Tips For Planning Your Ultimate Disney World Itinerary!
You've booked your hotel and plane tickets, your Disney Park tickets are paid for so now it is time to plan out your Disney World itinerary!
Planning your Disney World touring plan can feel like such an overwhelming task. Just where do you begin? What is the best schedule to create for Disney World? How many days do you need in each park?
Creating an itinerary is now essential due to the implementation of the Disney World Park Pass Reservation system. If you weren't a fan of planning your entire trip out you used to be able to just turn up and head to whatever park you fancied that day, but that is not currently possible. With it now necessary to book your park days in advance it has never been more important to plan an itinerary.
So where to begin?
It can feel like a daunting task to create your perfect Disney World itinerary so here are some tips to help you start planning with ease!
Choose How Many Days To Visit
If you are visiting Disney World from the US the ideal trip length is 5 - 7 days. This will make sure you get to visit each of the Disney Parks and still have time for a resort day or a water park visit!
If travelling from further afield it is ideal to stay for 2 weeks. This will help you get the most out of every park by being able to visit them multiple times but also give you days to rest and explore other features such as the Disney water parks, miniature golf and everything your Disney resort has to offer.
If you only have a set amount of days that can be used and it is less than what is recommended above don't worry! You will still be able to fit so much in!
Pick Which Disney Parks To Enjoy
Next you need to decide how many days you need in each park. This can be influenced by what you enjoy. For example, people who love thrills or are big Star Wars fans may want to spend at least a couple of days in Hollywood Studios to get to ride everything more than once. If you are big foodies you may want to visit EPCOT multiple times to try out all the incredible foods on offer throughout World Showcase, particularly if there is a festival happening at the time!
As a rule of thumb below is the minimum amount of days that each park needs to be visited to get everything done.
Magic Kingdom needs the most amount of days and I would recommend at least two.
EPCOT can be done in one day unless you plan on doing a lot of eating and drinking around the world or are visiting one of the many festivals that EPCOT holds, if so you might want to visit multiple times.
Hollywood Studios can be done in one day. Some people will visit more than once to try to get everything in as it can be a busy park now with Galaxy's Edge and Toy Story Land.
Animal Kingdom can be done in one day.
If you have 5 days I would recommend 2 days in Magic Kingdom and 1 day in each of the other parks to get the full Disney World experience!
The longer your trip the more you can enjoy! If you are visiting for two weeks you will be able to visit each park more than once!
Check Out What Special Events May Be On
Check out what special events might be happening at Disney World during your trip. Some big special events include the 50th Anniversary of Magic Kingdom on 1st October 2021, the Grand Opening of Remy's Ratatouille Adventure in EPCOT on 1st October 2021, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and the many EPCOT festivals that take place throughout the year.
Visiting during a special event can be a massive benefit or a hindrance. It is fantastic as you get to say you were there as Magic Kingdom celebrated its 50th Anniversary or that you were one of the first to ride a brand new attraction or that you attended a spooktacular Halloween party! But special events mean bigger crowds.
If you are visiting during a time when a special event is taking place but want to avoid the influx of people be sure to skip the park where the event is taking place. Sometimes the other parks can be quieter than usual as everyone wants to attend the event.
Occasionally the other parks can become busier than usual as everyone else has the same idea! If this is something you are worried about and you are looking for a quiet relaxing day this is the perfect time for a rest day to explore your resort or play about in the pool!
Sometimes special events can mean the host park will be quieter on that day. If there is a Halloween Party or Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom that evening the park closes early to prepare for the party. This can actually be a benefit as many people skip the park during the daytime as they feel they won't get their full money's worth. Which means lower crowds! With lower crowd levels you can get more done so ironically missing out on a few hours in the evening can mean you actually get to do more!
EPCOT festivals are busier on the weekend as the Orlando locals love to be able to enjoy all the great food, beverages and entertainment on offer. Who can blame them? If you are wanting to visit one of these awesome festivals but with lower crowd levels be sure to visit midweek and in the daytime.
Attending a special event can also help you plan your itinerary! For example when I go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party I plan for a relaxing day the next day as I know I will be tired from the late night. This means I already know the day after the party I will either visit a water park or have a resort day so that is two days of my itinerary easily planned out!
Also take into consideration the time of year you are visiting. Public holidays may mean the parks are busier on certain dates during your trip i.e. Labor Day or 4th of July. These can be good days to plan rest days if you want to escape the big crowds.
