Visiting Magic Kingdom with a Preschooler

Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

In May, we brought 3 1/2 year old Little T to Walt Disney World‘s Magic Kingdom for his first Disney park experience, a magical day that we were looking forward to for some time! In this post, I’ll be sharing tips for visiting Magic Kingdom with a preschooler and the highlights of our day, including a character lunch at the Crystal Palace, the fun rides and meeting several characters.

Getting There

We stayed at a Disney resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge, so parking at Magic Kingdom was free (otherwise $20 for standard parking). Once we parked the car, we took a tram to the Ticket and Transportation center, went through a security check and then boarded a ferry boat to Magic Kingdom. Everything runs very smoothly and efficiently at Walt Disney World, and you notice that from the moment you arrive.

View of Magic Kingdom from Ferry

Altogether the time it took to get from the car to the park turnstiles was less than 30 minutes. We enjoyed taking the ferry boat ride to Magic Kingdom and being greeted with the fantastic view above as we approached the park.

View of Cinderella's Castle, Magic Kingdom

At the turnstiles, our Magic Bands were scanned to confirm our admission tickets, then we headed to the service center to rent a stroller. It’s $15 to rent a single seat stroller and, even for a young child who never uses a stroller at home, it really comes in handy at the huge parks to get around especially in the hot Florida weather.

Tip: Visit midweek to avoid the crowds – Tuesday and Wednesday are the quietest days of the week to visit the theme parks.

Lunch at Crystal Palace

Our day kicked off with meeting Pooh and Friends at the Crystal Palace, a beautiful restaurant just around the corner from Main Street. You can book breakfast as early as 08:05am, so it’s also a great way to get into the park early.

Tip: Book your dining reservations for popular restaurants such as Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table and The Crystal Palace on My Disney Experience early – you can make reservations up to 180 days in advance. Some bookings open up due to cancellations, so it is worth checking closer to the date of your visit if at first you don’t manage to make a reservation.

Character Meal at Crystal Palace with Pooh and Friends, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida

The character lunch at Crystal Palace was a fantastic experience and my favorite out of the three character meals we booked – definitely one I’d recommend if you’re visiting Magic Kingdom with young kids. The selection at the buffet was very good, the service was great and my son loved having the chance to meet Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore.

Tip: Buy an autograph book for your Walt Disney World holiday that you can also add photos and other mementos to – it makes a wonderful souvenir! You can find customizable autograph books on Etsy or, of course, purchase ones at the resorts or parks, with prices ranging from $8 to $17.

Character Meal at Crystal Palace with Pooh and Friends, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida


I loved FantasyLand, which has many of the classic rides that come to mind when you picture a Disney holiday. Favorite childhood movies are also brought to life there, with characteristic buildings and design elements inspired by Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella.

Tip: You can book FastPass+ reservations for rides and character spots 30 days in advance – or 60 days if you’re staying at a Disney World resort. Very helpful for avoiding long lines at popular rides and attractions such as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Enchanted Tales with Belle and Splash Mountain.

Under the Sea

This was our first ride, where you are taken around on a clamshell-shaped vehicle to relive the story of the Little Mermaid, listening to classic songs and watching almost a dozen scenes re-enacted with animatronics and video effects.

Under the Sea - The Journey of the Little Mermaid ride, Magic Kingdom

The animatronic characters are fun to watch, the music is upbeat and lively and the ride is open to all ages – a great one to bring young children. You can also meet Ariel at the nearby Ariel’s Grotto, ideally with a FastPass+ reservation.

Mad Tea Party

Next, Little T and Mr. G went on the famous spinning teacups ride. I was 6 months pregnant, and expectant mothers can go on the ride as long as you don’t spin the teacups – which would probably not be that much fun anyway while pregnant. I sat this one out and had fun watching the boys enjoy themselves!

Mad Tea Party Spinning Teacups ride at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida

Pete’s Silly Sideshow

We then headed to the Storybook Circus, which has plenty of great rides and attractions for young children. There’s the Dumbo’s Flying Elephant ride, Casey Jr. Soak ‘N’ Splash Station water play area, the Barnstormer roller coaster and a Big Top circus tent with Pete’s Silly Sideshow where you can meet Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck and Goofy.

Meeting Goofy at Pete's Silly Sideshow, Storybook Circus, Magic Kingdom

There are two queues for the meet and greet; one for Minnie and Daisy, and one for Donald and Goofy. When we visited, there was hardly any wait to see Donald and Goofy and Little T loved having the opportunity to get their autographs and have some photos taken together!

Tip: Do check out the Memory Maker service, which allows unlimited downloads of all digital photos taken of you and your family while at Walt Disney World, by professional Disney PhotoPass photographers and at many restaurant character meals. Keep an eye out for packages that include the Memory Maker or discounts to book in advance.

Donald Duck at Pete's Silly Sideshow, Storybook Circus, Magic Kingdom

After the meet and greet, you’ll find yourself at the souvenir shop and in front of a very tempting selection at Big Top Treats!

