Which Disney Park Should You Skip During a Short Visit?
One of the Disney questions I get asked the most comes from friends who will only visit Orlando for a short time.
Usually, they’re spending an extra day or two in Central Florida or only have a small amount of free time during a business trip to the area.
So, they want to maximize their Disney visit by hitting all the highlights quickly. As such, they ask a simple question.
Which Disney park(s) should you skip on a short trip? The answer varies depending on your preferences, but I’ll take a crack at it.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Let’s divide this discussion into pros and cons for each park.
At Animal Kingdom, the pros include the special offerings and the uniqueness of the park itself.
You’re literally visiting a de facto zoo that happens to host theme park attractions as well.
One moment, you’ll watch the animals play during Kilimanjaro Safaris. The next, you’ll zoom backward on Expedition Everest, one of Disney’s best thrill rides.
The combination proves exhilarating, especially for animal lovers.
Plus, the introduction of Pandora – The World of Avatar has led to some memorable photo ops.
The cons of Animal Kingdom come down to tourist expectations. If you’re looking for a place with a lot of rides, this park is on the bottom.
Even after adding Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’Vi River Journey, Animal Kingdom still suffers compared to other Walt Disney World parks.
Also, you’ll walk a LOT to reach each section of Animal Kingdom.
I always expect to cover at least 15 miles during the days when I spend most of my time at Animal Kingdom.
The animal habitats cover a lot of space and force some non-direct walking paths at times.
If you have a short time and don’t want to work up a sweat, this may not be the place for you.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Let’s be brutally honest. Hollywood Studios offers the most reasons to visit for fans of the new hotness.
You’ll find six attractions here that have debuted since the summer of 2018. Two of them feature Toy Story Land characters, while another is from Cars.
Another two highlight the brilliance of Star Wars, while the sixth stars Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
I’m casually tossing out names from some of the most popular intellectual properties in the entire Disney library.
The addition of these six attractions has fundamentally altered the perception of Hollywood Studios. It’s now the most popular Disney theme park.
That statement also provides the con for the park. As the smallest of Walt Disney World’s four theme parks, it was never intended for huge crowds.
So, Hollywood Studios currently experiences longer waits than the other parks. Somehow, it feels more congested, even during the pandemic.
Still, many people legitimately visit Walt Disney World exclusively for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Those tourists will pick Hollywood Studios no matter what, which is valid. Star Wars Land is genuinely remarkable.
The consensus opinion about EPCOT centers on three attractions. You should go for Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and Soarin’.
Once you’ve ridden those, the perception is that everything else is about the same. Now, I strongly disagree with this assessment, but it is the perception.
To some, EPCOT lacks the allure of Hollywood Studios or Magic Kingdom due to its shortage of high-quality attractions.
Even people who feel that way spend a lot of time at EPCOT, though. They do because the food and drinks are outrageously good.
Also, the entertainment at the park is terrific, even during the pandemic era.
You’ll never want for things to do at EPCOT because the World Showcase features so many sublime pavilions.
The people most likely to skip EPCOT are the ones who want to experience all of Walt Disney World’s most famous rides and don’t care as much about food.
Conversely, foodies never want to leave EPCOT, as it’s a theme park paradise.
Whether you choose to skip this one or not depends entirely on how hard you want to go at your Disney visit.
This park celebrates its 50th birthday in October. For half a century, it has defined Walt Disney World as a place. The two are synonymous to many.
So, a visit to Magic Kingdom feels automatic for anyone short on time who wants the complete Disney vacation vibe microwaved to a day or two.
The pros are as simple to understand as naming classic attractions: Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.
You can spend an entire day at Magic Kingdom without repeating any attractions unless that’s your preference.
Imagineers have constructed so many fabulous attractions that the ones that many would consider among the worst are still phenomenal.
I mean, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room are brimming with history, while Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is hypnotic.
The only cons I could ever offer regarding Magic Kingdom are the food and the rides. Hear me out.
The cuisine at Magic Kingdom could stand for some improvement, something even Disney officials will acknowledge privately.
As for the rides, there’s a distinct “been there, done that” to many of them.
While Imagineers modernize classic attractions, they cannot mess with the basic mechanics of Peter Pan’s Flight. It’s too established in Disney lore.
The Magic Kingdom rides that you remember from childhood remain the same decades later.
Is that a problem? I’d say never ever never, but some feel differently.
Personally, I generally answer friends by saying that if they only have time to visit one park, they should choose EPCOT or Magic Kingdom.
I favor EPCOT for a laid-back park day where people drink and dine and enjoy the ambiance.
Many rides feature short wait-times, partially because they’re not in the top tier.
Still, you can do some stuff without overly exerting yourself. Vacations are supposed to be fun, right?
Magic Kingdom is more for folks who want the authentic Disney park experience distilled into a single day.
You can ride many classic Disney attractions and have a marvelous time without overdoing it.
Conversely, when I tell people which park to skip, I usually start with Animal Kingdom. A visit here requires soooo much walking, and the place is hot.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore Animal Kingdom. However, it’s the least desirable option for a brief Disney trip unless you’re a huge animal lover.