Disney World 4 Day Itinerary 

On a fairly recent Walt Disney World family trip we went a slightly different route than usual in regards to our planning itinerary. Instead of our typical 7 day Walt Disney World itinerary, our trip consisted of a 4 day itinerary for the parks which was honestly something we’ve only done on a select few trips. In the long run it was an excellent trip, and while it wasn’t the ideal situation, you can really make the most of a trip with the 4 day itinerary we used during our time in the parks.
 
There’s no perfect plan for any particular Disney stay and there’s certainly no “one size fits all” solution for every guest’s needs. Fortunately, that’s part of the fun of the WDW planning experience and a part of customizing your trip to your given needs and wants. In the long run though, it does help to go into your vacation with a plan or an iteration of a plan to help you make the most of the time that you have available. 

Following Our Disney World 4 Day Itinerary “Template” 

Truth be told, that aforementioned thought process was a huge goal of our entire trip and in turn the 4 day itinerary for this trip. We arrived in Orlando on a Wednesday afternoon and left the following Sunday morning. So, when you really think about it we had around 3 and a half days in the parks. To many, that sounds like a short trip and it really did come and go quite quickly, but I can genuinely say that we achieved just about everything we intended to. That’s the key to this whole itinerary. Inevitably you’re going to have to pick and choose what you want to do most. So, before you arrive select your: 
  • must do attractions 
  • must do dining locations 
  • must do activities (pool time, miniature golf, etc.)
Cinderellas Castle at Magic Kingdom - A Cornerstone Day of My Disney World 4 Day itinerary
Early Mornings With a Cinderella Castle View – Does it get any better?

What is the Best Itinerary for Disney World?

If you answer those questions above you’ll quickly realize that there is not one tried and true perfect Itinerary for Disney World. Instead, it’s far more important to craft a vacation that fits what you and your family want to do. Everyone’s travel style is different but at the same time I think it’s important to have a basis of what does tend to work and allows you to maximize your time in the parks. That’s the only reason I share this itinerary today. I hope you modify it heavily to fit your needs! I truly do. Use this as a touring plan template, guideline, or starting point, but then let things you’re not interested in fall off your agenda.

Choose What’s Most Important to You 

If you have each member of your group select their “must-do’s” of the trip, everyone will get their favorite things accomplished and at the end of the stay, at the very least, you all did something you wanted to do more that anything else. It sounds quite simple but it works. Beyond that tip, here’s a closer look at our recommended Disney World 4 Day Itinerary. You’ll have to modify it some to fit your needs, but at the very least if you follow this plan you’ll get a ton of things done on your 4 day Walt Disney World vacation!  

Consider Your Budget First 

Before we get into the specifics, as you prepare for your trip planning, really consider your budget. I know that sounds obvious, but the type of resorts you can afford and travel expenses can play a big role in the length of your stay and the type of things you may consider during your vacation. Instead of eating table service meals, you may want to look into quick service options. Or perhaps look into my 10 Excellent Entrees Under $15 at Walt Disney World for some budget friendly options!

If you’re looking at flying to the parks, you may be able to save money by driving and in turn stay in a deluxe resort instead of a value or moderate tier as a tradeoff. In the big picture, this is what we tend to decide first. The budget may change a little as the planning progresses, but starting with a basic idea of what you can spend and how you plan to spend it will play a big role in how your itinerary is altered or changed in comparison to ours. See my Flying to Disney World post for more tips on that topic! 

One last thing you’ll want to consider is that our Disney trips tend to be pretty fast paced. With the exception of really long trips 7+ days, we tend to spend long hours in the parks, and make the most of the park hopper option. Also worth noting is that we’ve almost mastered Disney’s transportation systems and as a result it makes our park hopping a bit more efficient than many first time guests. I don’t say that to discourage anyone, but it’s something to consider as you attempt to jump from park to park.

Don’t let that missed bus or missed fastpass+ selection destroy your trip. Unfortunate circumstances are inevitable at Walt Disney World every once in a while, but above all else try to enjoy every little moment of the experience and don’t let the trivial problems be what you remember long after your trip draws to a conclusion. 

