First Things First
Admission to the Magic Kingdom (or any theme park) requires a ticket. For details about the various ticket and pricing options for visiting the Magic Kingdom and all of the theme parks within the WDW Resort, see Chapter 3.
Whenever you leave the Magic Kingdom, be sure to have your hand stamped as you exit in order to be granted readmission into the park later that day or evening. The hand stamps are designed to be water-resistant, so don't worry if your hand gets wet if you choose to return to your hotel in the middle of the day to go swimming, and then want to return to the Magic Kingdom later that evening. Try to refrain, however, from scrubbing your hands clean with soap until your day's visit to the Magic Kingdom is totally complete. Your ticket stub will also be needed.
What to Bring
Make sure you wear comfortable broken-in shoes! Try to avoid carrying too much stuff with you. You'll enjoy your visit more if your hands are as free as possible. Consolidating everything into one community backpack is a good idea. Depending on the weather, you might want to take along a jacket (you can always store it in a locker or tie it around your waist). It may seem odd to pack a lightweight jacket or long-sleeved shirt especially in the hot summer months, but indoor environments can sometimes be overcooled. Don't forget to bring your camera, along with plenty of film and batteries. Avoid having to purchase high-priced film, batteries, or camera supplies in the park.
In case of rain, plan on getting a bit wet. Wear a raincoat or plan to purchase a bright yellow Mickey Mouse poncho (for about $6). Avoid bringing an umbrella into the park. You'll find it frustrating trying to walk around the crowded park with an open umbrella. During a rainstorm, crowds will be less; however, some outdoor rides and attractions will be closed, and some parades and shows might be canceled. Planning for bad weather is important, but when it's sunny (or even slightly overcast), make sure you protect yourself and those you're traveling with by applying plenty of sunscreen. Also, wear a hat to protect your face from the sun.
One good rule is to always travel against the crowds. For example, many rides and attractions will have two lines. Statistics show that people automatically head to the right. You'll probably find that the line to the left will be shorter.
Choose a Place to Meet
As soon as you arrive at the Magic Kingdom, choose a place where you'll meet up with the other people in your group if you get separated. Two ideal meeting places are in front of City Hall or at the Hub (in front of the Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue). Decide to meet on the half-hour if you become separated. Adults can leave written messages for each other at City Hall. However, most people carry cell phones and simply contact each other this way. Walkie-talkies can be very useful as well.
The very best time to visit the park and not have to deal with huge crowds is on Sunday morning.
If you're traveling with children, upon arriving at the Magic Kingdom, set some ground rules. Instruct the kids to stay close to you (the parent or adult) at all times. Let children know that if they get lost not to panic. All they have to do is find anyone wearing a Disney nametag and tell them that they are lost. The cast member will call the appropriate people and take the child to lost and found.