Magic Kingdom is the most popular park to visit at Walt Disney World. In fact, did you know it’s the most visited theme park in the entire world? Yep. 20 million people a year. And we wonder why it’s so crowded when the fireworks over.
So a big part of most people’s vacation to Disney World is spending some time at Magic Kingdom. Many families spend more time at Magic Kingdom than any other park. So understanding the best times to visit for lower crowds is important in planning a great trip.
The Party Season at Magic Kingdom
Four months out of every year Magic Kingdom has Holiday parties that drastically effect its schedule and crowd flow. Starting in September and October for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP), and then in November and December with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP).
MNSSHP (much easier to use the abbreviation!) is typically three times each week during September on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday nights. Once we get to October they will add in Thursday’s making it four nights per week.
MVMCP is typically three nights a week once it begins November 8th, and adds a 4th night for December.
So a third of every year is changed by these parties; September – December. And knowing how they affect crowds and entertainment schedules is very important if you’re planning a trip to Disney during any of those months.
Why the Party Schedule Matters
Because the nights you can experience a typical MK night, stay late, see Happily Ever After and so forth are only a few times a week. That means those days (a “normal” day when there is no party scheduled) are crowded. Especially Saturday nights. Everyone who would typically want an evening at Magic Kingdom are all funneled into only three or four nights. This includes all the locals and passholders as well. And since a lot of people plan their park day based on where they want to be that night, it makes the park busier the entire day.
But the reverse is also true: On the days when there IS Magic Kingdom party crowds are very low during the day.
You can use this.
You need to plan to go to MK during the day when there’s a party scheduled and then leaving for another park for the evening. (Crowds for parties won’t start to trickle in until after 4 pm) When there isn’t a party, only go to MK after dark to see the evening entertainment. Spend the day in a less busy park. This strategy will make a huge difference in your visits to the parks. It affects more than just your MK visits because when one park is busy, the other parks are less so, and vice versa.
How long can you stay in the park on Party Nights if you aren’t attending the party? Official closing time will list 6 pm. But you don’t have to officially clear the park until 7 pm. You are allowed to stay in the castle and Main Street area until 7 pm. They will begin checking wristbands when entering attractions at that point.
This is important once the castle lighting starts each night for the holidays. This little show where Elsa freezes the castle is what officially turns the castle dream lights on. It’s held at 6:15 each night. You are allowed to stay for this show, even if you aren’t going to the Christmas party. As long as you clear out of the park by 7 pm you’re fine.
So to sum up:
If it IS a party night: Go to MK during the day and another park for the evening.
If it’s NOT a party night: Go to another park during the day and MK at night only. (It will still be crowded but it’s worth it to see the shows at least once.)
Hopefully, this will help you plan your visit to Walt Disney World and you’ll get the most out of your time here.