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 2020 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 after it reopens. We’ll let you know what attractions are open, what restaurants you can visit, and what entertainment options are available in 2020.
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. Once the park opens we’ll give you a full tour of the park so you can see firsthand how it’s different.
Since the parks are reopening, we want to give readers a guide to visiting the Disney World theme parks this year and the Magic Kingdom is first on our list. Check out our Animal Kingdom guide and look out for guides about visiting EPCOT and Hollywood Studios during this period coming soon.
One thing that we want to emphasize with you is that if you are visiting any of the parks in 2020, you will need to have patience. If you are seriously planning a trip to Disney World this year, 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 2020, 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.
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 the Magic Kingdom reopens, but here are a few of the most important parts:
The most important thing to know are 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 are even able to reopen again is because of the list of safety guidelines to help protect guests and Cast Members.
Here are some of them:
- Increased cleaning and sanitation
- Wearing face masks
- Physical distancing in queues
- Temperature screening
- More guest hand-washing and sanitizing stations
The big one of course is that face masks are now required at Walt Disney World in almost every public space. Face coverings are strictly enforced and guests who refuse will be asked to put one on or leave. This even includes on rides. It might be easy on Pirates of the Caribbean, but I think a bunch of masks are going to get lost on Space Mountain.
Cleaning and sanitization will be increased throughout the Magic Kingdom with Cast Members passing through every area more often than before. Also, guests will be 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 greatly reduced, although right now Disney isn’t saying exactly what the limit is. The maximum capacity for the Magic Kingdom is approximately 100,000 people, but during the phased reopening, expect the limit to be 20-30% of that.
That means Disney will hold attendance to no more than 20,000-30,000 guests at this time. Disney’s plan is to be able to slowly increase that number and eventually bring capacity as close to normal.
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 closed because physical distancing would be extremely difficult while it just doesn’t make sense to open others, especially at this time while crowds are so low. We’ll break down which ones are opening 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.
Extra Magic Hours
Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours are always some of the best times to visit the Magic Kingdom, and usually every week there are 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 2020, Disney has eliminated all Morning and Evening Extra Magic Hours in the Magic Kingdom Park. This is a huge disappointment if you are a resort guest as Extra Magic Hours were an excellent way to do more in a shorter period of time. Now everyone is on the same playing field and gets to enter the park at the same time.
Hard Ticked Events
All of the hard ticketed events that are normally going on in the Magic Kingdom are currently stopped. Here is a list of the big events that have been canceled:
- Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
- Disney After Hours Events
- Disney Villains After Hours
- Extra Morning Magic
- Dessert Parties
It makes sense for Disney to close down these special events as the majority of the activities and experiences in these will not be available. No character meets, no fireworks, no parades, etc. It just wouldn’t be worth it for the guests to pay all that extra money for an event that offers 25% of what it normally does.
The entire FastPass+ system is suspended in all the Disney World theme parks at this time. This is a huge change for how guests are used to touring Disney Parks. Stand-by queues are now the only way to get on the attractions. To help with capacity, Disney is even using the FastPass+ queues as extra space for the stand-by queue.
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 for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. That means no more snack credits for a while and guests will not have the option to pay for meals ahead of time.
- 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.
- 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, and cashless payment.
At this time, all Magic Kingdom special experience bookings and tours have been canceled through the end of 2020. This includes the popular Keys to the Kingdom tour and all VIP tours. Disney will give more information about booking these special events at a future date.
How to Get Into the Magic Kingdom in 2020
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, but right now that is easier said than done. As of this writing, 2020 park tickets for the Magic Kingdom are NOT on sale. That means the only guests that can get in are Annual Passholders or guests who already had tickets before Disney closed down new sales.
If you planning on going to the Magic Kingdom in 2021, you can purchase tickets right now as part of a Disney World vacation package. Tickets are available for dates from January 1, 2021 – September 26, 2021
We’ll let you know as soon as more 2020 park tickets go on sale, but it will be a while before Disney gets a good feel for attendance and guest flow.
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 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 on the new system.
