Over the years we have traveled to Walt Disney World on so many different budgets and developed so many different Disney World 5 day and Disney World 7 day itineraries that it’s a little scary to think about (I even put to gather a 4 day Itinerary!)! From the early days of staying at Caribbean Beach for less than $100 a night (which unfortunately is now impossible) to splurging and going all out on our club level experience(s) over the last couple years, we’ve tried a lot of things!
I think it’s fair to say we’ve run through the vast majority of the realm of possibilities on a Disney vacation planning experience. Of course, budgets vary and personal circumstances and necessary accommodations change on a guest by guest basis, but today we’re going to take a look at something every single Disney World guest can apply to their own vacation. You might even save some money with this Disney World Itinerary compared to others. We’re taking a look at our recommended Disney World 7 Day Itinerary.
When we travel to Disney, we typically do so with a certain balance in mind. We’ve done the trips where we went to ride as many attractions as we could, and we’ve even done stays where we didn’t even go to the parks. While both have their merits and strong points, our style of travel at Disney and in turn the guidelines, touring plan, and itinerary we follow has grown into a culmination of both concepts. We like to go all out in the mornings and ride as many attractions as possible (as shared in our How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+! article) but then utilize the afternoon as a step back to enjoy the little things Disney has to offer in a more relaxed manor. For us, it’s the ideally balanced “best of both worlds” Disney Itinerary.
If that sounds like a Disney planning style you can get behind and try for yourself one day (and I highly recommend it!), I invite you to join us as we share a detailed look at what we do during a 7 Day Disney World Vacation. Before we jump into the details, you will need a couple things if you plan on utilizing our strategy (but it can me modified if you don’t want to do these things). First, our plan relies heavily on the park hopper add-on or a annual pass of some type. The best current prices on the park hopper stand alone tickets we’ve found at the Official Ticket Center. Additionally, you’ll need to be staying on Disney property to make the most of this itinerary. That’s about all you’ll need to take full advantage of our touring plan.
Do You Really Need a Park Hopper Ticket?
To be quite honest, no, you do not *need* a park hopper ticket. However, you will find yourself wanting one throughout a 7 day stay at WDW. It gives you an incredible degree of flexibility to repeat park visits, split up park days, change a plan on the fly, and so many other things that we have always deemed necessary for our vacation experiences. If you’re on a really tight budget, you can skip it and still have a wonderful vacation.
I will say though, I highly value flexibility in a plan like this and it’s one of the key characteristics that I point our when osmose asks me the age old question of “What is the best itinerary for Walt Disney World?” Inevitably, this all needs to be a very loose guide or touring plan when you’re traveling through the parks.
So often people get this Disney World 7 Day itinerary mindset going and get all too focused on what’s written on their templated list that they overlook the reality and value that comes form being infinitely adaptable and very go with the flow. There are moments where you just throw the plan out the window and do what feels like a fun time in the moment. Truthfully, that’s what I end up doing more often than not, because it’s more fun that way! Fun and creating memories that will last forever are the sole reason were traveling in the first place!
With all that being said, if you are looking for guidelines and a tried at true Disney World Seven Day Itinerary, here’s what has worked for me and my family time and time again.
Day 1 – Magic Kingdom Partial Day of the Disney World 7 Day Itinerary!
Typically the first day of a Disney trip is a partial day at best. A majority of guests will be arriving at mid day if they’re flying in or later in the afternoon if they’re driving from a fairly distant area of the country. As a result, what we recommend on days like this is that you first and foremost plan your fastpasses late in the day in the My Disney Experience app.
Additionally, we recommend that you go to Magic Kingdom that first night, because nearly every guest wants to see Cinderella’s castle and walk down iconic Main Street USA as soon as they possibly can. As soon as you step into the lobby of your Disney hotel and the background music hits you and you are greeted with that warm cast member welcome, your mind tends to go straight to the parks.
Side note: When asked the oh so frequent question, “What Disney Park Should I Visit First?” my answer often goes to Magic Kingdom with one caveat to that statement. If you arrive on a Monday, you probably don’t want to spend your first partial day or even your first full day in that park. Monday’s in Magic Kingdom can be the most crowded day of the week so you may be better off going elsewhere.
The parks are a part of the magic that so many of us have fallen in love with over the years. As you arrive, there’s no place you’d rather be, and waiting until that next morning to step foot in them is just tough to do. The extra day on a 6 day ticket to catch this extra few hours in the park is typically marginal as the price for extra days falls as the number of days you buy increases. In my opinion, it’s well worth the extra money and most of you will agree with me once you get there. If you’re looking to save as much money as possible, simply jump to Day 2 and begin your park days there.
Day 2 – Epcot
In our experience, the best case scenario for a week long vacation is to schedule your first full park day on a Monday. Monday’s are great days for touring any park except Magic Kingdom. As mentioned above, every guest wants to step foot in the Magic Kingdom as soon as they arrive on their Disney vacation.
