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8 Magic Kingdom-resort-area secrets locals love


There are certain perks that come with being an Orlando local. For starters, Cinderella Castle and the Haunted Mansion have become our version of the famous titular bar from Cheers, with, of course, the likes of Mickey Mouse being our “Norm.” We know Walt Disney World Resort like the back of our hands, and, as such, we’ve got a few secrets to share.

1. Water taxis

Ferries at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World
Behold the tranquility of the ferries

Getting around the Magic Kingdom resort area can be tough (yay, crowds!) or simply take additional time on the monorail due to having to stop at each hotel. We always take the water taxis when needing to get between Magic Kingdom and the Polynesian Village or Grand Floridian Resort, which not only seems to save us some time but which also allows for a wonderful little boat ride across the Seven Seas Lagoon. The ferries are also a great “escape route” when you’re ready to leave the park for the night after watching the fireworks, as the monorail line tends to grow faster than Pinocchio’s nose after the last mortar has been lit.

2. Magic Kingdom escape route

The Contemporary walkway to Magic Kingdom at Disney World
The Magic Kingdom walkway to Contemporary Resort

After a long, exciting day of magic (and heat, possible missed naps, and other theme-park regulars), the last thing you usually want to be doing at the end of the evening is standing in yet another huge line – which is usually what happens with the monorail line after the nightly fireworks. Another great way to bypass these lines is to walk from Magic Kingdom to Contemporary Resort, then hop on the monorail at the hotel to your final destination!

How do you find the walkway? Easy! As you exit the theme park, veer to your left towards the bus depot and keep walking towards that huge hotel in the distance. This small detour will take about 15 minutes to walk, and there aren’t really any signs to point you in the right direction. However, neither the length of the walk nor having to find your way is anything compared to a two-hour wait crushed in line with your fellow theme parkers.

3. Disney chooses a “family of the day” for Magic Kingdom’s opening ceremonies

This one is a little more complicated, as it’s a bit like winning the lottery. But, like the lottery, there’s little harm in trying – and, who knows, you might get lucky!

To possibly be selected for the “family of the day” rope-drop ceremony, arrive at Magic Kingdom early (need an extra magical boost to get you out of bed in the morning? Request a free wake up call from Mickey or Stitch on the hotel phone!), wear matching Disney gear, and show lots of that pixie-dusted enthusiasm! As part of being selected, you’ll get a tour of Main Street before it opens.

4. Celebratory pins

Disney is always excited to help you celebrate your biggest moments in life, and, as such, it has special pins to mark those occasions. From birthdays and engagements to anniversaries and beyond, let the world know what you’re celebrating! You can pick up a button reflecting the occasion at your resort or in the parks from Guest Services.

5. The Electrical Water Pageant

The Electrical Water Pageant at Walt Disney World
The Electrical Water Pageant at Walt Disney World (Image: Disney)

With everything going on around the Magic Kingdom resort area, the Electrical Water Pageant is easy to miss if you’re not aware of when it’s happening. Typically, it begins around 9:00 pm at Polynesian Village Resort and ends around the entrance of Magic Kingdom on the Seven Seas Lagoon around 10:35 pm. This light parade features playful sea creatures and flags that dance upon the water to different tunes. Depending on the times, there are great viewing spots around the lake.

I always loved stumbling upon this water pageant as a kid, as it felt like a special treat – and who doesn’t love a parade on water?

6. Watching the fireworks outside of Magic Kingdom?

Ticket and Transportation Center at Walt Disney World
Welcome to the Ticket and Transportation Center!

Everyone likes to try and beat the firework crowd, and locals are no different. If you’re looking for a viewing area outside Magic Kingdom, try the Ticket and Transportation Center, to the right of the ferry launch. I also like watching from the Polynesian along the bay, up on the hills.

7. Don’t carry your merchandise around all day

If you’re staying at a Disney-owned hotel, you can have merchandise you purchase in the parks sent to your hotel so you don’t have to lug it around all day (just like at Universal Orlando Resort!). A word of caution here: it can take up to 24 hours for your merchandise to reach your resort, so if you’re checking out the next day, it’s better to have your items sent to package pickup in the front of whichever theme park you’re in. There also is a cutoff time for having your goodies sent to package pickup, however, so you’ll want to ask these questions prior to making a decision.

