Many people start their year off by dreaming up their next vacation. You might be wondering how many days at Disney World will help you see it all. When Walt Disney opened his first theme park, he hoped it would be a source of joy and inspiration. You can expect that and to come home with incredible memories after a trip of any length. You can certainly visit all four Disney World theme parks, try many of the famous tastes and feel like you’ve enjoyed a complete and fulfilling stay in one week.
Whether it’s your first time at a Disney Park, or just a Disney World park, there’s a lot to know. How long you should stay at Disney World also depends on how much you and your party personally need to see in order to feel fulfilled. The kind of pace that is right for you also plays a role in how long you should plan to go for. Below we’re going over some different lengths for Disney World vacations and some corresponding, basic itinerary foundations that could possibly be right for your trip. We’re also noting what you might want to plan to include on your stay. The more you want to include, the longer you’ll need to stay.
How Many Days at Disney World is Enough
The answer to how many days at Disney World is enough really depends on your travel party and your ambitions. The basic answer is one week. A week should help you visit all four theme parks and feel like you’ve had a full trip at Disney World. Those who want more than one day at each park may need more time. Those who would like to just visit each theme park for one day can probably spend a long weekend.
Disney World Overview
To help you decide the right length for your trip, let’s go over what you might want to include in your itinerary. For starters, Disney is all about the theme parks. Walt Disney World has four: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For a full experience you’ll want to dedicate a full day to visiting each of the four. For an in depth look, see our Disney World theme parks overview. There are also two water parks: Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. These are open seasonally. Disney World also has Disney Springs where you’ll see many stores and restaurants you won’t find anywhere else.
For foodies, know that there are some fun things to eat and neat restaurants to try in the parks but you should also consider dining options inside the Disney resort hotels. You don’t have to be staying at any resort to dine there. Getting advance dining reservations at hotel restaurants is done on the Disney World website or on the My Disney Experience app. If you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can book all dining reservations for your trip 60 days out from the first day of your trip. This gives you a bit of an advantage as everyone else can only book 60 days out. If you want to get more meals in, naturally you’ll need to add more days.
One Week Itinerary for Disney World
Spending one week at Disney World will allow you to visit each of the four theme parks at least once. You’ll probably want to visit your favorites twice. How do you know which park you should visit each day? Looking at the hours the parks are open can be a good place to start.
Magic Kingdom and Epcot have the most to do, especially if there is an Epcot festival going on. You’ll want to make sure to visit these parks on days where you can be there at park opening and stay until park close if that’s of interest to you. That will allow you to get a great head start before the crowds pick up too much. This will also allow you to experience the full range of offerings available throughout the day. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom can both be full day parks. It’s also possible you could finish early or go in late. Hollywood Studios has a beloved nighttime spectacular you should aim to include. In order to see all of the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios shows, you’ll need to plan ahead to work the show times into your park days. Animal Kingdom usually closes the earliest of all the parks. Magic Kingdom is typically busiest on the weekends.
Some of the most popular attractions at Disney World theme parks are only accessible by signing up the morning of your visit using a virtual queue in the My Disney Experience app.
Aside from all of that intel, if you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel, you may have access to early or late park entry opportunities. Those should really guide your trip itinerary as they will help you see the parks when they are the least crowded. The itinerary below is based on a stay at a Deluxe tier hotel, like Disney Vacation Club resorts. Many have firework views and all give you access to extra park hours when offered. The times mentioned below are just an idea of what might be. See actual times on your specific visit dates.
Weeklong Disney World Itinerary
Arrival day with shopping and a meal at Disney Springs. Watch fireworks from your resort.
Plan a full day at Magic Kingdom. Arrive around 8:00 a.m. to be first few in park for 8:30 a.m. early entry and stay through 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. for Extended Evening Hours. (You can always take a late afternoon break back at your hotel room if you need to rest.)
Plan a full day at Epcot. Arrive around 8:00 a.m. to be first in park for 8:30 a.m. early entry and stay through 9:00 p.m. to enjoy fireworks.
Plan a full day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Arrive around 8:00 a.m. to be first in park for 8:30 a.m. early entry and stay through park close to see Fantasmic! nighttime spectacular.
Sleep in and enjoy a day at your resort pool, getting room service, taking advantage of the resort’s amenities or doing something fabulous like visiting a spa. Relaxing on your vacation-what a concept! But if you’d rather be in the parks, that’s fun too.
Plan a full day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. If the park closes early, plan to dine at a restaurant at a resort for dinner.
Enjoy a morning at your favorite park before departing in the afternoon or evening.
