So much goes into planning a Walt Disney World vacation. This blog post could go on forever! I totally get why people devote entire blogs to all things Disney World.
I love planning and thrive while doing so. So, planning a Disney vacation is the perfect experience for me. I can’t wait to do it again!
What ticket package do you get? When’s the best time to go? Which parks should you go to and how much time should you spend there? Where should you stay? All of these are important factors to consider while planning the logistics of your trip. While many bloggers are way more experienced on this topic, I’m still going to give my personal advice. Later, I’ll be making a post about my time at each park. Keep reading and check out my other Florida travel diaries here.
For my family’s first time for Disney World in 15 years, we purchased the 4-Park Magic Ticket. Disney tickets get cheaper the more days you go, and this ended up being the best price. The magic ticket is a four-day pass to each park: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. The catch is, you can only enter each park once and only one park per day. Being inexperienced Disney travelers, we knew this wouldn’t be an issue. And it wasn’t! While we wouldn’t do this package again, it’s great for first time Disney travelers.
I also highly recommend purchasing a Magic Band! You can use it for everything. It stores all your information and acts as a ticket. You simply hold your wrist to the scanner and it lets you into the park, confirms your Fast Pass reservation, acts as your PhotoPass, charges and sends merchandise straight to your room, and can be used to order food! We didn’t buy one, so we had to use the cards they give you instead. My brother and I both lost ours at one point (and luckily found them later). Lesson learned, Magic Bands are way more convenient. If you stay on property, you get one automatically. If not, trust me and buy one!
When to Go
There are helpful calendars you can find all over, showing you the dates the park is the busiest. I recommend this one. Unfortunately, our time at Disney fell during the first week of January, when park crowds are the heaviest. To try and combat large crowds to the best of our ability, we researched what parks have the smallest crowds on which day of the week. Our four days at Disney stretched from Tuesday-Friday. So, our schedule looked like this: Tuesday – Hollywood Studios, Wednesday – Magic Kingdom, Thursday – Epcot, and Friday – Animal Kingdom.
While I wouldn’t call any crowds we experienced “light,” I concluded that Magic Kingdom will always be busy and all parks have pretty light traffic before 11 AM. My best advice: go early! Be there at least 20 minutes before the park opens. If they’re ready, the park will open before the scheduled time. This will help you get in and ride some of your favorite rides before the line gets long. We waited only 20 minutes for Rockin Roller Coaster by being there early! This plan can backfire though. When we arrived early to Magic Kingdom, we raced to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, only to wait an hour and a half. By the time we got off the ride, the wait time was under an hour. Looks like everyone had the same idea.
While I am glad to say I’ve experienced every park, some clearly outshine the others. If I could scream from a top of a mountain, “One day at Magic Kingdom is not enough!” I would. We didn’t even touch half the park, and we were there for twelve hours. Spend at least two days at Magic Kingdom, but honestly I don’t think three would be too many. That park is magical, and you’ll never run out of things to do.
I did really enjoy my time at Hollywood Studios, but there just isn’t enough to spend a full day there. Once Disney expands the park and adds more Star Wars related activities, it will totally be well-worth a full day.
Until then, try spending a morning at Hollywood Studios and an afternoon at Epcot. Epcot is very cool, with a lot to offer, but I just can’t imagine spending another full day there. There aren’t many rides, more so just a lot to experience. Still, a great park I’d love to return to.
I say go to Hollywood Studios in the morning because it’s pretty dead then. With minimal wait times and room to roam, this park is perfect in the morning. Around lunch time, take the boat or bus over to Epcot. Hit all the rides first, (skip Mission: SPACE unless you want to be nauseous all afternoon) then end your night at the World Showcase. The World Showcase is beautiful at sunset, and it’s the perfect time to enjoy a drink and have a bite to eat.
Now… Animal Kingdom is easily the worst park. It’s basically a glorified zoo. We did nearly everything in the park by 2 PM. If you’re dying to go on the Kilimanjaro Safaris, then it is worth a morning visit. Personally, the only worthwhile parts are Expedition Everest (ride single rider) and the street performers in Africa.
My ideal Disney itinerary would be three days Magic Kingdom, one day split between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, then one day lounging at the resort. Which brings me to my next topic…
Where to Stay
On this trip, we attempted the budget Disney vacation. We rented a car, stayed off property in a rental home, didn’t buy a dining plan or the memory maker photo pass. And we regret it. The whole time we wished we stayed on property. So many perks come with Disney resorts. Pick ups from the airport (rental car cost–gone), transportation to the park (avoid $20 parking), a dining plan (avoid spending $15 a person per meal), and merchandise delivered to your room (no walking around with a bag all day). The pros go on and on and definitely outweigh the big con–price.
Yes, it is super expensive. Yes, I do think it’s worth it. There are all sorts of hotels on property falling in different price ranges. It can be affordable and definitely is worth it. I can’t say much more on the topic, since I have no real experience with the resorts, but my recommendation is to stay on property.
Those are the best pieces of advice I have to offer when it comes to planning your Disney vacation. Some of my favorite blogs to read while researching this trip were WishWishWish and The Bucket List Narratives. Read their blogs for even more tips and tricks.
More Disney to come! See you then!