Are going to Disney World but short on time? If so, dedicate your time to the Magic Kingdom. But can you conquer the Magic Kingdom in one day? Believe it or not, it is possible. With a game plan, plenty of energy and a little bit of help you can have the best day ever at “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

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Key Tips to Follow

Reserve discount Magic Kingdom Passes in advance.

  • Get MagicBands for the whole family.
  • Choose your FastPasses for your must-do rides and attractions.
  • Arrive early and stay late.
  • Stay at a Disney World Resort.
  • Download the My Disney Experience app.

 

Magic Kingdom in One Day Itinerary

To make the most of your time, and truly get the full Disney experience, you really need to stay at a Disney World Resort. Ideally, you’re starting your day here rather than off-site. For this Magic Kingdom in one day itinerary, home base is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.

WDW Character Dining Lifestyle Shoot. 2013. Photographer: Melanie Acevedo

Morning
All Disney resort guests should take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. This perk lets you arrive early and stay later than off-site guests. Meaning, you have the park when it’s less crowded and more fun! Use the complimentary Disney bus to shuttle to the park. Once there, the best way to start your day is at Cinderella’s Royal Table. This character breakfast is perfect for the princess in your family. Further, it’s located inside Cinderella’s Castle which makes even an adult like me feel super special. After eating and taking about a million pictures with classic Disney Princesses, it’s time to for your first ride!

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Midday
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is nearby in Fantasyland. It should be your first FastPass pick. With the revamped MyMagic+ program, you get three per day. But, you’ll get more after you’ve used the first batch. That said, this ride is the newest addition to Fantasyland and always has long lines—so avoid them if you can!

Next, stroll through the rest of Fantasyland before hitting up Tomorrowland. There, you can tackle Space Mountain and meet Buzz Lightyear. He’s usually posing for pictures near his Space Ranger Spin ride. As you’re exiting Tomorrowland there’s prime photo op. Generally, there’s a Disney photographer there. Take time to take a picture as the Castle is picture perfect from this location.

Cross over to Liberty Square to ride The Haunted Mansion. By now, breakfast may have worn off. Columbia Harbor House is adjacent to the attraction. So, you can quickly grab a bite to eat at one of the best lunch options in the Magic Kingdom.


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Afternoon
Start the afternoon in Frontierland, where you should use a FastPass to ride Splash Mountain. Even though this ride has been around since the park’s opening, is still draws a crowd. In addition, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is right next door. Be sure to ride this, but choose to wait in line and save your FastPass for the parade. Hold the phone—for a parade? Yes! You see, with the new FastPass+ system you can reserve a prime viewing spot for the Festival of Fantasy Parade. As this is Disney’s newest spectacle it draws a massive crowd (as almost all Disney parades do). Don’t waste your time holding a spot. Instead, waltz up right before the parade begins for VIP viewing.

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Early Evening
Adventureland has three main attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean, Swiss Family Treehouse and Aloha Aisle. The last mention is a snack stand, but is the only place at the Magic Kingdom you can get a Dole Whip. These cool treats are legendary! So, when you’re in Adventureland you’ve got to have one.

Walk over to Main Street U.S.A. next. Here, I suggest meeting Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater. Because, really, what’s a trip to the Magic Kingdom without meeting the Mouse? You can use a FastPass for this meet and greet, too, so you’re not wasting time in line.

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Evening
I know you already splurged on breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table. If your budget covers it, make reservations for Be Our Guest restaurant too. It’s a must for any Beauty and the Beast fan. Dining here feels like you’ve walked onto a movie set, complete with falling snow and a magical rose. Alternatively, I recommend The Crystal Palace for dinner. It’s not as much of an event as the former, but Winnie the Pooh makes an appearance.

Wishes

Night
The atmosphere at the Magic Kingdom somehow becomes even more magical after dark. The park twinkles with light and nothing quite prepares you for the sight of the Castle. The impressiveness doesn’t end there, though. The Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, lasting an amazing 12 minutes, brings your favorite characters to life in the nighttime sky. As Tinker Bell flies around the Castle, you just may wish upon a star.

