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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 2021 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 2021.
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 2021 or 2022, 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 2021, 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 you visit Magic Kingdom now, but here are a few of the most important parts:
The most important thing to know 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 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 (this has been eliminated)
Currently, face masks are required in all Disney theme parks, including Disney’s Magic Kingdom, though with some exceptions.
Vaccinated & Unvaccinated Guests – Masks are required in indoor areas, including rides like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean and on all Disney transportation.
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 greatly reduced, and Disney has announced the park capacity is limited but has been increased to more than 35%.
The maximum capacity for the Magic Kingdom is approximately 100,000 people, so 35% means attendance at 30,000-35,000 guests at this time, but we know they can actually allow more than that now.
Disney’s plan is to keep slowly increasing 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 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.
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 2021, 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.
Disney has come up with a replacement for Extra Magic Hours called “Early Theme Park Entry” which debuts later in 2021. It lets all Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests access the parks 30 minutes before the scheduled park opening for that day. It is available at all 4 theme parks, every day of the week.
Hard Ticked Events
Some of the hard ticketed events that are normally happen at the Magic Kingdom have been stopped though they are starting to come back. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is coming back the Fall in a modified version which is a good sign things are getting back to normal.
Here is a list of the big events that are currently canceled:
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
- Disney After Hours Events
- Disney Villains After Hours
- Extra Morning Magic
- Dessert Parties
It makes sense for Disney to close down the majority of these special events since many of the activities and experiences in these will not be available. However, with fireworks now coming back we expect these special events to return soon.
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 discontinued in all the Disney World theme parks at this time. This is a huge change for how guests are used to touring Disney Parks.
Instead, they have created the new Disney Genie system which includes a pay to ride service called Disney Genie+, and even paying for individual attractions. The FastPass+ queues have been turned into Lightning Lanes which allow people to skip the normal stand-by queues.
Stay tuned for more on Disney Genie coming soon.
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 2021. 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.
- 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, all Magic Kingdom special experience bookings and tours have been canceled through 2021. 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 2021
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 2021 online on the Disney World website. Tickets are available right now through December 31, 2021.
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.
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 2021 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, in some cases lower than the off-season.
Upcoming Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park Hours:
- Most Days from Now through November 30 – 9:00 am to 10:00 pm daily
- Most Days from December 1 through December 31 – 9:00 am to 8:00 pm daily
For many days Magic Kingdom Park Hours have been reduced from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm daily. These are the new Fall Park Hours as Disney is further reducing operating hours for all the parks until crowds start coming back.
This is at least better than the Magic Kingdom schedule was over the winter when park hours were from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
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. They have replaced Extra Magic Hours with Early Theme Park Entry, but it only gives you 30 minutes instead of the hour you used to get with Extra Magic Hours.
On the positive side, we’ve been able to get all the attractions done in a shorter amount of time, minimizing the effect of reduced park hours.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Disney adds a couple of hours each day to the Magic Kingdom park hours in November and December, maybe until 10:00 pm. The holiday crowds should bring more guests to the parks so later hours would be very helpful.
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 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. 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, which means no stretching room for now.
Ride vehicles have had their own modifications. 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 most ride vehicles are loading multiple groups each.
The Jungle Cruise even had plexiglass divers installed between the guests and skipper, significantly altering the experience. The center of the boat seats are now back and some of these modifications have since been removed, however.
Overall, in comparison to what we are normally used to, wait times at the Magic Kingdom have ranged from extremely low to now steadily increasing since the Spring. The average wait time for all attractions in the park is about 30 minutes per attraction, which means it would be tight to realistically do all the attractions in one day.
The Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain 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 40-45 minutes for each of them, though the “real” wait time is a little less.
Wait times have increased by leaps and bounds since Spring Break, but we expect them to lower slightly during the Fall now that the 50th Anniversary crowds haven’t been as bad as originally thought. 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 50-60 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 guest are in tight quarters.
The trains them selves are being loaded with fewer people and many empty rows to create space 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 40-45 minutes.
Ground markers were set up throughout the queue but are being removed. Here is a photos 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 the longest wait time since reopening at around 60 minutes. That’s normal for the Summer season, and we expect it to increase more as we move into the Fall.
The same safety protocols are set up here too, though now multiple parties are being loaded into the same log.
Some of the water effects are turned off unfortunately and 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 20-30 minutes or so.
Big Thunder has a lot of plexiglass throughout the inside portion of the queue:
We saw Cast Members cleaning the trains between each load and unload, which is more than in some attractions. Now Disney is loaded 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 30-40 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 35-40 minutes on average and no where near the 20-minute average we had some months ago.
Besides the safety protocols, everything is running as normal and no major changes.
Wait times for the Jungle Cruise have been around 40-50 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 have significant modifications to accomodate guests.
The middle section is off-limits to guests and much of the outer benches too. There are 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 is blocked.
The skippers were all their usual comical selves, and we had a good time nonetheless.
The Haunted Mansion
Wait times at the Haunted Mansion have been listed at between 20-25 minutes, and sometimes less.
Disney had set up the typical ground markers for distancing but they are being removed.
