Walt Disney World Itinerary Dos and Don’ts
If there is one piece of advice I could give to those visiting Walt Disney World, it would be to plan. Walt Disney World is enormous and typically very crowded, but a solid itinerary can help you do what you want to do and avoid long waits as much as possible. Here are some Walt Disney World itinerary dos and don’ts.
Do make a plan earlier than you think you need to. For my most recent trip, I knew which parks I wanted to visit each day over six months out. This may seem like overkill, but having your reservations made by this time give you an advantage for making dining reservations and FastPasses, which can (and really need to be) reserved in advance. Have at least a loose itinerary in place beforehand. Even before you make your reservations, knowing what you want to include in your trip will help you decide the best time to visit.
Don’t try to fit everything into your itinerary. As I said, Walt Disney World is enormous, and even on a week-long trip you will not be able to do everything. Decide what you really want to see at the parks and focus on your must-do list when you plan your days.
Do give yourself enough time for meals and transportation. Part of why you shouldn’t overstuff your itinerary is that you need to give yourself enough time to enjoy activities, and to get where you’re going. Using Disney transportation takes time (we like to give ourselves 45-60 minutes to go from our resort to the parks), and table-service meals will also take an hour to an hour and a half. If you’ve scheduled a character meal, you’ll want enough time to see all the characters as they come around.
Don’t plan everything down to the minute. While you should definitely know when to show up for your FastPasses or dining reservations, as well as have a plan for which popular ride to visit right when the park opens, don’t try to plan too thoroughly. Buses run late, rain happens, your child really just wants to ride Dumbo again… Plans change, so leave yourself some wiggle room, or schedule free time to do (or re-do) what you want.
Do make use of FastPass+. Walt Disney World’s FastPass+ system has been rolling out for over a year now, and the new format has caused some confusion, but it is still a very useful tool for avoiding long lines.
Don’t sleep in every day. The first hour is the least busy – arrive well before park opening to ride several popular rides, typically with little to no wait. By doing this and using FastPasses later in the day, you can accomplish lots of attraction with little wait.
Do plan enough time for what you want to do. Have I mentioned that Walt Disney World is huge? If you want to see all four theme parks during your visit, give yourself enough time to do so. Each park can easily take a full day, and it is much easier to see most of the Magic Kingdom in two days. This way you can see most major attractions without feeling overly rushed.
Don’t try to go non-stop. I know some people that can go all day, every day at the parks, but this isn’t realistic for everyone. Go back to your resort for an afternoon break, pick a day or two to sleep in (Animal Kingdom days are sometimes good for this), or take a day off entirely and enjoy the pool or visit a water park. Visiting the parks is fun, but involves lots of walking and can be tiring – plan some time during your trip for everyone to rest and recover.
Do make Advance Dining Reservations. Many Walt Disney World restaurants, especially character meals or some themed dining experiences (especially Be Our Guest Restaurant and Cinderella’s Royal Table) are very, very popular. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to walk up to most of these restaurants, so reservations are a must – especially if you don’t want to do what we did once at Hollywood Studios, which was walk around to three restaurants (in the rain) before finding one that had tables available.
Don’t try to wing it entirely. While you want to leave some space for spontaneity in your Walt Disney World itinerary, don’t try to wing it entirely, especially on a first trip. Walt Disney World can seem overly crowded and confusing, but with some planning (or help from your travel agent), you’ll have a wonderful time.