The Magic Kingdom is the world's most visited theme park, so it's incredibly important that you choose the right time to visit. Choose well, and you will breeze through the park, but choose poorly and you may find yourself waiting in line for hours just to climb into one of Space Mountain's rocket ships. Overall, the best time to visit the Magic Kingdom is during the off-peak months of September and January, when the crowds and costs are at their lowest, but this time of year may not be feasible for families with school-aged children.
Also, by visiting during the off-peak season, you also may miss on the special events that occur during the more popular months, so it's up to you to decide what matters most to you before picking a time.
Magic Kingdom Overview
The Magic Kingdom is divided into sections, with Cinderella's Castle at the heart. The 6 lands are Frontierland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Main Street USA, Liberty Square, and Tomorrowland. The lands are highly themed and incorporate different smells, sounds, foods, and foliage in each section.
Your tastes, as well as the age(s) of your children, will dictate where you spend the most amount of time. The little ones can't get enough of Fantasyland where their favorite film stars come to life through the area's rides, and in-person meet and greets.
Older children and teens will most likely prefer Frontierland, where very popular rides like Splash Mountain and The Haunted Mansion reside.
Disney introduced controversial surge pricing for tickets at the Magic Kingdom 2016. Each day of the year is classified as a “value,” “regular,” or “peak” day, and follows the pricing structure that has been in place for the onsite hotel rooms for years. However, since pricing is calculated on a day to day basis, you may find that visiting on Easter Sunday is more expensive than going on a weekend day during the summer, depending on past attendance records.
Disney is transparent with this pricing structure and publishes a calendar detailing which days fall into each category.
Florida is known for hot temperatures, high humidity, and plenty of sunshine, year-round. The temperatures are at their most severe in July and August and regularly climb into the high 90s. From October through May, the weather is more moderate during the day but can be chilly at night and in the early morning.
Hurricane season spans from June through October, though the chance of a hurricane hitting Florida during your stay is slim.
The months of June, July, and August are without a doubt, filled with guests, but you may be surprised to learn that the Christmas season can be even more crowded, depending on the day.
Unless you have no choice, you should avoid visiting on these dates:
- New Year's Day (January 1st),
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (the third Monday of January)
- Presidents' Day (the third Monday of February)
- Valentine's Day (February 14th)
- Easter Sunday (varies between March and April)
- Independence Day (July 4th)
- Thanksgiving Day (the third Thursday of November)
- Christmas Eve (December 24th)
- Christmas Day (December 25th)
- New Year's Eve (December 31st).
In terms of low crowds, mild weather, and the best pricing, September and January are the very best times to visit. February, May, and early November are also a great choice, though you can expect somewhat larger crowds and slightly higher prices.
If you must visit during summer, avoid the weekend (including Fridays) as they are without a doubt the busiest days.
The Magic Kingdom holds Disney's most popular special events, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in late November and December, and Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in late September and October.
Throughout the year, Run Disney events are also held in the Magic Kingdom, including the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February, which includes the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K, and the Disney Fairytale Challenge.
The Best Time to Visit for Resort Guests
If you opt to stay on property at a Disney resort (such as The Grand Floridian, Pop Century, or Port Orleans) you have some added benefits when visiting the Magic Kingdom. When you check into your hotel, pay attention to the daily park schedule you receive as part of your check-in package. This schedule will list the Extra Magic Hours available only to resort guests during your visit.
The Extra Magic Hours are the best times to visit. They are designed to allow resort guests an extra hour, either before the park opens or after it closes, to ride popular attractions like It's a Small World, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain with minimal wait times.
The Best Time Visit for Off-Site Guests
If you're staying offsite, or even at a Disney "good neighbor" hotel that sits on the edge of Disney property, you, unfortunately, won't be able to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. Your best bet for visiting the Magic Kingdom is going midweek on either a Tuesday or Wednesday. Thursday is usually a little more crowded but a far cry from the weekend crowds.
The Best Time of Day to Visit
Whether or not you are an early bird, your best plan of action is to head to the Magic Kingdom on any day at least 15 minutes prior to opening. If you are relying on the Disney Transportation System, allow at least 30 minutes of travel time to arrive at the park entrance. Arriving early allows you to be one of the first guests to enter the park, and head quickly to your favorite attractions that will be packed later in the day.
If you can't bear the thought of waking that early, you can go the night owl route instead. and arrive at the park in the early evening. You should make a dining reservation for either 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., then hit the rides when you are finished (if you can stomach it). Beginning around 6 p.m., park crowds start thinning out as guests make their way to dinner, so you can take advantage of this time gap.