With all those little things out to the way, here’s a closer look at the plan I recommend in order to get the most out of 4 days at Walt Disney World! I call it a Disney World 4 Day Itinerary but it’s infinitely customizable and should be customized!    

A Pinterest Friendly Image for Our Disney World 4 Day itinerary
A Pinterest Friendly Image for Our Disney World 4 Day itinerary

Day 1 – Partial Day at Magic Kingdom

For most four day stays a majority of guests will lose either part of the first day or part of the last day traveling. If you’re arriving on any other day than Monday I would recommend heading straight to Magic Kingdom after dropping off your luggage at the hotel (Mondays are incredibly busy at Magic Kingdom). Magic Kingdom is typically the park that most guests want to accomplish the most attractions, shopping, and shows in throughout their stay. By utilizing this partial day, you can really accomplish quite a few things in a short amount of time. I don’t recommend doing this on Mondays because crowds tend to be the heaviest on Mondays.  

Something that is important to note is that if you make your fastpass+ selections far enough in advance you can manipulate the times in My Disney Experience so that each of your selections fall in the afternoon/nighttime hours of the day. If you can work out the times just right you’ll guarantee yourself rides on some of the most popular attractions even if the park is ridiculously crowded on your arrival day. 

In a simliar way, if you can manage to stay late (near park closing time) you can catch a few more attractions as many guests leave directly after the nighttime performance of Happily Ever After concludes. You wont find a short wait for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but you may catch a short queue at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin or Dumbo before the park officially closes. If you’re staying until close you wont want to miss these two articles: 

These things can truly be a highlight and a perfect add on item to your Disney World 4 Day Itinerary!

Our plan for our first day consisted of an early dinner at the The Plaza Restaurant at around 3:45, followed by our first fastpass+ selection of the day, Peter Pan’s Flight. After that experience we hopped on the train for a quick ride around (considering on this particle day even the Peoplemover had a 20 minute wait) the entire loop starting and ending in Storybook Circus. At that point, we checked a few wait times in Fantasyland but ultimately ran out of time before our second fastpass, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Upon exiting the attraction (one of our favorites) we headed to Frontierland for our final fastpass of the day, Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Disney World 4 Day Itinerary - Epcot
Epcot’s Illuminations!
As if it were planned that way, we headed to Fantasyland for one final attraction, Mickey’s Philharmagic, before going to pick out a viewing location for the Happily Ever After fireworks spectacular. By that time of night, the hub area tends to be beyond full so we retreated to Main Street near Casey’s in the middle of the street. It wasn’t the perfect location, but it did set up a great opportunity to grab some photos before calling it a night after a long day of travel.    

Day 2 – A Full Day at Epcot  

Day two tends to be the most productive day on a short vacation. A majority of guests have a ton of energy at this point in their stay, and Epcot is the ideal place to spend that second day. The park is large and requires quite a bit of walking, but to start the day off right I recommend grabbing a fastpass for Soarin, Test Track, or Frozen Ever After in your advanced fastpass+ selections. If you can time it right and set your first fastpass about an hour after the park opens you can head straight to whichever attraction you didn’t get a fastpass+ for first and avoid the lines. Doing this leaves only one attraction that you’ll have to face the queue for of the 3 attractions in the park that characteristically have the longest wait times. 
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival - A Full Day In Our Walt Disney World 4 Day itinerary
Nothing Beats a Classic Monorail During Flower and Garden Festival!

From our experience, the best case scenario for our needs is to head straight to Soarin and get a fastpass+ reservation for Test Track. After riding Soarin you may have a few minutes to ride Journey Into Imagination with Figment, The Land, or even the Seas with Nemo and Friends before your designated fastpass+ timeframe. If you’re looking for a great breakfast options to throw in the mix, we highly recommend Garden Grill!

Once you complete the attractions you would like to experience, head to the World Showcase to spend the afternoon or to eat your way around the countries and take your time exploring the little details as they unfold before your eyes. While a more in depth plan of our ideal day at Epcot can be found in the article – Our Tried and True “Epcot in a Day” Touring Plan this should give you a quick idea of what to expect out of day two!

A Walk Around the World Showcase - A great piece of any Disney World itinerary
A Walk Around the World Showcase – A great piece of any Disney World itinerary

Day 3 – Split Day at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom… And Even Animal Kingdom!  

