By the co-author of the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook ever -- The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit.

yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor





Basic December FastPass+ Itinerary



By Dave Shute

This Walt Disney World itinerary is designed for the three weeks following Thanksgiving.

Disney World FastPass+ Basic December Itinerary from yourfirstvisit.net

If you aren’t going one of those weeks, see Other Itineraries for alternatives the rest of the year, which are published about six months ahead.

You can enlarge the basic itinerary by clicking it. For a PDF, click here.

As with the other itineraries on this site, there is also a detailed page for each day of your vacation, with specific instructions for that day. Find them here:

Moreover, a detailed To-Do List covers all the steps you need to undertake–including reserving dining and booking FastPass+.

ITINERARY DESIGN GOALS

The basic itinerary was designed to meet several goals: to ensure that you

  1. See the best that Walt Disney World has to offer
  2. See the parks in the order that works best for kids (essentially Epcot first, as it is potentially the most disappointing, and the Magic Kingdom last, as it is likely to be the best loved)
  3. Avoid unnecessary waiting, by using FastPass+ and other tactics…
  4. Have as much time off, and as few early mornings, as practical
  5. Avoid unnecessary spending–for example, the basic itinerary does not require you to buy the “Park Hopper” option, saving you more than $200

If you can’t do the Basic Itinerary, see Other Itineraries for alternatives for both the December week and the rest of the year.

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53 comments

1 Carrie { 06.05.14 at 12:12 pm }

hi Dave,
We will be going to Disneyworld with 12 people (ages 1 to 70), from December 6 – 13, and using your December itinerary as a basis for our own itinerary. However we have to modify it a bit. We will get to the park before it opens each day, which is not what you recommend, but works best for our young kids and their grandparents. We will not stay late, except maybe one night to see Illuminations. Our main goal is to avoid crowds and long waits. We will not do MVMCP on this visit but will return when kids are older. I’m trying to get our schedule worked out so I can make a few dinner reservations next week.

So, my questions are:
1) I have looked at your basic itinerary and the EMH for the parks. Do you see anything wrong with this itinerary?
12/6 Sat fly in and meet for dinner, no park
12/7 Sunday MK (leave by 7)
12/8 Monday HS Is it possible to see Fantasmic and then Osbourne afterwards, both on the same night?
12/9 Tuesday MK (leave by 7)
12/10 Wednesday Epcot (if we see Illuminations and leave right afterwards, will it be a nightmare with the crowds all leaving at once?)
12/11 Thursday AK
12/12 Friday MK (leave by 7)
12/13 Saturday some people fly out early, some will visit a park. You recommend MK, but won’t it be very crowded on this day?

2) You suggest visiting some of the lodge Christmas decorations in the evening, which I would like to try. Can we just drive up to the hotel and park? On our last visit in April 2013, we noticed at AoA where we stayed that they have a guard and gate and you have to say you are staying at the hotel to park there. Do they let people park and visit the hotels that are not guests just to visit and see the hotel?

We love your site!
Thanks very much!
Carrie

2 Dave { 06.06.14 at 7:46 am }

Hi Carrie and thanks! First, your dates overall look fine! Second, yes you can see Osbornes after Fantasmic. And yes, MK will be busy on Saturday–all my itineraries have a compromise somewhere. Yes, Epcot departures are always a zoo right after Illuminations. There’s too ways around that: if you have two days at Epcot, use your tier 1 FP+ one day for Illuminations. The viewing area for the FP+ puts you as close to the buses as anyone. Second is to see them on EMH night–but the park is overall more crowded that day…

Whether or not you can park varies depending on how crowded the resort is…

3 Chris { 06.27.14 at 12:10 pm }

This may seem like a dumb question, but how does one adjust the provided itinerary if you are not arriving on Saturday?

We hope to arrive Monday, December 1st and depart Tuesday, December 9th.

Would I simply start our itinerary on the Monday and proceed from there (with arrival and departures adjusted accordingly). Or would I count the first Saturday as my Monday and proceed from there?

Thanks!

4 Dave { 06.27.14 at 12:33 pm }

Chris that’s a great question. The itineraries are tuned to exact operating patterns and offerings that vary by day of the week. So “First Saturday” in fact means “Saturday,” not “Day 1.”

