Planning your park days can feel really daunting and overwhelming. There is so much to consider, like crowd levels, Fastpass+, dining, and fireworks! I have seven tips to help you make sense of all the information thrown your day in the planning process.
7. Family Tradition: Does your family have a tradition for your arrival day or first full day at Walt Disney World? Maybe you always spend your first day at Magic Kingdom? Or maybe you have a favorite restaurant that you need to visit first. Or maybe your first stop is to a certain gift shop to get a new vacation souvenir right away? Whatever the case, if you have a special family tradition to kick off your vacation, do it!
6. Advanced Dining Reservation: Just like with Fastpass availability, sometimes our park planning revolves around where and when we’ll be eating. It doesn’t make sense to go Magic Kingdom if you have dinner plans at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It makes more sense to tour Animal Kingdom that day, so you can spend less time traveling. This is even more important if you don’t opt to add on the Park Hopper, especially if you make reservations for an in-park restaurant.
5. Scheduled Evening Entertainment: If you want to have the best view of evening entertainment, you should see the second showing, if there is one. For example, head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios if Fantasmic! is being shown twice, and see the later one. You’ll enjoy a lighter crowd, and you’ll have shorter waits on attractions during the first showing, since most guests will be in the amphitheater!
4. Fastpass+ Availability: If you have your heart set on a certain attraction, sometimes you have to base your park plans on when you can make a Fastpass+ for it. Say, for example, you have a little girl dying to meet Anna and Elsa at Magic Kingdom. Unless you want to wait in a long queue for the experience, you’ll want to schedule a Fastpass. For your best chance at scoring the most coveted Fastpasses, schedule them as far out as possible. If you’re staying on property, you can make them starting 60 days before you check in, for up to 10 days at a time. If you’re not staying in a Disney hotel, you can book Fastpasses starting 30 days ahead of time. Sticking with the Frozen meet and greet example, if you can make a Fastpass+ for it on only one day of your vacation, looks like you’ll be spending the day at Magic Kingdom.
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3. Extra Magic Hours: Guests staying in a Disney hotel are eligible for the Extra Magic Hours, where a park is open just for on-property guests. It’s a divisive topic among Disney fans. Some see Extra Magic Hours as a ploy to get folks to stay on-property, while others think it’s a nice perk. Either way, it makes a big difference in your park planning. With an even playing field on other considerations, if you’re not eligible for Extra Magic Hours, steer clear of the park offering it on a given day, since most on-property guests will flock to that park. On the other hand if you plan to actually take advantage of the extra park time, then visit that day to enjoy lower crowds and shorter waits during the Extra Magic Hours.
2. Predicted Crowd Levels: There are tons of crowd calendars and predictors to be found online, a simple Google search will turn up a lot. These can be amazing tools to help you plan your park days. You can figure out which park will be least crowded on any given day. Knowing what park is expected to be least busy is crucial to effective planning. Crowd levels make a huge impact your days in the park. Not only will less people mean shorter waits for attractions, but also shorter queues for bag check, restrooms, and snack kiosks. Plus, you’ll vying with less people for a premium firework viewing location, and not deal with as much craziness to get on a bus, ferry, or monorail at the end of the night! I always check multiple crowd predictors while planning my park days.
1. Park Hopper: Whether or not you add a Park Hopper to your tickets makes a huge difference in your park day planning. If you don’t have the Hopper, you can only enter one park per day, but if you add it then you can enter all four parks in one day if you choose. Having the flexibility with the Park Hopper is awesome, since you can change your mind on the fly. But, its extra cost is prohibitive for a lot of families. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to if you should get the Hopper, but know that you definitely need a plan is you don’t add it.