Our Walt Disney World itineraries offer step-by-step strategy for single & multi-day visits to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Plus, plans for touring Universal Studios Florida, Disneyland, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong theme parks. These time-saving tips will help you avoid crowds, high wait times, and long lines for rides. (Updated February 18, 2024.)
The Florida and California itineraries have all been overhauled as Walt Disney World and Disneyland have debuted new attractions and nighttime spectaculars. This includes TRON Lightcycle Run, Luminous, Moana’s Journey of Water, Happily Ever After, World of Color – ONE, and other entertainment. The itineraries also account for major closures (e.g. Splash Mountain and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) and changes with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.
We visit the parks on a regular basis, tracking wait time data, crowd patterns, and other changes. Along with all of that, we’re frequently testing various approaches, and fine-tuning strategy as crowds have increased thus far in 2024, despite the exhaustion pent-up demand. We’re expecting this year to be busier than last, and the 2024 updates account for that. We use our on-the-ground experiences and field-testing plus crowd levels and other observations to formulate plans of attack that’ll work in the real world.
Other itinerary tweaks account for ride closures, recent restaurant additions, and all sorts of other things. We typically update the Walt Disney World and Disneyland itineraries about once per season or as necessary with new rides opening. If an itinerary hasn’t been updated in the last few months, it’s because nothing has changed. The next overhauls will likely come in Summer 2024 or whenever pre-arrival booking of Lightning Lanes actually arrives.
Our patented (not really) park strategy guides are unlike most theme park itineraries that you’ll find. We take a balanced approach that prioritizes efficiency and avoids long wait times for attractions (“I love waiting in lines!” ~said no one, ever) while also savoring Walt Disney World’s ambiance.
This results in step-by-step plans for touring Disney Parks that allow you to get a lot done, while also enjoying the scenery and what the theme parks have to offer beyond the rides. We do not view the parks simply as collections of attractions that should be completed checklist style, so the plans balance “getting stuff done” with “having a nice, leisurely day.”
If that approach sounds appealing to you, check out our itineraries for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the international Disney Parks…
Walt Disney World Itineraries
With 4 theme parks, plus 2 water parks, a couple dozen resort hotels, and lots of “other stuff” our 1-day plans for Walt Disney World barely scratch the surface. These are our current park plans for Walt Disney World, all of which have been updated to account for current crowd patterns, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, and more.
We would recommend those with Walt Disney World trips through Summer 2024 use these while planning for EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. Plans for both of those parks will potentially change sometime in June as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and CommuniCore Hall open, and other smaller-scale additions also debut in both parks.
The itineraries for Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios have no such shelf life; these will likely receive another update at some point this year, but there’s nothing new on the horizon that will materially impact strategy for those parks before late 2024 or even 2025. DINOSAUR and It’s Tough To Be a Bug closing are probably the next big changes, but that’s not expected to occur for a while–late this year or early next.
With that said, Walt Disney World is still feeling the impact of pent-up demand, return of international travel, special events, and longtime fans who postponed visits. These trends are entirely accounted for in the itineraries, but you should nevertheless be aware of the reality that the parks feel more crowded than ever before. The itineraries are still your best plan of attack, you just can expect to accomplish slightly fewer rides per day.
Magic Kingdom 1-Day Itinerary – An aggressive itinerary for Walt Disney World’s flagship park that starts with an early morning in Fantasyland and Frontierland. It also covers snacking, shows, and more. It’s normally tough to do Magic Kingdom in a single day, but this comes very close.
EPCOT 1-Day Itinerary– Few EPCOT park plans can hit the “Big Three” (Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and Soarin’ Around the World) in a single day, but this one manages to do exactly that–with minimal waits. You’ll also fully experience Future World and be able to have a pleasant time in World Showcase.
Hollywood Studios 1-Day Itinerary– Everything you’ll want to do in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, roller coasters, and the park’s many shows. This DHS plan also includes two table service meals, which are among the best-themed restaurants at Walt Disney World!
Animal Kingdom 1-Day Itinerary– Post-reopening, this is our most counter-intuitive itinerary. While Animal Kingdom is a full-day park, it requires a different approach than the others. This itinerary gets you in and out of Pandora – World of Avatar efficiently, bypassing the frequent two-hour waits for Flight of Passage. It also allows ample time for exploration, animal watching, and eating.
Magic Kingdom 2-Day Itinerary– If you want to do 5 days at Walt Disney World, our preferred approach is a full day at all of the parks, plus 2 at Magic Kingdom. The pace here is slightly more leisurely, allowing for more snack time, soaking up the beautiful details, and meals at the best restaurants in the park.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Plan – If you’re attending this special event held at Magic Kingdom from August through October, our party plan is a great way to meet as many characters as possible while also seeing the parade, stage show, fireworks, attraction overlays, and other entertainment. Because it’s impossible to see everything unique to MNSSHP in a single night, this does not include regular rides.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Plan – Exact same idea as the above Halloween Party plan, but for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party during November and December at Magic Kingdom. We’ve been attending both of these events at least once per year (usually more) since 2007 and have fine-tuned our approach over the years as a result!
Walt Disney World 3-Day Itinerary– We are huge fans of ‘whirlwind long weekends’ at Walt Disney World. Of course, given that there are 4 parks, you have to make compromises with this condensed approach. Here are a couple different options, and how you can squeeze as much as possible into a few days, including the best options for Park Hopping, Early Entry, rope drop, late nights, and more.
EPCOT Half-Day Itinerary – We definitely do not recommend only spending a half-day at EPCOT, but if you do, here’s how to knock out the headliners and enjoy the atmosphere with limited time.
