Disney World Park Itineraries & Touring Plans
Our Walt Disney World itineraries offer strategy for 1-day and more visits to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Plus, touring plans for 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 2, 2023.)
The Florida and California itineraries have all been overhauled as Walt Disney World and Disneyland have returned to normal operations. Where relevant, we’ve started updating itineraries again for Winter 2023 due to the return of Fantasmic at DHS, closure of Splash Mountain, and more.
With the kickoff of the Disney100 celebration, debut of TRON Lightcycle Run, and return of Happily Ever After and EPCOT Forever fireworks in April 2023, updates are on the horizon. On top of that, the international parks are now getting back to normal–meaning you can expect more changes in Spring 2023. For now, the Walt Disney World and Disneyland itineraries are current…
Beyond returning entertainment and nighttime spectaculars, the most notable change is the introduction of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, colloquially known as “paid FastPass.” This has radically changed strategy at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, so much so that we’ve created separate “with” and “without” itineraries for Genie+ on both coasts. You’ll want to choose which to follow based on whether you plan to purchase paid FastPass.
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 and decreased throughout the last several months. These overhauled itineraries are the fruits of those experiences, wait time data, and observations.
Additionally, strategy has been updated to include the new headliners: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. Currently, the only attraction at Walt Disney World using a virtual queue is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot, but TRON Lightcycle Run will likely join (or replace) it when that roller coaster opens at Magic Kingdom in Spring 2023.
Other itinerary tweaks account for attraction closures, new nighttime spectaculars, 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 couple of months, it’s because nothing has changed.
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 Disney touring plans 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 touring plans 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 touring 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 March 31, 2023 use these while planning for EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. The itineraries for Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios have no such shelf life; these will likely receive another update for Summer 2023, but there’s nothing new on the horizon that will materially change strategy for those parks before late 2023 or even 2024.
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 touring plans, 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 touring 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 touring 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 – Our preferred way to experience 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.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Half-Day Itinerary – Those short on time and not interested in hassling with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance may only want to do an evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This touring plan manages to hit many of the highlights in a half-day.
Genie+ Lightning Lane WDW Itineraries
1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – Magic Kingdom is the park where Genie+ is most useful, and we highly recommend using it here. This will walk you through a sample day using Genie+ to book Lightning Lane reservations, with insight into top priorities and more.
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.
1-Day Epcot Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – Unlike the top two parks, Genie+ is far less useful at Epcot. We only recommend it during peak season dates, or if you plan on Park Hopping.
1-Day Animal Kingdom Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – It’s a similar story between Animal Kingdom and Epcot–and pretty easy to Park Hop between the two, starting your day at DAK and finishing at Epcot!
Disneyland Resort Itineraries
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 Touring Plan – Our most aggressive single-day itinerary for the Disney theme park with the most attractions, this Disneyland touring plan 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 Touring Plan – 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 Touring Plan – A Disneyland touring 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.
Genie+ Lightning Lane DLR Itineraries
1-Day Disneyland Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – Disneyland is the West Coast park where Genie+ is more useful, and we recommend using it here. This will walk you through a sample day using Genie+ to book Lightning Lane reservations, with insight into top priorities and more.
1-Day Disney California Adventure Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – With fewer high profile attractions and a more laid back atmosphere, Genie+ is not strictly necessary at DCA. Instead, we recommend it if you won’t arrive at park opening, want to repeat favorite rides, or plan on Park Hopping between DCA and Disneyland. Then it can come in handy!
Universal Orlando Itineraries
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 touring plan 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 Touring Plan – 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 Touring Plan – 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 Touring 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 Touring 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 Touring Plan – 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!
Do you have a late arrival strategy for Epcot?
do you have plans with genie plus but no lighting lanes and early park admission?
I don’t plan on buying lighting lanes in addition to genie plus its just more than I want to spend. but I already have genie plus. we are staying on property.
Hi. Will u do a two day park hooper universal itinerary?
I’m sorry…I think I posted these questions in the wrong place so I’m reposting here.
Our November ’22 WDW plans are post knee replacement surgery for me plus my husband is 85 years old. He’s in great shape and walks a mile 3 times a week and I should be doing well recuperating from knee surgery by that time but we all know that WDW is wearying even under the best conditions. We are planning to rent a buggy and take turns with it as our needs warrant to try to keep up with our grown kids and their spouses. How will this affect scheduling in the parks? Will we get to go to the head of the line on any of the rides?
Also…I can’t ride on VR rides and it seems they are getting harder and harder to avoid. Does Disney have a way that people like me can enjoy up to a point then have an early exit option and, if so, what rides have this?
