How to Create a Walt Disney World Itinerary
Creating a plan, although remaining flexible, will help you to maximize your time at Walt Disney World (WDW). Knowing what are the best places to go first, how to use the Fast Pass, and timing lunch/dinner during slow times will help to reduce wait times allowing you and your family to enjoy more of the parks. Major advantages of staying in a WDW resort are the extended hours at select parks. These are times where the parks are open early or stay open later just for guest staying in the resort hotels. The crowds are reduced, the temperature is cooler, and there are more characters ready to greet you at the start or say farewell at the end of your day.
Looking ahead at the park calendar will allow you to schedule what park on what day. With young children (8 and under) the most magical park is Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park. Princess fantasy and pirate adventure all add to the excitement of the Magic Kingdom. Starting your trip here is typically the way to go. Take into account the extended hours before committing to this plan. If Epcot or Hollywood Studios have extended hours on your first day in the parks then take advantage of those extra hours first, especially if you only have a few days in the parks.
How to Plan a Two Week Vacation
Two weeks is a perfect vacation at Walt Disney World. This length of time provides ample fun in the parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, and even time for relaxing by the pool or taking on extra Disney adventures. The following will provide a starting point for creating an itinerary for your trip. The key is to remain flexible and have fun. Not everything will work out as planned, but making the trip work for you and your family will be the important part of the experience.
Step 1: Determine extended hours at each park during the time of your stay. This will give you a basic outline to go by since you will want to maximize your time in the parks with smaller crowds.
Step 2: Create a calendar or Microsoft Excel spread sheet and schedule what park you would like to visit each day.
NOTE: A Park Hopper Pass will allow you to go to more than one park each day. This added cost is worth it for longer trips to Walt Disney World. For example, you could start the day in Magic Kingdom, take a break in the middle for a short nap in your resort room, and end the day at Epcot to dine in one of the “countries” and watch the fireworks display.
Step 3: Schedule character dining and other dining according to your park schedule. Since seating is limited, you will want to schedule reservations using the Disney reservation line as soon as you can.
NOTE:Remain flexible and plan on scheduling at least 3 months in advance for dinner reservations. With the Disney Dinning Plan, more guests are scheduling reservations than in the past. Make reservations for all sit down restaurants even those without character dining experiences.
Step 4: Schedule time to relax by the pool, sleep in, or to ride the “mickey boats”. This will allow you to regain your energy for the next day in the park.
NOTE: If you purchase a 7-Day Park Hopper Pass with “add ons” you will need to schedule time for the Disney Interactive and water parks.
Step 5: Schedule in show times. These can be found at the Disney Calendar. Some shows are considered rides and you get in line to wait just like the other rides (A Little Mermaid), others are shows and you will need to schedule time in advance to stand and wait.
NOTE: Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios) and The Lion King (Animal Kingdom) both require about a one and half hour wait time prior to seating. If you want great seats, plan on at least an hour if not more prior to show time seating. Your whole party will need to be with you (line jumping is highly frowned upon and you may be asked to leave the park). If you have children, most of the other guests are flexible for restroom breaks. You should have at least two adults—one to hold your place in line while the other one takes the child(ren) to the restroom. Make sure the guests behind you are OK with you leaving the line and then returning.
Step 6: Review your plan. Ask yourself if you have too much scheduled, not enough, or if there are extra options if your plans do not work out perfectly.
Step 7: Print out your plan. Being able to review what you expect to do and what you will end up doing may be different, but in the end it will help you to see as much as you can during your trip.
How to Plan a 3, 4 or 5 day trip to Walt Disney World
With shorter trips to WDW, a Park Hopper or add ons are not necessary. You can enjoy each park all day, but take into account the extended hours to increase the total amount of time you can spend in the parks. With small children it may not be reasonable to spend every waking hour in the park, so work to schedule a mid-day break in your room or by the pool. This will help the whole family to prepare for evening festivities such as the Electromagic Parade, fireworks, or evening extended hours.
For shorter trips follow the same steps but limit your amount of relaxing time outside of the parks. Since you only have a few days, expect to visit a different park each day.
Do you have any recommendations on how to build a Walt Disney World itinerary? What is your favorite, must-see attraction or show?
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