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





Designing Your Own Walt Disney World FastPass+ Itinerary



By Dave Shute

DISNEY WORLD ITINERARY DESIGN

This site provides 8-night itineraries here for all of the year (published about six months ahead), as well as itineraries a night or two shorter (more of these are coming…).  Beginning for June 2014 travel dates, all are based on optimizing the use of FastPass+.

If these aren’t enough, here are a few thoughts on designing your own shorter itinerary.

For a blank excel version of the itinerary spreadsheet to use for your own itinerary, click here. For a blank PDF version, click here.

How to divide up and allocate your days

  • Decide how many days you can be at the parks—include if you can time on your arrival and departure days, as the cost of tickets after four days is so low that partial days are worth it! Shoot for at least 6 days and 5 nights on site–e.g. four full days and two partial travel days. 7 days and 6 nights is much more humane, if you can do it
  • Divide your days among the parks. You have two different issues here: the overall use of your time at the four parks, and the days you can spend at each. Because you can pre-book only three FastPass+ per park, two half days–and thus six FastPass+–are more valuable than one full day.
  • For the overall use of your time, very few sources will suggest less than
    • At least a day each at the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios
    • More than a day at Epcot
    • Around two days at the Magic Kingdom.

How to sequence your days

Work through the following five rules in order. You rarely will be able to design a perfect trip unless you have extra off times that you can move around, so do the best you can. You will need to check the Disney calendar while doing this.

It’s easier to work with the individual park calendars. To view a day–for example, to figure out if and when Fantasmic or Wishes is on that day–go to the individual park’s monthly calendar and click within the date you are curious about.

1. Avoid Extra Magic Hours unless you are starting at a morning EMH park and hopping to another park where your FastPass+ are scheduled. The higher crowds in EMH parks typically overwhelm the EMH benefits

2. Make sure that one of your Magic Kingdom evenings is a day with the fireworks show “Wishes,” and ideally one that also

3. Otherwise, avoid Magic Kingdom on days where it has the evening shows in the middle of a stretch of days where it doesn’t.

4. Make sure that Fantasmic is playing one of your Hollywood Studios days. Fantasmic is on almost–but not quite–every night.

5. Within the constraints above, try to see Epcot first, and the Magic Kingdom last

FOOD, SHOWS, AND SUCH

See this for various meal and show options ranked in order.

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43 comments

1 Andrea { 08.05.14 at 11:31 pm }

Hi Dave! Our 60 days is coming up. I have my ideal FP+ list which includes Anna & Elsa on our first day at MK. I’ve read on another blog that I should start with a date later in my trip to have a better chance at securing a FP+. So, I intend to do that.
Here is my IDEAL plan:
MK Day 1: A&E, Enchanted Tales, SDMT *1:00 reservation at CRT
MK Day 2: Splash Mtn., BTMRR, Peter Pan

If I do end up using the one later in the week, would you recommend changing ALL of my FP+ for that day or just switch out the Anna/Elsa with Peter Pan? I have two little girls, and it just seems right to start my trip in Fantasyland.

2 Dave { 08.06.14 at 10:13 am }

Hi Andrea! The typical idea is to do one or a couple of lands each day, to reduce walking–e.g Adventureland and Frontierland one day, and Fantasyland/Tomorrowland another. Arrive befroe opening and see some of the big rides before they develop long lines, and book your FP+ in the second land if you are going to two, for later in the day…

3 Jo { 08.26.14 at 2:39 pm }

Thank you so much for this site! I just had a question about your suggestion to see Epcot first and Magic Kingdom last – what’s your reasoning for this?

4 Dave { 08.27.14 at 7:59 am }

MK has such charm that it tends to spoil people for the visual look and feel of the other parks, Jo, especially Epcot.

5 Jo { 08.27.14 at 10:42 am }

That makes sense. Thank you!

6 Steve { 09.09.14 at 10:41 pm }

Your Epcot-first reasoning makes a certain amount of sense, however I’m pretty sure my wife and I would not be able to hold ourselves back from MK for that many days. :) Also, what do you think of the notion that if you’re in one park but secretly “wishing” you were in another, doesn’t that kind of spoil the moment too, by having a pre-occupied mind? My ideal plan is to schedule MK for first and last. Perfect bookends to the trip.