I used to consider myself somewhat of an expert on WDW and all the “hacks” but it has gotten too complicated for me so I really appreciate all the information you present! Thank you!
Tom, just fyi, the “1-Day California Adventure Itinerary Using Genie+ & Lightning Lanes” opens the Disneyland itinerary, and the “1-Day Disneyland Itinerary Using Genie+ & Lightning Lanes” opens the DCA one. Oops.
Hey Tom, I regularly follow your blog. It makes it easier to track current information when you indicate the date of your update. What is the date of this update of the ‘Disney World Park Itineraries & Touring Plans?’
Hey, Kathy. I’m totally with you on NOT zigzagging across the park (MK). Of course, there is so much that one cannot predict (crowd, weather, etc); but “as a general rule” … we typically head immediately to the ‘back’ of the park (Frontierland) and work our way around in a clockwise direction (Liberty Square, then Fantasyland, Tomorrowland …), you get the idea. You will have to come to the realization that you ‘may’ not get to ride every single ride that would be among your top five if you opted the zigzag approach. For us, it works much better on the nerves and energy levels. But, you have to make choices for what you feel is best for all members of your party.
I have really enjoyed reading your posts and opinions. I do have one request: An itinerary for each park that does not include zigzagging the park for rides with short wait times. We will be traveling with 13 family members and would like to stay together as much as possible. We will have small children with us that I do not think will hold up long if we are running from one end of the park to the other all day.
Sure would love to see your opinions WRT a Universal Hollywood itinerary. I know it’s a smaller park and easily doable in a day, but I’m not a fan of lines under any circumstances.
It would be awesome to see an itinerary for Star Wars fans wanting to do droid building, lightsaber building and Oga’s too!!
Tom, Is there any way you could make an itinerary for spending 3 days at universal. I’ve seen most people recommend this length to see everything and I love your itineraries! Thanks.
Hi Tom I dont know who to ask or make a request to but have you ever heard that disney world parks may be coming to canada. We sure could use one here. We have lots of disney fans. Who can I make this request to.
Under what heading and category are the tips for waiting out the RAIN TIMES in disneyworld? Where do I find this information ? going in July
Thanks for your tips, especially with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. We had a 4 day park hopper ticket this past week and reserved two days at Disney Hollywood. By following your suggestions for the virtual queue we were able to reserve a slot at the Star Wars: rise of the Resistance attraction each morning. The reservations were gone within seconds after 7AM and the practice you suggested helped to speed up the process.
We also followed your suggestions about which attractions to go to first when the park opened and which to go to at the end of the day. Occasional modifications had to be made when some attractions were temporarily closed. You were absolutely right about avoiding the Avatar ride at Animal Kingdom in the morning. Everyone went in that direction and even arriving at the park 30 minutes prior to opening, the line was already at least an hour long. The Expedition Everest ride was readily available and we walked right up to the ride with no wait The Kali River Rapids and the Dinosaur ride were also similarly open.
A couple of the attractions at the parks were not worthwhile unless you had small children with you. Frozen Ever After and Mickey and Minnie’s Wild Ride were not worth the wait and your time could be spent better elsewhere unless you had children who were particularly interested in those characters.
Our strategy for attraction maximization was get to the park 30 minutes before opening. Take in your 3 or 4 suggested attractions. Leave around noon. Return to the same park or another park 2 or 3 hours before closing. This strategy was modified somewhat at Epcot since it opened so late. We rarely had to wait more than 20 minutes in the evening, even at the more popular attractions. Your parking ticket was good all day at any park. Speaking of parking, we found taking a picture of the area and row number helped find the car when leaving. All the parking areas look alike when they are filled.
Again, thanks for the tips.
Hi Tom, we will be visiting in July. We’ve never visited in the summer before and were wondering when you’d update your summer touring plans? Thanks so much for all of your advice!
I will be visiting Disney World soon, appreciate your “tips and tricks” for trying to get in the virtual queue for Smuggler’s Run. You suggest doing practice runs from home; one question, won’t this muck up the virtual queue if I am successful and get in the queue when I am on the other side of the country and not visiting the park that day, week or even month.
Also interested in knowing if you have recommendations for best day of the week for visiting each park. This would really help for park reservations. Planning a trip for Nov. 2021. Thanks.
Rent a car or use shuttles, etc for February 2021? Do the shuttle have long wait times still due to reduced capacity? Help?
Not answer but I am not seeing the itineraries on this site
Do you have particular days of the week you recommend for each park? I know you say Hollywood Studios on a weekend, but are all the other parks just whenever we can get them in?