The Magic Kingdom Park Hours have been greatly reduced from normal levels and even the off-season doesn’t see these few hours, let alone the Summer.
- Park hours for every day on the Magic Kingdom schedule so far will be from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Disney is keeping the normal opening time, but heavily reducing the evening hours and closing at least 3 hours earlier than they normally do in the Summer.
Add that on top of the fact that the Magic Kingdom is not running Morning or Evening Extra Magic Hours means that your overall time in the park will be much less. On the surface this is a bad thing, but depending on how crowd levels are, you might get all the attractions done in a shorter amount of time, minimizing the effect of reduced park hours.
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 29 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
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Jungle Cruise
- Liberty Square Riverboat
- Mad Tea Party
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- 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
- Tom Sawyer Island
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover
- 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
- Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade
- Main Street Vehicles
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
- 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 ready to go so no worries there.
Having 29 attractions running is pretty impressive and gives you plenty to do in the day. EPCOT is the next closest park with 18 attractions open, then Animal Kingdom with 15 and Hollywood Studios 13. So in comparison, the lineup at the Magic Kingdom will definitely keep you busy.
The only attractions of note that are not opening right now are Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Enchanted Tales with Belle. I understand these are indoor shows, but I’m curious to know why Disney thought they weren’t able to operate while other similar attractions (Enchanted Tiki Room and Carousel of Progress) are running.
Disney has made heavy modifications to the attraction queues. Besides distancing markers on the ground, plexiglass barriers have been put up as well in many of the queues. 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, that means no stretching room for now.
Ride vehicles have had their own modifications. Splash Mountain is only running one group per log and they have the splash effects turned off and Pirates of the Caribbean is only using rows 1 and 5. The Jungle Cruise even has plexiglass divers installed between guests, significantly altering the experience and center of the boat seats are out of the question.
One of the biggest losses in the Disney Parks during the reopening phase is there are No Character Meets happening at this time. This is big for families with kids as seeing the characters is always one of the more popular activities.
They just aren’t possible right now as Disney wants to create as much separation between guests and Cast Members as possible and hugs and autographs wouldn’t exactly help with that. We don’t know when they can come back but we’ll be keeping an eye on things to see if there is a way Disney can slowly work them back
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…
- 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 & Friends Cavalcade
- Fantasyland Friends Cavalcade
- A Goofy Cavalcade
- Tinker Bell & the Lost Treasure
What’s Not Open:
- Dapper Dans
- Electrical Water Pageant (not really in the Magic Kingdom, but close enough)
- Festival of Fantasy Parade
- Happily Ever After Fireworks
- Let the Magic Begin
- Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
- Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party
- Once Upon a Time Projection Show
Obviously the loss of Happily Ever After 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 like and say the Magic Kingdom experience is diminished by not having the fireworks. Right now it’s just not possible to have a show, practice distancing just isn’t going to happen here.
The Festival of the Fantasy Parade is also a big loss as it’s a guest favorite during the afternoon. Again, it would create too much grouping together on Main Street so it will remain closed for the time being.
So far we have enjoyed the presence of the characters in the Magic Kingdom, even though traditional character meets are closed. The Character Cavalcades have been a nice addition and pass through the park regularly.
As we mentioned at the start, not all dining locations are currently open in the Magic Kingdom, and unlike the attractions, it’s a significant number for the time being.
- Aloha Isle
- Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies
- Be Our Guest Restaurant
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
- Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen
- Liberty Square Market
- Liberty Tree Tavern
- Main Street Bakery
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- The Plaza Restaurant
- Sleepy Hollow
- Storybook Treats
- Sunshine Tree Terrace
- Tony’s Town Square Restaurant
What’s Not Open:
- Casey’s Corner
- Cheshire Cafe
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Columbia Harbor House
- Cool Ship
- Crystal Palace
- Diamond Horseshoe
- Friar’s Nook
- Gaston’s Tavern
- Golden Oak Outpost
- The Lunching Pad
- Plaza Ice Cream Parlor
- Prince Eric’s Village Market
- Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant
- Tortuga Tavern
- Westward Ho
Looking at the lists we have 16 open restaurants and 16 not. Literally half of the Magic Kingdom restaurants are staying closed right now. Some of them are obvious like Cinderella’s Royal Table and Crystal Palace. Most character meals are not opening at this time, so this was no surprise but a big loss for guests as they are two of the most popular restaurants in Disney World.