Big Top Treats, Storybook Circus, Magic Kingdom

“it’s a small world”

Our next ride was this classic and a must do when visiting Magic Kingdom with a preschooler. The “it’s a small world” ride is a musical boat tour that takes you through beautifully created scenes around the world with children singing the “it’s a small world” song in their native languages, including French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and English. Have a look at the video below to see part of the “it’s a small world” ride.

it's a small world ride, Magic Kingdom

We carried on walking through FantasyLand, passing by fantastic sights from classic movies, like Beauty and the Beast

Gaston's Tavern, FantasyLand, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

And Pinocchio

Pinocchio Village Haus, Magic Kingdom

Along with new favorites such as Tangled

Rapunzel Lanterns, FantasyLand, Magic Kingdom

Liberty Square

We passed briefly through Liberty Square on our way to AdventureLand, where we spotted the Muppets performing at one of the buildings. Little T and Mr. G watched while I headed into Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe to buy some tree ornaments for our collection.

Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World


Another fun area to go to when visiting Magic Kingdom with a preschooler is AdventureLand, which features a jungle and tropical forest setting, boat rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise which are suitable for all ages (and safe for expectant mothers), the famous Dole Whip that you can buy at the Aloha Isle, and the Swiss Family Treehouse with several rooms to explore and 360 degree views of the park.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Here we rode a small barge that navigates through a shadowy grotto of fallen pirates, a foggy Caribbean fort with a 12 gun galleon locked in battle and a burning city with looters and buccaneers singing “Yo Ho, Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)”. It’s a bit dark, but here’s a video clip taken during the ride;

Jungle Cruise

We couldn’t book a FastPass+ reservation for this ride and ended up waiting 30 minutes – but it was the only one we had to wait for throughout the whole day which isn’t so bad! The 10-minute boat ride takes you across rivers in Asia, Africa and South America, where you spot animatronic animals and headhunters along the way.

Jungle Cruise, AdventureLand, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Jungle Cruise, AdventureLand, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World


This area is based on the Wild West, with highlights that include Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Tom Sawyer Island (accessible by raft). We only had time for Little T and Mr. G to go on Splash Mountain, which was our final FastPass+ reservation, but I do hope to go back and explore this land more during our next visit.

Splash Mountain

And as for Little T’s first thrill ride experience at Magic Kingdom – he absolutely loved it!

Splash Mountain ride at FrontierLand, Magic Kingdom

Splash Mountain is a log flume ride that starts off with gently drifting past 100 talking, singing, storytelling animatronic creatures before eventually going down a 5-story splashdown!

Splash Mountain Ride, FrontierLand, Magic Kingdom

Main Street

After that last ride, it was time for us to head back along Main Street to the exit, ending our day with a Mickey Mouse-shaped chocolate covered ice cream and one last look at the iconic Cinderella’s Castle.

Cinderella's Castle, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

I love the beautiful, pastel colors of the turn of the century buildings along Magic Kingdom’s Main Street…

Main Street, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

…and the charming touches such as the trolleys and horse-drawn carriages and retro ice cream parlors.

Main Street U.S.A. Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Visiting Magic Kingdom with a Preschooler

Magic Kingdom is a must-visit park at Walt Disney World and especially wonderful for young children! I hope you found this post on visiting Magic Kingdom with a preschooler helpful. Little T, who was 3 1/2 years old at the time, loved his first Disney experience, from meeting several characters to going on his first theme park rides. The craftsmanship and creativity of the Walt Disney Imagineering Team throughout the park is truly impressive; I could happily just walk around each land admiring the detailed architecture and fun designs. Before our visit, I was mostly worried about long queues and crowds, but (1) it helped visiting mid-week when it is less crowded, (2) the park is very well-organised and (3) by planning ahead, you can really make the most of your day, avoid queues and overall make it a less stressful visit.

My top tips for visiting Magic Kingdom with a preschooler are to bring your own snacks and water; consider bringing or renting a stroller; plan out your day and book those dining and FastPass+ reservations well ahead of time; download the My Disney Experience app so you can access it at the parks (free Wi-Fi is just about everywhere) and look out for those opportunities to meet the characters – they truly made my son’s day!

More on our Trip to Orlando

Read on for more tips and reviews to help with planning a family holiday in Orlando, including more on our visits to Walt Disney World;

Our Family Holiday in Orlando, Florida

Hotel Review: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Our Visit to Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Our Visit to Epcot, Walt Disney World

Day Trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida

Review: Disney Character Meal at Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom

Review: Disney Character Meal at Cape May Cafe, The Beach Club Resort

Review: Disney Character Meal at ‘Ohana, Polynesian Village Resort

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  1. What a great introduction – I love the look of the Pooh character breakfast as well, and lovely to see just how much there was for a preschooler to do as I know a lot tends to focus towards older kids. Looking at your photos, quite a few of my daughter’s favourites are here too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  2. My children like all the adrenalin rides and I miss the teacups and the Fantasyland rides! They did enjoy the Crystal Palace though! Magic Kingdom is great for all ages. #CityTripping

  3. I’d always imagined the wait for rides would be long, so it’s good to hear that you only had to queue for a long time for one of the rides. These tips are really helpful! #FamilyTravelTips

  4. Great tips here – I love Disney and approaching on the water looks so, well – magical! #citytripping

  5. It’s been a while since my visit and I can recall the heat melted the eyes of the hats we wore! I think my girls would love a trip to see their favourite characters one day. #familytraveltips

  6. Lovely tips- thank you! Planning seems very much the key! I still vaguely recall my first visit at aged 3! For me it was all about the merry-go-round! Such a wonderful place and I can’t wait to take my own kids back!

  7. What an amazing experience for your little one. I love the idea of the memory maker service, I hope that catches on at theme parks in the UK. Buying all the photos is too expensive so we usually just go without. Thanks for linking up to #familytraveltips.

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