Can you effectively do all of Walt Disney World in just four days? You bet! To make it the absolute best, I recommend upgrading your passes to a park-hopper. Here’s how you can do it all well in a quick trip…
Step One: Plan Your Park Days – Find out what the hours of operation are at each park on the days of your visit. Plan to visit the parks on the days when each is open the longest for you. Take note that if you are not staying on-property, the Extra Magic Hours will not apply to you. In fact if you are staying off-property you may actually want to avoid the park that has Extra Magic Hours because it could be more crowded.
Step Two: Plan Your Days in the Parks – Once you figure out which park you will do on what day, it’s time to start consulting a map. You can use the My Disney Experience app for this, but I prefer to print out a hard copy. Highlight the things that you want to do. Also, consider using two different colors – one for your “must-do’s” and one for your “want-to’s”. For most people, Magic Kingdom takes the most time, so that’s where the hopper option comes in handy. Here’s a possible layout for your four days (switch the order of the days based on your research in step one):
Day One – Magic Kingdom – Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. These two “lands” in the Magic Kingdom will take you the most time, and will probably contain most of your classic must-do’s. If you are quick and efficient, you can add some of Adventureland in on this day as well. It’s going to be a busy day, but stay from open to close if you can, because the Wishes fireworks are not to be missed! Magic Kingdom is a big place, so try to knock out each land in sequence instead of wasting time running back and forth across the park.
Day Two – Epcot. After a busy first day, take it down a notch with a trip to Epcot. This is important: Epcot is NOT the Magic Kingdom! Change gears and slow down – trust me, it’s better that way. Yes, Epcot is a large park, but it can be fully enjoyed in one day at a moderate pace. Do Future World in the morning, and then World Showcase starting at lunchtime. (Both lunch and dinner should be eaten in World Showcase, in my opinion.) Walk all the pavilions in the afternoon, then come back to finish up any part of Future World that you missed in the evening before IllumiNations. Do as much pre-planning with your highlighter as possible, but be sure to also pick up a map with daily showtimes upon entering (it’s especially helpful for the performances in World Showcase, since the times can vary).
Day Three – Hollywood Studios. Again, this day can be taken at a more relaxed – but still intentional – pace. Hollywood Studios is a smaller park, and it’s easy to do everything on your list in a day. Be sure to pause for street shows, and plan dining and ride times around major show times. If you’re traveling with small children, you may find that there are fewer options for them to enjoy in this park. (Don’t get me wrong – HS is awesome, but the history and making of films kinda goes over the heads of most toddlers.) If that is the case for your family, this is a great time to use your hopper to head back to Magic Kingdom in the early evening.
Day Four – Animal Kingdom. Because Animal Kingdom closes earlier, you’ll want to really be sure to get there when it opens in order to fit everything in. Kilimanjaro Safari is the pinnacle, so I’d recommend doing it first, even though it’s at the back of the park. After that, work your way around systematically in whatever way suits you best. If you plan to do Kali River Rapids, I’d try to plan all of the Asia section for early afternoon when it’s the hottest. At closing, hop over to either finish Magic Kingdom or to do repeats of your favorites.
Step Three: Reservations. Now that you know what you’ll be doing on which days, it’s time to make reservations for Fast Passes and dining. Reserve your three Fast Passes for as early in the day as possible, knowing that once you’ve used them you can get more. Heavy-hitters that you should definitely snag if possible include: Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Peter Pan, Soarin’, Test Track, Toy Story Mania, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, and character greetings with either Mickey or the Frozen sisters. For dining, use your best discernment. Table service places are going to cost you more time (and money), but if food is important to your group they may be worth it to you. Character dining may be a great option, since it’ll save you wait times on whatever characters you meet inside. But if you’ve highlighted a lot of shows and rides as “must-do’s” for your itinerary, then counter service will certainly not disappoint, and you won’t need any reservations. By the way, eating earlier than normal will help you avoid the rush.
You can totally tackle Disney in four days – and it will be amazing! Have fun making memories!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper