If you are planning your first Disney vacation you may not understand just how HUGE Walt Disney World is. With four theme parks, all of which exceed the size and scope of your local six flags plus 40 square miles of accommodations, utilities, and activities. A lot of first time visitors ask me how long they should plan their vacation to be able to do everything and the short answer is you can’t. I am an annual pass holder and visit 2-3 times a year and I haven’t come close to doing everything.
5-6 Park Days
You should plan on at least 5 park days, not including arrival and departure. Ideally, your trip will span 6 or 7 nights giving you ample time to explore the parks but also take advantage of the amenities at your resort and enjoy a relaxed, exploratory pace.
I love the afternoon nap! Whether or not you are a napper (and believe me I am not) I love splitting up my day with a break at the hotel. While my husband naps I take a refreshing shower, charge my phone and myself.
Your first trip to Disney can be extremely overwhelming. It is important to have a plan, set priorities and not expect to do everything. The more time you have the easier it is to balance everything you want to see with the downtime you need from a vacation. It also allows you a little time to explore the other activities Disney has to offer.
6- 7 Park Days
I recommend taking an afternoon break no matter who is traveling but if you have a little one that time is even more important. The families you see with screaming children in Walt Disney World is because they did not respect the routine. It is so easy for littles to become over-stimulated with so much new excitement it makes it even more important to insist on rest time.
With 6-7 park days, you can spend shorter spurts of time in the parks. When we brought Annabelle at 11 months we would spend 2-4 hours in the parks, rest for a few and head back for dinner.
Do not try to spend less days in the park because you think your kids will be overwhelmed by more than that. Spend more days but do not try to keep them in the park from open to close. I promise you will thank me.
More Days = Less Park Time Per Day = Longer Naps = Less Meltdowns
I love Disney Math. It is the only time where adding a day to your trip can sometimes be LESS! I make quick little trips throughout the year to try the latest attraction or just get my Disney fix. I always start with flights and find when it would be the most cost-effective. Usually staying over a Saturday night drops the cost of your flight significantly. I find Tuesdays and Sundays to be the cheapest days to fly and usually plan my trip to fly in and out on those days.
For a short little trip I like to stay 3 nights if I can so I can visit each of the 4 parks. I like to keep these trips ultra-focused often skipping many of my favorites. If you have less than 4 full days in the park you will definitely want to consider a park hopper and must weigh that added cost to that of adding an additional night.
If your budget or time off is limited you may not be able to visit for what I think is the optimal amount of time. I put together some ideas if you only have a certain number of days. One Day This is certainly not ideal for a visit to the Most Magical Place on Earth but if you are driving through Orlando or have an extra day after a work event you have a perfect excuse to get a little snippet of what Walt Disney World has to offer.
If it is your first visit Pick One Park and do the Highlights: give you a good taste for what Disney has to offer. Don’t try to do everything. Prioritize what attractions are important to you and don’t forget to enjoy the atmosphere and shows.
If you are a returning visitor attempt the 4 Parks One Day Challenge: End up with time for 1-2 attractions in each park.
This is what I find most first-time visitors allot for their trip and if it is at all possible I would HIGHLY recommend trying to get to at LEAST the 4 park day mark.
If you have two days I would spend one in the Magic Kingdom as that what many people associate with Disney and then pick your other park based on what interests you the most.
If you have Three Days I would definitely consider adding a Park Hopper Option to your ticket. That way you could visit all 4 parks.
This One is easy there are four parks and you have a four-day ticket. Visit one park per day.
I like to spend a full rope drop to fireworks day in the Magic Kingdom, early mornings in Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT lends itself to a late start so you can balance out your trip nicely.
You can usually add a 5th day to your ticket for only a few dollars so depending on your arrival or departure time you can visit your favorite park for a few hours.
This is what I think is the optimal amount of time for your trip. I always recommend 2 days in the Magic Kingdom and one day in each of the other parks. You can do a few half days with dinner in Disney Springs or a morning at the pool. You can return to the parks that you know you will enjoy. Another tip is to plan two days in the parks that employ tiering to the Fastpass system so you are able to reserve ride times for all of the attractions you would like to enjoy.
This is my dream. I have yet to be on a trip this long but it would give you so much flexibility with your time. You could visit each of the parks more than once, spend plenty of time by the pool, head to the water park, check out a tour or special event, enjoy Sunday Brunch, get a massage, go to trivia or paint night at your resort… There are endless possibilities.
I understand how you’re feeling, I know all too well how easy it can be at the beginning to start researching online, just to find yourself 3 hours down the line more confused than when you started. But don’t panic! I can help you plan your dream Disney vacation without any of the stress of hassle – starting with the ‘A Disney Trip without Overwhelm, 5 Easy Steps’ Guide. These 5 steps will help keep you focused on organizing the best trip ever, while giving you peace of mind that everything will be done, and nothing will be left out.
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