So, you’ve decided to take a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida! Now, it’s time to start planning. When will you go? Where will you stay? Where will you eat? If you’ve never been before, you may be planning to just show up and do whatever feels right on that day. During certain times of the year, that might work. However, Disney World is a popular and busy place. A little planning can help you have a spectacular vacation! Here are 8 tips for deciding which Disney World theme park to visit on which day.
1) When are you going? – If you are going during a less-busy time, you may not need to worry about which park to visit on a particular day. Mid-January, early February, late August, early September are typically low crowd levels.
2) Park-hopping – Will you be adding the park-hopper option when purchasing your theme park tickets? This will allow you to enter more than one of Disney’s 4 major parks on the same day, i.e., “hopping” from one park to another. If so, deciding which park to visit on which day is less important. The advantage is if one park is busy, you can hop to another park. However, remember that park-hopping takes time to travel, maybe as much as 90 minutes.
3) Dining reservations – Is it better to get the dining reservations you want, then plan your parks around dining, or is it better to plan your parks first, then book your dining based on the park you will be visiting? The short answer is…it is up to you. If you finally booked a table at a restaurant you have always wanted to try then plan your park around that. Certainly, there are many fine quick-service options, but reservations for the most popular table-service restaurants fill up quickly. Obviously, if you have a dining reservation in World Showcase, you need to plan to be in Epcot.
4) Extra Magic Hours – If you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can take advantage of an extra park hour in the morning, before day guests enter the park, or two hours after closing. If you plan to use this advantage, take a look at the Disney calendar to see which park(s) offers Extra Magic Hours during your stay and plan your days accordingly. However, be aware that the Extra Magic Hours park(s) tend to be more crowded.
5) Lowest crowds – Here’s a tip to find the park with the lowest expected crowds. Since Extra Magic Hours tend to increase crowds, plan to visit a park that had Extra Magic Hours the previous day.
6) Special events – Throughout the year, Disney World offers several special events. These include Run Disney races, Flower & Garden Festival, Grad Night, Star Wars Weekends, Night of Joy, Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. While these are all fun & exciting, they can cause crowding & bottlenecks. Unless you are participating in one of these special events, avoid them.
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7) Fastpass+ – Are you looking to make Fastpass+ reservations for Disney’s most popular attractions/shows/parades? Likely, you are (and should). Some Fastpass reservations, like certain restaurants, fill up quickly. If you can get a Fastpass for Anna & Elsa on day #6 of your trip, but not day #2 (because all the times are already taken), that will play a big part in deciding which park you visit on which day. *Bonus tip: Make hard-to-get Fastpasses for later in your trip, since less people have had the opportunity to book that day.
8) Magic Kingdom Is Most Popular – Shouldn’t Magic Kingdom always be more crowded than Epcot, Epcot more crowded than the Studios, etc.? Certainly, Magic Kingdom is Disney World’s most popular theme park, Epcot 2nd, etc. However, guests tend to judge the size of the crowds not by how many people are in the park, but by how long they have to wait in line. Magic Kingdom is designed to hold large crowds, due to how it’s set up & the fact that is has many popular attractions spread out all around the park. While Epcot doesn’t have as many attractions, it is geographically quite large, which helps disperse crowds.
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!