This is probably going to be a bit of a taboo topic, but it’s an important concept…why Magic Kingdom should NOT be your first day in the theme parks in Disney World. Let’s walk through a few different arrival scenarios and when this rule could be broken…
The Smith family from North Carolina drives themselves from their home to Disney World. They leave early in the morning and arrive late afternoon/early evening but still get the kids to bed “on time”.
The Fox family flies from their home in Wisconsin and arrives at the airport around 8:15 pm. By the time they get to the resort it’s late and everyone is hungry. They get some things unpacked (enough to get ready in the morning) and grabbing a quick bite to eat. By the time they get to kids to bed, it’s way later than they have hoped. It may be tough getting everyone up and out the door to see Magic Kingdom’s welcome show!
The Jones family is flying from their home in New York and scheduled an early morning flight. Their flight arrives into Orlando around 10 am. They are planning on hitting a park their arrival day after check in (by the way, they had to get up at 4 am to get to the airport to catch their flight!)
The Williams family is also flying from their home in New York and scheduled an early morning flight. Their flight also arrives into Orlando around 10 am. They are NOT planning on doing any park time their arrival day. They are going to unpack their bags, have dinner, and then get to bed early to get started!
In the first 3 of these 4 scenarios, I would recommend that these families start their day in another park besides Magic Kingdom. Why? SO many reasons (some of which I learned for myself fairly recently – yes, even me who has been traveling to Disney World for years and almost ALWAYS starts a trip in Magic Kingdom, I’ve changed my theory even for my own trips).
- If you are traveling with kids, it may take them a day or two to get acclimated with their new surroundings. If you have older kids, it may be a bit of a different story. The first night’s sleep may be difficult because you’re in a different place!
- Magic Kingdom can be a long day. Whether you’re planning a mid-day break or not, your kiddo(s) may dictate whether any sort of sleep will happen during that time. In past trips for us, naptime has been super successful but this time around, our kiddo created her own set of rules and we had to adapt (and even skipped nap a few times which is unheard of in our family). It also made for more difficult days and difficulty getting to sleep at night. If you start your day in Magic Kingdom, it may create a bit of a spiral throughout the rest of the week to lead to a whole family meltdown!
- It sets HIGH expectations for the rest of the trip. Magic Kingdom is seen by many as the best park there is. There is truly something for everyone whether it’s family attractions, character meet and greets, thrill rides, or just seeing the castle for the first time (or remembering the feeling from when you saw the castle the firs time), it’s hard to recreate that special moment or fill in a day with as much fun as Magic Kingdom provides most families (including ours). We started our last 2 trips with Animal Kingdom. It’s a more familiar surrounding for my animal loving daughter (who spends a lot of time with me at the zoo) so we can ease our way into the trip and if she didn’t sleep well the night before and we need to start late or leave early, we don’t feel like we miss as much as we would in a park like Magic Kingdom – no parades or fireworks to worry about (at this point in time).
I mentioned exceptions to the rule which makes the most sense for family #4 who arrives early in the day and doesn’t plan any park time for their arrival day as they can get acclimated with their surroundings and get a good rest before getting up early the next morning. The other exception to this new “rule” of mine would be for those planning more than 2 days in Magic Kingdom. If you have 3 days in Magic Kingdom (which also likely means you have a longer than average trip), you can have a Magic Kingdom start (as it also helps space out your MK days over the course of your trip instead of going back to back).
What do you think? Would you be willing to try a new theory and skip Magic Kingdom and head to a different park your first day? Will it feel any less magical to you?
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