I was tempted to post, “You’re kidding, right?” Magic Kingdom is the original theme park on Disney’s Florida property. From 1971 to 1982, it was the only park. A larger version of Disneyland Park in California, Magic Kingdom has the most rides, the most fame, some of the longest lines, and the most traffic. If you’re an introverted adult and you find yourself going there, brace yourself. It’s a beautiful place with a lot of fun attractions, but the crowds are huge, loud, and bustling.
Like I said, Magic Kingdom has the most stuff in it and the largest crowds. If you have the opportunity, try to take on the park using a targeted strategy of some sort to reduce wear and tear on your patience:
- Use Fastpass for your favorite rides. Really, Fastpass is a no-brainer for all of the Disney Theme Parks, but it definitely makes sense at Magic Kingdom. If you’re unfamiliar with Fastpass, it’s basically a reservation for a window of time to arrive in the queue for a particular attraction. Yes, you still stand in line, but it’s not nearly as long as the time you’d spend standing in the regular “standby” line. While you’re waiting for the Fastpass window to open for your favorite attractions, you can wait in standby lines for other attractions. My understanding of the system is that you get up to three Fastpass attractions per day. (I walk around the parks for exercise, I don’t actually go on a lot of rides when I use my Annual Pass.)
- Take two days to visit the park instead of trying to do it all in one. Like I said, there’s a lot to see and do, especially if you’ve never been there before. Don’t let yourself get frazzled trying to do everything in a day. If you’re there for a day or you’ve been there before, just hit your favorites.
- Take a break. This is pretty common practice, going back to when I was a kid and there was only one park. The idea being, you go to the park starting around opening time and do stuff for 4-5 hours. Then, assuming you’re at a Disney Resort, go back to your hotel and take a nap. Or, if you’re not staying on property, maybe just visit one of the Magic Kingdom Resorts and get away from the crowds and the heat. After you’ve rested, you can go back for the parade or fireworks.
- Watch the parades and fireworks from Frontierland or Liberty Square. The biggest crowds are on Main Street because that’s where they have the most lights and, of course, the clearest view of Cinderella Castle. However, I’ve been able to see the fireworks just fine from the other two areas I just mentioned and sometimes the Castle as well.
- Ride the attractions during the parades. Assuming they’re still open, the attractions outside of Main Street U.S.A., Liberty Square, and Frontierland should have shorter standby lines because everyone’s at the parade. Watch the parade or fireworks a different day.
- Leave before the fireworks start or as they are starting. My introverted father started me on this habit: I leave before the fireworks start. I used to think he was being a spoil sport until I started disliking large, noisy crowds. This is now such a normal part of my Disney habits, I don’t think I’ve actually watched Magic Kingdom fireworks from inside the park more than half a dozen times in 40 years. Instead, I watch them from the monorail, from one of the Disney Resorts, or even the parking lot. If it’s a new fireworks show and I have the time to wait for the crowds to disperse, I’ll watch and wait it out. Otherwise, adios.
Finding an actual quiet spot is a dubious proposition. However, there are a few places you can go where you’re not likely to find as many people or as much population density. If you need a place to really decompress and get away from the crowds, you’ll probably need to leave the park. There really aren’t a lot of “quiet seasons,” as there are at Epcot, which also is not as high-density a park.
The best place I’ve found to avoid the crowds inside MK is actually in Fantasyland, which has the most attractions (the Disney word for rides). There is a small area on the west side of Fantasyland, on the path heading from It’s a Small World toward the Haunted Mansion. It’s actually partially fenced off from the traffic flow and has some benches and tables for sitting. Not a lot of shade, but some. Pull over there and relax.
Sometime in the last few years, Disney added a walkway between Space Mountain and Goofy’s Barnstormer. It runs between the Walt Disney World Railroad and the Tomorrowland Speedway. It has quite a bit of shade, though it’s possible that you have to pass a smoking section.
Just a guess–it’s been a while since I visited the attraction, but the Hall of Presidents usually doesn’t have a really long line. After all, you didn’t go to Magic Kingdom to get educated or enjoy the quiet, did you? Oh, you did? Never mind. Give it a shot.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Okay, yes, this is the entry area of the park, and so subject to crowds. However, during the day, there are a couple places you might get out of the main traffic flow. As part of a larger refurbishment project they completed last year, Disney added to the number of footpaths and sidewalks between Main Street and Cinderella Castle. This extra walking space does a couple of things: it allows more space for walking around parade crowds as well as for watching the fireworks. However, when there aren’t parades or fireworks going on, some of the side paths allow you to get out of the traffic flow.
There’s also a pathway they added “behind” one side between Main Street and Tomorrowland. I’m not certain if it’s open all the time, but when it is as a traffic flow measure, you can use it to get from the Tomorrowland Terrace area to nearly Tony’s Town Square at the front of the park.
Again, this is a less busy rather than a quiet place, but the Swiss Family Treehouse can get you off the sidewalks for a bit.
Another sidewalk addition Disney added to aid traffic flow is along the riverfront–the walkway is actually a set of wooden piers in the midst of the river. When there are parades going on, the sidewalk eases traffic. When there aren’t parades going on, it’s a speedy way to get from the Splash Mountain/Big Thunder Mountain area to Liberty Square and Haunted Mansion.
The best quiet spot at Magic Kingdom is outside the gate but nearby. Back in the mid-1990s, Disney decided to sell a bunch of hexagonal bricks (around $100 a piece) as a way to fund a walkway that runs in front of the park. It’s hard to find because it’s actually attached to the Magic Kingdom Gold Boat Launch. You reach the boat launch by walking toward the Resort Monorail and then turning toward the boat dock. If there’s no line at the boat dock, you can walk past the boat queue and onto this great sidewalk that runs a good quarter or half mile in front of the park, heading in the direction of the Grand Floridian Resort.
There are a couple benches at the end of the sidewalk, if memory serves, and from there you can watch the monorails and boats on Seven Seas Lagoon go by, but I don’t know if there are any places to sit along the path. There are trees along the path, though, and really just a whole lot less noise. That’s your best bet to find a quiet spot at Magic Kingdom.
I’ll take on the Magic Kingdom Resorts at some point. No, really!