As day three arrives, you’ll really start to make the most of the park hopper option. In our case, we started our day with early extra magic hours at Magic Kingdom. If you get there when the gates open, you’ll be shocked at how much you can get done in a very short amount of time. The first 90 minutes will be your most successful and productive time of the entire day and quite possibly the entire trip. If you’re careful about managing your time, you can Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+! That particular article is one of my favorites because it really puts into perspective how important those early hours can be for those looking to ride as many attractions as possible.

After making that grand 6+ attraction run, take a break and head to breakfast. In our plan we went to Crystal Palace because it truly is one of our favorite breakfasts on property. It even made our list of top character dining options on property. If you want to follow our plan step by step, at this point we left Magic Kingdom and went over to Hollywood Studios. It feels like a short time at Magic Kingdom, but you’ll be surprised by what you can get done in a few short hours.

As a bit of a side note… on this particularl day, we avoided using our fastpasses in Magic Kingdom in order to guarantee rides late in the day at popular attractions and shows in Hollywood Studios. Our first fastpass was Voyage of the Little Mermaid, but before that experience began we made a quick trip into Star Wars Launch Bay for a quick look at the exhibits and to make a pass through the gift shop (a great place to pick up unique merchandise) before enjoying the Little Mermaid show.

As soon as that was finished we were ready for our Toy Story Mania Fastpass. Toy Story Mania is a fairly quick attraction, so once it concluded we caught a quick show and still had plenty of time to head to our final fastpass at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.

I know that sounds like a quick trip through Hollywood Studios, and in all reality it is. However, we did leave the park at this point in order to arrive at a Whispering Canyon reservation for dinner that night. Truth be told, if you spent a few more hours at Hollywood Studios you could really accomplish nearly every attraction and show offered in that park minus Rise of the Resistance. Later that night we went straight to Animal Kingdom to take in the miraculous spectacle that is Pandora – The World of Avatar at Night!

Another great option is to stick around in Hollywood Studios and tour Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge. The land truly comes alive at night and the crowds really fall off in Hollywood Studios as closing time approaches. The crowds tend to make their way to Fantasmic at the end of the day leaving attraction queue much shorter.

Day 4 – Split Day at Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, and Magic Kingdom 

The final day always bring two things. First and foremost you’ll start to feel the fatigue of long hours, early mornings, and late nights. Second, thoughts of heading home will start to creep into your mind. Both are inevitable, but one thing to think about is that the one day you have left may be the only day another guest may have to experience Walt Disney World altogether. It’s not the ideal solution but it does help put things in perspective and allows you to make the most of every minute of your stay.

Can You Do Animal Kingdom in Half a Day?

On our final day we started at Animal Kingdom and made every effort to enjoy our favorite attractions early on in the day. For years, Animal Kingdom was a half-day park for us. It wasn’t that way because you could do everything in half a day, but rather because we wanted to spend more time at Epcot or Magic Kingdom.

To an extent, that same concept remains true with this length of stay and considering this is a Disney World 4 day itinerary with things that will have to get cut. Some sacrifices will sadly have to be made. To me, Animal Kingdom is not a “half day park” but it is the one park I’d personally devote less time to if you are short on time during your vacation. Of course that is simply personal preference and I’ll explain exactly how we manipulated this particular day.  

We spent the morning riding Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, catching breakfast at Yak and Yeti (their quick service option), enjoying Na’vi River Journey, and of course Festival of the Lion King! To an extent, the order you complete these attractions and shows doesn’t entirely matter, but I highly recommend going to Na’Vi River Journey first. If you can secure a fastpass for Flight of Passage it’s your best bet to go ride Na’Vi River Journey early in the day. If not, go straight to Flight of Passage when the gates open.

To make this day unfold a little easier, we had secured a fastpass for Flight of Passage and in turn managed to avoid the line for that attraction. It was the last thing we did in that park before leaving and heading to a late lunch reservation at Homecomin’ Kitchen over at Disney Springs. After the meal (or any other number of dining options at Disney Springs you would like to choose) we explored the area a bit and went in a few of our favorite stores before moving locations one last time and heading to Magic Kingdom to round out the vacation.