7 Dave { 09.10.14 at 12:48 pm }

Steve, that will work just fine!!

8 Rose { 10.07.14 at 12:48 pm }

Hi Dave! Your website is WONDERFUL-thank you so much for creating this amazing resource!

My family and I have decided to have a short visit, 5 night (4 day) visit to WDW. Since our daughter is only 2 and we plan to come back a few years later, we felt a short visit will be adequate. My question is about the timing of our visit and the availability of the attractions. We are arriving on January 30, 2015 and leaving on February 4. We plan on spending 2 days at Magic Kingdom, 1 day at Hollywood Studios and 1 day at Animal Kingdom. I tried using your links to the individual day schedules for each park to plan out what days to attend the parks but I notice that in February, none of the daily attractions that were available in January are scheduled. For example, at Magic Kingdom, none of the character meet and greets (e.g., Fairytale Hall and Ariel’s Grotto) are scheduled while they are available on January 31. At Hollywood Studios, basically all attractions and shows except Fantasmic are not on the schedule for February but are on the schedule on January 31 (e.g., Voyage of the little mermaid, Frozen sing along, beauty and the beast). I am aware that February tends to be the time when there are closures for refurbishments, etc. but it seems odd that almost all of the main attractions would be closed during the month of February. Since our daughter is so young and can’t enjoy many of the typical rides that close, we didn’t think it would affect us but seeing that all of the main attractions aren’t on the schedule is concerning.

So my question is this: are the attractions not on the schedule because they simply have not been scheduled yet but it is expected that they will eventually be on the schedule? Or is it typical for WDW to offer a very limited number of attractions during the “slow” months since February is considered to be during the off season? And as a result, should we expect to not be able to enjoy the attractions that are available in January?

Thank you for your help–your answer is going to help us make a decision on whether we should reschedule our entire trip!

9 Dave { 10.08.14 at 4:28 pm }

Hi Rose, and thanks for the kind words!!

This is a glitch. There will be a few closures then–it’s already known that Splash Mountain til the 30th, Kali River Rapids through the 2nd–basically 95% of everything will be running. Disney is either having technical difficulties or hasn’t loaded the data yet!

You will be fine those dates…

10 Bob { 11.11.14 at 4:57 pm }

Dave,

We have a trip planned during Christmas week Mon Dec 22 – Sat Dec 27. Avoiding Extra Magic Hours in the AM at Magic Kingdom is not an option, as it is available everyday per the schedule. Do you have any advice specific to Christmas week? We arrive around 11AM Mon, do you suggest we doing Epcot first or go with Magic Kingdom since crowds will still be somewhat low the 22nd and 23rd? Any help and advice you could offer would be great.

11 Dave { 11.12.14 at 7:30 am }

Bob, start with this–it’s out of date, but gives some thoughts http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/12/19/coping-with-disney-world-holiday-crowds/ and then read Joshs’s discussion of your dates towards the end of this: http://www.easywdw.com/calendar/december-2014-walt-disney-world-crowd-calendar/

12 McCoy { 11.18.14 at 12:12 pm }

Firstly, thank you for all your wonderful and timely information!
I have a few questions regarding trip planning during 10 days in end May/early June which is ranging from high crowd to, at best, moderate-plus.
1. So there is a good chance that it is worth the maybe 60 minutes spent in hopping to do the hopping to escape an EMH part after a.m. EMH? The net gain is more time (even though it may feel like loosing time in the ‘hop’ time)?
2. For a stay this long we can have a few non-WDW park days – so I assume a good tactic is do the non-WDW park days during weekends (this assumes that of all the attractions in Orlando area, WDW get the most crowded, comparatively) – do you think so?
3. Is there any point to scheduling fast-pass during a.m. EMH, or not?
4. I did read the FAQ on fast pass but still not totally sure, are these now untimed entirely, so you use them then may schedule more (as available) sort of all day long?
5. Any chance that so many people read your book and site that you are causing your own crowds and the true Judo is to do the opposite : )

13 McCoy { 11.18.14 at 1:50 pm }

Scrap question #4 above, I get it now. The other questions still remain, and here is a replacement question #4 – what is ‘teiring’ and is it important to understand for a 2015 trip?

