Thursday

Orlando Family Travel Guide - Magic Kingdom Opening Ceremony & Tips

orlando family travel guide magic kingdom
This is pretty much the route we go on our first pass through Disney World's Magic Kingdo theme park.

Magic Kingdom in a Nutshell (2015 Trip)

Disney's Magic Kingdom in Orlando is pretty much one of the best family theme parks we've come across in terms of having things for the entire family. Other theme parks we've been to cater more to older children, leaving our youngest to sit waiting to find a ride he can take part in--not fun for little ADHDers already struggling with impulsivity. At Magic Kingdom, most rides are family rides and allow children 40" and over to ride on them. If you have children smaller than that, there are rides that meet your needs, but not as many.

The park is broken up into 6 main areas and our remaining posts for Day 2 will each focus on 1 of these areas along with an additional feature on The Plaza Restaurant, where we ate for lunch. The main areas are:

  • Main Street USA - shopping and food
  • Adventureland - Pirate's of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, etc.
  • Frontierland - Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Tom Sawyer Island, etc.
  • Liberty Square - Haunt Mansion (this area is fairly small and has less rides)
  • Fantasyland - 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, It's a Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo, etc.
  • Tomorrowland - People Mover, Monster's Inc Laugh Floor, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, etc.
Date VisitedMarch 3, 2015

Crowd Levelsmoderate

Age Range Appeallittle ADHDers to adults depending on areas visited and height

Special Note: A few things have changed since we last visited in March of 2014 including the opening of the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train ride. We also noticed that there seemed to be an increased number of mini parades and performances along Main Street USA and in front of the Magic Castle. This caused a bit of additional congested at times and made it difficult to pass through that area from one side to the other, but most were over somewhat quickly.


FamilyADHD's Top Magic Kingdom Tips

We've found the following tips to be very helpful on our trips to Magic Kingdom:
  • Bring water! It is easy to get dehydrated and water can be very costly, though we found you can get large Dasani bottles for $3.50 at some of the little carts throughout the park if we run out.
  • Bring extra sunscreen. Even if it's an overcast day, unless you're completely covered head to toe you're going to want to apply and reapply sunscreen multiple times throughout the day.
  • Sign up for FastPass in advance. We've gone back and forth on whether or not this is more helpful than stressful and I think we've concluded it can be very helpful if done the right way. We'll touch upon that in a later post!
  • Make reservations for meals if you're not planning to eat quick service only. We know some budget-friendly travelers prefer to spend money on things other than meals. For us, it's mixed. We have some dietary restrictions and we've found even during the off-season that quick service options can get so busy it's hard to get food and even harder to find places to sit. We suggest making at least 1 meal a reservation-style meal if possible. 
  • If using Disney bus transportation, try to get to Magic Kingdom by 8/8:30 am at the latest. We've never driven ourselves to the park, so we can't comment on the self-park situation, but if you're using Disney bus transportation we highly recommend getting to your bus pick-up area between 7:30/8 am and getting to Magic Kingdom by 8/8:30 am so you're there for the opening ceremony and near the front of the line for getting in.
  • Check height restrictions prior to visiting. We've seen several height requirement charts such as this one. It's definitely helpful to determine which rides your little ADHDers can go on!
  • Check park hours prior to visiting. We found that park hours had changed drastically between the first week of March last year and the first week of March this year. Last year the park was open until 1 am, this year it closed at 10 pm when we were there. It looks like, depending on the day, the park is currently open until 11 pm or midnight--I'm assuming this could change as the season progresses. This is a really disappointing change given the rise in ticket prices yet again, but what can you do? 
  • Plan to take a break midday if staying at a Disney resort. Last year we did this, this year we decided to experiment for the first time and not. Definitely take a break at your resort midday if you have little ADHDers! We found that by taking a break we could grab lunch or dinner at our resort, give the kids' legs a rest, then return refreshed to finish out the day to closing. 
  • Download the My Disney Experience app. We've done it every time we've visited and it really helps with not just locating things in the park, but keeping track of your FastPasses, finding bathrooms, scheduling and keeping track of dining reservations, etc. You can download it directly off their site here and it has always worked well for the most part on our Android devices.
  • Hit up your must-ride rides first. Odds are your family has a list of rides you simply have to experience. We strongly recommend making a beeline for these rides the second you pass through the entrance. If you do this, we've found that (aside from the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train) the lines are super short for the first 20-30 minutes after opening. We never go during peak season (too much for our little ADHDers) and lines for popular rides can still exceed 1 hour wait-times.
  • To the left, to the left! Statistically people tend to head right once they go down Main Street USA and get to the castle from everything we've read. Don't do it! Go left. We always do and it's always served us well. We actually briefly met another family that had read this tip somewhere and asked us if it worked for us before. We assured them it had!


Magic Kingdom Opening Ceremony

We have found that the kids really like being there for the opening ceremony and if you get there at least 1/2 an hour before opening during the first week of March, you can see the whole thing from a decent vantage point. Keep in mind, there is a tree to the left side (nearest the entrances there) that really obstructs your vision and it can get very tightly packed. Keep little ADHDers close and/or on shoulders so they can see and remain safe. 

The area where you can best see the opening ceremony is just beyond the security checkpoints, right before the entrance. The day we visited it was very overcast most of the day, but still unseasonably hot (mid to high 80s). Lines were shorter for the most part than the year prior, but some popular new rides still had lines that exceeded 60 min wait times.

orlando family travel guide magic kingdom
This tree, while lovely, can be a real killjoy when it comes to trying to see the opening ceremony ;)

orlando family travel guide magic kingdom tips and opening ceremony
Disney cast members come out and sing a little song and perform a cute dance. The audio is blasted over speakers and very loud--possibly too loud if you have a child with sensory avoiding tendencies.

orlando family travel guide magic kingdom tips and opening ceremony
The Magic Kingdom railroad train comes and brings along Mickey and his friends. When this happens the air is pretty much buzzing with the excitement of the little kids in the crowd.

orlando family travel guide magic kingdom tips and opening ceremony
The show is fairly brief and we've always found it entertaining for our little guys. It definitely builds up anticipation, as I'm sure they've intended.

orlando family travel guide magic kingdom tips and opening ceremony
At the end of the ceremony they set off little cannons and the characters release streamers. If you have sound-sensitive kiddos, things may get loud and you may want to bring along noise-canceling headphones or earmuffs. Also, there is some smoke as a result of the cannons, so that's something to keep in mind.

orlando family travel guide magic kingdom tips and opening ceremony
All in all, cute and fun for those that aren't super sensitive to sounds and the smell of smoke!

Once the ceremony is over, the crowd is directed through the entrance and into the open area in Main Street USA, which we'll touch upon in our next post!

Don't forget to check out all of our features from our 2015 Orlando Family Travel Guide:
Note: This trip was in no way sponsored. All opinions mentioned above are our own based on our experiences.

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