Fortunately, if you took our recommendation, you will have already been to the park while many others waited until their first full day to explore the flagship park. So, instead of Magic Kingdom, we’ll typically spend the first day at Epcot or whichever park has the best “Extra Magic Hours” (Disney wording for free extra park hours for onsite resort guests) for the day. To find out what parks have Extra Magic Hours for your dates, check here for Disney’s calendar.
If you decide to go to Epcot, as we typically do, spend the morning exploring your favorite attractions, and then set up an afternoon stroll around the World Showcase. If you’re traveling in one of the hotter months of the year in Florida, you’ll appreciate the shade the countries of the showcase provide and the ample amount of stores with air conditioning.
As the day progresses, you’ll want to eat at least two meals. At Epcot we recommend two somewhat ideal locations for dining. Teppan Eddo in Japan is an excellent table service dining venue at a fairly cost effective price. It is only one credit on the regular dining plan and allows you to be a touch adventurous and explore a bit of culture on your world showcase endeavor.
Additionally, we recommend La Cantina De San Angel. The simple counter service Mexican restaurant features excellent nachos, empandas, tacos, and even churros that are quite reasonable in price (by Disney standards) and incredibly filling. In a typical Epcot day for us, we do lunch at one of these options and dinner at the other. The amount of food typically works out great and sets the stage as the world showcase truly comes to life as the sun sets and you claim your spot for the nighttime fireworks spectacular. If you want more in depth info for Epcot be sure to check out our – Epcot in a Day Touring Plan.
Day 3 – Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (aka “Do I Need a Full Day at Animal Kingdom?)
At this point in our typical vacation, we start to mix things up and really start to make the most of that park hopper add-on option. On the third day, we typically move on to the parks that aren’t necessarily our favorites, but ones that we certainly enjoy visiting time and time again.
For us, it tends to be a toss up of Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We used to spend nearly full days at Hollywood Studios (and likely will in the future), but even with the latest and greatest expansions to that park, with Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land, we will rarely spend more that half a day in that park at one time.
Additionally, Animal Kingdom has always been a park that we could almost always complete our favorite attractions and shows in just over half a day. As a result, what we typically do is start the day in Animal Kingdom with early faspasses for Flight of Passage, Kilimanjaro Safari, and one other favorite attraction of your choice.
As the heat of the afternoon approaches, we’ll grab a bus and make the short journey over to Hollywood Studios to ride a few attractions and catch as many shows as we can before the sun starts to go down. At that point, we jump back on the bus and return to Animal Kingdom to experience Pandora at night along with many of the other nighttime festivities which have been recently added to the park.
Is Animal Kingdom a Full Day Park?
I may not be making any friends with this statement, but I do still struggle to spend a full day at Animal Kingdom. The park is very large and very detail oriented, but it’s incredibly hot and unless you really plan on going through all the Jungle Treks and Trails and riding every attraction and seeing every show, a lot of guests may struggle to make this a full day of their itinerary. I’m not saying it isn’t a full day park because it truly is and can be. I just rarely spend a day open to close at Animal Kingdom.
As far as food is concerned, we’ll typically reserve this day for solely counter service meals unless we choose to stop at the incredible Yak and Yeti! Otherwise, we’ll eat a late lunch at Pizzafari or Flame Tree Barbecue before leaving Animal Kingdom and then catch a snack or second counter service meal at Hollywood Studios. If you’re feeling really adventurous, we’ve been known to use this day to catch a late dinner at Floatworks at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort before heading back to Animal Kingdom for late night entertainment.
To get to Floatworks quickly (if you don’t have a car), head to the Hollywood Studios bus station, jump on the French Quarter bus and you’ll arrive at the resort and steps away from the counter service dining location near the main lobby. To get back to Animal Kingdom, simply return to where the bus dropped you off and catch the next bus labeled Animal Kingdom just as if it was your own resort hotel.
Day 4 – Magic Kingdom and the Resort
After splitting our Day 3 among two parks, we try to keep Day 4 fairly relaxed. At this point, the long days and late nights will inevitably start catching up with you, especially if you have kids. To combat the fatigue setting in, we’ll start the day at Magic Kingdom with our 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+ strategy, as mentioned above, and then head to a breakfast reservations at Crystal Palace at around 10:30am.
After breakfast, you’ll notice that crowds are typically rather strong. If that is the case, we usually make our way around to Adventureland for a ride on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, or to stop in the Enchanted Tiki Room. After riding a few attractions we’ll leave the park and head back to the resort to hang out at the pool for a while and recharge for the night.