One big difference is the “Stretching Room” is currently not operating. This is too avoid crowds gathering, and in order to do it safely it would mean only a few people at a time, which would really slow down the loading times.
It’s a Small World
It’s a Small World has on average a 30-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 10 minutes. Again, Cast Members clean each car between rides 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 losses in the Disney Parks during the reopening phase is that Character Meets are happening, but they are much different at this time. This is big for families with kids as seeing the characters is always one of the more popular activities.
Guest still need to be distanced from them 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 will fully come back but we’ll take the reduced format for the time being.
Disney has also brought in new Character Cavalcades in each park, and in the Magic Kingdom there are multiple motorcades and cavalcades and 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 fireworks coming back to 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 & Friends Cavalcade
- Fantasyland Friends Cavalcade
- A Goofy Cavalcade
- Tinker Bell & the Lost Treasure
- Electrical Water Pageant (not really in the Magic Kingdom, but close enough)
- Let the Magic Begin
What’s Not Open
- Festival of Fantasy Parade
- Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
- 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 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.
The lack of character meets hurts families with kids who make that a big part of their Disney World trip. At least Disney has brought 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 make 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 & Friends Cavalcade – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Pluto all wave from their party float. Mickey and Minnie are still wearing their birthday outfits from 2019.
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.
There were also special Christmas Character Cavalcades going on during the holiday season:
- Mickey and Friends Christmas Cavalcade
- Disney Princesses 2020 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
To learn more about how to find all the characters now, read our guide to the Disney Character Cavalcades in the Disney Parks.
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.
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
- Crystal Palace
- Diamond Horseshoe (September 12)
- 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
- Tony’s Town Square Restaurant
- Westward Ho
What’s Not Open:
- Tortuga Tavern
Looking at the lists we have 31 open restaurants and only 1 still 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 nice to see two of the most popular restaurants in Disney World return.
Some of the others, like the Tomorrowland Terrace and Golden Oak Outpost, were being used as “Relaxation Areas,” and now are serving food and drinks again.
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 31, the Magic Kingdom has one of the highest numbers of restaurants open in Disney World when comparing 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, we suggest that 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
The outside tables at The Plaza Restaurant are fixed into the ground, so the ones you can’t sit at are missing chairs and have a sign telling guests seating is not allowed there.
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
Cosmic Ray’s like all quick service restaurants have ground markers for distancing between guests.
You’ll even notice hand sanitizer in most locations, like here at Storybook Treats:
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen
Table service restaurants are still operating at this time, like 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
The shopping experience has totally changed in Disney World as shoppers now have to wait in a distanced queue to enter the stores or even a virtual queue in some cases. (This is now being relaxed with distanced queues removed.)
Once you enter the shops you’ll 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, following the ground markers and always keeping distance.
Contactless forms of payment are accepted and plexiglass shields are 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.
Overall mask-wearing in teh Magic Kingdom has been going pretty well. The vast majority of the people are respectful and follow the rules. Of course, some people take their masks off while taking pictures, especially in front of the castle, but Cast Members are pretty quick to tell them to put it back on.
If you aren’t aware of the rules, an announcement plays at times over the loudspeaker and explains the current rules. 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 2021
Despite the restrictions, construction is continuing on a number of projects in Disney’s Magic Kingdom for the rest of 2021 and into 2022. 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.
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.
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 started back up again. The project however has been greatly slowed down and will pick up sometime later in 2021.
The new estimated opening date is in 2022 now. We just hope it hasn’t been delayed more than a few months and we are still hoping to see it in early 2022.
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 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 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 is getting a big refurbishment starting in October 2020.)
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. Since the reopening we’ve seen levels where the parks are practically empty and now they are getting higher and higher.
Last year we had never seen crowds this low at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and it was a surreal sight at times. Looking at the big picture for the rest of 2021, we expect there to continue to be fewer crowds than normal in the Magic Kingdom, but increasing through the Fall.
Attendance was low in the winter, picked up during the Spring, and it has been pretty crowded so far this summer even if capacity is lower than normal.
The uptick in crowds will of course is determined by a few factors. One is the fact that more people are starting to travel again now. This is from a combination of the current health crisis getting better, travel restrictions removed and the economy improving.
One factor that has kept crowds done somewhat is the number of reservations available in each park. 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 August and beyond for the Magic Kingdom. As of this writing, there is not one day where the Magic Kingdom is sold out of park passes in August.
The same is true in September and most days in October, and beyond. 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 at times have had the most difficulty getting park reservations. 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 the theme parks more quickly than the others.
As of this writing, the Magic Kingdom is sold out for most of June and July but August and beyond is open. The weekends tend to be busier, so if you are planning on going and haven’t made a park reservation yet, I suggest you get on it 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 in August and beyond, but we still would make your reservations in case Disney start reallocating these reservations to Annual Passholders.
Just because there are fewer people 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. Right now it isn’t a huge deal and lines have still been short, but when Disney starts increasing the park capacity, it could slow things up in a hurry.
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. While not as important now as before, you will still be able to get much more done if you get there early. The reduced park hours also come into play and there is suddenly a lot less time to go on rides than usual. 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 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 2021 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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