Some of the others, like the Tomorrowland Terrace and Golden Oak Outpost will be used as “Relaxation Areas,” the only places in the parks where guests don’t have to wear a face.
We are really going to miss Friar’s Nook and can’t understand why Disney would choose to keep it close, especially with abundant outdoor seating. The same goes with Casey’s Corner which also has the majority of seating outside. Strange they would choose to keep these two closed yet restaurants with primarily indoor seating like Pecos Bill and Be Our Guest are deemed “safe.”
In our opinion the Magic Kingdom is going to be a bit light on dining options unless they start reopening some of these others. At 16, the Magic Kingdom has the fewest number of restaurants open in Disney World and lagging behind Hollywood Studios (17), Animal Kingdom (20) and EPCOT (31). Considering the Magic Kingdom holds the most amount of guests, the decision is puzzling.
If you can find a restaurant with open air seating, we suggest that at this time. Heck, we’ll probably 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 better.
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
Construction in the Magic Kingdom in 2020
Despite the restrictions, construction is going to continue on a number of projects in Disney’s Magic Kingdom for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. Things of course have been delayed a bit because of the closure, but many improvements to the park need to be made before Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary starts.
Here is a look at some of the more interesting construction projects currently in progress in the Magic Kingdom.
Technically, they aren’t doing much construction on the castle, but it’s really a refurbishment. The new color scheme for Cinderella Castle has turned 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 will make for some great selfies with guests.
Definitely 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 you should see it starting back up soon. We just hope it hasn’t been delayed more than a few months and we are still hoping to see it open sometime in 2021.
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’ll still be able to 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 to plan on leaving your hotel 1 – 1 1/2 hours 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 only possible from Disney’s Polynesian Village, Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge resorts right now. The Grand Floridian has been left off the list for the time being since the NBA is taking over that side of the resort. If you are staying at the Grand Floridian Villas, you can easily take a ferry from the Polynesian Resort or the faster option is still to take the monorail.
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.
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 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. Just because there are fewer people in the Magic Kingdom every day doesn’t necessarily mean that crowds won’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 been seriously compromised and all the attractions will be moving slower and less efficiently than before. Once the park opens up, we’ll update you with the result to Magic Kingdom crowds.
Looking at the big picture for the rest of 2020, we expect there to be fewer crowds than normal in the Magic Kingdom. Crowds will of course be limited by the number of reservations available. 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…
Disney Resort Guests
Right now Disney Resort Guests have a lot of availability left throughout the Summer for the Magic Kingdom. As of this writing, there is not one day where the Magic Kingdom is sold out of park passes. The same is true into August and September, so if you are in this category, it doesn’t look like you’ll be shut out of the Magic Kingdom anytime soon.
Of the three groups, Annual Passholders are the worst off. Now, we don’t know exactly how many Park Passes are allocated to each group, but the Annual Passholder group is the one that has been selling out of all the theme parks, and at a very fast pace.
As of this writing, the Magic Kingdom is sold out on every day in July and at least half of the dates in August. If you are planning on going and haven’t made a park reservation yet, I suggest you get on is ASAP.
Theme Park Ticket Guests
Similar to Resort Guests, Theme Park Ticket Guests also have a ton of availability left with pretty much every day still open for the Magic Kingdom. This will change quickly once Disney decides to reopen sales for 2020 tickets, so again, if you haven’t made a reservation yet, do it soon.
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. This is maybe even more important now with reduced park hours. Plan on being there one hour early to get a good spot in line.
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 later 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 once we have more time in the Magic Kingdom.
Right now Disney’s Magic Kingdom is not open. Once it reopens on July 11, we’ll have a firsthand look and give you a full photo tour of everything new going on inside the Magic Kingdom. Stay tuned…
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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