Our series on The Walt Disney World Theme Parks after reopening kicks off with Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park. You may have been here a thousand times before but a trip to the Magic Kingdom in 2022 is going to be much different than you’ve experienced before.
In this post, we are going to share with you everything that’s changed in Disney’s Magic Kingdom since it reopened. We’ll let you know what attractions are open, what restaurants you can visit, and what entertainment options are open in 2022 and beyond.
We’ll also explain how to get reservations for the Magic Kingdom, the new park operating hours, and any touring tips we think might help you on your trip. Now that the park is open, we’ll give you a full tour of the park so you can see firsthand how it’s different.
Since there is just so much that has changed at the parks since reopening, we wanted to give readers a guide to visiting the Disney World theme parks this year and the Magic Kingdom is first on our list.
One thing that we want to emphasize with you is that if you are visiting any of the parks in 2022 or beyond, you will need to have patience. If you are seriously planning a trip to Disney World in the next few months, I’m sure you’ve already had to exercise a lot of it as things haven’t been easy to figure out for the average guest.
It’s been a struggle just figuring it out ourselves, so we can imagine how others feel right now. That said, we are here to help you understand all the changes so you can have the best time possible in the Magic Kingdom and all the other parks.
Before we get into our look at the Magic Kingdom for 2022, make sure to read our Complete Walt Disney World Reopening Guide which will answer any questions you have about anything going on during the reopening period in the parks, hotels, and restaurants.
Also, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. There we bring you the latest updates on all the latest Magic Kingdom updates as well as our best Disney vacation planning tips. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter!
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to walk through the tunnel, turn the corner to look right down Main Street U.S.A., and see Cinderella Castle sitting there in front of me! It’s going to be a special feeling, so let’s go!
What to Know
We’re going to break down each category of what you need to know when you visit Magic Kingdom now, but here are a few of the most important parts:
One of the most important things to know during the last couple of years is all the new safety guidelines Disney has put in place. The whole reason that Disney World closed in the first place is because of the current health crisis, and the only reason the parks were even able to reopen again is because of the list of safety guidelines to help protect guests and Cast Members.
*Many of the safety guidelines have slowly been eliminated in 2022 and things are getting back to normal.
Here are some of them:
- Increased cleaning and sanitation
- Wearing face masks (this has been eliminated)
- Physical distancing in queues (this has been eliminated)
Currently, face masks are no longer required in any Disney theme park, including Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Vaccinated & Unvaccinated Guests – At one time, masks were required in indoor areas including rides like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean and on all Disney transportation. That is no longer the case and they are now optional.
Face masks are not required for any guests in outdoor areas or when consuming food or drink.
Cleaning and sanitization have been increased throughout the Magic Kingdom with Cast Members passing through every area more often than before. Also, guests are no longer required to practice distancing while waiting in line for the attractions and in all public spaces.
Read our post on all the New Changes and Safety Measures at Disney World which explains them all in more detail.
The overall guest capacity for Disney’s Magic Kingdom has been reduced, meaning fewer people can enter the parks each day compared to normal park capacities. This has been increasing recently, however.
The maximum capacity for the Magic Kingdom is approximately 100,000 people, and right now the park capacity is more than 50%. 50% means attendance of around 50,000 guests at this time, but it’s probably closer to 80-90% based on how full the park feels.
The plan is to keep slowly increasing Disney World theme park capacity and eventually bring it back up to normal levels.
Not Everything Open
Before you go to the Magic Kingdom, it’s important to know that not everything is open at this time. Some of the attractions, entertainment, and restaurants will remain closed during this reopening phase.
Some of them are still closed but many have come back in 2022 and it’s a vast improvement over what we’ve seen in the last couple of years. Things are coming back slowly, but they are coming back. We’ll break down which ones are open now later in the post.
Suspended Services and Experiences
While visiting the Magic Kingdom and the rest of the Disney theme parks right now, many of the normal services and experiences you are used to are not currently running.
Early Theme Park Entry
Extra Magic Hours are always some of the best times to visit the Magic Kingdom, and in the past there were morning and evening Extra Magic Hours which let Disney World Resort guests come before other guests or stay later, enjoying the attractions with lower waits.
Right now in 2022, Disney has eliminated all Morning and Evening Extra Magic Hours in the Magic Kingdom Park and has put in a new replacement system instead called “Early Theme Park Entry.”
It lets all Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests access the parks 30 minutes before the scheduled park opening each day. It is available at all 4 theme parks, every day of the week. That gives you a good jump on the best attractions in the park before the crowds get there.
