ride, let’s take a small break from roller coasters and check yet another classic.

It’s a Small World

Rating: classic/10

Disney Magic Kingdom Small World vehicle.webp

Uh-oh, I think I was wrong. Maybe Space Mountain isn’t the real classic in Magic Kingdom, but this title belongs to It’s a Small World. This is one of the few remaining rides from a time long in the past, when Magic Kingdom opened its doors back in 1971! It’s nothing more than a boat ride that you probably heard someone talking about someday, featuring hundreds of singing dolls celebrating our beautiful world.

If you pick up a dictionary and search the word charming, you will find It’s a Small World there. Seriously, there is just something magical about this ride. Is there anything particularly amazing about it? Not really, but you can’t help but smile and enjoy your time there. This is nothing more than a 10 minute boat ride where you travel around the world and see dolls singing a catchy song in different languages, and I definitely recommend it.

It’s a Small World continues to be a big hit with guests, even fifty years later. Queue times can range from anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes, so keep an eye on it and get ready to have that song stuck in your head for the entire day. 

Mickey’s Philharmagic

Rating: 8/10

philharmagic show magic kingdom fantasyland1 (1).webp

I really enjoy this 4D theater and think it’s one of the best in all of Disney World. I mean, it features the best Disney character - Donald Duck - so that’s already reason enough to give it two thumbs up. The story is very simple: Donald grabs Mickey Mouse’s magic hat from Fantasia, something goes wrong and he ends up being taken to a bunch of Disney movies.

Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King are only a few of the movies visited by our brave and misunderstood hero. All of them feature brand new animation and also act as musical pieces, so you will be listening to “Be our Guest” and “Part of Your World” while Donald gets into trouble trying to retrieve the sorcerer’s hat. The entire show takes about twelve minutes, and I highly recommend it for guests of all ages. 

It might be a good idea to stop and have lunch now. Once you are done, we will make our way to Frontierland, but it’s time for a quick pit stop at Liberty Square.

Haunted Mansion

Rating: 7/10

Magic Kingdom Haunted House entrance.webp

Hey, guess what! Another absolute must-visit ride at the Magic Kingdom! Haunted Mansion isn’t much more than what the name indicates, which means that it exists to a) try to spook you and b) be a classic theme park ride full of charm for the whole family. This fun tour is usually highly rated amongst guests, and also launched with Magic Kingdom back in 1971 before receiving a bunch of updates through the years.

Just know that this ride isn’t scary at all. Compared to Hollywood’s Tower of Terror - which can actually be terrifying for younglings - the Haunted Mansion is all about having a good time and laughing at the crazy set pieces around you. The ghosts are all friendly and have that cartoon look to them. Your vehicle always moves slowly across the tracks, so there aren’t any expected twists or turns. Young guests will surely love it here, especially those that are learning to appreciate horror movies. It also helps that the ride queue is incredibly well done, full of details and fun special effects, especially on the short pre-show.  

Trivia: the Haunted Mansion is the third ride from the Magic Kingdom that has become a movie. The other ones are Jungle Cruise and, of course, the massively successful Pirates of the Caribbean. We are going to check out Jack Sparrow soon enough but, for now, it’s time to relax a little.

Festival of Fantasy Parade

Rating: 9/10

festival of fantasy parade disney (4).webp

Hey, a different kind of show that actually takes place on the streets! The Festival of Fantasy Parade is an old Magic Kingdom tradition that began more than forty years ago and changed names throughout the years. The parade used to happen twice a day, but since October 2022 it only happens once, usually at 3pm - check your park map, the information will be there!

The parade starts in Frontierland, heads to Liberty Square, turns in front of Cinderella Castle and ends in Main Street USA. Make sure to arrive early if you want to grab a nice spot and remember that you won’t be able to walk in the middle of the streets once the parade is under way. 

So, what can you expect to find here? The parade is basically a ten minute carnival show featuring beautifully thematic floats which represent some of your favorite Disney franchises. So, Ariel’s float will resemble a big shell, Peter Pan will be in a flying ship and so on. You can also see and take pictures of a great number of Disney characters and princesses in costume, from Cinderella to Snow White, Belle, Elsa and, of course, Mickey Mouse. 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Rating: 8/10

Big Thunder Mountain 2.webp

For a long, long time, Magic Kingdom was known as being the theme park with Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and the “train roller coaster”. Well, this is the train roller coaster! Another traditional Magic Kingdom ride, which opened back in 1979. As stated before, this ride resembles Seven Dwarfs Mine Train a lot, without all the high details and special touches brought by Snow White and her friends. 

