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Touring Magic Kingdom (without Genie+)

Touring Magic Kingdom (without Genie+)

If there is one park where you should definitely consider using Genie+ to make the most of your time, it’s Magic Kingdom. That’s because this park is packed with things to do and see, and if you want to ride all the headliners without long waits, you’ll need all the help you can get.

Today we spent the day touring Magic Kingdom – one of us (Felicia) toured the park with Genie+, and the other one (that’s me, Heather) toured it without.

While touring without Genie+ I was able to see and do quite a bit, but I also found myself spending a lot of time waiting in lines and missing out on some of the top attractions.

Here’s how it went when I toured Magic Kingdom for 1 day without Genie+, including exactly what I did and what I wished I had done differently.

How we put together our Magic Kingdom touring plans

We used our guide on How to Tour Magic Kingdom (without waiting in lines) to put together today’s plan for touring Magic Kingdom.

There, you’ll find everything you need to create a touring plan for your day at Magic Kingdom, too, including a detailed breakdown of each attraction with insider tips on the most strategic times to ride.

In addition, there are user-friendly graphics that can be easily saved to your phone, providing you with the necessary information to make informed, real-time decisions throughout the park.

How to tour MK graphic

If you’re interested in comparing what a day at Magic Kingdom would be like with Genie+, read also about our experience on the same day Touring Magic Kingdom with Genie+.


My goal for touring this morning was to attempt to move through the parks as I imagine the typical family might. That means I wasn’t sprinting from attraction to attraction, and I made sure that I stopped for the bathroom and to grab a drink. Basically, I just tried to walk at a normal pace and take brief breaks when I needed to.

And while that worked perfectly fine, I did notice myself not wanting to stop at all because I knew that the later in the morning it got the longer the lines would be, and without having Genie+ to help with long lines, I was really feeling like every single minute counted.

To be honest, taking short breaks won’t really make a big difference, and we strongly suggest you make time for them. But I have to admit, it was pretty tough for me to chill out and enjoy the moment when I knew I only had access to the standby line.

On my visit to Magic Kingdom, I was able to accomplish 9 attractions before our 1:15 p.m. lunch reservation

I did, however, secure a free spot in the Virtual Queue for TRON.

Here’s a summary of what I was able to do:

If I had stayed after lunch to tour more, I would have monitored the wait times in My Disney Experience and jumped in the lines for the things listed below. I’m not saying I could have done all of these, but these would have been my top priorities and what I would have attempted to do:

In addition, I’d fill my time waiting for lines in the list above to go down (and escape the heat) by visiting some of these attractions that very rarely have long lines or waits. Which ones I’d visit would depend on whatever was closest to me when I felt like I needed a break:

Before we left the room

Alarms were set for 6 a.m., which gave us the time we needed to get ready to leave.

Because I wasn’t spending any money on Genie+ or Lightning Lanes, I knew the only way I was going to be able to ride TRON was by snagging a spot in the virtual queue. (Remember, there is no regular standby line at TRON, it is only Virtual Queue and Lightning Lane.)

As the clock got closer to 7:00 a.m., using the My Disney Experience app, I went through and confirmed my party (which was just me) and got ready.

Thankfully, Felicia also needed to do some things at 7:00 a.m. (she was purchasing Individual Lightning Lanes and snagging her first Genie+ spot) so she and I worked together using our watches to count down the seconds and right when the clock turned to 7:00 a.m., I clicked the button to join the queue while she clicked hers to purchase her Lightning Lanes for TRON and Seven Dwarfs.

I must have been really fast on my clicking because I wound up with Boarding Group 7.

tron boarding group screenshot

Ideally, I was hoping for a Boarding Group that was more likely to be called later in the day so I could maximize prime morning touring time without worrying about spending a bunch of it riding an attraction I had already secured a spot to ride. But you can’t change your boarding group AND, unlike Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, they do not allow for late arrivals. So, I would have to work with what I got.

Boarding Group secured, we headed out to Magic Kingdom.

Getting to Magic Kingdom

From Art of Animation, the best way to get to Magic Kingdom is the bus OR Minnie Van.

Even if you have a car, driving to Magic Kingdom is a huge hassle and involves you parking about 1 mile away and having to take either the ferry or monorail over to the theme park, while the buses and Minnie Vans drop you off close to the front gate.

We knew we wanted to be down at the bus stop as close to 75 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry began as possible. On the day of our visit, Early Entry began at 8:30, so that meant that we needed to be at the bus stop by 7:15.

When we arrived at the bus stop at 7:13 a.m., there were 2 buses for Magic Kingdom waiting. One of the buses was nearly full when we walked up, so they put us on the second bus with one other family.

We were sure they’d hold us at the bus stop at Art of Animation while they waited for the bus to fill up; however, they went ahead and sent our mostly empty bus on to the park.