Here’s how to revise:
Arrival Monday: Do First Saturday
Tuesday: Do as written
Weds: Do Monday
Thursday-Saturday: Do as written
Sunday: Do first Sunday
Second Monday: Do Wednesday
Second Tuesday: Do second Sunday

5 Ed { 08.21.14 at 9:51 pm }

We are going to Disney staying at Shades of Green. We will arrive November 29th or 30th, but the rest of our party will fly in on Dec 1st. You do not have any days on your itinerary that shows getting to the parks early. We were there in may a few years ago and it was so crowded if we arrived after 10am. Are the crowd levels so low the first two weeks in December that it is not necessary to arrive early? Additionally do you suggest the MVMCP for children that are 8 and 3 years old?

6 Dave { 08.22.14 at 11:43 am }

Ed, no it’s not that–it’s that with the use of FastPass+ over this full itinerary you can do almost everything great without the kind of early mornings that the old Fastpass system required…

7 Heather { 08.26.14 at 9:05 am }

We have no kids, flexible dates on when we can arrive but check out will be Wed. Dec. 3rd. We would like to ride all the rides and go to all the parks, can we just adjust the basic Itinerary, what should we leave out? We will be driving, brining a microwave, can we take food/snacks to the park, we’re both training for fitness shows so we can eat poorly and eat every 3 hrs! Thanks!

8 Dave { 08.27.14 at 7:52 am }

Hi Heather! This itinerary isn’t that flexible–in it days are days, so “Monday” means “Monday,” not day 3. You will be best off starting with the plans at the end of Chapter 6 of our book The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit and then adding to them the various Christmas program items.

9 Elaine { 09.03.14 at 6:24 am }

Our family (3 adults, one 9 yr old daughter) have never been to DW and here is our itinerary for 12/9-13/14. We are staying at Bay Towers at the Contemporary Resort. What do you think?
Tues, Dec 9 – arrival 12:30 – Magic Kingdom, dinner, Xmas Parade
Wed. Dec 10 – Magic Kingdom
Thurs. Dec 11 – Hollywood Studios, then Downtown Disney in evening
Fri. Dec 12 – Epcot
Sat. leaving 5:00 p.m. – leisurely morning, Disney Boardwalk before leaving

We do not want to be jammed packed and exhausted as we are sure to return….:)

10 Dave { 09.03.14 at 8:37 am }

Elaine, a couple of thoughts. First–on the 9th, you can’t see the christmas parade unless you have bought MVMCP tickets. the park closes at 7 for everyone without party tix. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/04/13/mickeys-very-merry-christmas-party-mvmcp-in-2014/

Second, Friday will be busy at Epcot, so I’d swap Thursday and Friday.

And third, staying for the evening show Fantasmic at HS is a much better choice than Downtown Disney

11 Elaine { 09.03.14 at 9:47 am }

Thank you Dave for your help :) Elaine

12 Hayley { 09.25.14 at 3:07 am }

Hi Dave
Firstly your site is GREAT
We are going to disney sun 13 December 2015 for a week
with our daughter who will be nearly 3 by then, my husband
and I have been before and we certainly hope to visit again
when my daughters older..
Is there anything you really recommend doing with our toddler or
anything you would avoid? Would you suggest going to a park
in the morning- leaving in the afternoon to head back to resort
and then going to a different park in the evening or
would it be better just doing one park a day but maybe arriving
at around lunch time?
We are contemplating staying at AofA as I think she
will appreciate the whole disney theme more than
the more upmarket hotels, but I’m not sure if I’m going to
regret this when me and my husband visited alone
we stayed at the Swan and Dolphin and was
Spoilt by being so close to Epcot and the Board Walk.
The other thing that makes me a little worried about
AofA is there isn’t a waiter service restaurant and
we are going to be buying the disney dining plan.
Any tips advice would be greatly received!
Thank you!!!

13 Dave { 09.25.14 at 6:40 am }

Hayley, I focus on kids much older than that, so don’t have anything in particular to help with a three year old.

I think you will be fine at AofA as your table service credits will be better spent at character buffets anyway…and there’s little for a 3 year old at Epcot…

What you want to do is aim for short 3-4 hour periods in the parks that match her daily habits. So don’t get her up at 7a to arrive at a park by 8.15 if she normally gets up at 8. FastPass+ makes this easy to schedule…

14 Hayley { 09.25.14 at 9:58 am }

Thanks for your help,
I know hoop dee doo is obviously aimed at adults/older kids
but my daughter does like music and is fine with a party kind
of loud atmosphere, would you really discourage taking
someone this young to this? Thanks

15 Dave { 09.26.14 at 6:53 am }

Hayley, I wouldn’t “really discourage” it. She may have more fun at Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue, where she won’t have to sit at a table for two hours.