Even if your time is short, you can conquer the Magic Kingdom in one day with this itinerary. Sure, you can’t do it all but that’s just a reason to come back! Believe me, once is not enough.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Orlando is known for its amazing, world class theme parks such as Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. These attractions come with a hefty price tag, though. So, what can you do in Orlando that’s not only a good time but also free? Especially after the sun goes down. This list covers the best free things to do in Orlando at night.

Orlando, Florida, USA skyline at dusk on Eola Lake.

The free fountain light show framed by the Orlando skyline at dusk on Lake Eola

1) Orlando Eye
It might cost money to ride the Orlando Eye Ferris Wheel. But, it’s totally free to watch the light show the wheel puts on each night a I-Drive 360.

2) Disney Springs
The atmosphere at Disney Springs is all-new, thanks to a serious redesign of the area formerly known as Downtown Disney. Visit here to get a dose of Disney without having to shell out cash for tickets. Plus, the area totally transforms at night so it’s totally different from daytime at the same complex.

3) Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
If you’re a fan of wine, this one’s for you. Set on 80 gorgeous acres, Lakeridge Winery hosts free tasting tours and festivals year round.

4) Orlando Brewing Company
For those who prefer an ice cold beer to wine, visit Orlando Brewing Company. The brewery is one of only 10 organic breweries in America, and the only on in the Southeast. On weekends free tours and entertainment is available.

5) Popcorn Flicks in the Park
Winter Park presents Popcorn Flicks in the Park throughout the year. Classic films with families in mind provide the perfect night out under the stars. Films are typically shown on the second Thursday of each month in Central Park and they are free and open to the public.

6) Fred Stone Theater
The Second Stage Series at Fred Stone Theater offers free evening shows Thursday through Saturday. All shows are produced by Rollins Players, and completely directed, designed, marketed, and performed by students.

7) Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long
One of the best free things to do in Orlando at night for families is this activity at Disney’s For Wilderness Resort. Even if you’re not a guest you can attend the campfire sing-along. Afterwards, enjoy a classic Disney film under the stars.

8) Lake Eola Park
Lake Eola Park is teeming with free things to do during the day. Similarly, the Park features free things to do in Orlando at night. Watch the twice-nightly light shows at the lake, movies in the park during summer, and free concerts at Walt Disney Amphitheater.

9) Magic Kingdom Fireworks
Catch the end-of-the-night fireworks at the Magic Kingdom—free of charge! Simply ride the free tram to the Ticket and Transportation Center for the best outside-the-park views.

10) Electrical Water Pageant
If you’re a Disney Resort guests, there are a lot of free parks. For guests of resorts surround the Seven Seas Resort, such as Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the nightly Electrical Water Pageant is an added bonus.

11) Old Town
If you’re a classic car enthusiasts, drive to Old Town for free weekly car shows. All-American muscle cars are the highlight of Friday nights, while Saturday night features vintage cars.

12) Portofino Bay Hotel
This Universal Orlando Resort property hosts the nightly show “Musica della Notte” each night at sunset. Accordingly, The Harbor Piazza comes alive with an Italian musical celebration free to the public.

Put this list of free things to do in Orlando at night to use on your next vacation. Your wallet will thank you!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Adrenaline junkies from across the globe flock to Florida for their chance to experience the biggest and baddest Orlando thrill rides. From plummeting to your doom on a haunted elevator ride to coming face-to-face with a mummy, the rush of adrenaline never stops in the theme park capital of the world.

If you’re a thrill seeker, you need to secure a seat on these 14 Orlando thrill rides.

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Kraken: Flickr/Josh Hallett

Kraken — SeaWorld Orlando
As one of Orlando’s floorless roller coasters — yes, I said floorless — passengers soar 150-feet high at a whopping 65mph. The Kraken coaster was modeled after a mythological underwater beast freed from the deepest troves of the sea, which is evident by the massive climbs and drops of the track. Did I mention that guests sit in open-sided seats? You’ll feel like you’re diving in and out of the water at astronomical speeds when you ride the Kraken.

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Mako: SeaWorld/Facebook

Mako — SeaWorld Orlando
Ready to ride Orlando’s tallest roller coaster? This thrill ride sends passengers 200 feet high for a stunning view of the Orlando skyline, right before hurdling them 73mph on a hypercoaster track. You’ll feel weightless as you glide along the mile-long track at incredible speeds. Mako is new to the Orlando thrill ride scene and has already shattered records including tallest, longest, and fastest coaster in Orlando!