Hard Ticked Events
Some of the hard-ticketed events that are normally happening at the Magic Kingdom have been stopped though many have come back. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is returning in 2022, after having a modified version last year. This is a good sign things are getting back to normal.
Disney is also bringing back Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this year after its modified format last year: “Disney Very Merriest After Hours Special Event.”
Dessert parties are also back if you are looking for an easy way to watch the fireworks without searching for a place to stand hours ahead of time. There are some Moonlight Magic dates scheduled for the other parks, but not for Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Here is a list of some other big events that are still currently canceled:
It’s nice to see Disney reopening some of these special events since even more were closed down for more than a year. They have also made improvements to the now open events which at first were not worth all that extra money guests had to pay for an event that offers 25% of what it normally does.
With fireworks now back and we expect more activities and special events to return soon.
The entire FastPass+ system has been discontinued in all the Disney World theme parks and replaced with a new system called Genie+. It still allows you to skip the lines, but now it’s a paid service instead of being free.
The FastPass+ queues have been turned into Lightning Lanes which allow people to skip the normal standby queues either by buying a daily package or making a one-time purchase. This is a huge change from how guests are used to touring Disney Parks and you will need a different strategy.
They have also created a Free Disney Genie service which doesn’t let you skip lines but offers help in planning your day.
Make sure to read our Guide to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes where we answer all your biggest questions and give you tons of practical tips to help you get the most for your money.
Meanwhile, our Genie+ Guide to the Magic Kingdom gives you specific itineraries and strategies for getting the most out of this new service during your visit.
There have been quite a few changes to dining in the Magic Kingdom and the other theme parks:
- No Disney Dining Plan – This has been suspended so far in 2022. That means no more snack credits for a while and guests will not have the option to pay for meals ahead of time. The Disney Dining Plan is coming back, we just don’t know when yet.
- Dining Reservations – In the past you had 180 days to make an Advanced Dining Reservation, now that has been reduced to only 60 days.
- Limited Dining Options – Not all restaurants will be open right now, but most of them are.
- New Technology – In order to help with safety, Disney is using new technology in its restaurants including contactless menus, Mobile Ordering, Mobile Dine Check-In, Mobile Dine Waitlist, and cashless payment.
At this time, some of the Magic Kingdom special experience bookings and tours have been canceled through, but some such as the popular Keys to the Kingdom tour have returned.
The good news is more tours are coming back to Disney World and we will have more information about booking these special events soon.
How to Get Into the Magic Kingdom in 2022
Unlike a normal visit, right now you can’t just show up to the Magic Kingdom and buy a park ticket for the day. Park capacity is limited and Disney has implemented a Park Pass reservation system which you will need to use if you want to get in.
The first step is getting tickets for the Magic Kingdom. Both Single and Multi-Day tickets are available to purchase dates in 2022 and 2023 online on the Disney World website. Tickets are available right now through December 31, 2023.
If you are an Annual Passholder, you already have your park admission covered. The only thing to look for is blockout days which limit which days you can go to the parks depending on the type of annual pass you have.
Read up on all the changes to Disney World Annual Passes for more tips and info.
Getting Park Pass Reservations
Getting a park admission ticket is only half of the battle. The second step is getting a Park Pass reservation. This is something new that started in 2020 and it helps Disney manage the crowds, evenly dispersing guests between the four parks each day.
Park reservations are now available on the Disney World website, but again, you’ll need to have a valid park admission before making a park reservation.
Read our post on How to Make Disney World Park Reservations for a detailed walkthrough of the new system.
The Magic Kingdom Park Hours have been reduced from normal levels, but the park has started to stay open much longer than in the past two years.
Upcoming Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park Hours:
- Most Days Now through July 30 – 9:00 am to 11:00 pm daily
- From July 31 through September – 9:00 am to 10:00 pm daily
For most days, Magic Kingdom Park Hours are from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm or 10:00 pm daily. These are the new Summer Park Hours for July, August, and September.
This is much better than the Magic Kingdom schedule the last couple of years when park hours were as low as from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
The Magic Kingdom is not running Morning Extra Magic Hours but they have replaced them with Early Theme Park Entry, but it only gives you 30 minutes instead of the hour you used to get with Extra Magic Hours.
Evening Extra Magic Hours have been replaced with Extended Evening Hours which run for 2 extra hours on select evenings. Both these extras can be a big help in getting more attractions done in a timely manner.
We’ll keep an on the hours to see if they change at all over the coming months and also how quickly you can get through attractions.