16 Jill { 10.06.14 at 1:35 pm }

Your advice has been priceless so far – thanks for the great site. How do you modify this schedule? We’re arriving Thur. 12/4 and leaving Sat. 12/13 with 2 full days at Universal (still TBD).

17 Dave { 10.07.14 at 6:43 am }

Jill it doesn’t really modify that well–days in it are days and tied to Disney’s operating calendars and the differences they create between e.g. Tuesday and Wednesday.

The simplest fix is to do Universal at the front end of your trip, and then pick up this 7 night variant beginning the evening of fifth: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/shorter-and-longer-itineraries-for-the-december-week/basic-itinerary-less-second-sunday/

18 Mark { 10.07.14 at 3:52 pm }

We are at Hollywood Studios today 10/07/14). Disney world is running an experiment where they are only allowing FastPass+ holders to ride Toy Story Mania – no standby line. Fortunarely, we had a FastPass for it for late afternoon. We had planned to ride it standby first thing in the morning, then ride it later at the FastPass time. The experiment killed that plan. I don’t know how long this experiment will continue, but it might need to be factored in when picking the Tier 1 FastPass. On the bright side, there was a very short wait when our FastPass time came around.

19 Dave { 10.08.14 at 4:31 pm }

Thanks Mark, thanks for the report! This experiment is expected to end soon–tomorrow: http://www.easywdw.com/news/disney-continues-fastpass-only-test-this-time-at-toy-story-mania/

20 ANGELA { 11.30.14 at 10:20 pm }

Dave, hello! I forgot to check if you wrote me back. Between the 3rd and the 4th of january, which day is better to spend the day in Magic Kingdom? I was wondering if you know if there are shuttles available from the rental car agencies to the disney line cruise terminal? I’m using National rental car… Thank you!!! Last year you helped me choose my dates, we arrived in Walt Disney World mid december and it was just awesome… hope you can help me now too!!!

21 Dave { 12.01.14 at 9:49 am }

Angela, the 4th, by far. And I don’t track the cruise line, but strongly doubt it. You can get a shuttle from a WDW hotel–see this: http://www.mousesavers.com/disney-cruise-line-discounts-and-advice/disney-cruise-line-prepost-cruise-hotels-and-ground-transportation/#transportation

22 Joseph Puiszis { 12.04.14 at 10:11 pm }

Hello Dave,
We will be arriving in Orlando December 28th and leaving January 1st. My wife had this idea of just going into Disney World for one day so our 9yo daughter can see some princesses and do some princess stuff. At first I was just wondering where to enter; now I am wondering if this is even feasible. Well, is it? If so, can you gives some clues as to how? Thank you.

23 Dave { 12.05.14 at 7:46 am }

Joseph, unless you will never have another chance, I’d skip it. Early Jan 1 may be tolerable, but no day before it, and FastPass+ for the key princess items are gone…

24 Christina { 02.17.15 at 1:26 pm }

Hey Dave-

I’m wondering if you have any updates on Downtown Disney. We are staying at PO French Quarter in September 2015. Any idea if Downtown Disney will be completed? We’d love to take the ferry down one night from the hotel.

25 Dave { 02.18.15 at 10:11 am }

Christina even during the construction there’s a ton of stuff open at DTD.

26 Anil { 03.01.15 at 10:29 pm }

I am traveling to WDW arriving the night of 24 March and leaving around noon of 31 March. I have got a 6 day non-hopper ticket for me, wife and daughters aged 11 and 5. I am planning for 2 days at Magic Kingdom and 1 day each at other 3 parks. I was wondering where should I spend the 6th day. Please suggest.

27 Dave { 03.02.15 at 8:57 am }

Anil, it’ll be either MK or Epcot. For the 11 year old it could be either, but the 5 year old likely won’t enjoy two days at Epcot…so MK.

28 Anil { 03.03.15 at 12:10 pm }

Thanks Dave. I will goto Epcot on the first day and based on that day’s experience, I will decide to go another day or not. Epcot has flower festival so I will see how much time it takes.