At the end of that last day I recommend one final thing that so many guests overlook. Take a moment upon returning to your resort to find a quite place and reflect on the vacation. Our accommodation of choice for this trip was the Boardwalk Resort. In my opinion, it was the ideal place to think back on the events of our short stay. No matter what resort you’re at, find a quiet place, sit and enjoy the moment, and reflect upon the memories you’ve created with friends and family. In my opinion, it is the very best way to end a trip of any length.                 

Don't Forget to Add In time for Festival of Fantasy during your time in the parks!
Don’t Forget to Add In time for the Festival of Fantasy parade during your time in the parks!

Things to Consider As You Plan Your Itinerary: 

Can You Really Do Disney in 4 Days with a “Template” Plan?

So, to be quite honest the answer to this question is no. I know that sounds weird coming from the guy that pushed out an article touting a “Disney World Vacation in 4 Days” article, but stick with me for a minute. You can experience a truly incredible WDW vacation in 4 days. Heck, I even served up a template for you to do just that here in a round about way. However, the important thing to note is that you can never see and do everything at Walt Disney World. You certainly can’t do so in 4 days, or 7 days, or even 10 days. I’ve been doing this for a lifetime (quite literally touring the parks my entire life) and I still haven’t seen and done everything at WDW.

The important thing to remember in all of this is that you can’t go into your short vacation with the expectation of seeing and doing everything. There is no “perfect” touring plan for a day in Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, or even Magic Kingdom. You have to be infinitely adaptable and if you are you’ll have a far better experience in the parks. Avoid over planning at all costs! If you plan down to the minute you’ll miss out on the subtleties of your vacation more often than not! Just enjoy being there in the moment and it’ll be more than worth it in the end. Savor the memories, not your attraction count for the day.

Check Park Hours Before Planning Days 

Unless you want to follow this itinerary word for word, look up the park hours for your stay and selected dates before you pick your park days and what park you will go to on each day. Extra Magic hours can be vastly beneficial in squeezing in a few extra experiences, so you’ll want to try and plan around those hours as much as possible.  

Are Disney Park Hopper Tickets Necessary? 

Disney Park Hopper tickets are 100% worth it in most cases. Especially if you’re following our Disney World 4 Day itinerary. For those of you who may be asking “What is a Park Hopper Ticket at Walt Disney World?” you are certainly asking a good question and one that can be so difficult to understand when planning your first WDW vacation. A park hopper ticket is an add on option to any Walt Disney World ticket that allows you to visit multiple parks on the same day and “hop” from park to park all you want to. Essentially, it allows you to visit all 4 Disney parks in one day.

Would I recommend visiting all four parks in one day? No, probably not, in most cases. However, visiting two parks in one day is a really good plan for shorter days in case you overlooked something in one park or missed your favorite show due to rain or some other issue. The park hopper ticket option also gives you the amazing opportunity to manage your time more effectively and allocate time at the parks you enjoy the most while still being able to visit all four parks on a short stay.

It’s also worth noting that the park hopper and park hopper plus option are different. Ultimately, the park hopper plus option includes access to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. I would not recommend visiting water parks on a 4 day trip. For longer trips and summer trips it can be an incredible option and an amazing way to escape the heat for a day or even a few hours.       

If you want to use our plan or a variation of it, the park hopper option is a must when buying tickets. If you don’t buy it you’ll be limited to whatever park you start the day in and will have to visit just that one park for the day. You can come and go as you please, but any other park is off the table. 

So there you have it, all the details of our Disney World 4 Day Itinerary!

Let Someone Guide You

If this sounds overwhelming, don’t let it discourage you from booking a trip. If you have questions feel free to message me on Facebook or Instagram anytime and I’ll personally get back to you as soon as possible. Additionally, consider an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner like our friends over at Destinations to Travel (link to no obligation quote request form). When you support them it also helps support us in return and as an added bonus their services are no additional cost to you!    

Modify The Plan as You Go!

Even if you follow every single element of this plan, you will have to modify it along the way. Alter your plans as you go and do what works best for you as the situation unfolds. Be a bit spontaneous in your travels and the results may genuinely surprise you!

Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Better yet, share your Disney World 4 Day Itinerary with us! Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!