Predictable and Definitive Planning For a Happier Disney Trip
Here are 3 simple steps to creating a trip itinerary to the most magical place on earth for a memorable time!
This is something me and my gang have always done. In fact, Kelsey, our family Disney expert, creates an Excel sheet for each day with specifics on where we are going, the times of our fast passes and dining reservations and any attractions we will be enjoying. It has worked out for us each time!
These days, after reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine, Disney World now requires park reservations for park entrance in order to manage park attendance, which is done via the Disney Park Pass reservation system. As a result, designating specific days for each park is not only helpful to a well-planned trip, but it is also now mandatory to adhere to the new rules. Although this does not leave room for spontaneity, it certainly insures you will know exactly where you should be on any given day of your trip.
Further, since "Park Hopping" is currently prohibited under Disney's new rules, and it is no longer possible to visit more than one park per day, scheduling a well planned day at a specific park is the best way to handle your itinerary.
Where to go each day is a very personal decision and based on the interest of your traveling party. Some folks like to stick strictly with the Magic Kingdom, while others mix it up with a different park each day. Our group usually goes anywhere from 4 days to 7 days. For week-long trips, we go to each of the four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) and leave the remaining days for Disney Springs and visits to other Disney resorts for special dining experiences.
Our Suggestion: Make a column for each day of your trip. Headline each column with where you will be and then you are ready to fill in the rest of your itinerary. My gang always likes to spend our first full day in the park in Magic Kingdom. However, if we happen to arrive mid-day and cannot get a morning start and maximize our daily park ticket, we usually opt to head on over to Disney Springs (no ticket or reservation required) to walk around the shops and enjoy one (or two!) of the many eateries.
Now that you know WHERE you'll be on any given day, have fun browsing through the plethora of dining options in each park. Whether you prefer quick service or table service dining, it's a good idea to pre-plan which place you wold like to try. The reason we pre-plan our dining is not only to make any necessary dining reservations, but, for the fun of trying different eateries. From our experience, had we not done pre-trip research into the various options available at each park, we surely would have missed out on some wonderful meals! This method is also helpful if you are dealing with any dietary restrictions in your party or if you have picky eaters in that you can view the full menus beforehand. Reservations can be made online and new dining rules are in effect throughout Disney World.
Our Suggestion: Go to the Disney Dining site, which lists all Disney Park restaurants. You can narrow your options by specific park and even by resort, should you be interested in trying one of the Disney resort restaurants' Character Dining or other dining experiences. You will be amazed when looking at the options in this fashion, just how many choices you have and how many you might not have even noticed in person if you hadn't visited the site first! Take the time to read through the menus and see what options they have for those with dietary restrictions such as vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free and any food allergies. Even if you plan to get quick service, it's a good idea to set an approximate time for when you will eat, so it's on the itinerary. Now you can add all dining reservations and plan under the appropriate park column of your itinerary and call to make the necessary reservations!
When it comes to theme parks or amusement parks, not all rides suit all people. Of course there is something to be said about hitting every single attraction, but, if you are traveling with kids or mature loved ones, this may not be the most practical approach. We have found that creating a list of your top 10 attractions for each park in order of priority is the best way to insure a good time for all. Your top 3 will be those for which you book fast passes. According to the Disney World website there are total of 173 rides and attractions throughout the parks and resorts of Disney World with 41 in Magic Kingdom, 39 in Epcot, 17 in Hollywood Studios and a whopping 49 in Animal Kingdom! Narrowing things down to your top 10 for each park may seem like a small amount, but trust me, it's not when taking into consideration, lines, walking time throughout each respective park and food breaks.
To save time waiting in line, you can secure a FastPass. Disney FastPass+ service allows you to reserve access to select Walt Disney World theme park attractions, entertainment and Character Greetings in advance. You can begin making your FastPass+ selections at 7:00 AM Eastern Time up to 30 days in advance of your visit. However, at this time, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the FastPass+ service is suspended in order for the parks to control capacity and maintain physical distancing.
Our Suggestion: Take a little time togteher with your family and/or fellow Disney travelers to visit the official Disney Attractions site for each of the theme parks to see which ones make your top 10 list. This little pre-trip exercise really gets you in the mood for experiencing the real thing in person! Then add the rides and attractions onto your ever-growing trip itinerary under the appropriate columns. We usually slug in our choices by in-park location in order to save time. You might consider doing the same so you are not running back and forth from one are to another and wasting precious time.
At this point, you should have a pretty full list of things to do and places to be for each day of your trip on your newly created itinerary. We thought we would give you one of our previously created 3-day itineraries for your reference:
- Hotel Quick Service Breakfast
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- It's A Small World
- The Barnstormer
- Lunch at Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd - Skipper Canteen
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Splash Mountain
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Under the Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid
- Dinner at Columbia Harbour House
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
- Breakfast at Garden Grill
- Soarin' Around the World
- Living with The Land
- Spaceship Earth
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Lunch at Via Napoli
- Relax in the Italy Pavillion
- Frozen Ever After (Norway)
- The American Adventure (America)
- Canada Far & Wide Circle Vision
- Dinner at Chefs de France
- Ice Cream at L'Artisan des Glaces
- Shopping at La Bottega Italiana, Mitsukoshi Department Store and World Traveler and others
- Elisa & Kelsey