So as you know, not all the attractions in the Magic Kingdom are open, but we are happy to report that the vast majority of them are. Right now, there are 26 attractions on the list. Let’s check them out and then give you a run-down of what it means for your visit.
- “it’s a small world”
- Astro Orbiter
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Jungle Cruise
- Liberty Square Riverboat
- Mad Tea Party
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- The Barnstormer
- The Hall of Presidents
- The Haunted Mansion
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover
- Tom Sawyer Island
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
What’s Not Open
- A Pirate’s Adventure game in Adventureland
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade
- Main Street Vehicles
- Walt Disney World Railroad (closed for refurbishment)
All of the big E-Ticket attractions are up and running. Seven Dwarfs, Big Thunder, Space Mountain, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, etc are all running, so no worries there.
Having 31 attractions running is pretty impressive and gives you plenty to do in the day. EPCOT is the next closest park with 19 attractions open, then the Animal Kingdom with 15 and Hollywood Studios with 13. So in comparison, the lineup at the Magic Kingdom will definitely keep you busy.
There are only a few attractions of note that are not opening right now, the biggest being Enchanted Tales with Belle. Since most other indoor shows are running, it’s likely due to a Cast Member shortage since the show requires actors to play the parts, though not many.
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is back open once again but The Walt Disney World Railroad has been closed for refurbishment since the park’s reopening and is not available at this time. At least most of the Best Attractions at the Magic Kingdom are open now.
Make sure to check the Disney World Ride Closures List for the latest updates on which attractions are open in the parks.
Attraction Reports & Wait Times
Disney has made heavy modifications to the attraction queues. Plexiglass barriers have been put up in many of the queues but the ground distancing markers have been removed. This is the case on Big Thunder Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and others. They obviously take away from the ambiance of the ride, but at this time Disney really doesn’t have a choice.
Unfortunately, some attraction queues like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Haunted Mansion have had their interactive areas of the queues turned off, but more and more they are returning.
Ride vehicles are back to full capacity once again after being modified when they were leaving full rows empty to allow for spacing on the rides. Splash Mountain for a while was only running one group per log and they had the splash effects turned off and Pirates of the Caribbean was only using rows 1 and 5. That has changed and now all ride vehicles are fully loaded.
Overall, in comparison to what we are normally used to, wait times at the Magic Kingdom have returned almost to full levels. The average wait time for all attractions in the park is between 30-40 minutes per attraction, which means it would be tight to realistically do all the attractions in one day.
Peter Pan’s Flight, Jungle Cruise, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are still the most popular in the park after reopening and have the longest wait times. On average you have to wait 50-90 minutes for each of them, though the “real” wait time is a little less.
Wait times have increased by leaps and bounds since the Holidays, but we expect them to lower slightly until Spring Break comes in March and April. Here is some more detailed info about a few of the Magic Kingdom attractions and how they are operating right now:
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Ever since opening in 2014, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has been the most popular ride at the Magic Kingdom, and it continues to be so even now. The average wait time right now is about 80-100 minutes, the longest in the park.
One change is that guests no longer have to wear masks while riding.
Seven Dwarfs has all the same safety precautions you will see at most of the attractions in the park though ground markers for distancing have been removed. Plexiglass barriers are up in the queues when guests are in tight quarters.
The trains themselves are now being fully loaded and space is no longer being put in between guests.
For being one of the most popular rides in the park, Space Mountain has a long average wait time and getting back to almost normal levels at around 45-70 minutes.
Ground markers were set up throughout the queue but are being removed. Here is a photo of a very quiet loading area earlier in the reopening:
Ride vehicles are cleaned often by Cast Members and members of other parties are now loaded into the same vehicle.
Besides Seven Dwarfs, Splash Mountain has had one the longest wait times since reopening at around 60-80 minutes. That’s pretty high for the off-season, and it will be interesting to follow moving into the Summer and Fall.
The same safety protocols were set up here but have been since removed. Multiple parties are also being loaded into the same log.
Some of the water effects have been turned back on, however, the ride still continues to have closures periodically due to technical issues.
Big Thunder Mountain
The “wildest ride in the wilderness” has seen average wait times of 40-50 minutes or so.
Big Thunder has a lot of plexiglass throughout the inside portion of the queue:
We saw Cast Members cleaning the trains from time to time between loading and unloading, which is more than in some attractions. Disney is now loading all rows on the roller coaster vehicles so don’t expect to have any rows between you and the next guests.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Wait times for Pirates of the Caribbean have increased in recent months and now are around 40-50 minutes at any given time. During the reopening period, we’ve seen wait times as low as 10 minutes, but we don’t expect those to come back again.
