Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Orlando Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, January 2022


The Ervings Return to WDW- Day 3

Lightning Lane & Park Opening

Prior to 2020, I loved the challenge of securing as many attractions as possible in one day using the FastPass System (17 was my record), so I was anxious to give the new Genie+ a try. Jungle Cruise was our “must ride” and when I logged in, the first time that was available was after 11am. This meant that we wouldn’t be able to use any LL selections before then if we wanted to skip the Jungle Cruise line later.

We arrived for Early Morning entry at 8:30am, and at Rope Drop everyone made their way to Fantasyland. Our initial plan was to go to Peter Pan, and it seemed to be many other people’s too. Unfortunately the ride was closed, and the line snaked all the way to the Prince Charming Carousel. We tried Pooh, but it was closed also.



Mad Hatter’s Teacups, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, 2022


So our day started out as many others in Magic Kingdom have before: Jen & Alice on Mad Hatter Teacups and Alex purchasing a Cheshire Cat tail and coffee from the nearby Cheshire Cafe.


    8:45am- Mad Hatter Teacups


    8:55am- Tomorrowland Speedway (10 minute wait)


    9:10am- Mickey’s Philharmagic


    9:40am- Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride (10 minute wait)


    10:00am- Enchanted Tiki Room


    10:30am- Hall of Presidents


    11am- Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

Lunch & Dessert

Quick Service lunch at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe has the added bonus of a Sonny Eclipse, an alien from Yew Nork on the Planet Zork, performance.
In our over 40 visits to Magic Kingdom, we had somehow never been inside Gaston’s Tavern. On a busy day with long lines for food everywhere, we were pleasantly surprised to walk up to order our afternoon coffee and 50th Anniversary treat, the Donald Duck Dome Cake.





Gaston’s Tavern, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, 2022

    1:00pm- Country Bears Jamboree


    1:30pm- Liberty Square Boat


    2:00pm- Haunted Mansion LL (Standby would have been 45 minutes)


    2:30pm- Prince Charming’s Carousel


    2:45pm- Visited Cinderella’s Castle & Main Street


    3:15pm- Meet Mickey at Town Square (10 minute wait)


    3:30pm- Watched Princess Promenade on Main Street


    3:45pm- Visited Main Street Shops


    4:15pm- It’s a Small World LL (Standby would have been 35 minutes)


    4:45pm- Jungle Cruise LL (Standby would have been 35 minutes)

Dessert Break: Aloha Isle

Even when the high temperatures are in the low 50s, Dole Whip at Aloha Isle in Adventureland is a requirement. This trip we opted for the Tropical Hideaway 50th Anniversary Treat.



Tropical Hideaway 50th Anniversary Treat from Aloha Isle, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, 2022

Main Street, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, 2022

    6:00pm- Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor


    6:30pm- Pirates of the Caribbean LL (Standby would have been 40 minutes)

Dinner at Skipper’s Jungle Navigation Co.
& Disney Enchantment

Skipper Jungle Navigation Co. has always been our go-to for table service dining for Magic Kingdom. The menu is pieced together like the rivers featured on the Jungle Cruise ride; it includes inspiration from Asia, Africa, and South America. We’ve always enjoyed the food, but this trip impressed us more than ever.

Skipper’s Jungle Navigation Co., Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, 2022

It’s important to note that the only way to have alcoholic beverages at Magic Kingdom is to book a table service reservation, and at dinnertime on a busy night we were surrounded by parents sharing a full bottle of wine.

We positioned ourselves to watch the fireworks close to the Tomorrowland entrance, where we planned to end our MK Day. Even arriving 10 minutes before the show to an incredibly packed crowd, we were able to find a spot with a good view of the projection. While we couldn’t see fireworks as well from behind the tree, the tradeoff of being up against a fence without anyone in front of us was worth it.
In hindsight, I may have tried harder to get a Lightning Lane ride after the fireworks; Buzz Lightyear had no wait when we arrived. I also finally checked off riding Astro Orbiter at night, and then we ended our day with a relaxing favorite, the PeopleMover.


    8:20pm- LL for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Standby was 5 minutes)


    8:30pm- Astro Orbiter


    8:45pm- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

Bus transportation back to French Quarter took especially long that night, so we didn’t return to our room until 10pm.

Was Genie+ Lighting Lane Worth It at Magic Kingdom?


For $45 our family was able to ride four of our favorite rides (Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World) and save two and a half hours in line. For families who want specific and very popular rides (Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan’s Flight, etc.) you may have to forgo hopping from ride to ride using Lightning Lane. There were multiple ride breakdowns and it was a busy weekend day, so even rides that historically would have short wait times (Dumbo, It’s a Small World, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, etc.) had a 30-minute wait.

With so many options, the Genie+ Lightning Lanes were absolutely worth it for our family at Magic Kingdom. Families with small children would likely find more options always available, and families who want “bigger ticket” rides can plan for one later in the day and then to book a second 2 hours after park opening.
Planning ahead is more difficult than it was with the previous FastPass system, but Magic Kingdom has so many underrated attractions (Country Bears Jamboree first among them) that its easy to fill the time between the next LL window.

Rides/Attractions we chose not to do:
  • Tom Sawyer Island– TSI is a great way to spend a cool day while you wait for another attraction, but we had spent a lot of time there on our last holiday season visit in 2019.
  • Barnstormer
  • Under The Sea- The Journey of the Little Mermaid– This would have normally been one of our walk-on rides, but lines were 30 minutes+ most of the day.
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant– We chose to skip Dumbo, but did visit the Big Top tent, which was once my favorite for merchandise. It now sells primarily towels for kids that have played in Casey’s Splash & Soak, and a few smaller items, and has a new sweets counter.
  • Space Mountain (We could have purchased LL ($9/pp) anytime during the day but chose not to)
  • Seven Dwarves Mine Train– We had one LL purchased ($12) for 9pm, but chose to skip it and return to the hotel
  • Princess Meet & Greets– These had just reopened over the weekend, and waits were relatively short. However my once princess-awed child was no longer interested.
Rides that we wished had LL spots available or shorter waits
  • Big Thunder Mountain- This is the one ride that we were disappointed to miss, but the ride was offline most of the morning and lines were long all day.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

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