So you’ve booked a Walt Disney World vacation using my step-by-step planning guide…now what? Now is the time to determine what you’re actually doing on your vacation – your travel itinerary. Planning a Walt Disney World itinerary is both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Fortunately, I’ve found that the key to preventing the latter is adding some structure to your planning. In this post, I’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide for putting together a Walt Disney World vacation itinerary that both accomplishes your travel goals…and leaves some room for Disney magic.
Step 1: Handle the Basics
Before diving into the intricacies of your itinerary, we need to start with the basics. Begin your itinerary planning by checking disneyworld.com for park hours, refurbishments, and special events taking place during your travel dates. Doing this will give you a solid basis to operate when putting together an itinerary.
Step 2: Identify Your Must-Do’s
Walt Disney World is home to an abundance of attractions, shows, character experiences, and dining options. Check out this list at disneyworld.com and identify your must-do experiences – attractions, shows, and dining. Are you eager to conquer thrilling rides like Space Mountain? Visit a galaxy far, far away at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Or dine at a restaurant in Epcot’s World Showcase? Oh, and don’t forget to include special events. Be sure to list ALL must-dos and include the park they are located in.
Step 3: Allocate Time and Decide Order
It’s now time to allocate time for each park and decide the order of visiting. To do this, return to your must-do experiences list. Does one park show up in your must-do list more than another? If so, allocating additional time to that park and less to another may be a good idea. Using what you learned in Step 1 will help you determine if one day is logistically better than another for visiting a specific park – e.g. “The Magic Kingdom is open later on Monday than Tuesday” or “Aaron Johnston is in concert at Epcot’s American Gardens Theater on Friday and Saturday”. A combination of your must-do priority list and the Walt Disney World operational calendar will help you arrive at a reasonable time allocation and order visit decision.
Personally, our family likes to split up our time in the parks using the park hopper ticket add-on. In this way, we allocate time each day split between morning and evening. (e.g. Magic Kingdom morning itinerary / Break / Epcot evening itinerary). Breaking each day into smaller components makes planning easier and each day more eventful.
Step 4: But What About…
While we’ve focused on building your vacation itinerary about the theme parks, you’d be remiss not allocating time for the rest of the Walt Disney World resort. Consider factoring in time for a visit to the resort’s world-class water parks – Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach – or outdoor shopping district – Disney Springs. There’s also the option of touring the resort’s amazing collection of hotels. This free trip add-on is perfect when you need a break from the parks and want to explore.
Step 5: Build Your Touring Plans
Now is the fun part – building your daily touring plans. There are a lot of opinions on this topic, but for our purposes, let’s keep it simple. Your goal is to experience all of your must-dos with minimal waiting and minimal backtracking. You can minimize backtracking by both studying park maps and reviewing showtimes for your entertainment must-dos ahead of time. You can minimize waits by either utilizing Disney’s paid Genie + service or being strategic in your touring (e.g. doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing). In other words – know WHAT you want to do, know WHERE they are, and know WHEN they are happening. Do this and you’ll be in good shape.
Step 6: Make Park Reservations
Once your itinerary is finalized, it’s important to make park reservations. Walt Disney World has implemented a park reservation system to manage capacity and ensure guest satisfaction. Visit the official disneyworld.com or use the My Disney Experience app to secure your park reservations for each day of your visit.
Step 7: Relax
Remember, your itinerary is meant to be a guide, not a rigid schedule. Allow room for flexibility and be open to adjusting your plans based on the needs and desires of your group. Don’t forget to try things that aren’t on your must-do list. You never know when you may find a new must-do! And most importantly, relax. For all of the available activities, Walt Disney World is a VACATION destination.
So, start planning, embrace the magic, and get ready for an extraordinary vacation.
…and If you need help booking this extraordinary vacation, I’ve spent years learning the ins and outs of theme park vacation planning and would love to help you plan your next visit to Walt Disney World. Complete my simple get started form or contact me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @nextstopaaron to begin planning your next theme park vacation.
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