Although we used to recommend 1 hour before Early Theme Park Entry, it really feels like 90 minutes is the better option – especially if your goal is to be on the first bus of the day.


On our Magic Kingdom day, buses were held back from unloading until 7:30 a.m. This is pretty typical, but once 7:30 a.m. arrived, we were dropped off and through security very fast.

We walked up to the tapstiles at 7:33 and were about 10 people back – so not too bad. Don’t be surprised if you only see the tapstiles to the far left as you’re facing Magic Kingdom open. After the tapstiles on the left have nearly filled up, they’ll open up the rest of the tapstiles.

They let us in at the tapstiles around 7:47 a.m.

Early Entry

If you aren’t going to purchase Genie+ at Magic Kingdom – Early Theme Park Entry is a must.

I know that 30 minutes may not seem like that big of a deal, but as you can see by how my morning went, those 30 minutes made it a lot easier for me to have a successful morning of touring.

We have found that Magic Kingdom Early Entry is the most “chaotic” out of all 4 parks.

On our most recent trip, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios all had orderly lines for people to line up in as they waited for Early Entry to begin. To be fair, it isn’t always the case that the other parks have orderly lines, but they at least do it some of the time.

But, at Magic Kingdom, you are always just put in a crowd of people who will all run walk quickly as soon as they release them.

I really, really dislike how Early Entry is done here.

But we were lucky because we would up in the second “row” of people standing at the rope. That put us in a good position to stay ahead of the bulk of people at 8:30 when Early Entry began.

Here’s what it looked like when we got there:

And here’s what it was like shortly before 8:30:

The crowd stretches all the way back to the bridge.

Had I been at the back of this crowd, I would have skipped Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and instead just gone on to Peter Pan’s Flight.

Early Entry

Most people who are at Early Entry at Magic Kingdom are headed to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, or Space Mountain.

If you have 2 days at Magic Kingdom and if you are close to the front of the pack like I was, I’d recommend one day doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and the other doing Space Mountain.

Note: guests going to Space Mountain line up at a different spot in the park, so be sure to follow the signs or ask a nearby Cast Member where you should go.

Right when Early Entry began, the Cast Members did their best to keep people in check, but there were plenty of people running. I stuck with walking because I am nothing if not a rule follower.

Attraction 1: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • Posted wait: 85 minutes
  • Time entering line: 8:26
  • Time boarding: 8:32
  • Time exiting: 8:36
  • Total wait: 6 mins
  • Notes: Even though a ton of people passed me, I still barely missed being on the 2nd train

Since I was at the front of the crowd at Early Entry, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train made perfect sense. But, had I wound up further back in the crowd, I probably would have skipped it and gone to Peter Pan’s Flight, instead, and tried to Ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the end of the evening.

Attraction 2: Peter Pan’s Flight

  • Posted wait: 40 mins
  • Time entering line: 8:38
  • Time boarding: 9:02
  • Time exiting: 9:08
  • Total wait: 24 mins
  • Notes: Peter Pan’s Flight is also an extremely popular choice for Genie+ and the lines here throughout the day are consistently pretty long

I was very happy that I was able to jump into line for Peter Pan’s Flight before the park opened to everyone. Even though the line looked long, it moved quickly, much quicker than it would after 9:00 a.m. when people would start using their Genie+ reservations.

1st Hour

Attraction 3: Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

  • Posted wait: 25 mins
  • Time entering line: 9:13
  • Time boarding: 9:23
  • Time exiting: 9:27
  • Total wait: 10 mins

My boarding group for TRON was called as soon as the park opened at 9:00 a.m., which meant I had until 10:00 a.m. to ride. Although I would have loved to knock out Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad BEFORE heading to TRON, I didn’t have the time and opted to ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh instead, since it was on the way to TRON.

Attraction 4: TRON Lightcycle / Run

  • Boarding group: 7
  • Time group called: 9:00 am
  • Time entering line: 9:36
  • Time boarding: 10:06
  • Time exiting: 10:09
  • Total wait: 26 mins
  • Notes: The virtual queue takes longer than the Lightning Lane

Although I was a little bit bummed using up so much of my morning on TRON, there is an advantage to riding so early because it doesn’t give the line in the virtual queue long to build. Even though they try to keep the line balanced, the waits later in the day can be longer – especially if the attraction goes down at all. Not counting the time it took me to walk over and walk out (it is a long walk to the attraction), my total time at TRON was about 33 minutes – not bad at all.

