Some might say that going to Disney World for a weekend is pointless. They might claim you could never see or do enough in just two or three days. Now, obviously you won’t be seeing or doing everything in Disney World in a single weekend, but we completely disagree that visiting for a few days is a silly choice. In fact, we say take advantage of any and all opportunities you have to visit this magical place, no matter how brief! Of course, if you are visiting for just a weekend, you will want to have some sort of game plan in order to ensure you get the very most out of your time. The tips below should help you make a plan that will take full advantage of your brief time in Disney.
1. Where to Stay
The first choice you have to make is where to stay. Clearly, staying on-property is a must due to your time constraints. On top of that, we highly recommend staying at one of the three “Monorail Resorts” near Magic Kingdom. These hotels provide quick and easy access to transportation, meaning you can get from point A to point B more quickly instead of wasting time traveling. The three Monorail Resorts include the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. All are Deluxe Resorts, meaning you’ll be waited on hand and foot, and they all have the very best amenities so you’ll be able to fully relax despite the short amount of time you have.
2. Ticket to Buy
Wondering which ticket to purchase? Our recommendation is a 3-day ticket with the park hopper option. This will allow you to spend as much time as possible in the parks over the weekend and will give you the chance to see all four parks even though you only have 3 days to play.
3. Reservations to Make
One of the best ways to save time during your trip is to plan, plan, plan and make all the reservations you possibly can. Aside from booking your hotel room and ordering tickets, here are the reservations we recommend making in advance:
- Flights: If you’re short on time, flying in is definitely the best way to go. Additionally, it’s a good idea to skip the rental car entirely and use the Magical Express option instead. This will save time and money. As far as flight times go, we recommend getting the earliest flight possible on Friday and flying out as late as you can on Sunday.
- Dining: We’ve listed our recommended dining locations in the itinerary below. Make sure to reserve your table at each of the table-service eateries well in advance. Otherwise, you may be left without a seat entirely, something that can be majorly disappointing.
- FastPasses: In addition to dining, we also list or recommended FastPass reservations for each park below. Again, make these reservations as soon as you possibly can in order to ensure you get exactly what you want.
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4. Day One (Friday): Epcot
For this itinerary, you’ll begin your weekend by visiting Epcot. Head to the park as soon as you check into your hotel in the afternoon and stay until closing time. We recommend checking out Future World first and then heading back to the World Showcase for dinner and fireworks.
- FastPasses to Get: Spaceship Earth, Soarin’ Around the World, Mission: Space
- The Plan: You’ll want to snag back-to-back FastPass reservations. Spaceship Earth should be your first FastPass and should begin around the time you plan to arrive in the park, which will hopefully be by 3pm. After Spaceship Earth, head straight to The Seas with Nemo and Friends and experience both the dark ride of the same name and “Turtle Talk with Crush”. Your next FastPass should be Soarin’ Around the World, and will likely begin right around when you finish with “Turtle Talk”. Ride Soarin’, hit up Living with the Land immediately after, and then head to the opposite side of Future World to ride Test Track using the single-rider line. By the time you leave Test Track, you will likely be well into your Mission: Space FastPass. Use that pass and then head into the World Showcase, where you can shop, have dinner, and see the fireworks show.
- Dining: Dining in Epcot is a challenge because there are so very many choices. For this particular visit, we recommend one of two options. Either way, your reservation should start a bit after your final FastPass ends in order to give you time to meander over.
- Biergarten for the German food lover who enjoys live music.
- Akershus for the visitor who loves princesses and would like a character meal.
5. Day Two (Saturday): Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom easily requires a full day. Therefore, your Saturday will be dedicated to this classic park.
- FastPasses to Get: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at 11am, Peter Pan’s Flight at 12 noon, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 1pm, (Bonus) Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- The Plan:
- Morning: Arrive before opening and grab a coffee and quick breakfast from Main Street Bakery. As soon as the park officially opens, head to Adventureland to ride Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean before the queues build up. Frontierland should come next and should include a ride on Splash Mountain.
- Mid-day: By this time the crowd levels will be pretty high, so you’ll want to break out the FastPasses, beginning with a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad pass right after Splash Mountain. From Frontierland, head over to Liberty Square for lunch at Columbia Harbor House and a ride on Haunted Mansion. After this, you’ll go to Fantasyland to use your Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train passes. Once your third pass is used, try making a fourth FastPass. This could be for anything in Fantasyland or Tomorrowland that you wish to see, but the following are ideal: Space Mountain (best option) or Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
- Take a Break: At this point, you’ll probably be feeling pretty worn out. Go ahead and take an afternoon break at your hotel. Use this time to eat lunch and swim—or simply relax in your room—so you can return to the park feeling refreshed. Just be sure to return by 4:30pm or so in order to see everything else.
- Evening: When you do return, finish up Fantasyland first by riding any or all of the following: “it’s a small world”, Winnie the Pooh, Journey of The Little Mermaid, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Barnstormer, or Mad Tea Party. Aside from Winnie the Pooh, most of these should have short waits, but feel free to skip any that don’t.
- Dinner: We recommend Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe for the visitor who wishes to save time and money, Crystal Palace for guests who wish to meet characters while they eat, and Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table for those who want to step into a movie and have an immersive dining experience.
- After Dinner: When dinner is over, head straight to Tomorrowland to experience People Mover and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin before fireworks if at all possible. In some cases, you may have the choice of seeing later fireworks. In this case, go ahead and ride Space Mountain during this time as well, making sure to time your ride to be during the first fireworks when the queue should be quite short.
- Fireworks and Space Mountain: If there is only one fireworks show, go ahead and step just outside of Tomorrowland to see the projection show and most of the fireworks before racing back over to Space Mountain to hop on before the park closes or before the queue builds back up.
6. Day Three (Sunday): Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom
This final park day will be split between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. It does require that you skip some things, but you should be able to see the highlights.
- FastPasses to Get: Slinky Dog Dash (Hollywood Studios), Star Tours (Hollywood Studios), Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios)
- The Plan, Part 1 – Animal Kingdom:
- Arrive Early for Pandora: Arrive well before opening, having already eaten breakfast. As soon as the gates open, head directly to Pandora and get in line for Avatar Flight of Passage. Hopefully, arriving early will get you ahead of the crowd and you’ll wait an hour or less for this ride. No guarantees there though.
- Kilimanjaro Safaris: As soon as you get off Flight of Passage, head to Africa and get in line for Kilimanjaro Safaris. You may wait a while for this one, but it is a highlight and shouldn’t be missed.
- Pick and Choose: have to pick and choose what you do to finish your time in Animal Kingdom. We recommend doing a couple of the following: Expedition Everest (using single-rider line), Finding Nemo the Musical, and/or Festival of the Lion King.
- Grab Lunch: Grab a quick lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue before heading over to Hollywood Studios, making sure you’re headed to the bus stop by 1:00pm.
- The Plan, Part 2 – Hollywood Studios:
- FastPass Time: This is where your FastPasses come into play. Begin by using your Slinky Dog Dash FastPass, following that ride with a spin on Alien Swirling Saucers. Next, you’ll use your FastPass for Star Tours before catching one of the following shows: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Disney Junior Dance Party, and/or Beauty and Beast.
- Sunset Boulevard: Finally, head down Sunset Boulevard to ride Tower of Terror, using your third and final FastPass in the process. While you’re down there, be sure to hop on Rock ‘n Roller Coaster using the single-rider line.
7. Saying Goodbye!
At this point, you will likely need to head back to the hotel to catch your Magical Express to the airport. Say your goodbyes to Disney World and leave knowing you saw all of the highlights in just one weekend!