Upon returning to Magic Kingdom we’ll have our previously reserved fastpass+ selections set for around 7:00 and set in a way that they back up to each other at 7:00 and 8:00pm. If all goes well, one of those passes will be for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and the other will be for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. After we complete the attractions, we make the journey over to Main Street to claim a spot for the fireworks.
For a second meal on this day, we recommend a counter service meal at whatever resort you’re staying at. It will typically be conveniently located near the pool and the food at most resorts is quite good.
Day 5 – Epcot, Disney Springs, and Your Park Of Choice
On Day 5, we’ll go back to park hopping fairly aggressively. The best way we’ve found is to start the day at Epcot (mostly because it’s our favorite park). When you get there, ride any attractions you may have missed or simply want to ride again in the morning and set up a late lunch reservation at Disney Springs.
Once you get done with Epcot by revisiting attractions and a few of your favorite pavilions once again, grab a bus to Disney Springs (to catch a bus to Disney Springs your best bet is to catch the first resort bus that shows up and then once you arrive at that resort, wait for the first Disney Springs bus) to make your late lunch reservation. One of our top pics for lunch at Disney Springs is Homecomin’ Kitchen. We gave the location high praises in our Homecomin’ Kitchen: Our New “Must-Do” Disney Dining Location article. However, the Boathouse is a great table service option as well.
Once you finish the meal, we typically wander the Springs area for quite a while strolling in and out of stores and really simply relaxing the afternoon away. As night time rolls in, occasionally we’ll head back to a park and other times we’ll just enjoy the nighttime entertainment at Disney Springs.
If you need a quicker way to get to Disney Springs, an Uber or Minnie Van isn’t a bad option and are typically pretty cost effective.
Day 6 – Winding Down and Revisiting Favorites
As the vacation starts to draw to a close, it’s easy to start thinking about the unfortunate trip home. This is where our greatest tip comes into play out of the entire Itinerary. Take a moment on Day 6 to step back when that thought rolls into your mind and think about the thousands of guests who only get to spend one day in the parks. For us, it starts to put things into perspective and makes those last two days that much more special and worthwhile in the end.
On this particular day, a great thing to do is head to a park of your choice early. You may have one park that you enjoyed more that all the others, or maybe you just want to go back and do something all over again. At Disney, there’s no way to do it all in a week. To be quite honest, there’s no way to do it all in a lifetime so take whatever your favorite experience was and build on it.
When you decide you’re done at that particular park, we almost always schedule a resort table service meal at this point in the trip. Some of our top picks are Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge, Ohana at the Polynesian, or even Chef Mickey at the Contemporary. For us, the meal could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It could be before or after our time in the park of our choice, but one thing we always do is plan our fastpasses around that meal. If you don’t get to your fastpass+ selections or choose to go to a different park, don’t worry about it. By Day 6 in your vacation you’ve probably already rode your favorite attractions.
Our tried and true Day 6 tends to be a few hours in the park, a few hours eating at a resort, and the rest of the time resort hopping and exploring other resorts, shopping at resort gift shops (which all carry different merchandise) and taking the time to relax and take it all in.
Head to the beach of the Polynesian for an excellent view across the water at the Magic Kingdom while your kids play in the sand, head to the Contemporary’s Grand Concourse Balcony for the perfect view of Magic Kingdom from above, or pick a resort you’ve never been to and go explore all that it has to offer. All of these options sound very simple, but some of the best days I’ve had at Walt Disney World have been resort hopping days where we take the time just to enjoy being there.
Day 7 – Back to Magic Kingdom
On the last day of your vacation, we always tend to recommend wrapping things up at the Magic Kingdom. It’s the most iconic park and one that is steeped in history. Take some time to explore the hidden backstories of Main Street which you can find in the following articles:
- How Disney “Sets the Scene” On Main Street U.S.A – A Closer Look
- A Main Street Hidden Gem With An Interesting History – The Harmony Barber Shop
- The Windermere Fraternal Hall – A Main Street Window With an Overlooked Story
- An East Center Street Secret You May Have Overlooked
- and so many more in the “history” tab above this page!
As the heat of the day begins in the early afternoon, head back to the pool one last time to recharge for that final push through to the end of your theme park journey. As the night continues on and slowly draws to a close, as much as you may try to stop it from doing so, stay until the park closes to experience the “Kiss Goodnight.”
As the cast members slowly start ushering guests out, head to the top of the Main Street Station for a truly memorable experience. As you peer out down the street at the few remaining guests in the park, think back on all the memories of your Disney vacation. You’ll chuckle to yourself at some experiences, while others will simply bring a smile to your face, and just stand there for a moment and take it all in.
For some, it may be an emotional few minutes, but it’s one of the highlights of any Disney trip in my humble opinion. It sounds so simple, but at Disney some of the simplest experiences are the ones you remember forever. No matter what Disney World Itinerary you choose, the experience you have with friends and family is what truly matters at the end of the day.
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