8. The Disney “kiss goodnight”

Cinderella Castle at night at Magic Kingdom
Goodnight, beautiful

For a sweet send-off to an incredible day, linger about 15 minutes after Magic Kingdom closes to experience Cinderella Castle lighting up for the last time while “When You Wish Upon a Star” plays. Then, through the loudspeakers will come an announcement as the last guest exits the park: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, on behalf of everyone here at Magic Kingdom, we thank you for joining us today for a magic gathering of family, friends, fun, and fantasy. We hope your magical journey with us has created wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.”

Now that you know some of the local tips, tricks, and secrets for the Magic Kingdom resort area, we’d love to hear what you might add to our list! What are some of your favorite ways to enhance your vacation at Magic Kingdom? Tell us in our WDW Community Facebook group.

And be sure to follow Orlando Informer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news and tips at Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World, and other Orlando destinations.

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May 2, 2011 6:29 am

This info was very helpful for my DW visit 4/18 through 4/24. I used Reams Rd. the first day, but used the U-turn and parked in the lot with everyone else… better than Monopoly Free Parking. The next 4 visits I used Vista Blvd. it was shorter (time & distance) with the same results. These additional routes were perfect considering my hotel (Hyatt Grand Cypress) is on 535.

January 3, 2012 1:00 am

Using bing maps birdseye view, I see that both entrances to the Floridian have a security gate.  Up above you said you don’t have to go through them, what’s the process?

Taylor Strickland
Taylor Strickland
January 3, 2012 1:57 pm
Reply to  Bob

You have to go through security if you want to park at Grand Floridian. It is Disney’s Wedding Chapel next to Grand Floridian that doesn’t have security. However, I heard that they are adding gates to the Wedding Chapel with the addition of the Grand Floridian vacation club buildings (read about the expansion).

January 9, 2012 11:25 am

Are you able to exit the resort area using Center Dr. and Reams Rd. as well?  Googlemaps lists these roads as “restricted usage.”  Are there signs along the road (or other deterrents) to prevent usage?

January 14, 2012 5:42 pm

I am not sure what to do once I get to reams rd though, do you go left to world dr or right to floridian way? and is the TTC marked Rapunzel’s lot on the google map? I can only take my kids for one day, and I am trying to plan it carefully so that it goes smoothly! thanks for your help

December 9, 2012 10:41 pm

I was going to say the same thing about Vista Blvd. as Kevin did. If you are coming from I-4, exit at EPCOT Center Drive (SR 536) and then drive a little. Then exit at either exit at the first exit for Buena Vista Drive and go straight, or exit at the 3rd exit for Bonnet Creek Parkway and turn left. Then drive to Vista Blvd. Turn left onto Vista Blvd. Continue on Vista Blvd. until it ends. Turn right onto World Drive. Then if you are going to park at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, or the Wedding Pavilion, turn left… Read more »

July 7, 2013 2:04 pm

Can’t anyone just say they’re headed to the Polynesian or one of the resorts, and proceed to the Magic Kingdom parking lot instead without paying the parking fee? Doubtful that they will rigorously inspect every  car for parking permits.

November 24, 2013 12:56 pm

To revive this post and update folks, Disney obviously has caught onto these tricks over the years (been using them for 10+ years)
When disney made over the Grand Floridian Spa/DVC/Wedding Pavilion they added an automated gate with a call box that connects you to a security guard. I’m sure you have to be on the guest list to enter.

And the Polynesian & Contemporary now issue you 3 hour parking passes, its not indefinite parking. I’ve heard the same thing about the Beach & Yacht club.

February 7, 2014 8:33 am

Well of course Disney “caught on” when you broadcast these things to everyone over the Internet!! Way to ruin it for those of us that used to do these things!!

April 24, 2014 9:33 am

The last thing Disney wants is confrontation.. I park at the Contemporary all the time.. just tell them you are going to eat at the Wave or Chef Mickeys and you are gtg.

About Casie Shimansky

Casie {kay-cee; KC} Shimansky is an award-winning social media manager and recognized photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she grew up in the theme parks, moved to Orlando with her family in 1993, and met her now-husband at Universal Orlando while working at Men in Black: Alien Attack in 2005. Dog Mom to two German Shorthaired Pointers, she is also a lover of pizza and Halloween and is a fierce advocate for Children's Cancer Research, having gone BALD just two days after getting married. Casie raised over $26k in 2018 alone for the cause.

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