To-Do List for Disney World Summer Itinerary v3

By Dave Shute

This To-Do List is for the Summer Itinerary.  For To-Do-Lists for other itineraries, see this.


(Note that a good travel agent, such as Destinations in Florida, can do almost all of this for you, for free. If you use Destinations in Florida as you travel agent through a link for this site–like this one–then they share a bit of the pixie dust they get from Disney with me.)

Disney-World-Summer-Itinerary-v3-hsp1. Confirm your budget, planned dates, intended hotel, kids’ development and heights, and your transportation choice and its availability for your planned dates.

2. Make your plane reservations, if flying. Make any other needed transportation arrangements.

3. Set up your hotel and tickets. Call 407-939-7675 (preferred, because this allows you to tell the reservationist which building at your resort you wish to be in), or click here to use Disney’s online system.  (Note: if your dates are later than what the online system permits, see this.)

  • When the page opens, click “Book Vacation Packages”
  • Add your dates, party size and age of your kids
  • Set up your basic package:
    • Click “Advanced Search”
    • Click “I know the Resort I want.”
    • In the drop down menu that appears, click to open, and scroll to pick your hotel
    • Click “Dining Plan
    • Click “Continue”
    • Wait
  • Fix the options–a page will open that has selected several options for you, most of them wrong. You will need to fix in each section, and update the sections as you go.
    • At the top of the page you will be put into the most expensive room. Click the button for the least expensive instead. (The views aren’t worth it for first time family visitors, except Animal Kingdom Lodge visitors should always pick a Savannah view)
    • Click “Update” and wait
    • Click, in the “Park Tickets and Options” section, the button in the upper right that says “Open.”
    • Leave the “Park Hopper” box clicked, but unclick the “Water Parks and More” box
    • Change the number of days in your tickets to 8
    • Click “Update” and wait
  • Click “Ground Transportation” and when it opens, click Disney’s Magical Express, and add your airline info
  • Click “Continue” and wait
  • Click “Select this Offer” at the bottom of the page and wait
  • When the pricing pages shows up, unclick Trip Insurance (if offered)
  • In the “Special Room Requests” section, click to open, then click “Refrigerator”
  • If you are on the phone, tell the reservationist what room you want
    • If a Polynesian guest, ask for a room on the third floor (quieter) in Rapa Nui or Tahiti. (These are 2 of the only 3 buildings withboth the largest rooms and balconies on all floors, and are the 2 buildings closest to the Epcot monorail. You are in fact so close to TTC that you can take the express monorail home from the Magic Kingdom–much faster than the resort monorail.)
    • If a Pop Century guest, ask for a room on the 4th floor (quieter) in the 1970s area. (This is the only building group at Pop Century that does not surround a pool, so it will be quieter at night.)
  • Complete the transaction with your credit card.


Go to the online restaurant reservations page here, set up an account if you don’t already have one, and practice trying to reserve restaurants.

This may well drive you crazy, but the site works better than it used to…and is likely the only way you can get your Cindy reservations done! (as the site opens up a new reservable day at 6a, whereas the phone reservation line opens at 7a).

Collect your restaurant reservations together. You will want to do them online in order of hardest to reserve first. This is how they are listed below.


(For an 180 day calendar, see this).

Be on the restaurant website here by at least 5:50am EST, and have your Cindy reservation all set up on the page. Keep refreshing, as you will be let in as soon as Disney’s system decides it is 6a.

Make as many of the following as you have patience for (try to get through at least Akershus), in the exact order listed:

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table Lunch (dining plan, two credits): Monday at 11a or later if you can; earlier than 11 only if your sole option…
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue (dining plan, two credits): Monday 5p show. The other two later times will keep you up later than you need to be. OK if all you can get
  • Crystal Palace (dining plan): Second Saturday 7:30p if you can; earlier OK, but not later
  • Akershus Banquet (dining plan): First Saturday 6:30p if you can, but no earlier than 4 hours after your flight arrival, no later than 7:30p
  • Downtown Disney Rainforest Café (NOT the Rainforest Café at the Animal Kingdom!!) (cash): Wednesday 8p. Can belater but not earlier
  • San Angel Inn (dining plan): Tuesday 5:30. Earlier OK but cuts into your pool/nap time; no later than 7:15p
  • 50’s Prime Time Café (dining plan): Friday 1p. Can be earlier or a little later. Later cuts into nap/pool time

For those you don’t make online, make them by calling call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463)


Order your Cirque du Soleil tickets (Category 2) for the 6p show on Wednesday at this site (cash).


1. Check in online at the link you can find on this page

2. If you use Disney’s Magical Express, you do not need to collect your bags at the Orlando airport. Disney will get them for you and, eventually, deliver them directly to your room. Your bags may arrive hours after you do; so, depending on the weather forecasts, have a carry-on with an appropriate change of clothes for Orlando weather on Saturday, as you will almost certainly go to Epcot on Saturday before your checked bags arrive.

3. Follow the instructions in the Magical Express packet you will receive in the mail regarding both tagging your bags pre-departure, and where to go at the Orlando airport to find your transport to your resort.

4. Bring a copy of your room reservation, confirmation numbers and any tickets for special events you may have received in the mail.

5. Pack breakfast utensils, as they are not always available in the gift shop: bowls, spoons, napkins

6. When you arrive at the hotel, look for the special “On-line Check-in” line, and get into it.





1 Heather { 01.13.13 at 9:15 pm }

We want to go to Disney Feb 2014. What dates do you recommend? Our daughter will be 5 (will return again in a few years). Stay 4 nights. Go to Magic Kingdom only. Is the Poly really best place to stay? Or will Art of Animation be fine to save $? Since we only want to go to magic kingdom this trip is there a way to gather just that info from your sight? Thank you!