Even with a people-eating attraction like Pirates that now can handle a larger number of guests per hour, the increase in park capacity has been filling up the boats making for increased wait times.
These ground markers have all been taken up and aren’t here anymore.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Peter Pan’s Flight wait times are almost back up to normal again at around 60-80 minutes on average and nowhere near the 30-minute average we had a couple of years ago.
Besides the safety protocols, everything is running as normal, and there are no major changes.
Wait times for the Jungle Cruise have been around 70-80 minutes on average, which is basically the same as it was before the reopening.
This is likely because the Jungle Cruise is one of the attractions with the most changes since reopening, though some have now been removed. Besides the ground markers, the boats each were given significant modifications to accommodate guests.
The middle section was off-limits to guests and much of the outer benches too. There were even plexiglass barriers on the boats to help separate guests.
We do have to say we found this to be somewhat distracting as in certain parts of the ride your vision was blocked. Thankfully, they have removed most of these barriers so the ride experience has significantly improved.
The skippers were all their usual comical selves, and we have always had a good time during this period.
The Haunted Mansion
Wait times at the Haunted Mansion have been listed at between 40-50 minutes, but sometimes less.
Disney had set up the typical ground markers for distancing but they are being removed.
The “Stretching Room” has also returned. When they shut it down it was to avoid crowds gathering in there.
It’s a Small World
It’s a Small World has on average a 30 to 40-minute wait time. Since it is one of the shorter attraction queues, an extended queue has been set up outside:
Conveniently we found hand sanitizer located in the queue:
It’s a Small World has had one of the most thorough crews as far as cleaning, and we saw boats being disinfected between each ride:
Wait Times at the Tomorrowland Speedway have been extremely low during the reopening phase so far with average waits under 20 minutes. Again, Cast Members clean each car often giving guests a bit of peace of mind.
The Magic Kingdom, like the other theme parks, has a limited number of entertainment options currently available. One of the biggest improvements however has been Character Meets coming back to normal once again. This is big for families with kids as seeing the characters is always one of the more popular activities.
Guests no longer need to be distanced from them and they can once again get hugs and autographs from the characters.
Disney has also brought in new Character Cavalcades in each park, and in the Magic Kingdom there are multiple motorcades and cavalcades that ride randomly down throughout the park and down Main Street U.S.A. with your favorite characters. Included are Mickey, Minnie, and Friends, plus a bunch of the Disney princesses.
One big change we are ecstatic about is that fireworks are back in the theme parks. Disney Enchantment is the new show created for the 50th Anniversary and while it isn’t as good as Happily Ever After, it’s still entertaining.
Here is a list of the Magic Kingdom Entertainment you can expect to see during your visit and also what’s not opening at this time…
- Disney Enchantment Fireworks (Debuted October 1)
- Dapper Dans
- Main Street Philharmonic
- Character Cavalcades throughout the day, with Guest-favorite Disney friends appearing along the parade route—which will include:
- The Royal Princess Processional
- Mickey Mouse 50th Anniversary Cavalcade
- Fantasyland Friends Cavalcade
- A Goofy Cavalcade
- Tinker Bell & the Lost Treasure
- Hundred Acre Wood Cavalcade
- Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade
- Electrical Water Pageant (not really in the Magic Kingdom, but close enough)
- Festival of Fantasy Parade
- Let the Magic Begin
- Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire
What’s Not Open
- Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party
- Once Upon a Time Projection Show
Obviously, the Disney Enchantment fireworks show is huge. Thousands of families normally camp out in front of Cinderella Castle to see the fireworks on a nightly basis and we can’t say the Magic Kingdom experience was the same without having the fireworks.
Read our post on When are fireworks coming back to Walt Disney World? for more info.
The Festival of the Fantasy Parade is also a huge addtion as its a guest favorite during the afternoon and we are glad to have it back.
When character meets were suspended, Disney brought in the Character Cavalcades to the park as a temporary fix.
So far we have really enjoyed them in the Magic Kingdom, and we think the ones here are the best in Disney World. The Character Cavalcades have been a nice addition and pass through the park regularly. In fact, we really hope they stick around when things go back to normal, though that’s doubtful.
Here is a look at the Character Cavalcades currently running at the Magic Kingdom:
The Royal Princess Processional – The procession starts with Merida on her horse. It continues with princesses like Ariel, Aurora, Belle, and more making their way down Main Street U.S.A. on floats and waving at guests. Even the fairy godmother is there.