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Hollywood Tower of Terror. So. Much. Fun.

Tower of Terror — Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Fans of “The Twilight Zone” know just how frightening the television show can be. Disney Imagineers took that fright, bottled it up, and made a popular Orlando thrill ride out of it. Guests enter the Twilight Zone and face their fears as they plummet down 13 stories in a haunted elevator. The best part about the Tower of Terror? You never know what’s coming next thanks to a completely randomized dropping sequence.

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SheiKra: Busch Gardens/Facebook

SheiKra — Busch Gardens Tampa
Nothing says adrenaline rush like dangling over a 90-degree drop on a floorless roller coaster, right? You’ll climb 200-feet to the top of a 90-degree plunge, only to slowly creep past the edge. As you dangle at the edge of the thrill, your nerves will kick in as you wait for SheiKra to drop you into the 70 mph coaster complete with an Immelmann loop, a dive into an underground tunnel and a splashdown finale that soaks those waiting for their turn to ride. If you find yourself in the “splash zone”, beware!

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Magic happens inside Gringotts Bank

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts — Universal Studios Florida
This mind-blowing, 3D steel roller coaster ride takes you deep into the heart of Gringotts Bank where an adventure awaits you. Be careful — Voldemort and Bellatrix are lurking below the bank too. The combination of special effects, 3D animation, and a pure adrenaline rush has secured Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts’ position as a top Orlando thrill ride for years to come.

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Hogwards Castle, Home to the Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey — Universal’s Island of Adventure
Sometimes all it takes to make an Orlando thrill ride truly wonderful is a bit of magic. Experience the magic of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with Harry Potter and friends on this one-of-a-kind thrill ride. Featuring groundbreaking technology and mind-boggling engineering, the ride brings guests right into the wizarding world. You’ll feel a rush unlike any other when you join Harry Potter and friends on an adventure filled with magical creatures, spellbinding interactions, and sudden surprises.

Harry Potter Dragon Challenge

Face Off at the Dragon Challenge

Dragon Challenge — Universal’s Islands of Adventure
The wizarding world fun doesn’t end after your forbidden journey. Head over to the Dragon Challenge at Universal’s Islands of Adventure for yet another infamous Orlando thrill ride. Choose your dragon and get ready for the ride of your life. Each dragon, I mean coaster, offers a different experience and rush for Orlando thrill seekers.

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Experience the thrills of Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain — Disney’s Animal Kingdom
There’s no bigger rush than coming face-to-face with the Abominable Snowman while speeding through the Himalayan Mountains on an out-of-control train. With an 80-foot drop and soaring speeds, you’ll jet around the Himalayan Mountains both forwards and backward in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Are you ready to meet the legend of the Yeti while screaming at the top of your lungs?

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Splashdown at Jurassic Park River Adventure: Flickr/Flabber DeGasky

The Jurassic Park River Adventure — Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Immerse yourself in the Jurassic Park universe with a tour of the dinosaurs on the island — that goes horribly wrong. Passengers find themselves stuck in the Raptor Containment Area and the only way to escape the incoming T-Rex is by plunging down an 85-foot waterfall drop. Get ready to scream, get soaked, and experience the adventure of a lifetime.

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The Incredible Hulk Coaster — Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Wondering what Bruce Banner feels like when he transforms into the Incredible Hulk? This 67 mph coaster with insane zero-gravity rolls, drops, and turns will help you experience exactly that. If you’re a rollercoaster fanatic, you need to ride the Incredible Hulk Coaster. The ride recently underwent a massive remodel with the intent of making the Orlando thrill ride exceptionally exhilarating!

Based on the popular “Mummy” films, the world’s first “psychological thrill ride” places riders in seeming jeopardy, bringing them face-to-face with both physical and psychological fears – fear of the dark, fear of bugs, fear of fire, fear of falling, fear of being out of control and more.

© 2016 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

Revenge of the Mummy — Universal Studios Florida
Out of all the Orlando thrill rides on this list, Revenge of the Mummy is my absolute favorite. It’s not the fastest roller coaster nor does it have the biggest drop, but the state-of-the-art technology combined with the speed of the ride creates an unmatched adrenaline rush. Thrill seekers have often said that the ride seemed to get faster and more intense every time they rode it. Perhaps the curse of the Mummy has something to do with this?

