What time is the 3 o'clock parade at Magic Kingdom? This question has gone down in Disney Park folklore as one of the crazy questions that cast members get asked. Because it's kind of obvious, right? Well it is not quite as simple as it may seem.
Festival of Fantasy Parade, in Magic Kingdom, is the daily parade that runs through the park. It is a tribute to Fantasyland and it really is not to be missed - huge floats, your favourite characters, including Mickey, Minnie and co, and all the princesses - and their theme tunes. The star of the show though is Maleficent, in her dragon form - her fire breathing dragon form. It is pretty incredible.
Magic Kingdom Parade Route
The My Disney Experience app and showtimes guide is going to tell you that the Festival of Fantasy parade starts at 3pm (although there was a time is started at 2pm, so this does occasionally change). What is less clear is that the parade starts in Frontierland - in the spot just before Splash Mountain. It then progresses towards and then through Liberty Square, towards Cinderella Castle, down Mainstreet, around in front of Mainstreet Station and out next to Harmony Barbershop. It takes approximately 15 minutes to hit Mainstreet - at least 20 minutes to get to your spot at the end of the parade route. So if you're right at the end of the route, the parade won't be starting until around 3:20pm-ish.
Magic Kingdom parade times and viewing spots
Festival of Fantasy is an absolute must see - which means it is busy! In peak season you'll need to start staking out your spot between 1:30pm and 2pm. That's a long old wait if you're at the end of the parade route and have the length of the parade to wait as well. The 'prime' spot to watch the parade is on Mainstreet, so not only is this a longer wait for the parade to begin, but you also need to get your spot sooner. For this reason, we recommend watching from Frontierland or a little further along in Liberty Square. It tends to be a little less busy so you can find your spot fractionally later, and you'll be waiting less time for it to start. And the less time you can be sitting out in the hot sun the better - because at 3pm it is HOT! And the other perk to watching it here is if you've finished watching the parade while a ton of people are still watching it on Mainstreet, you've got a chance to get one ride in without as many crowds. Everyone will be doing the same thing in Frontierland, Adventureland and Liberty Square - but now would be a good time to head out to the rest of the park, if you can be quick about it - but avoid going towards Main Street or you'll get stuck. Fantasyland-end of Liberty Square is a good spot if you're planning on doing this.
If you are spending a couple of days at Magic Kingdom, we typically recommend catching Festival of Fantasy Parade on one of those days, and using the fractionally lower crowds at 3pm on the other day to hit up a very popular ride - Seven Dwarves Minetrain, or one of the Mountains for example. This is more of a 'do as I say, not as I do' scenario though - I love the parade, so I'll watch it as often as I can. There are some attractions that I don't always think are worth giving up so much time to wait for - this isn't one of them. Make sure you watch it if you can.