This is the biggest of all the processions at the Magic Kingdom and worth seeing if you are a princess fan.
Mickey and Friends 50th Anniversary Cavalcade – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, and Pluto are all dressed up in their new EARidescent outfits for the Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration.
Fantasyland Friends Cavalcade – Gaston on horseback leads the charge, followed by Alice, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Aladdin.
A Goofy Cavalcade – This procession includes Goofy, Max, Clarabelle Cow, and Jose Carioca on the floats from the MoveIt, ShakeIt street party.
Tinker Bell & the Lost Treasure – This cavalcade features only Tinker Bell who is perched up high on top of the lost treasure. This short procession starts in Frontierland and finishes on Main Street U.S.A.
Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade – Nick and Judy from “Zootopia,” Baloo and King Louie from “The Jungle Book,” José Carioca and Panchito from “The Three Caballeros,” Miguel from “Coco,” Mirabel from “Encanto,” plus Merida, Moana, The Incredibles, and more are all featured in the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade.
There were also special Christmas Character Cavalcades going on during the holiday season:
- Mickey and Friends Christmas Cavalcade
- Disney Princesses Christmas Cavalcade
- Goofy’s Scrumptious Cavalcade
- Main Street Philharmonic
- Santa Claus
Even if you don’t catch a character procession, there are a couple more opportunities to see characters in Magic Kingdom.
Hundred Acre Wood Characters – Rabbit, Piglet, and Eeyore make their way down Main Street U.S.A on a cable car.
Chip and Dale Raft – Out in Frontierland near the boats to Tom Sawyer Island, you’ll find Chip ‘n’ Dale rowing along on a raft in their country clothes.
Here are the other characters you can find around the Magic Kingdom at this time:
- Buzz Lightyear – Tomorrowland
- Stitch – Tomorrowland
- Captain Jack Sparrow – Adventureland
- Anastasia – Cinderella Castle Balcony
- Drizella – Cinderella Castle Balcony
- Big Al – Frontierland
- Liver Lips – Frontierland
- Peter Pan – Fantasyland (Starting July 10, 2022)
- Snow White – Fantasyland (Starting July 10, 2022)
- Aladdin – (Coming Soon)
- Jasmine – (Coming Soon)
- Merida – (Coming Soon)
- Winnie the Pooh – (Coming Soon)
- Tigger – (Coming Soon)
- The Great Goofini – (Coming Soon)
To learn more about how to find all the characters now, read these helpful guides:
After a couple of years, most dining locations are currently open in the Magic Kingdom, and guests now can have their choice from all their favorite locations.
Even if you don’t like the choices of restaurants, you could always just snack your way through the Magic Kingdom, one of our favorite pastimes!
- Aloha Isle
- Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies
- Be Our Guest Restaurant
- Casey’s Corner
- Cheshire Cafe
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Columbia Harbour House
- Cool Ship
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- The Crystal Palace
- Diamond Horseshoe
- Friar’s Nook
- Gaston’s Tavern
- Golden Oak Outpost
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
- Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen
- Liberty Square Market
- Liberty Tree Tavern
- The Lunching Pad
- Main Street Bakery
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- Plaza Ice Cream Parlor
- The Plaza Restaurant
- Prince Eric’s Village Market
- Sleepy Hollow
- Storybook Treats
- Sunshine Tree Terrace
- Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant (Seasonally)
- Tony’s Town Square Restaurant
- Tortuga Tavern (Seasonally)
- Westward Ho
What’s Not Open:
Looking at the list on the official Walt Disney World website, all 32 open restaurants are open and none are closed. Thankfully, most of the top Magic Kingdom restaurants are back open again.
Some of the ones that were closed in past months are now open like Cinderella’s Royal Table and Crystal Palace. They are either not offering character meals or they have a modified version. This was no surprise but it was nice to see two of the most popular restaurants in Disney World return.
Now, even though all the restaurants are listed as open, that doesn’t mean that they are all open on a day-to-day basis. Some like the Tomorrowland Terrace, Golden Oak Outpost, and Tortuga Tavern are only open seasonally when the crowds are at their highest.
We are also really happy Casey’s Corner is back as we didn’t understand why Disney took so long to get it open considering it’s one of the park’s most popular restaurants and has abundant outdoor seating. Other restaurants with primarily indoor seating were already open like Pecos Bill and Be Our Guest, so it was likely a matter of low demand.
Originally, the Magic Kingdom was a bit light on dining options until they started reopening all these recently.