Much like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, this is also a family coaster that can be enjoyed by everyone. I’d say that Big Thunder is more bumpy than its youngest brother, but this also makes sense since we are talking about an older roller coaster. Still, there aren’t loops or any major turns that might make you sick. Children will probably love it too, even if there are a few short areas where your train travels through a dark tunnel. 

Now from the old wild west we travel straight to the age of pirates.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Rating: 7/10

Disney Magic Kingdom Pirates of the Caribbean.webp

A lot of people didn’t know that Jack Sparrow & co only became blockbuster hits because of that Disney ride. Truth be told, there isn’t much about it, but you do have the chance to see a Jack Sparrow animatronic and sing Yo-ho Yo-ho a Pirate’s Life for Me. Pirates of the Caribbean is a dark/boat ride where you will be traversing the high seas while spotting a bunch of (drunk) pirates that are causing all sorts of trouble just for being… pirates. Which means drinking rum, not showering, firing cannons from pirate ships and fighting with sharp swords. 

Once again, Pirates is a typical Magic Kingdom attraction that can be enjoyed by the whole family and is aimed at guests of all ages. Queue times did increase a bit since the movies became huge hits, but it rarely goes over 30 min during the afternoon. Pirates is also a rather long ride, taking you about nine minutes to finish it. Think that’s long? The one at Disneyland actually clocks in at almost sixteen minutes!

Once we are done singing pirate songs or telling pirate puns, it’s time to make our way back to Tomorrowland. Now it’s a good opportunity to check queue times for the most popular attractions, from Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to Space Mountain. If they are somewhere around 30 to 40 minutes, it might be a good idea to visit them again.

Either way, you also have the option to enlist with the space rangers and join Buzz Lightyear on a dangerous mission.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Rating: 8/10

Magic Kingdom Buzz Space Ranger Spin Entrance.webp

Buzz Lightyear is good at one thing, and that thing is shooting at aliens all across space. So why not join him and learn a thing or two? Space Ranger Spin in an interactive shooting gallery similar to Men In Black: Alien Attack at Universal Studios. You board a train for two guests, move across a set course and your objective is to use the laser pistol in your vehicle and shoot down every monstrosity that appears before you. Well, the monstrosities in this case are the small optic sensors that can be found on the animatronics or hidden all over the scenery, and that’s what keeps track of your score.

Those carnival style rides are always a blast and very popular, especially with kids. Just look at Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios! Space Ranger spin tends to be very crowded during early park hours, especially since it’s located close to Space Mountain and Tron Lightcycle Run. Queue times are usually around 30 min after 3pm, so there’s a good chance you will get lucky and experience the ride faster than most guests.

Well, it should be late in the afternoon by now, which is the perfect opportunity to re-ride your top favorite attractions. You can also check out our optional rides below and see if they sound interesting at all (tip: they are). As stated multiple times, the Magic Kingdom is huge and crowded, so don’t feel bad if you can’t see everything in a single day. 

Optional Rides

Peter Pan’s Flight

Rating: 6/10

Disney Magic Kingdom Peter Pan Flight 2.webp

There are a few things in the universe that the human brain still can’t understand. What happens to us after death? Are we alone in this universe? And why is Peter Pan’s Flight almost always on a 70 min queue? Yep, waiting times for this ride are usually insanely high, sometimes challenging (or even surpassing) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain. Peter Pan’s Flight is a rail-suspended dark ride which tells the story of Peter Pan, Wendy and brings guests to see the amazing vistas of England and Wonderland.

It’s not bad by any means, but it doesn’t do much different from other dark rides like Winnie the Pooh and Pirates of the Caribbean. You know the drill by now: board a small vehicle, enjoy the music and see a bunch of animatronics telling a classic story. At least here it does feel like you are flying, but rest easy that there aren’t any sudden movements and the vehicle isn’t that far away from the ground, so that’s good for those that are afraid of heights.  

I am also here to finally answer one of the universe’s biggest secrets: Peter Pan’s Flight is actually very busy because the ride capacity just isn’t very efficient. While Pirates of the Caribbean can serve about 3000 guests in one hour, this number drops to 800 guests for Peter Pan’s Flight. There you have it, folks. One mystery revealed before your very eyes. 

Jungle Cruise

Rating: 7/10

Disney Magic Kingdom Jungle Cruise entrance 2.webp

Hey, another ride with a lot of Disney baggage on its shoulders! Jungle Cruise is “only” fifty two years old, as it launched way back when Magic Kingdom opened its doors in 1971. As one might have expected, this boat ride has also received a ton of updates throughout the years to keep up with times. It even got a movie with Emily Blunt and The Rock in 2021! So, should you hop on this riverboat ride and explore the (animatronic) wildlife? Sure, if you have the time and want to experience a little piece of Disney history.

