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Walt Disney World Resort (Florida)

Castle viewed through archway
Image: Disney

Walt Disney World is a bigger beast to explore—even just based on the fact it’s larger than the city of San Francisco. With this in mind, we’ll be looking at each park individually—before that, there are a few things to consider about the resort as a whole.

There is a lot to experience at Walt Disney World—the resort is made up of 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, an enormous shopping district, over two dozen resort hotels, 3 golf courses, 3 mini-golf courses, a campground and ranch, an international sporting complex… You get the point. You’re going to need more time than the commonly assumed 3-4 day quick visit to see even a fraction of it all.

Most experts recommend a 7 day vacation to visit Walt Disney World. Considering ongoing ramifications of the pandemic, we could adjust that to a 6 day minimum, though 7-8 days remains better. While a long Disney vacation may seem like an impossibility due to budget constraints, it is worth noting that Disney tickets get cheaper the more days you add onto your trip.

The reason for suggesting a full week is two-fold: for one thing, you are likely to have at least 1-2 parks you will want to visit twice, either because you didn’t experience everything or you really enjoyed one more than the others. Second, extra days will give you freedom to explore Walt Disney World’s offerings beyond the parks, including Disney Springs, recreation, the resorts, and Disney’s water parks.

Magic Kingdom

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Image: Disney

Magic Kingdom remains Walt Disney World’s most popular park. Many guests plan their entire vacation around visiting it, to the point that there is often a temptation to skip the other three.

I will emphasize that skipping Walt Disney World’s other three parks is a mistake—many regulars prefer Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios as their favorite parks, and each one will bring unique experiences to your vacation that you won’t necessarily find in Magic Kingdom.

How much time you are going to need for Magic Kingdom really depends on your party, particularly since it is Walt Disney World’s most ride-saturated park, more than any other park at Walt Disney World. It’s important to realize, however, that many of Magic Kingdom’s attractions are kid-focused, particularly in areas like Fantasyland. The park also relies heavily on the element of nostalgia, something that may not matter as much to those who didn’t grow up visiting Disney parks.

If you will be traveling with kids between ages 4-11 or with anyone who has strong nostalgia for the park, you’ll want a minimum of one full day at Magic Kingdom. Many experts recommend two days ideally if either of these scenarios apply to you. This will give you enough time to experience everything Magic Kingdom has to offer without spending your entire day in line.

For adults, families with teens, and those who don’t have the nostalgia bug, one day is actually sufficient for visiting Magic Kingdom—indeed, it can even be a half-day park for some veteran visitors who arrive at rope drop and have specific tastes. If this scenario applies to you, utilizing park hopping can give flexibility to visit Magic Kingdom without feeling like you need to burn a full day there.

Epcot

Spaceship Earth with flags
Image: Disney

Epcot defies simple description even to this day—it’s often written off as Disney’s “adult” park, but this isn’t necessarily true. While Epcot is uniquely adult-friendly thanks to its brainy-attractions and myriad food and shopping options, it has a good number of kid-friendly attractions (such as Frozen Ever After and The Seas with Nemo and Friends) and also goes over surprisingly well with teenagers. It also is home to some of Disney’s best restaurants, as well as seasonal festivals.

Epcot is another park that falls into the 1-2 days category—how much time you need will depend on the make-up of your party. If you really enjoy Disney dining, this is going to be a 2-day minimum park, or it may end up being one you frequent by taking advantage of a park hopper ticket. For others, one day may be sufficient since Epcot isn’t quite as attraction-saturated as Magic Kingdom.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Rise of the Resistance stormtroopers in Star Destroyer hangar
Image: Disney

This park has proven Walt Disney World’s dark horse the past few years, skyrocketing from a half-day experience to one of Disney’s most popular parks, largely due to the arrival of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

In its current state, you are going to want at least one full day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios—two days if you have any Star Wars or thrill ride fans in your group. If you don’t like thrill rides, this may remain a half-day park as you’ll be skipping half of the park’s ride line-up. It is worth noting that Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot are two of the resort’s choices best for park hopping since they are less than a mile apart from each other.

Though the attraction list at Disney’s Hollywood Studios may not look as massive as Magic Kingdom, it is worth noting that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge alone is likely to take up half of your day—the reason why is that much of this land is made up of exploration-based activities like quests connected to the Star Wars Datapad game in the Play Disney Parks app as well as shopping, dining, and character experiences. Both of the land’s attractions will also likely require some extra time spent in line—something particularly worthwhile for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Mama and baby rhino at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Image: Disney

Disney’s Animal Kingdom might be Disney’s most beautiful park—it is also the resort’s largest thanks to its sprawling African savannah and wildlife habitats. It is also home to two of Disney’s most popular attractions: Avatar Flight of Passage and Expedition Everest.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a tricky one to pin when it comes to visiting length—it is not necessarily an attraction-heavy park. It is, however, a park that encourages exploration, particularly in the park’s beautiful walking paths (like the Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Trail) as well as areas like The World of Pandora. Animals operate on their own schedules, so you’re going to want some flexibility to take it all in.

In most cases, 1 day is sufficient for visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It is an excellent park for park hopping if evening hours are available, particularly since this will allow you to see Pandora come alive at night. Animal lovers may want to plan an extra half-to-full day here.

How many days do you prefer in each Disney park and resort? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook! Thanks for reading!

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Comments

We book seven day stay but only five day pass. Our first travel day after check in is spent at Downtown. Our second travel day is spent enjoying the resort. The five other days are spent with one at each park and the extra day at MK. This setup is nostalgia driven. We know exactly what we want to see and make an itinerary accordingly. MK is our first park and with a dining plan, we will also chose to eat at one of the three resorts if sitdown isn't available in the park. Sit down dining availability determines the order in which we see the other three parks. May not work for all but it served us well.

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