At 32, the Magic Kingdom has one of the highest numbers of restaurants open in Disney World when compared to Hollywood Studios (28), Animal Kingdom (28), and EPCOT (43). Considering the Magic Kingdom holds the most amount of guests, it’s good to see the number trending upward.
If you can find a restaurant with open-air seating, you may be more comfortable at this time. Heck, we mostly just walk around with a big Turkey Leg in hand to avoid germs altogether! 😉
One more tip is to make sure you take advantage of Disney’s Mobile Ordering system while in the parks to avoid any waits in line. This will speed up the process and help guests distance themselves better.
Here is a look at some of the restaurants around the Magic Kingdom at this time:
The Plaza Restaurant
For a time, the outside tables at The Plaza Restaurant had signs telling guests not to sit at all of them so as to help keep them spaced out. Those have been removed and tables are back to full capacity.
Aloha Isle remains one of the most popular quick service/snack stands at the Magic Kingdom. Thankfully, you can utilize the Disney Mobile Order feature in the My Disney Experience app. No more waiting in line for your dole whip!
Liberty Square Market
Here too you’ll see many of the tables normally used for seating marked off as unavailable to guests due to spacing restrictions.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
All quick service restaurants used to have ground markers for distancing between guests, but they have mostly since been removed.
You’ll notice hand sanitizer in most locations, like here at Storybook Treats:
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen
Table service restaurants are still operating such as the Skipper Canteen. Disney has introduced two new features to help eliminate guests waiting at the entrance to restaurants.
The Disney Mobile Dine Check-In lets you seat yourself when your table is ready so you don’t have to ask for help from a Cast Member. The Mobile Dine Waitlist lets you enter a virtual queue if you don’t have a reservation and tells you how long the wait will be and when to arrive.
For more info about the changes to dining right now, read our post about Disney World Restaurants after reopening.
Shopping will always be a big part of any Disney park experience, this is definitely true in the Magic Kingdom while walking down Main Street U.S.A. Here are the shops that are currently open:
- Arribas Brothers
- Baby Care
- Big Al’s
- Box Office Gifts
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin Photos
- Crystal Arts
- Fantasy Faire
- Hundred Acre Goods
- Island Supply by Sunglass Hut
- Main Street Confectionery
- Memento Mori
- Mickey’s Star Traders
- Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar
- Rubio Arts
- Sir Mickey’s
- Splashdown Photos
- Strollers & Wheelchairs
- The Chapeau
- Tomorrowland Light & Power Co.
- TTC Cart / Wheelchairs
- Uptown Jewelers & Cinema
- Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe
With ground distancing markers removed, shoppers no longer have to wait in a distanced queue to enter the stores or even a virtual queue as it was in some cases.
In the shops used to see signs telling you to practice distancing:
Shoppers are encouraged not to touch the merchandise unless you are seriously considering buying it.
Once you are ready to make your purchase, head to the checkout:
Contactless forms of payment are accepted. The plexiglass shields are no longer up at the cash register between Cast Members and guests.
(UPDATE) Disney has since discontinued the relaxation stations in the parks.
Having to wear face masks while visiting the Magic Kingdom is probably the biggest and most difficult change for guests to get used to.
Face masks are not required however in outdoor areas, when consuming food or drink or when in one of the new “Relaxation Stations.”
There are 3 Relaxation Stations in the Magic Kingdom and they are located at:
- Tomorrowland Terrace (Tomorrowland)
- Golden Oak Outpost (Frontierland)
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow (Fantasyland)
Hand sanitizer is located in all three locations, as well as plenty of signage and distancing markers.
Out of the three locations, we prefer the Tomorrowland Terrace. It is protected from the rain, yet it also is open-air, so even if there are others without their masks on here, you still feel safe. Golden Oak Outpost is also outdoors, but if it rains you are in trouble. Pete’s Sill Sideshow is indoors and has air conditioning if you are hot.
Mask-wearing in the Magic Kingdom is no longer required so you don’t have to worry about wearing one on the rides anymore or when taking pictures like it was in the beginning.
Overall, we have felt very safe during our visits and Cast Members have been on top of things.
To learn more, read our article on Face Masks at Disney World – FAQs and Tips, where we explain everything you need to know about them.
Construction in the Magic Kingdom in 2022
Despite the restrictions, construction is continuing on a number of projects in Disney’s Magic Kingdom in 2022 and beyond. Things of course have been delayed a bit because of the closure, but many improvements to the park have been made for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.
