Our Walt Disney World itineraries offer strategy for single & multi-day visits to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Plus, 1-day 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 June 25, 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 updated itineraries again for Summer 2023 following the opening of new rides, closure of Splash Mountain, entertainment changes, and more.
This includes the Disney100 celebration, TRON Lightcycle Run, Happily Ever After, EPCOT Forever, Wondrous Journeys, World of Color – ONE, and other entertainment. It also covers the exhaustion of pent-up demand at Walt Disney World and how crowd trends are changing there and at other parks around the world…
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.
Other itinerary tweaks account for attraction closures, recent restaurant additions, changes with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, 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.
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 Fall 2023 use these while planning for EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. Plans for both of those parks will potentially change sometime between August and November–especially EPCOT, which is filling in its Giant Dirt Pit at the front of the park and will debut Moana’s Journey of Water, a new nighttime spectacular, and more.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!