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Even kids love the thrills of Rock ‘n Roller Coaster

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith — Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Scream along with Steven Tyler and the rest of Aerosmith as they jet off to their Los Angeles concert in a 60 mph stretch limo (also known as an indoor roller coaster) through loops, twists, turns, and plunging drops. Each “limo” plays different Aerosmith songs, meaning no two rides are ever the same.

Human Slingshot

Prepare to ride the human slingshot!

Slingshot — Magical Midway Thrill Park
While on your Orlando thrill rides tour, why not get launched 390 feet into the air from a slingshot? This thrill ride allows guests to feel total weightlessness in the ultimate adrenaline rush.

Blizzard Beach photoshoot. 2013. Photographer: Pat Molnar

Summit Plummet

Summit Plummet — Disney’s Blizzard Beach
This 120-foot, free-fall body slide includes a terrifying near vertical drop with a pitch-black tunnel at the end of the plunge. This waterslide drops you higher than most roller coasters and other Orlando thrill rides. Who said water rides couldn’t be thrilling?

Now you know which rides are guaranteed to raise your pulse and make you scream! So, get ready to brave the biggest, baddest Orlando thrill rides. I dare you!

Believe it or not, theme parks are not the only reason why people travel to Orlando, Florida.

While some people find amusement parks enjoyable, others despise visiting these attractions. From the never-ending crowds to an apprehension towards thrill rides, these attractions are not everyone’s cup of tea.

While I get wide-eyed and giddy like a child when I visit popular Orlando amusement parks, I wasn’t always this way. I used to have a fear of rollercoasters and extreme thrill rides. This meant I either had to find an attraction I would enjoy or wait for my family at the exit gate of a ride.

If you’re not a fan of amusement parks, there’s plenty for you to experience throughout Orlando besides theme parks.

Lake Eola Park, Orlando Florida

Explore the Great Orlando Outdoors

Orlando is home to an incredible amount of outdoor activities and natural parks. Instead of moping around a theme park, take a quaint hike through the Disney Wilderness Preserve or hop on an exhilarating jet ski ride for a memorable vacation.

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Cruise around on a jet ski at Buena Vista Watersports’ tropical oasis

Try out these outdoor adventures the next time you’re in Orlando:

 

No matter which outdoor adventure you choose to pursue, make sure you check the forecast for the day. The Orlando weather can be quite unpredictable.

Animal Adventures

Who doesn’t love animals? Orlando is THE place for animal lovers. If you enjoy mammals, reptiles, amphibians, aquatic life, and birds, Orlando is home to a ton of animal related attractions — many of which offer up close and personal animal encounters.

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See otters up-close at Discovery Cove

Find time to experience one of these animal adventures in Orlando.

 

Similarly, you’d be surprised at just how much there is to do at conservation-centric SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. Sure, these theme parks have scream-inducing roller coasters but the animal experiences are also top-notch.

See a Show in Orlando

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Blue Man Group amazes without saying a word

If you thought NYC and Las Vegas were the show capitals of the country, think again. Orlando is filled with jaw-dropping shows, from the Blue Man Group (a must see) to La Nouba ™ by Cirque du Soleil.

Show fans who are stuck at a theme park with their family or friends will be glad to know that many amusement parks offer award-winning shows and performances throughout the day. Disney World theme parks are known for their legendary shows such as Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios.

Spend a Night On the Town

Who doesn’t love a night filled with exceptional food, fun, and the perfect atmosphere?

Orlando has a variety of restaurants, clubs, concert venues, and other fun establishments to check out while on your vacation. Be sure to schedule time to browse through downtown Orlando, Disney Springs, and Universal CityWalk for a night on the town.

All self-proclaimed foodies should make a dinner reservation for Victoria & Albert’s in Walt Disney World and Chatham’s Place for upscale dining. On the other hand, check out Zaza New Cuban Diner and Ragland Road for local fare.

Tour Orlando Museums and Landmarks

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Meet an astronaut at Kennedy Space Center

Captivating tours, museums, and landmarks are some of the many other activities available throughout Orlando besides theme parks.