I was also wanting to spend few hours in the afternoon of first day which is 25th, to watch the rocket launch from beach/park. Do you know how many hours before the launch we should be there to get good place? Will it be really worth to waste so many hours of Disney in watching the rocket launch?

29 Dave { 03.03.15 at 5:05 pm }

Anil, sorry, I don’t have time to keep up with anything other than Disney World…

30 Anil { 03.04.15 at 7:22 am }

Oh, OK. Thanks!

31 Dana { 03.11.15 at 8:26 pm }

Hi Dave! Great site! I’m planning to take my 5 year old daughter for the first and maybe only WDW trip. I’ve invited my parents to join for an extra set of hands. We are looking at arriving on Thanksgiving and staying the week until Wednesday. Any thoughts or suggestions regarding that time frame? I’m trying to accommodate everyone’s schedule which is why I’m planning for midweek. Also, I contacted AAA and wondered if you think it is better to go through them or a travel agent or to plan on my own through different venders? Thanks for the help!

32 Dave { 03.12.15 at 10:30 am }

Dana, I don’t have any recent experience with AAA, so have no comment on that. And let me know what you mean by ” Any thoughts or suggestions regarding that time frame?” :)

33 Alicia { 03.12.15 at 10:37 am }

I am trying to pick our FastPass+ choices and was wondering how the characters are during the FastPass+ meet and greets. Are they patient with shy children, who might need a few moments to approach them? I would hate to choose all meet and greets and then have it turn out they have a time limit or something. Thanks in advance.

34 Dave { 03.12.15 at 2:25 pm }

Alicia, the characters are amazing in how much time they spend trying to get shy children comfortable!

35 jim { 03.13.15 at 11:10 pm }

Since my cousin works at Disney and will be getting us tickets the day of park visits, how should we handle fastpasses at MK? Assuming we are there at rope drop, do we rush to get fastpasses for spacemountain and seven dwarfs, then rush over to splash/big thunder mountains? Or do we get fastpasses for splash and thunder, then rush over to spacemountain and seven dwarfs???

36 Dave { 03.14.15 at 9:59 am }

Jim, some rides (like Seven Dwarfs) will be booked out by then, and others will have very limited availability. Your pickings will be so slim that I’d use the rope drop time to get on great rides with low waits (many of which won’t be available on FP+ anyway), then book your FP+ around 10a.

37 Alicia { 03.16.15 at 3:29 pm }

Thank you very much. I came up with another question while planning our FastPass+, do any of the attractions that say ” FastPass+ Distribution Has Ended for Selected Day” open up again. For example “Meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall” has ended, is there anyway to get a FastPass+ at a later time or should we head there at the recommended times found in your book? Thanks again.

38 Dave { 03.16.15 at 4:35 pm }

Alicia, it happens but it is rare and not to be counted on. Instead, head towards it right at park open, and change the FP+ for it to what the itineraries otherwise target as the park-open ride. .

39 Alicia { 03.18.15 at 8:56 pm }

I am not sure why I posted this here. I am using the Lower-Crowd Itinerary v2.

Dave, THANK YOU for your speedy replies. This trip would have been lost without you, Josh, and your wonderful book. So I switch the park-open and fastpass + target on the itineraries. Then if I want to pull this off at park opening I want to be at the Magic Kingdom entrance when the ticketing gates open, which is 75 minutes before Official Park opening. Then following advice taken from your wonderful book (on page 193), I want to be to the far left or right of the courtyard area in front of one of the entrances. When they let people in, we will all need to head straight towards the attraction (with our map in hand so we can navigate) The attraction is at the Princess Fairytale Hall. Which from the cheat sheet park map is titled Princess Meet+ found to the left of Winnie The Pooh+ Is there anything else I need to know in order to pull this off?

40 Alicia { 03.18.15 at 11:34 pm }

Dave, one more question is there any easy way to check for new fastpass+ openings? Do you have any tips for snagging ones when they open up? Besides trying to get an Elsa and Anna fastpass+ we have a group of 3 and 2 were able to snag an attraction. We are hoping to get one for the 3rd at some point. It seems like a pain to search for new fastpass+ once we have everything booked.

