Can we be honest?
Disney is expensive. Families save for years to get to the Happiest Place on Earth. It really is the trip of a lifetime!
Why not get the most out of it?
When planning a major trip, we want to fill the time with as many experiences and as many memories as we possibly can — and Disney World is no exception.
Our Disney trip this past year was incredible. Our first night at Magic Kingdom, I watched our daughter cry “happy tears” during the fireworks show. When it was done, she came over, gave me a hug, and whispered in my ear, “Thank you so much, Mom.”
Cue MY happy tears.
At that moment, I was thankful I spent hours researching & planning so our kids could have the best experience possible.
We bought 6-Day Passes for our Disney World trip. Our plan was to spend 2 days at Magic Kingdom, 2 days at Epcot, and 1 day each at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We were able to go on every ride (except one*), see every show and meet 14 characters at Disney World!
*The ride we weren’t able to go on was Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom. We didn’t get a FastPass+ for it and chose to not run to it right at rope-drop. At the time, we opted to let our kids sleep an extra hour that day instead. We probably could’ve made it happen, but we have to be flexible, right?
Before I share our 2-Day Magic Kingdom itinerary, I wanted to mention a few priorities we chose when planning our trip. Your family may have different priorities, and that is GREAT. Everyone’s priorities determine how we spend our time, our money, and how we choose what experiences we want for our families. Based on your family’s priorities, your itinerary will look different.
1. Avoid peak season, if possible
Because we educate our kids at home, we were able to go just before the spring-break rush. It turned out great because it was warm for us Minnesotans (70s-80s) and crowds were rated anywhere from 4/10 to 6/10.
During our entire trip, we only waited in one line that was over 35 minutes! Our only hour wait was due to the ride being temporarily closed for a few hours & they had to honor several hours of FastPasses at the same time. The week after we came home, spring breaks were starting and the wait times were substantially higher.
It’s not always possible to choose a time outside of peak season, but if you can — go for it!
2. Prioritize time for rides/shows instead of restaurants
We eat food whether we’re at home or at Disney. But, we don’t have Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at home — it’s only at Disney!
We chose to prioritize our time to make sure we fit in as many “only-at-Disney” experiences as we could and for us, that didn’t include dining. We realize many people may disagree on this. Our kids weren’t interested in character dining experiences (our budget wasn’t interested, either!) so our options to eat were just regular restaurants, and they simply didn’t meet our priority list.
3. Come Early, Stay Late
Lines for rides are shortest early in the morning and late at night. If there are rides you don’t have a FastPass+ for, these are the best times to find short wait times.
Our goal was to get to each park at least 45 minutes before they opened so we were toward the front of the lines at rope-drop. We were typically either on the first or second run of rides that had looooong lines the rest of the day.
We scheduled our FastPass+ reservations for late morning or early afternoon. These are peak crowd times, when wait times are longest, so you get the greatest advantage at those times.
We also stayed until closing every night. Our kids are older (we used a stroller for our 5 year old) so it worked for us. If you don’t want to watch a park’s night show, this is a great time to go on high-traffic rides. Many families leave after the night show, so wait times decrease substantially just before closing.
These may not be your priorities, and that’s ok!
However, based on these choices, we designed a 2-Day itinerary for Magic Kingdom where we went on every ride, saw every show, and met 7 characters.
In general, our strategy was this:
Download printable version here:
Day 1 Focus: Fantasyland and Adventureland (Arrive 45 Minutes Before Rope Drop)
- Head straight to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Early Morning (9-11 am) Fantasyland
- Winnie the Pooh
- Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
- It’s A Small World
- Morning show in front of palace (such as Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It Street Party, check show times)
Late Morning/Early Afternoon (11 am-2 pm) Fantasyland
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- LUNCH (packed)
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow (meet 3 characters)
Late Afternoon (2-5 pm) Frontierland
- Take Walk Disney World Railroad from Fantasyland to Frontierland
- Big Thunder Mountain
- 2:45 – Buy some Dole Whips while waiting for the 3 pm Parade in Frontierland
- Jungle Cruise? (Planned Day 2, but can go here if there’s a short wait time after the parade)
- Muppets Presents: Great Moments in History (Check Show Times)
Early Evening (5-8 pm) Adventureland
- Magic Carpets
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- Enchanted Tiki Room
- DINNER (packed) while saving spot for the Fireworks Show
- Fireworks Show
Evening (8 pm-Close) Fantasyland
- Fantasyland Carousel
- Tea Cups
- Go on any rides again or others you may want to ride twice. We did:
- Tomorrowland Speedway (planned for Day 2, but we knew our kids would like it. We went three times the night of Day 1)
- Buzz Lightyear (planned for Day 2, but we went twice the night of Day 1)
Day 2 Focus: Frontierland and Tomorrowland (Arrive 45 Minutes Before Rope Drop)
- Head straight to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (if you want to go again!)
Early Morning (9-11 am)
- Splash Mountain
- Jungle Cruise (skip if you went Day 1 and don’t want to go again)
- Haunted Mansion
Late Morning/Early Afternoon (11 am-2 pm)
- Hall of Presidents
- Muppets Presents: Great Moments in History (check show times)
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Tom Sawyer Island (eat packed lunches)
- (If Time) Walt Disney World Railroad from Frontierland to Fantasyland
Late Afternoon (2-5 pm)
- Space Mountain (FastPass+)
- Carousel of Progress
- 3 PM Parade, if you want to see it again (our kids didn’t)
- Buzz Lightyear (FastPass+)
- Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
Early Evening (5-8 pm)
- Tomorrowland Speedway (FastPass+)
- DINNER (pack your own or order from Pinocchio’s on the Disney App)
- Find a spot & wait for the Fireworks Show
Evening (8 pm-Close)
- Astro Orbiter
- Transit Authority People Mover
- Anything you want to do again. We decided to see some characters & the wait was only 15 minutes. We saw:
- Cinderella & Elena
- Rapunzel & Tiana
- Souvenir Shopping