Start your vacation off with a visit to the Kennedy Space Center. You’ll be able to meet an astronaut, learn all about outer space, and watch an IMAX movie. Depending on when your Orlando vacation is scheduled for, you might have the chance to see a live rocket launch!

Next, sail on over to the Titanic. This realistic recreation of the Titanic houses artifacts from the legendary ship. In addition, guests experience what it was like to be a passenger on the fateful voyage and get to see a real iceberg.

Shop Until You Drop

Due to the ever growing popularity of Orlando, there are endless shopping opportunities throughout the city. While at Downtown Disney and Universal CityWalk, remember to take advantage of the onsite shops, boutiques, and other intriguing stores.

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So much shopping to do, so little time

Don’t forget to stop at the Mall at Millenia for exceptional shopping. Likewise, visit the Artegon Marketplace for products by locally owned and operated Orlando businesses.

Relax with a Spa Day

If you want to escape the theme park crowds and relax, take a day trip to one of Orlando’s many spas and resorts. Your hotel or resort may already offer world-class relaxation services, but also check out Blue Harmony Spa at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek and the Mandara Spa at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin and Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel for premier relaxation, massages, and more.

There’s More to do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks

Whether you despise thrill rides or simply prefer a low-key vacation, there are so many activities for you to enjoy in Orlando besides theme parks. Use these tips to make your non-theme park Orlando getaway a great one.

What will you do during your Orlando vacation?

Orlando, Florida is a top vacation destination for families all across America. There are amazing things to do in Orlando, like Disney World, but there are also plenty of free things to do in Orlando with kids. Trust me, you don’t need to break the bank in order to have a good time with your family in the Sunny State.
Free Things to Do in Orlando with Kids

Free Things to Do in Orlando with Kids

1) Universal Orlando Resort’s CityWalk is a great place to spend time with friends and family, and admission is absolutely free day or night. Fantastic shopping and dining are always available. Kids especially love cooling off in the splash pads, while adults enjoy the festive atmosphere and free entertainment.

2) Visit Disney Springs, a unique area that is home to more than 70 shops, eateries and Disney-centric entertainment. It’s free to walk around the lively entertainment center, but the main destination kids care about is LEGO imagination center. Here, they can let their creativity free at building block zones. Free events  are offered throughout the year, too, for the LEGO lover in your family.

4) Tour the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts. The museum celebrates the Floridians contributions to the arts, as well as the material culture of people of African descent.

5) Stroll the streets of Celebration, Disney’s town that is as close to perfection as a town can get. Admire the old-fashioned properties and let the kids play in the interactive fountain. Experience the pleasant atmosphere and beauty of a town only Disney could create.

6) The Harry P. Leu Gardens features three miles of paved scenic walkways that take you through fifty acres of southern styled gardens. FREE admission is offered the first Monday of every month. In addition, kids four and under are always free.

8) Visit Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando. This 43 acre park offers spectacular views of the city as well as free events throughout the year. Watch a free movie in the park, feed the geese, catch the fountain show–these are just a few of the things to do in Orlando with kids at Lake Eola Park.

9) Explore the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany items. Everything from lamps, to pottery, to stained glass windows to dining sets is displayed. Visitors are free Fridays November – April from 4pm-8pm. Keep in mind kids 12 and under are always free, while regular adult admission is $6.

10) Take a walk in Big Tree Park, the home of “The Senator,” a 118 ft. tall, 3,500 year old Bald Cypress tree.

11) Every second Sunday of the month, the Mennello Museum offers free admission. All galleries are free to the public from noon-4pm, while galleries, craft stations and mini-tours for kids occur from noon-2:30pm.

12) If your kid loves hot wheels, take them to Old Town. This amusement park has free car shows featuring hot rods and muscle cars. Car cruises are held Friday and Saturday nights.

13) To get a little Disney during your stay, take advantage of the free Walt Disney World monorail. No ticket is required to ride, and you can cruises pass sights like Spaceship Earth. Make the ride even better by watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks afterwards. The Ticket and Transportation center for the monorail offers excellent views, with magical music even piped in.

14) Your vacation headquarters may be Orlando, but the beach is only 45-minutes away. So, really, why not make a day of it on the shores of Cocoa Beach. The kids will love the sand and surf, and best of all–it’s free!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.