The Magic Kingdom with a high intensity child

The Magic Kingdom with a high intensity child

by Danielle

Hi Dad! Your website is simply the best Disney site out there! In just a few short weeks, our family of four will be headed to Disney. We are trying to keep our trip short, sweet and as cheap as possible, so we will only be in Magic Kingdom one day.

My main question is this...My son is extremely, very sensitive to crowds and everything that comes with them (especially the noise, people, etc.). He can get easily overwhelmed with all that is Disney (another reason we go to only one park for one day)...

What day should we go to Magic Kingdom?

We can either go on Thursday, January 19, or on Friday, January 20. What do you recommend? Your crowd calendar has both of these days in green.

Last January was our first trip to Disney (close to the same dates)...I think we made a mistake and went to Magic Kingdom on a Saturday & crowds were much larger than I anticipated. We had a super magical trip and all (we all had an amazing vacation)...I just would like for my son to be a little less stressed in the theme park.

also :) any ideas for no cost activities in Disney property (we'll be staying on property)...Is Downtown Disney worth visiting if we don't plan to be spending money there, or would a stroll along the Boardwalk be nicer?

Thanks so much!!!

Before Dear Old Dad had a chance to answer this question, Danielle sent in another. Dad decided to answer both at the same time, so here’s question number two:

Hi Dad, we'll be in Magic Kingdom for only one day... any tips for traveling to MK with a super high intensity child? We REALLY don't do well with crowds...

If you could pick one of these days, which would it be? Thurs, 1/19 (has electrical parade and EMH) or Friday, 1/20 (no electrical parade and no EMH)

Last year's visit (our first) was around the same time, but I think we made a mistake and went on a Saturday which ended up being unusually busy...I spent over an hour in line to see the Fairies :) (our super intense child was sick in the hotel with our dad most of the day, so...)...

We really want to make the most of our time and money on this trip...It's really important that we all have fun :)

Any advice? Your thoughts would be super greatly appreciated!! Thanks,


Sometimes you have to slow things down

Prince Charming's Regal Carousel spinning

Photo by Samantha Decker

Dad’s if it’s free, it’s for me answer


I can tell you’re a little anxious about your trip, but let me assure you that you’ve come to the right place. Dad knows all sorts of tips and tricks to help you make the most of your day in the Magic Kingdom, plus add some Disney magic to the rest of your stay without spending a penny. Dad won’t let you down – get cozy, this is going to be a long one.

Dad’s Magic Kingdom Page

Let’s start off by talking about which day your family should visit the Magic Kingdom. Between Thursday January 19 and Friday January 20, the clear winner is the 19th. Weekdays are always less crowded than weekends, and that includes Fridays. And once you factor in the Extra Magic Hour on Thursday, the park is open for the same amount of time on each day.

Speaking of that Extra Magic Hour – don’t miss it! Dad suggests getting to the park by 7:45am so that you can be inside the park and ready to ride at 8am! You’ll be surprised how much you can get done in that peaceful hour before the park officially opens! Not many folks crawl out of bed at that hour, so you’ll have a quiet morning in the park until about lunchtime when the crowds will increase a little – not much.

If you really want to make the best use of your time, you might want to consider heading over to They can provide you with plans to tour the parks, estimated crowd levels, and even an app to use inside the parks to monitor wait times.

Dad’s Touring Plans Page

Make sure you use the FastPass system to help with the wait times – they even have them for Mickey and the Princesses at Town Hall. If you can stick it out the whole day, you should be able to see the whole park. But if anyone is getting overwhelmed, take a break by finding a quiet corner to relax in – there’s plenty of table space at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café, and many quiet corners in Tomorrowland or along the Rivers of America.

If you can manage it, the Main Street Electrical Parade is on at 7pm and is truly a Disney classic! You can snag a spot along the parade route in Frontierland – it will be much less crowded than on Main Street USA. If everyone is ready to call it a night at this point, don’t worry about missing Wishes – you can see it from outside the park on another night of your trip.

Yes, that’s right – Dad’s favorite spot to view the Magic Kingdom Fireworks is all the way across the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Polynesian Resort! You can relax on the beach under the open stars and see the fireworks perfectly from here – they even play the Wishes soundtrack for you via speakers on the beach! This may be a great option for your family to avoid doing too much in one day.

If you do decide to view Wishes on the beach, stick around for the Electric Water Pagent which happens shortly after the fireworks – think of it as a Main Street Electrical Parade on the water – fun and free!