What do you do in Jungle Cruise, other than cruising a jungle? Well, this ten minute boat ride simulates a trip through different rivers in South America, Africa and Asia, showing a bunch of wildlife you would only be able to see in those continents. Sure, they are all animatronics of hippos, chimps, elephants and more, but they are all well done - there was even a recent update in 2021 which added even more animals. Kids will probably have a great time here, even more so since each boat has a Disney cast member acting as a tour guide, and they do a good job talking about all the different fauna. 

I recommend coming here if you have access to Disney Genie+ and can get a spot early on. Otherwise, this ride - much like Peter Pan's Flight - just eats all your time for something that in the end isn't really worth it.

Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid

Rating: 7/10

Magic-Kingdom-Under-Sea-Little-Mermaid-Entrance.webp

We all love every song from the Little Mermaid, right? In my case, every time I see a crab it makes me want to sing “Under the Sea”.  Journey of the Little Mermaid is very similar to Peter Pan’s Flight and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. We are talking about a dark ride full of animatronics which recreates iconic scenes from the movie, giving you also the opportunity to listen to some of the most well known Disney songs of all time. Part of Your World, Kiss the Girl and Under the S- - no I won’t say it so I don’t have it stuck in my head for the entire week.

Journey of the Little Mermaid is an amazing ride for kids - that’s Magic Kingdom for you, after all - but it’s also a good option for the entire family if you have extra time. I love it that this attraction in particular is super colorful and uses water for some cool and original visual effects. 

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Rating: 6/10

Disney Magic Kingdom Winnie Pooh queue.webp

We just talked about Journey of the Little Mermaid, right? Just so you know, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh follows a very similar script to the previous attraction, but instead of Ariel and Sebastian, you have Pooh, Tiger, Piglet and a bunch of other characters I can’t remember the name now. So, why did Pooh get a lower rating than the Little Mermaid, you might ask? I’m not a bear-hater or anything, but I do believe Journey of the Little Mermaid has more animatronics, is a bit more colorful and features way better music. But, hey, that’s my personal preference, a Winnie the Pooh fan should definitely come here.

Tomorrowland Speedway

Rating: 7/10

Disney Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland Speedway.webp

Are you ready to hop in a Formula One car and drive at 200mph? Great, you won’t do that here, but you can definitely use the power of imagination to think you are driving a super fast Corvette in the middle of an important grand prix.

Tomorrowland Speedway is, in fact, one of the most unique attractions in all theme parks. It’s similar to a go kart, but your car will always move on a set lane, even if guests can use a steering wheel to change directions slightly. You can also accelerate by hitting the gas pedal, but don’t expect your car to move at crazy lightning speeds. This is an attraction aimed mostly at kids, and they really love the feeling of being on the driver’s seat and controlling their own car.

As I said before, I enjoy Tomorrowland Speedway since it’s rare to see a ride where you are the one in charge of your own vehicle. It’s also a fun attraction for a big group of family and friends, as pairs can get in separate cars, take pictures of each other and have fun while driving together. Do keep in mind that it might be a good idea to come here at night. The track takes you very close to Tron Lightcycle Run, giving you a good new angle of the roller coaster with all its gorgeous visual effects.

Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater

Rating: Mickey/10

Wait, this isn’t like any previous attractions shown on this guide, right? Yep. This is your chance to meet the most famous mouse in the world and take pictures close to him in a setting that resembles a magic show. We are talking about a meet & greet different from all the others, where guests can stay close to Mickey and actually talk to him for about five to ten minutes. Mickey won’t answer (he is a mouse after all, duh!) but he is always full of expressions and hand gestures that are really fun to see.

I like this attraction, but keep in mind that it changed through the years. There is now a rope that separates Mickey from guests, so you actually can’t get close to him for a hug or to take pictures right by his side. You can still pose in front of Mickey for a selfie, if you wish. Still, the most amazing thing about this is the chance to interact with the most famous Disney character of all time and check the amazing visuals and decorations. 

Closing Thoughts

There we have it, our complete, amazing, awesome guide to Magic Kingdom. We sincerely hope you enjoy your time in the home of Mickey Mouse, ride classic roller coasters like Space Mountain and sing It’s a Small World After All all week long. 

Don’t feel bad if you can’t see everything in a single day, by the way. Magic Kingdom is massive, and it’s better to come here at least twice during your holidays. You can also buy a Disney Genie+ and enjoy priority access to most rides. Is Peter Pan’s Flight still on a 70 min timer? Pff, with Disney Genie+ it will only take you 10 min. Take that, Captain Hook.

We sincerely hope you have a great vacation and make sure to check all our guides here on Famvia!

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