This is the Best Way to Plan Your Disney Park Days
Sometimes, I’m guilty of running before I walk when I give park advice. I skip straight to high-level discussions about maximizing efficiency.
However, I know that some of you have never visited the parks before and have more fundamental questions.
You want to know how to plan your Disney park days and nights. Here’s my advice as a frequent guest.
Plan around Your Tickets
How many days are you staying at Walt Disney World? And what type of admission tickets have you purchased?
These questions need answers before you can plan your best possible itinerary.
Let’s say that you’re staying for six nights. You’ll want six- or seven-day admission tickets, depending on when you’ll arrive.
Since the cost difference is negligible, I’d recommend seven days. Then, you must decide whether to purchase Park Hopper.
Without this admission ticket enhancement, you’ll only have one park option each day. That’s not a bad thing, as first-time guests will find plenty to do!
Once you decide, you know how long you’ll visit. And you also decide whether to visit more than one park each day.
I’ll presume that you pass on Pass Hopper for the rest of the discussion…but get Park Hopper if you can afford it!
Decide How Active You Want to Be
Are you a go-getter on vacation? Are you one of those crazy people like my wife, who works out in the morning before heading to the theme park?
Or are you more like me? Do you prefer a less hectic vacation experience, one that requires no extra steps?
The answers to these questions will determine whether you’ll want to stay at the parks all day or leave for a while then come back.
If you don’t know, Disney theme parks include restaurants that will rival the local fast food and fast-casual eateries in your area.
However, many of the best places to eat at Walt Disney World aren’t in the parks. They’re at nearby Disney resorts and Disney Springs.
Are you willing to leave the parks to sacrifice valuable ride time to have a better meal?
If the answer is yes, you’ll have a more ambitious itinerary. Those who prefer calmer park visits will only have to walk a short distance to dine.
I mean, Disney operates restaurants and food kiosks in every themed land, assuring that you’re always close to food when you desire it.
The catch involves food quality, as you’re sacrificing potentially better meals for convenience.
For first-time guests, I suggest that you avoid extra travel as much as possible.
Plan your park days around eating in the parks or at your Disney resort once your park visit has ended.
How Much Time Should You Spend at Each Park?
This question includes two variants. The first is how many days you should spend at each Disney theme park.
Remember that we’re presuming no Park Hopping and seven days of park admission.
So, you’ll spend at least one full day at each park. The debate involves what you do with the other three.
The type of admission ticket factors into your decision. Without Park Hopping, you’re at the whim of Disney Park Passes.
Remember that you’ll still need one for at least the next 18 months. For this reason, you must choose your parks around the same time you buy tickets.
Here’s where an authorized Disney Vacation Planner like the experts at MickeyTravels can help.
They can advise you on the best ways to schedule seven consecutive days at the parks while recommending the best tickets for your needs.
And the best part is that you’ll never pay a dime for MickeyTravels’ services! They’re entirely free to you!
That’ll leave you with one extra day of park access. I’d recommend a lazy day at EPCOT, where you can drink and dine better than the other parks.
Also, the lines are shorter here, as a rule.
The other question is how much time you want to spend at the park each day. Are you a ‘break of dawn until they kick you out’ type of vacationer?
I used to be like that and appreciate the idea of going full bore during a Disney trip.
The problem is that once you get home, you’ll feel like you need another vacation because you’re so tired. I speak from experience here.
For this reason, I’d suggest maxing out your park days at ten hours.
Otherwise, you’ll grow exhausted after a few days unless you’re in peak physical shape. Even then, you’ll work too hard on vacation.
I’d suggest a more intelligent approach instead. Before you leave on your trip, look at the park maps for Walt Disney World’s four theme parks.
Develop an itinerary based on riding stuff that’s close together rather than walking across the park and then backtracking.
For example, at Magic Kingdom, don’t ride Jungle Cruise and Space Mountain consecutively unless you’re switching to Tomorrowland for a while.
Instead, follow up Jungle Cruise with Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion. Follow the paths to nearby rides to avoid unnecessary steps.
This logic especially applies to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where Pandora – The World of Avatar resides across the park from the Asia themed land.
If you ride Avatar Flight of Passage and then Expedition Everest, you’ll do a lot of walking.
That’s fine once if you plan to hang out in Asia and then Africa or DinoLand U.S.A. for a while.
Contrast that itinerary to Avatar Flight of Passage followed by Expedition Everest followed by DINOSAUR followed by Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Congratulations! You’ve just walked a marathon!
My Thoughts on Planning the Best Disney Park Days
For a seven-day Walt Disney World vacation, I’d suggest the following itinerary:
- Day one: Magic Kingdom
- Day two: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Day three: EPCOT
- Day four: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Day five: Magic Kingdom
- Day six: Hollywood Studios
- Day seven: EPCOT
I do have a few caveats here. If you’re staying close to a Disney theme park, you should pick that as your first day.
By doing so, you’ll travel less and get right to the park after you’ve dropped off your luggage.
With Hollywood Studios, I’d strongly suggest picking weekdays (Monday through Thursday) rather than weekends (Friday through Sunday).
That park is always crowded, but you’ll have a better shot at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance on weekdays.
When you plan meals, lean toward Mobile Ordering from Quick Service restaurants.
This strategy will guarantee you a table and the food you want on your schedule. You can signal the restaurant to cook your meal when you’re in the area.
Table Service restaurants, the sit-down meals, are vastly superior in my opinion. However, they’ll take an hour or more.
You should pick these meals when you want a break, either inside or outside the park. However, I’d lean toward eating at the park during your first visit.
Disney transportation sometimes proves mercurial, and you don’t want to waste time when you could be experiencing a Star Wars ride, right?
If you have other, more specific questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. However, contacting a MickeyTravels agent is your best bet for your answers.
Feature Image Rights: Kent Phillips, Photographer