Here is a look at some of the more interesting construction projects currently in progress in the Magic Kingdom.
This is now complete. Technically, they didn’t do much construction on the castle, but it was really a refurbishment. The new color scheme for Cinderella Castle has turned it much more vivid with bright blue roofs, pink spires, and gold trim.
The colors definitely stand out compared to the muted gray and light blue tones from before, but it’s not nearly as intrusive or obnoxious as the birthday cake castle was. I personally like the new colors on Cinderalla Castle and it makes for some great selfies with guests.
They also added a 50th-anniversary sign and other decorations to the spires.
Definitely, this is the project we’re most excited about in the Magic Kingdom is the TRON Lightcycle Run coaster coming to Tomorrowland. It’s essentially a clone of the coaster in Shanghai Disneyland, but that’s not a bad thing as it’s one of the fastest and most thrilling rides Disney has ever built.
The show building for the attraction is up and visible from many areas of the park, especially Fantasyland. Construction was halted during the park closure and started back up again. The project however has been greatly slowed down though it has picked up recently.
The new estimated opening date is late 2022 or early 2023. We just hope it hasn’t been delayed more than that and we are still hoping to see it in early 2023.
Splash Mountain/Princess and the Frog Ride
The newest project in Disney’s Magic Kingdom is Splash Mountain getting re-themed to a Princess and the Frog ride. Disney said they have been working on the project behind the scenes for a while now and released some new concept art for what the ride is going to look like.
Right now you can still ride Splash Mountain because it hasn’t officially closed yet and we don’t have a date yet for when the work is going to start on the Princess and the Frog ride.
We don’t even have a new name for it yet, so it may still be many months before anything starts. As soon as we know when Splash Mountain is closing, we’ll let you know.
Transportation to the Magic Kingdom
Right now the Magic Kingdom has all the normal methods of transportation up and running. Guest options include:
- Ferry Boat
- Car (then by ferry boat or monorail)
The transportation you choose depends on where you are staying in relation to the Magic Kingdom. If you are staying off-site then a car, of course, is your only option. If you are staying at a Disney World hotel then there are a few things to consider.
Buses are always going to be the slowest way to get to the Magic Kingdom, but if you are coming from a non-Magic Kingdom-area hotel, this is your only choice. Since bus capacity has shrunk drastically, we suggest planning to leave your hotel 1 hour before your desired arrival time to allow for extra delays.
If you are at a Monorail Loop hotel then you can choose to take the monorail as usual. Again, expect slightly longer wait times than usual since fewer guests are being loaded in each car.
Ferries to the Magic Kingdom are possible from the Seven Seas Lagoon-are hotels including Disney’s Polynesian Village and Grand Floridian Resort, as well as Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge.
If you are staying at the Grand Floridian Villas, the faster option is still to take the monorail or go on foot on the new walkway to the Magic Kingdom.
While the monorail is also possible from Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you might find it quicker to just walk to the Magic Kingdom. This is the best option if you are concerned about germs on Disney’s transportation systems.
Read our post on Disney World Transportation changes where we explain everything you need to know.
Best Hotels to Stay for Going to the Magic Kingdom
You can stay anywhere on property and still make it to the Magic Kingdom, however, if you are going to go multiple times you might want to consider staying at one of the hotels a bit closer which will save you valuable travel time.
We enjoy all the nearby Magic Kingdom resorts, and the first place to look is at one of the three Monorail Loop hotels: Disney’s Grand Floridian, Disney’s Polynesian Village, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. (Disney’s Polynesians Village just received a big refurbishment which is now complete.)
These are the three closest and they give you easy access to the Magic Kingdom by monorail, boat, or walking (from the Contemporary).
You also get some nice views of Cinderella Castle, which is even brighter now at night after getting a new paint job.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (either the main hotel or DVC properties there), is also just a short boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom and will save you time getting there compared to some of the other hotels further away.
Of course, there are more advantages when we don’t have the current restrictions on the parks that we do, and if you only plan on going to the Magic Kingdom once during your trip, it might not be as important to stay close by.
Make sure to read our post on Walt Disney World Resort Hotels Reopening Need to Know to get a better understanding of what the resort experience is like now and if it’s worth going.
Magic Kingdom Crowds
What are the crowd levels in Disney’s Magic Kingdom? Crowds are going to be considered differently for a while in the Disney Parks because of the reduction in-park capacity, but that doesn’t mean the wait times are better. Since the reopening, we’ve seen levels where the parks are practically empty, but now they are getting higher and higher.
