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.
That is the size of San Francisco!!!
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.
So… how long should you plan on going?
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 and 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.
So what should you do if you only have:
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 yourself a good taste of 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 is 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 add a half-day or two at your favorite park with dinner in Disney Springs or a morning at the pool so the trip feels more relaxed and you are able to do everything on your list.
If you can swing it, 8 or more days gives you SO much more 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.
These are all just generic recommendations. Your Disney trip is extremely personal. Your interests may dictate a completely different approach. If you need help coming up with the perfect park plan for your trip please schedule a complimentary planning session using the button below.
If you are ready to have the family vacation you’ve been dreaming of, without spending time researching, planning and making it happen, schedule a call today. I’m here to help busy working Moms plan, organize and book the perfect family vacation. With me, all you have to worry about is enjoying your well-earned time away with your family. If you are ready to stop trying to do everything on your own and see how I can help you schedule a complimentary trip planning session now.
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