January 30, 2022, 4:38 PM · Welcome to the Theme Park of the Week, where each Sunday we highlight one of the world's top theme parks. This week, we start with the world's most visited park - Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
The Magic Kingdom opened to guests on October 1, 1971, with a formal dedication following on October 25 that year. The first of what is now four theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort, the Magic Kingdom is still just called "Disney World" by many of its visitors. Or, by some, just "Disney."
Visiting Disney has become a rite of passage for many families in the United States and elsewhere around the world. As such, people tend to come here for the entire package more than to experience any specific attractions. Still, Theme Park Insider readers voted Haunted Mansion in the park's Liberty Square land as the Magic Kingdom's top attraction last year, followed by Tomorrowland's Space Mountain indoor roller coaster and the someday-to-be-rethemed Splash Mountain flume ride in Frontierland.
Haunted Mansion is home to "999 happy haunts," but there's always room for 1,000.
For the rest of our Top 10 attractions in the park, please visit our guide to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
That page includes our advice for when to visit Walt Disney World as well as our strategy for planning a visit to the parks. If you have suggestions for additions or changes to that advice, please tell us in the comments below.
As the world's most visited theme park, there's not much of an "off season" anymore for visitors hoping for small crowds. But you can minimize your wait times inside the park by choosing to visit on weekdays during the school year, avoiding holiday weeks and runDisney weekends. Mid-to-late August is good for relatively smaller crowds, but it's prime hurricane season in Florida. You can usually find better weather visiting between the end of Presidents' Day week in late February and the start of Spring Break in March.
Like all Walt Disney World theme parks, Magic Kingdom requires an advance reservation to visit. If you want to eat at a table-service restaurant, such as our top-ranked Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen, Be Our Guest or Cinderella's Royal Table inside the castle, you will need to make reservations via Disney's website 60 days in advance, at about 5:45am Eastern Time.
The big question you will need to answer when visiting is whether to buy one of Disney's new upcharge line-skipping services. You can learn more about them in our posts, How to Use Disney Genie Plus and How to Use Disney's Individual Lightning Lane.
Walt Disney World's on-site hotel guests get into all four parks 30 minutes early every day, so there's no way to "rope drop" the park into an empty queue anymore if you are not staying in a Disney hotel. But you can still plan your way around the park to minimize your wait times. Watch the free Disney Genie tool in Disney's official My Disney Experience app before your visit to get a feel for wait times in the park. Please share your favorite Magic Kingdom itinerary strategy with us in the comments.
Magic Kingdom is bringing back some of its popular entertainment later this year, including the daily Festival of Fantasy parade. So no matter where you go within the park, or when you visit, you likely will find something delightful to entertain you and your family. That's why Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom has become a beloved vacation destination for so many fans around the world.
For more, please visit our guide to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
* * * We wanted you to read this article before we make our newsletter pitch, unlike so many other websites. If you appreciate that - and our approach to covering theme park, travel, and entertainment news - please sign up for our free, three-times-a-week email newsletter. Thank you.
And to read Robert's stories about working as a cast member in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, please pick up a copy of his book, Stories from a Theme Park Insider.