A couple of years ago we had never seen crowds that low at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and it was a surreal sight at times. That time has come and gone. Looking at the big picture into the rest of 2022, we expect there to continue to be an increase as crowds return close to normal levels once again.
In 2021 attendance was low in the winter, picked up during the Spring and Summer, it slowed in the Fall and then reached high levels during the holidays. So far in 2022, it has been pretty crowded, more so than last year.
The uptick in crowds is determined by a few factors. One is that is the crowds returning to normal levels while the parks are still not fully staffed and not all entertainment options are back. The new Genie+ has also slowed down standby queues and wait times have increased.
More people are starting to travel again now, and that trend should continue throughout the year. This is from a combination of the current health crisis which will get better, travel restrictions being removed and the economy improving.
One factor that has kept crowds done somewhat is the number of reservations available in each park, but that also has been going up.
If we look at the Disney Park Pass Availability Calendar we get a good idea of how many people are planning on coming to the Magic Kingdom in the coming months…
Right now, park reservations are completely open for the second half of July at the Magic Kingdom, and the 3 other parks. As of this writing, only the first half of the month has some days where the Magic Kingdom is sold out so far.
August is completely open right now…
And so is September…
As of this writing, the Magic Kingdom still has plenty of availability in the coming weeks and months and the reservation system is improving. We aren’t seeing those full days right now where you can’t get a pass.
Still, if you are planning on going and haven’t made a park reservation yet, I suggest you get on it as soon as you can to lock in your reservation. Things will get busier during the Summer Break so it’s better to be organized now.
Just because the reservations aren’t maxed out in the Magic Kingdom every day doesn’t necessarily mean that crowds can’t have a big effect on the guest experience.
While it’s true there will be fewer people overall during your visit, ride capacity has also changed drastically. Lines for attractions are moving slower and less efficiently than before. Hopefully Disney fixes its staffing shortage soon which will help all areas of the park.
For more info on avoiding the crowds, read our Disney World Crowd Calendar post where we tell you the least busy times of year to visit are.
As the Summer goes on we’ll have more and more touring tips for the Magic Kingdom, but for now, here are some strategies you’ll want to keep in mind during your visit.
Arrival Early is Still Key – Nothing has changed here and getting to the Magic Kingdom at rope drop is going to help you make the most of your day. Showing up before the park opens is as important now as before, and you will be able to get much more done if you get there early. Plan on being there at least one hour early to get a good spot for rope drop.
Do Seven Dwarfs First – Any touring strategy for the Magic Kingdom starts with doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train right at park opening. Even with reduced crowds, this is still the most popular ride in the park and should be done right at park opening or as the last ride of the day.
Prioritize Remaining E-Ticket Attractions – After you get Seven Dwarfs out of the way, you can either head over to Space Mountain and knock out Tomorrowland, or head to Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland, and then Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain.
We would do the latter because Space Mountain takes you further away from the others, and you’ll save time getting a few done one after the other.
What you want to do after those depends on how the wait times are moving along and the overall flow of the park. We’ll update this with more touring strategies as the months go on.
Wait Times Lower at the End of the Day – The last hour or so of the Magic Kingdom is a good time to make one last run at some attractions as many people head for the exits. Wait times don’t drop as much with the reduced park hours, but they are still better than in the middle of the day.
Magic Kingdom Best on a Weekday – While overall park attendance is low, things get slightly busier on the weekends. It’s probably a 6/10 during the week and a 7 or 8/10 on the weekends. Still, you are going to have a better time and wait less in line if you skip Saturday and Sunday. Use the weekend for Hollywood Studios which always has higher crowds every day of the week.
Lastly, try to have patience for the whole experience during this period. Rules and policies are constantly changing and may be different by the time you get to Disney World. Cast Members are doing their best to help guests, and actually, this is the most helpful we’ve seen them in years.
It will be a different experience for you no doubt, but visiting the Magic Kingdom in 2022 can still be awesome all the same. We’ll be making more trips to the Magic Kingdom in the coming weeks and months so stay tuned.
If you are going to the other Walt Disney World Parks, make sure to read these other helpful Guides:
- Animal Kingdom Guide | After Reopening
- EPCOT Guide | After Reopening
- Hollywood Studios Guide | After Reopening
If you’re thinking about a trip to Walt Disney World, check out our post on The Best Times to Visit Disney World, where we break it down month by month and tell you all the pros and cons of each time of the year to go.
I want to know what you think about the Magic Kingdom now after the reopening…
- When are you planning on going?
- Which changes are you most happy/sad about?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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