Disney World Itineraries and Trip Planning – What We Recommend
Do you want to use an itinerary at Disney?
A Word of Caution for Any Disney Itinerary
Without a doubt, I know these plans work and have worked for us in the past, but I say that with a certain level of caution. Don’t be that guest that obsesses over their “to-do” list so much that they get to the end of their trip and feel like they never took the time to simply enjoy being there. Disney World Itineraries and touring plans are great sources of information, but if you don’t throw the plan aside for a few moments to take it all in and enjoy the simplicity of just being their, you’re going to miss out on one of the greatest joys of going to Walt Disney World.
I’ve had the privilege of talking to other guests over the years (even before the site was created) who had returned home from Disney trips and all they could say was how “stressful” the experience was. Immediately, after hearing that, I could pick out what they were going to say next… “It was fun but I don’t know if we’ll go back.” A majority of those same guests went unprepared or vastly over-prepared. Neither one of those options is a good situation in my opinion when you’re talking Disney World Planning. If you don’t plan at all, with the requirements of the fastpass+ and My Disney Experience system today, you’re going to be playing catch-up for a portion of your stay. On the other hand if you over plan and figure out what exact attraction you’re going ride for each and every minute of the day, you’re probably not going to be happy with the end result either.
We’ve found that there’s a certain sweet spot in the middle of both options. Plan the necessities and avoid the aggressive planning. Truth be told, you need to plan these things on your Disney World Itinerary:
- Table Service Dining Reservations
- Your Theme Park Tickets – If you haven’t purchased tickets as a package, I always recommend The Official Ticket Center (clickable link) for the best prices I’ve found on multi-day and single day tickets. You may even catch an upgrade or extra ticketed day when you purchase through them)
- Your Resort Accommodations
- Your Fastpass+ Selections
- Your “Must-Do” Attractions
- What Day You Want to Visit Each Park (be sure to look at extra magic hours)
If you can lock down those decisions, you’ll be set for a flexible yet planned Disney World vacation experience. I mention “must-do” attractions because it makes things easier. If each guest in your party picks one attraction or experience they want to do more that anything else for each day of the trip, everyone is happy. For groups of 2-10 guests or so, this works out great. Most days it’s possible to check off that “must-do” for each guest and everyone is happy because they accomplished what they wanted to do the most. It’s manageable, measurable, and keeps everyone happy while remaining vastly attainable during most lengths of stay.
As mentioned above, I consider this the sweet spot for Disney World Itineraries. You’re not booking too much, but not booking too little. For example, on our trip that’s coming up in a few short weeks, our group only booked two dining reservations, our hotel accommodations, and our park days. We wanted to do a lighter trip with less commitment to plans and simply planned what we were doing from a big picture perspective for each day. Basically all we know is our fastpass+ selections and what day we want to be where. Truthfully, that’s less that what the average guest will need.
Obviously, we’ve been doing this for a while and many of you have been as well. As you travel more, and tour the parks more, a returning guest opposed to a first time guest tends to be less worried about trying to do everything. Spoiler alert: It’s impossible to see and do everything at Walt Disney World. I’ve literally been traveling to the parks my entire life and haven’t seen and done it all. That realization is what often sets apart returning guests from first time visitors. We know we’ll be back, and we know there’s no sense in trying to do everything on property. It wont happen, but that’s not a deterrent but rather a blessing that there’s always something new to return to and explore trip after trip. Don’t worry about doing it all, just focus on making the most of the time you have. That’s what our itineraries tend to focus on, and if that sounds like something you can get behind, here’s a closer look at some of our top itineraries for Walt Disney World.
Short Stay Disney World Itineraries
A stay at Walt Disney World that is shorter that 4 days can be relatively tough. Inevitably, you will feel a bit rushed. With that being said, our last trip in March of 2018 at the Boardwalk Villas was only 3 and half days in length. If you make the most of it, you can do far more that you could ever imagine. If you want to see every park, it will require a park-hopper, and even with our experience working in your favor you will miss out on a few things along the way. But, a short Disney trip is certainly better that no Disney trip at all so be sure to check this one out if you’re looking to make the most of your time in the parks.
Long Stay Disney World Itineraries
Longer stays in the parks can make all the difference in the ability to relax a bit more during a Disney trip. You have a bit more time and that extra aspect of the vacation can afford you the time to step away from the parks and explore without giving up quite as much as you would during a shorter stay. Longer stays put a certain level of freedom into the planning mix that is unmatched by anything except being a local Orlando resident. You can set up a morning in the parks, head back to the pool at lunch, and maybe even go catch another park’s fireworks show later that night. You’re not confined by the thoughts of losing out on time in the parks or the disappointing thought of missing a favorite attraction because you know you’ll have plenty of time to head back on another day later on in your 7 day stay.
There’s so much freedom added to the longer stays simply because of that aspect of extra time and with Disney Springs nearing completion, you can take the time to explore that area in depth which you likely wouldn’t on a 4 day or shorter vacation. Planning your days out is a bit less important for these loner stays but if you want some help and want to see how we handle these longer trips affectively, be sure to check out:
Unique Disney Itinerary Options
Why Should You Care?
Inevitably, I can guarantee that at least one of you is asking this question. Either you’re the one planning the trip despite not wanting to go or you’re weighing the costs of the experience and requirements of planning against another vacation destination. Ultimately, I’ll share one message with those of you who are in this position. Disney is a place that has a bad reputation for being a place for kids or young families. When you tell someone you write about the Disney parks, you typically get two responses. The first is a blank stare and then a comment like, “aren’t you too old for that” or something of the sorts. Or you get a second response and that is “We love Disney and have been going for years!” The first response is what keeps me doing what I’m doing today. I know that sounds like quite the opposite of what should happen, but bear with me.
I share on this site to help people plan and experience Disney on a deeper level. There’s not a doubt in my mind that the “you’re too old for that” response is typically from someone who doesn’t understand the parks and resorts. Truthfully, that’s what I enjoy sharing with them. When you tell those same people that Disney has select world class dining options, impressive nightlife, PGA tour level golf courses, bowling, Broadway-esque caliber shows, and incredible story telling capabilities, they tend to look at you with a different thought process. Many times it’s a changed perspective and a newfound desire to tour the Disney property in a different way that the media tends to portray it.
That may sound like I hold myself to this ultimate “manipulative authority” or that I’m a Disney public relations drone trying to drum up business, but it’s not intended to sound that way (again, I’ve never worked for or even with Disney directly at this point). I share those things and ultimately these itineraries to share with others something that has been a big portion of my life and that has created memories that will truly last a lifetime. I want everyone to have that same opportunity in some facet. The moments that create these memories may not be the same for everyone, but Disney as a whole is a place that creates opportunities for guests to create their own story and experiences time and time again. It sounds hopelessly corny in writing but it’s true and one of those things so many of you reading this understand and have experienced first hand.
Ready to Plan?