2 Dave { 01.14.13 at 8:05 am }

Hiya Heather!

Any February week other than President’s day week is good, but I really suggest the week beginning 2/22/14. Since it’s after President’s Day, the risk of ride closures is smaller. See this: and for more on ride closures see this:

I recommend both the Poly and AofA because of the price difference. Picking between them is a matter of budget. That said, If your daughter is 5 and you’ll be returning, I don’t think it much matters, and I’d thus go with the less expensive option.

My itineraries are all integrated, multipark, long, and aimed at older kids. You’ll be able to find MK focused itineraries for younger kids here:

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3 Rachel { 01.19.13 at 9:18 pm }

Hi Dave,
We are arriving March 30th. I am using the Summer Itinerary v3 that you suggested. I was not able to get reservations for Cinderella’s Royal Table on Monday, however I was able to get them for lunch time on Sunday. Do you think this will work? Or do you have another suggestion. Thanks.

4 Dave { 01.20.13 at 8:37 am }

Sure it will Rachel. You can head from AK to MK for the lunch, of just entirely flip what’s shown for Monday and Sunday…

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5 Sarah { 02.08.13 at 12:44 pm }

Feeling a little overwhelmed. We are palnning our first trip to Disney World arriving July 12 departing July 20th. We have a large family, 8 in all, and will not be staying at the park. We have 4 children 10, 7, 4, 3(all boys) my parents, me and my husband. We would like to spend a total of six days in the parks. I’m mostly confused with the dining plan, because we are not planning on purchasing them, but I would like to be able to do some of the meet and greet lunches/dinners with the characters. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

6 Dave { 02.09.13 at 1:54 pm }

Sarah, you can go to and pay cash for any of the restaurants for which you can get reservations, and don’t need at all to be on the dining plan to go to them! But book them now as most of the best sell out 5-6 months ahead, and you are already into that window! See this:

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7 Sarah { 03.10.13 at 9:10 pm }

Hi Dave: We are taking our 10 year old triplets (2 boys and a girl) to Disney on 4/4 for a single day. This will be their only childhood visit. We plan to go to the Magic Kingdom. We are staying off property. Given the time of year (crowded) and their age, are their some things you might suggest as “must do”.? Any suggestions would be appreciated! Sarah

8 Dave { 03.11.13 at 7:28 am }

Hi Sarah, given the overall crowds, and the fact that Disney hotel guests in their tens of thousands will be admitted an hour before you will be allowed in, I don’t have any particularly good ideas.

Show up at the turnstiles at least 45 minutes before opening, target a couple of rides for as soon as you get in, and FASTPASS others.

I’d start with Splash Mountain, FASTPASSING Big Thunder Mountain, and then do Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and the Haunted Mansion.

Then go to Tomorrowland, FASTPASS Space Mountain, and ride other lower-wait rides–if any–in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland while waiting for your Space Mountain FASTPASS ot become available…

For more ideas, see this:

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9 Dave L { 04.20.13 at 11:26 pm }

Hi Dave, we’ve confirmed a stay starting on May 31st (travel day) to June 8 (travel out) staying at both Old Key West and Saratoga Springs (2 days at SS, group of 7). I was wondering how to best handle the itinerary given that we are on a Friday to Sat vs a Sat to Sun stay. Right now I’m planning on MK on Sunday (daughter’s birthday) and Cirque on Tues night. I didn’t know if it would be better to follow it as written taking our first day as day 1 on your schedule or to try and keep the parks on the same day as suggested in the schedule. Given the crowds that week, wasn’t sure if the recommendations are day specific. Thanks! Dave L

10 Dave { 04.21.13 at 8:22 am }

Hi Dave L, because there are variations in park crowding by day, and also in operating schedules–e.g. extra magic hours–by day, the itineraries are day specific–so “First Saturday” means “First Saturday,” not “Day 1″.

Sunday, for example, is a wildly crowded day at the Magic Kingdom, and Tuesday night is a great night to be at Epcot, because, since it has evening extra magic hours, you don’t have to leave the park right after Illuminations, with 30,000 other people.

I can suggest revisions based on your Friday-Sat trip…but first tell me how committed you are to MK on Sunday and Cirque on Tuesday…

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11 Dave L { 04.22.13 at 9:31 pm }

Thanks, Tuesday is easy to change (didn’t book Cirque tickets yet) and Sunday may be ok as well. I have reservations at Crystal Palace for lunch and Hoop-de-doo for dinner…but may be able to move those on availability. The only other reservation i have is Akershus on our arrival Friday night, which might be tight given our arrival (3.5 hrs after our arrival time).I know the importance of trying to avoid crows to maximize our time, so interested in hearing your thoughts.


12 Dave L { 04.24.13 at 8:45 am }

Hi Dave, appreciate any additional thoughts on the itinerary for our 5/31-6/8 trip to DSW. We have some dining reservations as mentioned, but can move around to optimize the schedule. Really appreciate your insights! – Dave

13 Dave { 04.25.13 at 7:26 am }

OK, Dave L, it’s complicated by the need to avoid as much of Star Wars weekends at HS as possible, but here’s what I suggest:
1. Do what’s written as First Saturday on Friday–but do try to shift your Akershus to later
2. Do what’s written as Thursday on your first Saturday
3. Respecting your Sunday plans, do what’d written as Second Saturday on your first (and only) Sunday
4. Do Monday-Weds as written
5. Do on Thursday what’s written as the First Sunday
6. Do Friday as written
7. On Saturday, do what’s written for the Second Sunday

This isn’t perfect…but it’s the best match to your dates and what’s going on that week…

14 LaToya { 07.12.13 at 9:36 pm }

Are the character meals only available to dining plan customers?

15 Dave { 07.13.13 at 11:13 am }

LaToya, anyone can reserve any meal!

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