Hollywood Studios Half-Day Itinerary – Although incredibly busy during the midday hours, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is often quieter in the evening, allowing for a lot to be accomplished with an afternoon arrival.
Animal Kingdom Afternoon Arrival– This is sadly still a half-day park for most guests, which has been exacerbated by the lack of a nighttime spectacular. The end result is that Animal Kingdom really clears out by 3 or 4 pm. Those who are primarily interested in rides can tackle the entire park in only a few hours with this plan.
1-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes– After Magic Kingdom, DHS is the park that makes the most sense for buying the paid Genie+ service. Given the number of headliners, you can easily save 4 hours in line simply by scoring ride reservations for Slinky Dog Dash, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
We recommend two full days at Disneyland, especially following the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and debut of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. On top of that, there are multiple nighttime entertainment offerings at Disneyland, and when all are shown, it’s tough to catch them in a single evening.
Additionally, a full day or more is ideal at Disney California Adventure to see and explore the more leisurely park without feeling rushed. There’s so much entertainment in addition to attractions that it’s difficult to see and do it all in a single day.
Disneyland Park 1-Day Itinerary– Our most aggressive single-day itinerary for the Disney theme park with the most attractions, this plan for touring Disneyland starts in Fantasyland, includes strategy for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, along with plenty of snacking and soaking up the quaint charm of “Walt Disney’s original magic kingdom.”
Disney California Adventure 1-Day Itinerary– If you want to do Radiator Springs Racers, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, or DCA’s other thrill rides without waiting in long lines, our Disney California Adventure itinerary is for you. We also have recommendations for experiencing the “Heroic Encounters” in Avengers Campus, scoring a Web Slingers boarding pass, and much more.
Disneyland 2-Day Itinerary– A Disneyland plan with time to breathe. This one covers all of the same ground as our 1-day itinerary, while also seeing and doing things that you’d have to skip in a single day due to a lack of time.
1-Day Universal Studios Florida Itinerary – The “other” studios theme park in Orlando, there’s a lot to love about Universal Studios Florida, from the wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley to rides based on the Simpsons, Transformers, Men in Black, E.T., Despicable Me, and more. The park offers some great roller coasters and other thrill rides, plus excellent entertainment.
1-Day Universal’s Islands of Adventure Itinerary – At Universal Orlando’s second gate, you’ll find some of the best and most popular theme park rides in Florida, including the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk Coaster, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
1-Day Universal Park Hopping Itinerary – A greatest hits plan for park touring that’ll give you a taste of the highlights in both parks. If you’re not eligible for Express Pass and Early Park Admission, you have absolutely no chance at accomplishing everything. On most days, you’ll be lucky to accomplish half of what Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure have to offer. We strongly recommend you do at least 2 days.
Outside the Parks at WDW
1-Day Skyliner Sip & Snack Itinerary – Walt Disney World’s new aerial transportation system presents some great opportunities to glide around via the gondolas, doing some delicious dining, drinking, and hotel hijinks along the way. This is either a half-day or full-day itinerary, depending upon how long you linger at each stop.
1-Day Self-Guided Christmas Itinerary– The very first itinerary we published was our “Self Guided Yuletide Tour,” as a way of exploring Walt Disney World’s many beautiful resorts at Christmas. This totally free plan covers the best of Disney during the holidays, including Wilderness Lodge’s towering tree, Grand Floridian’s gorgeous gingerbread house, and more!
Walt Disney World “Beyond the Parks” 1-Day Itinerary– Have a free day but don’t want to spend it poolside or simply shopping the day away at Disney Springs? This itinerary takes you around other under-the-radar spots at Walt Disney World that are fun but do not charge admission.
International Disney Parks
In this case, “International Parks” means the two parks at Tokyo Disney Resort and Disneyland Paris, plus Hong Kong Disneyland. Much like Disneyland, neither Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea can be fully experienced in a single day. However, we recognize that’s how much time most people will allocate to these parks during a trip to Japan, so here are our plans for those parks:
Tokyo Disneyland 1-Day Itinerary– Another challenging castle park thanks to a surplus of attractions and live entertainment. Nevertheless, this Tokyo Disneyland itinerary allows you to do as much as possible via efficient ordering of rides.
Tokyo DisneySea 1-Day Itinerary– Our favorite theme park in the world, period. This Tokyo DisneySea itinerary does the tough tightrope walk of getting you through popular rides efficiently, while also savoring this ornately designed park like a fine wine.
Disneyland Paris 1-Day Plan– We take that same ‘fine wine’ approach here, as Disneyland Paris is the most lavish–and best designed–castle park in the world. This itinerary strikes the perfect balance.
Walt Disney Studios Park 1-Day Plan – A far cry from the castle park next door, WDSP is–bluntly–a utilitarian park. This itinerary gets you in and out as quickly as possible, so you can do the rides and shows here and then hightail it back to Disneyland Paris.
Hong Kong Disneyland 1-Day Itinerary – The new quaint, uncrowded Disney park, Hong Kong Disneyland is the only castle park that does not require an efficient plan of attack. Nonetheless, waiting in line is never fun, so this HKDL itinerary covers what order to do the popular rides here.
That covers it for our Disney Parks itineraries! If there are any other plans you’d like to see, or if you have questions about the current Disney Parks plans, please let us know in the comments!
Planning a visit to one of the Disney theme parks? Check out our Disney Parks Vacation Planning Guides for everything you need to start planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Aulani in Hawaii.
What would you include in your ideal day at the Disney Parks? If you haven’t visited yet, what do you plan on doing? Anything you’d add to any of our plans? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!