As much as I would love to live in Orlando and be able to hit the parks on a weekly basis, reality is, I am stuck in Chicago most of the time! But that doesn’t stop me from planning 1 or 2 Disney trips a year on the weekends. But when you only have 2 or 3 days in Disney and you want to hit all 4 Disney Parks and maybe even a waterpark, you can find yourself struggling to fit it all in :)
I have come up with my Disney Weekend Planning Itinerary (DWPI) and would love to share it with others, who do not have the luxury of week long or weekly visits.
First and foremost, heading to Disney at the right time of year really helps to get the most out of your trip time, as well as financially. My favorite times to head to Walt Disney World are mid January-early February, mid May, mid August (if you can stand the heat), and late September.
Disney has great deals if you look for them or sign up for newsletters! I love Priceline’s vacation packages section on their site. You can find Disney deals for under $500 a person (flight/hotel), sometimes even cheaper! I just recently booked a trip for mid May 2016 for 2 people, 5 nights/6 days, flight and hotel, for only $450 a person! That is a week in Disney for less than $500!! This does not include the Park passes, I have an AP that was around $750, which I believe is beyond worth it for the year. You get discounts on food, parking, merchandise AND you get the Disney Memory Maker PhotoPass (worth just under $200), that you can share with any of your family members while you are in the Parks together!! Always be on the lookout and check for trips about 3 months out. If you are a Disney Annual Passholder, you will also get discount deals on hotel accommodations, but I have found that you can usually find better deals on Priceline that include your flight and it can be a bit tricky to navigate Disney’s Annual Passholder section of the site.
Once you have booked your trip (and purchased Park passes, if you are not a AP), the next thing you will want to do is create a My Disney Experience account and connect your trip to your profile! From there you can customize your profile and your Magic Bands! You can download the My Disney Experience App on your phone and start making your dining reservations and FastPass selections. I always try to do this right away, but before I make reservations and FastPass selections, I check out the Extra Magic Hours schedule. I want to get as much as I can into my day, and those Extra Magic Hours really help!
Extra Magic Hours are the best! I can get into a Park before the crowds hit and get on all my favorite rides a few times all before 11am! I usually hit 2 Parks a day with a pool break mid day.
Once, I have the Extra Magic Hours figured out for my trip, I start to book my dining reservations and FastPasses. I usually know that I can get on my favorites early in the morning before the crowds, so I schedule my FastPasses for mid-day or evenings. EPCOT is probably my favorite nighttime park, Soarin’ and Test Track are what Disney dreams are made of… but they are everyones dreams haha, so the lines are always over an hour long. There are working on this with the Soarin’ expansion, we must be patient. You can only choose 1 between the two for FastPasses so I generally go with Soarin’. You can ride the single rider on Test Track and generally get on in less than 20 minutes. But if you want to ride as a family or are not a fan of separating your group, this is where the Extra Magic Hours come in to play! EPCOT usually has Magic Hours on the weekends. The Park stays open super late and its easier to get onto both rides after the fireworks show. I also love being in Magic Kingdom late at night. And again its much easier to get on your favorites after the fireworks show with Extra Magic Hours.
I usually save Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios for my mornings! But it really usually depends what the Extra Magic Hours are! I LOVE going on the Kilimanjaro Safari at sunrise! That is when I know I will usually see all of the animals and they are quite active, from there I can get on Expedition Everest and Dinosaur at least 3 times each. I save Kali River Rapids until the sun comes out a bit, and after any shows I want to see, so I am not sitting any where wet for too long. When I hit Hollywood Studios I go straight to Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster and get on a few times before it gets too crowded and then hit Tower of Terror. Again I save all of my FastPasses for anything that I know I won’t be getting to until mid-day/evening or for rides I know I definitely do not want to risk missing, and new attractions!
I usually like to start at one end of the park and work my around. I hit my favorites in each area and then I go back to do any rides or attractions that I missed the first time around.
Here is an example itinerary for my upcoming trip:
So there you have it! I hope this helps. And if you have ways you like to navigate the Parks or tips and tricks to beating the crowds let me know!
Until next time!