41 Alicia { 03.18.15 at 11:39 pm }

Dave, sorry I forgot to add this to the other post. Feel free to combine them. It is worth all the time and effort to keep checking for an Elsa and Anna fastpass+ or should we just stick with heading there first thing. I also was wondering if it might be a good idea to try and get in line when everyone is watching the Festival of Fantasy Parade, we are visiting 2 days so one day that time would be open. Thank you Thank you Thank you again.

42 Dave { 03.20.15 at 9:43 am }

Alicia so glad to help!!

You may not need to be there so early. Give me your targeted date and I can be more precise. Otherwise you have it!!

43 Dave { 03.20.15 at 9:44 am }
44 Dave { 03.20.15 at 9:45 am }

Alicia, capacity at A&E is so low that the parade does not matter.

45 Patrick { 03.21.15 at 4:15 pm }

Hi Dave, the content on this site is truly invaluable. First time visit to WDW coming up late April with two kids (9 & 6). We arrive late Wed and depart early Monday (5 nights). Trying to decide what parks on which day makes sense with 1 full day lounging at AKL hotel. My thoughts are:
Wed – arrive and relax at AKL
Thurs – MK
Friday – Epcot
Saturday – Lounge at AKL
Sunday – MK
Monday – depart :(

Any of your expert advise would be appreciated. Thank you

46 Dana { 03.21.15 at 9:56 pm }

Hi Dave! I ended up booking through Kelly B. at Destinations and she’s been fantastic!! What I mean t by my earlier question was since we are arriving on Thanksgiving day, which parks would you recommend for Thursday and Friday as crowds will be high? I was thinking animal kingdom and epcot. Thanks again. This site has been so helpful! :-)

47 Dave { 03.22.15 at 10:46 am }

Patrick, it’s best to avoid days with extra magic hours, so avoid MK on Thursday and Saturday, and avoid Epcot on Friday. Thus if you swap your first two days and do Epcot Thurs and MK Fri you’ll be OK!!

48 Dave { 03.22.15 at 10:50 am }

Dana so glad Kelly is helping!!

Thursday, AK.
Friday, any park but Epcot. Epcot has evening EMH, which draws corowds, and also kicks off its holiday program that night so avoid it.

49 Jill { 04.06.15 at 9:09 am }

Hi Dave,
Love your site! Question. We have travel window 10/2 thru 10/23. First time trip and our kids are 10 and 7 and staying at the resort. Our biggest concern is avoiding crowds. Because this includes Columbus holiday, what dates do you suggest we visit? We can stay 6 nites. Thanks so much! Jill

50 Kacie { 04.19.15 at 12:00 pm }

Hi Dave! You have been so helpful through your website and your book (I have the Kindle version!).

We are tentatively planning Dec. 12-21 for our second visit, as these dates would hit 2 of our 3 kid’s birthdays (Dec. 17th and Dec 20). Eee!

Am I correct to assume that those dates still fall in this plan template? I’m sure by the 20th and 21st, crowds will start to build significantly ahead of Christmas week. Planning on the 21st as our going home day with some morning something or other.

Because of when their actual birthdays are, we will likely need to make our own itinerary to fit their preferences for how their day is spent, and I see you have a link for how to do that.

So to sum up, Dec. 12 is indeed the 3rd most recommended week for 2015, and those add-on dates through Dec. 21 should be busy but ok, yes?

Thank you!

51 Dave { 04.21.15 at 8:04 am }

Kacie, so glad you are fining the site and book helpful!

Crowds will build the 19th and will be pretty wild by the 21st. A good plan and some early hours should get you through those last days

I have high confidence in this template–but Disney has not published December hours yet and surprises (requiring changes) are always possible. So double check it here in mid-May just to make sure

52 Kacie { 04.21.15 at 1:59 pm }

Thanks, Dave! We went ahead and booked a split stay of DVC rental points at Boardwalk, and then Wilderness Lodge. Should work well for a plan starting at Epcot-area excitement. Eee!

I think for the 19th-21st, we should have accomplished most of our must-dos, so we ought to be able to enjoy a more leisurely pace by then. Maybe some early morning park touring, then a character meal or excursion rather than deal with the crowds that showed up. Some good uses of FPP, and enjoying some attractions with traditionally low waits and such, and it’ll be a good day (we LOVE Tom Sawyer Island and could spend so much time there alone, for example! That would be great for a crowded MK day, I’m guessing).

It’ll be great.

53 Dave { 04.23.15 at 7:57 am }

Oh Kacie, this sounds great!!

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