Christmas and Thanksgiving are very busy times at Disney World. The crowd level may impact which parks you visit on those days. For example Christmas Day is Magic Kingdom's busiest day of the year. One to avoid if you don't like massive crowds! But try Animal Kingdom instead as this tends to be the quietest park on big holidays.
Use Crowd Calendars
Crowd calendars can be a great way to get an idea of how busy a park typically is on any given day. They aren't an exact science but can point out some trends.
For example as a general rule of thumb EPCOT is busier on weekends, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are quieter midweek. If you do need to visit a park on a weekend day then Animal Kingdom is the quietest of the four parks.
Having a look at crowd calendars can help you pick which days are best suited to each park for your visit.
I created my own system when using crowd calendars, which you can see in the example above. I looked at two different crowd calendars and put their predicted crowd levels into a spreadsheet.
One of the crowd calendars I split into colours (red for busy, green for quiet and yellow for medium sized crowds). The other crowd calendar I split into an Asterix for the best park to visit that day and an exclamation point for the busiest park that day. I could then see trends between the two which helped me decide which parks to visit or avoid on each day of my trip.
My system looks quite complex but you don't have to create wacky spreadsheets to get helpful information from crowd calendars! Just getting a rough idea of what days the parks are quietest and busiest during your trip will help you easily pick what days to visit each park.
Include Rest Days!
A trip to Disney World is always the most exciting but they can be exhausting! Visiting from park opening to park close can really tucker you out. In fact there is a term for this feeling: a Disney hangover!
The day after a long day in one of the Disney Parks can leave you feeling drained, your feet sore and a bit lethargic. To help lessen this it is a great idea to add rest days into your itinerary!
I like to add a rest day after every couple of days to break up the holiday. The change in pace is also very welcome! As you can see in my itinerary above from one of my previous trips to Disney World I had three park days followed by two rest days to relax at Typhoon Lagoon and do some shopping, eating and watching a movie at Disney Springs.
Rest days are super important if you are visiting for a longer period of time. It is common to walk 7 to 10 miles a day when visiting the Disney Parks so two weeks of non-stop park days can be very draining! Adding in some downtime to let your feet and body rest and relax can really add so much enjoyment to your trip and gives you a boost of energy so you are ready to hit the parks again!
Don't Forget Water Parks and Resort Days!
Disney World is so much more than just rides and characters! Don't miss out on the other amazing activities on offer. Some perfect ways to spend your rest days can include:
Visiting a Disney Water Park
Have a resort day and exploring everything your Disney Resort has to offer
Relax with a fun round of miniature golf at one of the two Disney World courses
Visit some shops, enjoy some food and catch a film at Disney Springs
Rent a boat and explore Seven Seas Lagoon
Have a relaxing spa day at one of the Disney World spas
Hire a bike and cycle around one of the many trails at the Disney Resorts
Factor In Your Dining Reservations
Don't forget to factor in dining if you plan to make Disney dining reservations. With over 200 restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort dining is a big part of any trip!
Quick service restaurants don't need any reservations so you don't need to factor these into your itinerary. If you would like to dine in any of the excellent table service or fine dining restaurants then it is highly recommended to book these in advance, 60 days before you wish to dine.
Sometimes dining reservations can decide your itinerary. If there is a restaurant you cannot miss then the dates you can get reservations may decide what park you visit that day. For example, if you really wanted to dine in Be Our Guest Restaurant and there are only reservations on one date during your trip this can help you plan your itinerary as this would need to be a Magic Kingdom day for you.
Book Your Park Pass Reservations!
Once you have your Disney Park tickets bought and itinerary sorted book your Park Pass Reservations ASAP to make sure you can secure your spot in the parks on the days you want to visit!
You can easily book your Park Pass reservation via My Disney Experience on the Disney World website or via the My Disney Experience app.
Are You Ready To Plan Your Itinerary?
Check out my Itinerary Planner for Walt Disney World for easy-to-use templates to help you create your own touring plan!
Included in this Disney World planner is:
My example itinerary to help you see what your itinerary could look like
A blank template for you to fill in with your own itinerary
A daily planner so you can see just what you plan to do each day of your trip
An hourly planner to help you easily block out your day and know what you are doing at any given time to avoid double booking yourself!
Purchase your copy today from my Etsy store by clicking here!