2nd Hour

Attraction 5: Big Thunder Mountain

  • Posted wait: 25 mins
  • Time entering line: 10:25
  • Time boarding: 10:42
  • Time exiting: 10:47
  • Total wait: 17 mins
  • Notes: Walking from TRON to Big Thunder isn’t ideal, but if you have more time or aren’t in a hurry like I was, you can take the train from Storybook Circus around

When I got off TRON, the posted wait for Big Thunder was only 15 minutes, so I decided to chance it and head over there. Full disclosure: The distance between TRON to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is just about as far as you can go in the park. It is a very long walk, and not something I would normally recommend. But without Genie+ I felt like this was going to be my best option for riding without long waits. By the time I arrived at Big Thunder, the posted wait time had increased to 25 minutes, but I wound up waiting just 17, which wasn’t bad at all.

Attraction 6: Pirates of the Caribbean

  • Posted wait: 20
  • Time entering line: 10:53
  • Time boarding: 11:15
  • Time exiting: 11:22
  • Total wait: 22 mins
  • Notes: the wait time switched to 40 mins right after I got in line, but the queue is covered and in the shade, so although I wasn’t thrilled about a possibly longer wait, at least I was out of the sun

Pirates of the Caribbean was my first experience of the day where I waited longer than the posted wait time. Right after I walked into the queue (literally I was walking under the sign just after I took the picture above), I saw the posted standby wait change from 20 to 40 minutes. Doh! Thankfully, my total wait wound up only around 22 minutes.

3rd Hour

Attraction 7: Haunted Mansion

  • Posted wait: 40 mins
  • Time entering line: 11:32
  • Time boarding: 12:16 (stretching room)
  • Doom buggy: 12:19
  • Time exiting: 12:30
  • Total wait: 47 mins
  • Notes: When there is little to no wait here, you’ll see it posted as a 13-minute wait.

I knew going in that the posted wait was 40 minutes, but I was hopeful that the posted wait was inflated. But alas, it was not. In fact, my wait was even longer than the posted wait and in total, I wound up spending nearly 1 hour on this 1 attraction. If I could do it over, I probably would have skipped riding Haunted Mansion at this time and gone back to it later in the afternoon, when the wait would have been closer to 30 minutes.

4th Hour

Attraction 8: “it’s a small world”

  • Posted wait: 10 mins
  • Time entering line: 12:37
  • Time boarding: 12:54
  • Time exiting: 1:10
  • Total wait: 17 mins

My final ride before lunch was “it’s a small world” primarily because it is right next to Haunted Mansion and I only had about 20 minutes before I needed to head to my lunch reservation. Just like Haunted Mansion, my actual wait here was longer than the posted wait.

By this time, it was also right in the middle of the day, which is typically when crowds are at their peak and when people really start using their Genie+ reservations (which also means the Standby Waits increase).

Lunch and the Rest of the Day

After my journey on “it’s a small world”, I headed over to Crystal Palace where we had lunch reservations. By this time, it was 1:30, and I was hot, tired, and ready to just sit for a bit.

Typically, we recommend you try to eat around 11:00-11:30 a.m., but because we knew we weren’t going to have time to tour much after lunch, we opted to dine a bit later.

Although I got a lot of stuff knocked out this morning, there was still a TON that I hadn’t done, including:


  • Jungle Cruise
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin


  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Carrousel
  • Dumbo
  • Barnstormer

All of Tomorrowland except TRON

  • Buzz Lightyear Spaceranger Spin
  • PeopleMover
  • Space Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Carousel of Progress

Liberty Square

  • Hall of Presidents

All character meet and greets

Which is why, even if you do purchase Genie+, we recommend you try to spend 2 days at Magic Kingdom. There are just so many attractions here that it is very, very difficult to see and do it all without multiple days.

How I Would Spend the Rest of My Day

If I had stayed, I know I could have knocked out quite a few more things. Here’s what I would have aimed to do:

  • Jungle Cruise (towards the end of the evening)
  • Space Mountain (during the parade)
  • Buzz Lightyear
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority – PeopleMover
  • Happily Ever After (fireworks)
  • Characters

And, when wait times were long or when I needed a break from the heat, I’d head to whichever one of these “anytime” attractions I was closest to:

  • Enchanted Tiki Room,
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic,
  • Under the Sea/Little Mermaid
  • Country Bear Jamboree

I likely wouldn’t have time to do them all, but any of them would give me a nice respite from the heat.

Final Thoughts

If you are planning to tour Magic Kingdom without purchasing Genie+, you need to really, really maximize your mornings, including being at the front of the pack for Early Entry.

Because I was at the front of the throngs of people there for Early Entry, I was able to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and get through most of the line at Peter Pan’s Flight before the park opened to everyone. This was key to my early morning success getting through several very popular rides. I firmly believe that had I not gotten such an early boarding group for TRON, that I would have had an even more successful morning touring.

But, despite my “success” touring without it, I still have to recommend purchasing Genie+ for Magic Kingdom – especially if you only have 1 day to tour the park.

VIDEO: Touring Magic Kingdom with (and WITHOUT) Genie+