Figuring out how many days to stay at Disney is a tricky business. Make your vacation too short and you’ll miss out on some of your top to-dos, but stay too long and you’ll experience a major drain on your budget and energy. Ask yourself these questions as you’re planning your vacation to hone in on the right time frame.
How many parks are on your agenda?
This is one of the most telling questions when it comes to determining the length of your stay. Are you determined to see all four theme parks for a once-in-a-lifetime visit to Walt Disney World, or are you dropping in for a particular park? If you’re visiting in late September, perhaps you’re planning to visit Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival and Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. If your party is more interested in Star Wars and wild animal experiences than princesses and pirates, perhaps you’ll stick to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios during your stay.
If you want to fully experience a theme park, give it at least one entire day. Park hopping is a tricky business. While you can plan a two-park day, you’ll undoubtedly have to cut some big experiences out and proceed with a bit more hustle to get to it all.
Make sure you include any desired water parks on your list. If you’re planning a visit to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach, you shouldn’t expect a full theme park visit in the same day. You might be able to drop in for a fireworks show or parade, but don’t plan much else. A better strategy is to pair your water park visit with a stroll around Disney Springs or a round of mini golf in the evening.
Which scheduled experiences are must-sees?
Most Disney attractions run continuously, so you don’t have to worry about timing your visit right to experience Expedition Everest or Soarin’ Around the World. However, there are some that happen only once a day, necessitating far more planning. If you can’t leave Disney World without seeing the nightly fireworks show, you’ll need at least one evening in the Magic Kingdom. If Illuminations and Rivers of Light are also on your must-see list, your visit needs to last at least 3 days to accommodate everything.
Write down all your must-see experiences and note whether they take place at scheduled times. Pencil all your scheduled events into your agenda to make sure you have enough days to see it all. Keep in mind that one- or twice-a-day events like the Festival of Fantasy parade draw big crowds, so you’ll need time to stake out your spot, enjoy the experience, and push through massive crowds to get to your next destination. Don’t expect to catch an evening parade at Magic Kingdom and jet over to Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic if the two are just hours apart. Give these activities at least half a day worth of room on your schedule before you plan to be somewhere else.