Over all of the years of visiting Disney World, I have pretty much followed the same weekly Disney itinerary for them all! Aside from our split Disney/Universal/Cruise trip, all of our Disney trips have followed a pretty structured week.
When we book a Disney vacation, we always check in on a Saturday and check out the following Saturday. This works with Jesse’s vacation time off from work. Since we live about 16 hours away and drive, we leave for our trip on Friday. Sometimes we drive straight through, other times we book a hotel and sometimes we will just stop for a nap at a rest area
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Once we arrive to our Disney resort (usually some time around noon) we get checked into our room and all settled in. Once we are settled in we get cleaned up and head out for the day. We will most often explore the resort for a bit and then head to Disney Springs for some shopping and dinner (our favorite is T-REX). Then we will head back to our resort to prepare for our first day in the parks.
How late we book our dinner reservation depends on whether we stopped in a hotel or not on our trip down. If we stopped to get a good nights sleep then we will make our reservation later; 1 because we won’t be as tired and 2 because we may arrive later than expected.
Note: we have yet to have an issue with our room not being ready when we arrive to our resort early, we usually actually have already been texted our room information before we arrive. However, check in is not guaranteed until 4 and this does happen depending on when you are traveling, type of room and resort. So although you can arrive early, don’t be upset if your room isn’t ready. Either leave your luggage in the car or drop it off with bell service and find something to do!
Day one of our Disney itinerary is ALWAYS a Magic Kingdom day! There is just something about starting your vacation off on the right foot as you ride the monorail up to the front of the park and catch that first glimpse of the castle! It always brings back my childhood memories and makes me feel like an awestruck princess once again!
At Magic Kingdom we will schedule our Fastpass+ reservations for late morning/early afternoon and fit in lunch or breakfast around these. We tend to eat at Crystal Palace or Liberty Tree Tavern most often here. We typically make reservations for both of these dining locations for dinner; however, sometimes we will do breakfast at Crystal Palace or Lunch at Liberty Tree. Our quick service meal is usually Peco Bill’s, but we also like the Friars Nook, and Be Our Guest (reservations are still needed).
Day 2 of our Disney itinerary tends to be our Epcot day, but our days at Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios vary as we base them on magic hours days if possible. As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are not morning people so we don’t plan for morning magic hours, but we love the evening ones! Often Epcot’s magic hours will be 9-11 and that is the day we will choose to go to this park.
At Epcot, we will again schedule all of our Fastpass+ reservations early so that we can attempt to get more. If we are visiting on a magic hours day then we will get a Fastpass for Frozen Ever After for out tier 1 selection and wait in line for Test Track in the evening during magic hours. If there are not magic hours that night, then we will get our Fastpass for Test Track and skip Frozen Ever After.
This works for us with 2 adults; however the opposite may be better if you are a family with children, as I am sure our Fastpass selections will need some tweaking as our son grows. Either way we NEVER get a Fastpass for Soarin because the line tends to be much shorter than Frozen and Test Track, plus the line queue is entertaining and fun with the trivia games on the big screens!
For food, we typically eat a quick service meal in Future World for lunch while we are using our Fastpass+ reservations and then book a reservation for dinner. Some of our favorites are Coral Reef, and Chefs de France. But we also enjoy Garden Grill and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (both character meals and we typically have breakfast if we eat at Akershus).
Day 3 of our Disney itinerary is usually Animal Kingdom day! Fastpass+ reservations in the early afternoon as usual but Animal Kingdom can get tricky because along with those afternoon Fastpass reservations, we also need to fit in the Festival of the Lion King show and taking the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The final show is usually somewhere between 5 and 7, while Rafiki’s Planet Watch closes around 4 or 5.
Our dining plans vary on each trip in this park. We always eat at Flame Tree BBQ for a quick service but table service isn’t always the same. Sine many of the table service restaurants are Asian or African themed, we tend to lean towards Rainforest Cafe. It gives a good variety, plus it is open past park hours so we make a dinner reservation for about 15 or so minutes after the park closes so we don’t miss any time in the park. The issue is that Rainforest Cafe is very similar to T-REX so we don’t like to eat at both in one trip. So on the trips were we choose T-REX, we will use our Animal Kingdom day to have dinner at one of the resorts.. ‘Ohana at the Polynesian s one of our favorites!
By this point in the week, we are TIRED! So we take our break day and enjoy some time at our resort. This is our day to sleep in if we want, then grab some lunch and head to the pool. We will also explore our resort a little more, especially if we didn’t get to on check-in day.
Our day off always lands on Wednesday and prior to the COVID-19 closure there were always evening magic hours at Magic Kingdom. So after spending the day taking it slow, we head back to Magic Kingdom around 8 to close the park. (If you are skeptical of magic hours, absolutely try out Magic Kingdoms evening ones, there are enough rides that the crowd is spread out and lines are super short!)
We base our day off on where we want to eat and how our check-in day was planned. If we missed Disney Springs on check-in day then we will go do some shopping before heading back to Magic Kingdom. But this makes the day much less relaxing. As for food we will sometimes eat all quick service meals on this day and other times we will hit up a resort or Disney Springs table service meal.
Some other fun things to do on days off or check-in days are mini golf, Disney park tours (we loved our Wild Africa Trek tour!), alligator air boat tours, or shopping/exploring outside of the Disney World area.
As day 5 comes along In our Disney itinerary, we are left with Hollywood Studios. Here we are not as concerned about when we make our Fastpass+ reservations for because we always get a Fastpass for Fantasmic in the evening so we are unable to schedule more passes in addition to the first 3.
Here we are more focused on when our dining reservations are scheduled for. Depending on where we eat at tends to determine the times we eat. When we eat at Sci-fi, we tend to have lunch reservations; however, we really like eating a quick service meal at Pizza Rizzo which is only opened for lunch. Pizza Rizzo fits in nicely when we have dinner at Hollywood and Vine. This tends to be our earliest dinner out of the entire week because we have to be in and out before our Fastpass begins for Fantasmic!
I certainly recommend a Fastpass for Fantasmic as this show is AMAZING and always a full house! I miss the good ol’ days when there were 2 showings of Fantasmic at night and no Fastpass required!
Final day in the parks! We always end our trip on the magic we started with at Magic Kingdom. This is the day we try to do anything we missed on day 1 as well as redo all of our favorites! I try to make sure we have different Fastpass reservations than we did on day 1 so we get a chance to experience more.
As for dining, we will choose the opposite dining than we chose on day 1. There are so many great options so it is never a problem to eat here twice. Typically a reservation at Liberty Tree 1 day and Crystal Palace the other!
This day ALWAYS comes way to fast! And I am typically planning our next trip back to Florida on our way home…actually who am I kidding??… I am typically planning the next trip while waiting in line queues all week 😂
Any way I always try to soak up as much Disney before heading home, even though Jesse is always eager to get on the road. We typically stop to have lunch somewhere and use up our last dining plan meal and pick up any snacks we have left over.
I wish we had more time in the week to visit each park more than once, because there is always more to do that just doesn’t fit in 1 day! This Disney itinerary has always worked great for us, and we will occasionally arrive a day early and be able to add in some extras (like our Wild Africa Trek Tour, you can read about here). There is so much to do and explore on and off Disney property, so each trip can give you an entirely new experience, have fun with it!
What is your ideal Disney itinerary? Do you have a specific park you like to visit first? Let me know, it’s always fun to learn new ways to have a magical Disney vacation!
Did you like our ideal Disney itinerary? Check out our daily schedule here!