Disney World Planning 101: How to Tour the Disney World Parks
“What’s the best way to tour the Disney World parks?”
For people planning their first trip to Walt Disney World, this is an important question. It’s an important question for Disney veterans as well, and is perhaps one of the most debated questions on the internet. Go to any Disney blog or message board and you are likely to read about this-best-way or that-best-way. It’s so important to so many people that entire books and websites are even devoted to just this topic: how to best tour Disney World.
And it’s understandable: everyone wants to make the most of their time/vacation dollars by seeing as much as possible. So getting advice from Disney veterans about where to go, at what time, for how long etc etc. is helpful to folks trying to maximize their Disney fun.
With that in mind, I may as well jump into this discussion too. How do we plan our touring?
A big part of how my family approaches things is dependent on the time of year and expected crowds, as well as how long we will be there. More crowds mean that if we want to see/do a lot of things, we need to plan more than if crowds are lighter. Likewise, shorter trips mean more careful planning than a longer trip where we can build in more time to go at a slower, less structured pace. So first, we see how many days we have, and decide which parks matter the most. The ones that have the most things we want to see get more days than the others do.
Next we make a list of what we REALLY care about. This is not nearly as important now as it was on our first visit when we had a 7 year old: then it really mattered if we did, or didn’t do certain things. So back then, we created a list for each park (and absolutely had her input on this!):
- Things we HAD to see
- Things we WANTED to see
- Things to see if we had TIME
After that, we decide which days we will go to which park. I take into consideration Extra Magic Hours (during high crowd days, we always took advantage of the morning ones with a young child…evening ones were a bit iffy for us then ) and plan mornings at the parks with those morning EMH if possible. Afternoon breaks are always planned for us as well (so if a park starts to get crowded, it doesn’t really matter), and then as we typically get Park Hoppers, we often go to a different park in the evenings (usually decided by where we wanted to eat dinner.)
And what about when we get to the park? My planning takes conserving energy into account. Let’s consider Magic Kingdom for example. We typically will plan 2 half-days to visit MK. This allows us to focus on a “half” of the park each time. The first time may be Adventureland/Frontierland/Liberty Square, and the 2nd visit will be Tomorrowland/Fantasyland. Within each of those areas, we will decide which rides are priorities, get FastPasses for the ones likely to develop lines quickly and ride the other must-sees in the same general area, while waiting to use our FastPass or to get another one. No running back and forth across the park for us.
Doing this has always allowed us to see and do everything we want to do, take a mid-afternoon break, and not wait in long lines…even during the busiest week of the year.
Now this is the most important part of this discussion: this is what works for US. I am not fond of pre-published touring plans because I think everyone needs to approach touring Disney World in the way that works best for them. No two families are the same, and no two Disney vacations are the same. At least they shouldn’t be. You need to consider the needs/wants/likes/dislikes of your own family, and then develop a touring strategy that is right for YOU.
So what is the right way to tour the Disney World parks? As with pretty much everything when it comes to planning a Disney vacation….the answer is, it depends on what is best for YOUR family!
- Disney World Vacation Planning: Create a Touring Plan That is Right for YOU (theaffordablemouse.com)
- Whew My Dogs are Tired…Disney World Walking Tips (chipandco.com)