Speaking of free, did you know that many of the Walt Disney World resort hotels offer Movies Under the Stars? Each night, a Disney movie is played on a big projector near the pool so families can gather together and watch some of their favorites. If your hotel doesn’t offer this, you can resort hop and participate at another hotel. Movie schedules are posted here.

If the you’re an outdoors kind of family, you can also check out the Fort Wilderness Campground – they offer a free nightly Campfire Sing-Along with Chip and Dale. You can get together around a campfire, sing songs, make smores, and even have the change to meet Chip and Dale. It’s a great time for the family, and it’s free (if you’d like smores, they sell kits for $8.99 that feed the whole family).

Another way to meet characters without standing in those stressful Magic Kingdom lines is to book a meal with character dining. Breakfast is the cheapest, and since you’ll be treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet, booking a late breakfast can double up as lunch! Pick a brunch at a resort on a day you don’t plan to head to the park to make the most of it.

Character breakfasts are offered at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at 1900 Park Fare (meet Alice, the Mad Hatter, Marry Poppins, and Pooh), Disney’s Polynesian Resort at O’hana (meet Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto), Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Chef Mickey’s (meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald), and Disney’s Beach Club Resort at the Cape May Café (meet Minnie, Donald, and Goofy).

As for Downtown Disney and the Disney’s BoardWalk… of the two, there’s much more to see and do at Downtown Disney, but go on a weekday to avoid weekend crowds of locals. It’s a fun place to hang about – see the sights, pose for photos with giant Lego sculptures, get a chocolate sample at Ghiradelli, and take in some of the free musical performances. You can even take a free boat ride to the Port Orleans resort and back!

Dad’s Bottom Line

Danielle, you’ll be heading to the Magic Kingdom on a low crowd level day at a low crowd level time of year. Staying on property gives you plenty of options for the whole family to be comfortably immersed in Disney magic for the length of your stay. You’re going to have a wonderful time. Trust me.

Comments for The Magic Kingdom with a high intensity child

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Jan 09, 2012
by: Danielle

Thanks so much Dad!! and to all the other helpful comments by readers! :)

Everyones thoughts are sooooo greatly appreciated!

So sorry Dad, that I wasn't patient waiting for your response...I guess my son isn't the only super intense member of our family :)

We're going to try to follow as many of the recommendations as possible & I know our trip will be better for it!

THANKS DAD!! I am going to tell all of our friends about your super wonderful website!

Jan 07, 2012
More Quiet Suggestions
by: Linda J

Dad always has the best answers. The morning magic hour is the best!

I have an adult daughter who can't take crowds due to a disability, It's not just crowds, the the waiting. Because of this, I go to guest relations at the park and request a special needs pass. It works like a fast pass at many of the attractions (not all) - but we couldn't make the day without it.

If the pass isn't right for you, then here are some places that I've had success:

Minature golf (Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens) usually not crowded, you can take your time (we always let others play through) and lots of Pixie Dust touches.

Boardwalk - there are street magicians and acts in the evening hours, plus we like to rent the family tandem bikes. (You can get here from the back entrace at Epcot).

Boat rides - take them whenever you don't see a line - the Lagoons at Epcot - between Epcot and Hollywood studios, or from the Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness.

Speaking of Fort Wilderness, you can visit the stables and even take pony rides - this is rarely crowded

Finally, at Epcot, I find the spaceship earth ride usually has a fast line and we go to Innovations for plenty to do without standing in line. Also, in the Land building (it houses Soarin') there are other attractions that hardly ever have lines (Timon and Pumbaa's movie and Living with the Land boat ride) You may want to check all the countries at Epcot, the all have small attractions that hardly ever have long waits (except Norway)

Hope that helps - I've been avoiding crowds for years now. Don't let it ever stop you and your son from enjoying Disney. I wish you the happiest trip ever.

Jan 07, 2012
Hot dog terrace
by: David

We love to get a hot dog from Casey's Corner (the pulled pork hot dog, good even with wheat bread Dad) and sit under an umbrella on the terrace between Main Street and the Terrace Noodle Station on the left. Beautiful view of Cinderella's Castle and great place to relax and people watch. Be aware though, there is a smoking area near.

Jan 07, 2012
A very quiet spot on main street
by: Sarah h

On our last trip we did the family magic tour and on the tour we discovered a very quiet spot located just off main street. If you head down main street towards the castle, there is a street on the right next to the glass and jewelry shop. There is usually someone sitting at the front of the street doing shadow cut-outs of people. Walk to the end of the street, there are tables and chairs and a little room to let kids run off some energy. It might be a good place for her son to find quiet.

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