To say we had fun in Disney World last week would be an understatement! Knowing we were visiting the parks for only one day we wanted to make the most of every single minute and ended up visiting 3 parks and walking over 12 miles!
I’ve long said that Disney World is one of my favorite places to visit. Strapping into a whimsical ride transports you to an experience that captures your full attention. Gone are any work or daily life stresses! Instead, you’re entranced by the show unfolding in front of you.
Because there’s so much to a Disney World visit, I’m going to be doing a series of posts about it with individual posts dedicated to each park. First up, I’m going to be sharing our hour-by-hour Disney World itinerary from last week with some tips to help you maximize your Disney visit.
Hour-By-Hour Three Park Day Itinerary
12:00-1:00pm: Rode Smugglers Run in Star Wars Land, waited in line for Slinky Dog Dash
1:00-2:00pm: Rode Slinky Dog Dash
2:00-3:00pm: Ate lunch at the ABC Commissary
3:00-4:00pm: Explored Star Wars land
4:00-5:00pm: Rode Tower of Terror
5:30-6:00pm: Arrived at Epcot, rode Living With The Land
6:00-7:00pm: Rode Nemo and Friends, watched the manatee’s and fish in the aquarium
7:00-8:00pm: Rode Test Track
8:00-9:00pm: Walked Around the World and enjoyed the Food & Wine Festival. Got warm bread and dips in India, drank pomegranate beer in Germany, lobster rolls in America, and in Morocco we got fried hummus.
10:00-10:10pm: Epcot Forever fireworks show
As you can see by our itinerary, we packed in A LOT. For us, the rides are the most important but every Disney World experience should be tailored to your preferences. Here are some tips for you to help getting the most out of your Disney World visit!
Staying On Disney Property – Extra Magic Hours & Early Fast Pass Selection
If I had one piece of advice when visiting Disney World it would always be to stay on property. The first benefit is that you get to select your Fast Passes 60-days in advance whereas anyone with a park ticket who’s staying off property get’s to select Fast Passes 30-days in advance. For those unfamiliar, Fast Passes allow you to essentially skip the line for your selected rides. Each person is given 3 Fast Passes per day, all of which must be used in the same park. You are given a one-hour time slot to show up for your selected Fast Pass ride! The Fast Passes are really valuable as some popular rides have 1 to 2 hour waits. Of course there are limitations to which Fast Passes you can select as there are certain tiers for the rides (you can’t select Fast Passes for Slinky Dog Dash and Tower of Terror since both are Tier 1 rides). The biggest catch of course is that there are limited number of Fast Passes per ride on any given day which is why booking your Fast Pass at the 60-day mark is so valuable. Top rides like the new Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios are almost impossible to get Fast Passes for around the 30-day mark. If you’re unable to get a Fast Pass, then you wait in line for 90+ minutes to ride Slinky Dog Dash like we did!
The second benefit of staying on property is that you get Extra Magic Hours. The Extra Magic Hours are available only for those staying on Disney property and are a time for you to get into the parks with less crowds. The parks open early or stay late only for those staying on property. Be sure to check out the calendar of hours for when you’re visiting since they change daily.
On our most recent visit we had Extra Magic hours in Magic Kingdom from 8:00am – 9:00am. We were able to ride Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in that hour with wait times each under 30 minutes. During regular park hours these wait times often range between 60 – 100 minutes per ride.
I know the prices for staying on property can be a deterrent but if you have flexibility in when you’re visiting you can find affordable prices ( I’ve scored less than $100 per night), especially in the Value Resorts. Also look at the handful of Disney affiliated hotels in Disney Springs. These hotels get all of the same benefits as the main resorts do and offer affordable options. We stayed in Disney Spring’s B Resort Hotel on our most recent visit and had a lovely stay in this modern hotel.
I’m also a firm believer in always getting the park hopper. Although doing multiple parks in a day may not be for everyone, having the option to visit multiple parks in a day gives you so many options. With Extra Magic Hours + the Park Hopper we were able to visit 3 parks in one day which equated to 14 hours of us being in the park (the absolute longest available option of in-park time for the day of our visit).
The Park Hopper is also great for anyone that wants to go with the flow a bit more. We’ve had Disney visits where we would get to Magic Kingdom only to find it crowded with long wait times. On a visit a few years ago after popping on the app quick and realizing wait times in Epcot seemed much lower, we ditched Magic Kingdom and headed to the other park which gave us the type of afternoon we had been looking for.
We always go into the parks knowing what our must-do’s are. These must-dos are going to be different for everyone, so it’s important to know what they are for you and your family before going! Riding Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom is a given for me and Phil’s favorite ride is Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. We know that regardless of wait times, we’re going to make sure we make time for these activities. For others it may be character visits, eating at certain restaurants, or seeing some of the shows. Whatever it is, find what is important to you and be sure to build your day around those staple items!
Next week I’ll be doing a deeper dive on Magic Kingdom and will be sharing what it was like being there during Christmas (with lots of pictures of course)! What are some of your favorite things to do in the parks? Leave me a comment below!