Disney World Park Hopper
Everything about this itinerary can change if you have a park hopper add on. This ticket addition lets you visit more than one park in a day. If your party only wants to do things that are suitable for a small child, that takes a lot off of your list at each park. See the height requirements of each attraction to help guide your attraction choices. You may want to do a half day or park hop to another park. The same goes for those chasing the thrills. If you’re just into the big rides, having a park hopper will help you get the most in.
Maybe entertainment is your thing. It’s wonderful at Disney Parks and what sets them apart and keeps people coming back. The whole family, including little ones and grandparents, can enjoy Disney entertainment together. A park hopper will help you spend the time you need in each park to enjoy Disney’s world class entertainment offerings before heading to your next park.
Long Weekend Itinerary for Disney World
Let’s say you’re not too picky about what you see. You just want to have a good time, ride some rides, eat some delicious food and see some fireworks. Here’s how that might go, again, guided by park hours.
Arrival day and an evening at Epcot.
A full day at Magic Kingdom.
A full day at Hollywood Studios.
A half day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom before departing.
Visiting the Parks on Your Travel Day
Not visiting the parks on your travel day is a money and energy saving tip. Getting settled into your resort and visiting the shopping and dining complex Disney Springs can make for an entertaining arrival day. This can also help you feel rested and get the most in on your first full day. It’s most efficient to get up early and arrive at the park to get a few rides in before the waits start to go up on your first official day. There are great Disney merchandise stores at Disney Springs. A visit there can also help you save shopping time on your park days.
Disney World at Different Times of the Year
The time of year will also help you decide how many days at Disney World is sufficient. For example, there are two water parks but they aren’t open year round. Much of the year just one is open at a time. So if you wanted to enjoy all four theme parks and both water parks, you’ll probably need to visit in the summer when all are operating. The time of year you visit also has an impact on how much you can do in a day. During peak times, like Christmas week or spring break season, Walt Disney World Resort is much more populated. Lines for attractions will be longer, it takes more time to get around on transportation and you’ll want to plan ahead for meals.
The best time to visit Disney World with lower crowds are slower times like September and January. A shorter trip might still suit your needs during these times.
Consider What The Kids Can Do Comfortably
If you are traveling with small children in your party, that can change a few things. Walt Disney World has a lot of stimulus. On trips, kids are usually eating out of the ordinary things and travel in general can throw off a sleep schedule. You should know it’s totally ok to head back to the hotel during the day to keep those afternoon naps going. Maybe the fireworks are way past bed time for the littles. You know what’s right for your family. And if you think a week might be overwhelming, maybe a five day trip, or a long weekend, is perfect for your group.
Early Mornings Can Make For a Full Day
If you know your kids are up early, planning to tackle the mornings and hop around to do the things you’re interested in is a great strategy. Plan to get there thirty minutes to an hour before the park officially opens. Account for additional travel time depending on which park you’re going to. For example, at Magic Kingdom there is the monorail or ferry boat to take to get to the park. Getting an early start can make for a full itinerary with the lowest waits. Half days at the parks can be great for families that need a slower pace. After a full morning itinerary and a meal at the park, hitting the pool at your resort can add a lot to your trip while still providing down time for those in the party who need it.
Slow Mornings Might Be Best
Maybe a slow morning is right for you. Head to the park after and enjoy lunch, attractions, shows, dinner and the nighttime spectacular as an alternative idea. Lines can be longer in the afternoon but you might be able to find some shorter wait times during the last hour the park is open.
It’s helpful to consider all of the points brought up here regarding traveling with kids and let that inform the length of your stay. Even if this is your once in a generation trip, making sure rest and nutrition needs are met can help you have the highest quality trip possible. You don’t need to have a long trip to have a great trip!
Making the Most of Your Disney Park Day
At Walt Disney World theme parks, you can get in line for an attraction up to the minute before the park closes. That means that if Magic Kingdom closes at 9:00 p.m., you can get in line for Space Mountain at 8:59 p.m. Even if the wait is an hour long! Knowing that can help you get the most in, depending on what you and everyone else in the group is up for. It’s also good to know that many of the shops near the main entrance of the parks will remain open after the parks close.
Get to Know Disney Vacation Club
If this is just the beginning for you and you know you’ll want to go back to Disney again and again, you should know about “Disney’s best kept secret.” The Disney timeshare, Disney Vacation Club, might be the perfect vacation solution for you. If you love Walt Disney World and anticipate going regularly, a Disney Vacation Club Membership can help provide an excellent value on stays at Deluxe resort hotels. That includes fantastically themed properties in excellent locations like Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. Disney Vacation Club is a flexible point based timeshare that lets you choose when you visit each year. You can even bank or borrow your points to use more on a trip for greater flexibility.
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