14 Dave { 11.19.14 at 4:43 pm }

Heya McCoy!

1. If you plan an afternoon break anyway then hopping away from an am EMH park makes perfect sense, as there’s no net increase in travel time. See EMH and such til 11 or 12, back to your RV to nap/eat, then on to another park later. This works particularly well if you save your FP+ for the second park–easy to do if you start your day at AK, harder to do via morning EMH at Epcot or HS unless you have more than a day at theose parks.

2. Yes traditionally the non-Disney parks are lest busy Sat-Mon

3. You can’t

4. Don’t understand the question…

5 :) Nope! Even guidebooks that have been out for two decades don’t move the needle that much!!

15 Dave { 11.19.14 at 4:47 pm }

Tiering is in effect at Epcot and HS. There’s a group of rides from which you can only pick one, and another group from which you must pick two. The first group–Tier 1–includes some high demand stuff that builds long waits quickly–at Epcot Soarin and Test Track, and at HS Toy Story Mania and Rock N Roller Coaster. So you FP+ one (ideally Soarin at Epcot and Toy Story at HS) and see the other one at park open, having arrived well before opening time.

16 Kelly { 11.25.14 at 8:25 am }

Hi Dave! I am so overwhelmed with all the options and choices! We planned a short trip to Disney for our Children’s Christmas present. It will be their first time. They are 6, 8, 10. I need help deciding where to go each day! We are staying at Port Orleans Riverside and arriving Fri Jan 2nd. We are leaving Monday Jan 5th at night. (We live in South Florida), So we will have 3 day tickets to see MK, AK and HS on Sat, Sun and Mon. Where should we go on Monday, as it will be our shortest day. Thank you in advance for any help you can give me!!!

17 Dave { 11.25.14 at 2:43 pm }

Kelly, for sure I’d do MK on Sunday and AK (because it has no evening stuff) on Monday. Saturday is more complicated. You’ll still see spillover crowds from New Years, and HS is a bad choice that day. However most families do better with two days at MK, so I’d advise that for you, with your first MK day Sat and your second Sun.

18 Camille { 12.02.14 at 9:57 pm }

Hi Dave, Amazing site! We are planning a stay of 8 nights, but we are trying to make our own itinerary. Why do you suggest to go to MK on a day with extended evening hours after seeing the Wishes fireworks? Thanks, Camille

19 Dave { 12.03.14 at 8:16 am }

Camille, the short answer is that 50 or 51 out of 52 Saturdays (50 in years with a Saturday Halloween, like 2015) have the evening parade and Wishes, and that cannot be said of any other day of the week.

20 Meredith henderson { 01.16.15 at 4:06 pm }

This will be our first family trip to Walt Disney. We are going with a 13, 9, and 7 year old. We had planned on doing three days at parks. But after reading a lot of this I see that maybe we need to stay a little longer. Problem is we just don’t know if we can afford it. So with that being said, if you had to choose parks to not visit which ones would you say? I just need to figure out which ones are really worth going and which ones are the ones you would really want to go to if you couldn’t do all of them. Please help!!!!
Thank you Meredith.

21 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations to Explore { 01.16.15 at 7:26 pm }

Hi Meredith (I’m Kelly. The dedicated Destinations in Florida agent for YourFirstVisit.net).

I few recommendations for you. The first would be to consider adding a park hopper option to you ticket. This would allow you to go to more than one park per day with your 3-day ticket. The second would be to add a 4th day to your ticket (actually the more economical choice of the two. It’s only about $22 per person to add the extra day to tickets).

If time and budget don’t allow, and you have to choose. I would say to visit Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Kids love the animals, shows and rides. Epcot can be a hit or miss depending on the child and is so big you’ll never get to all of it in one day.

I would love to help you plan your vacation. (My services are free.) Everything from booking your vacation to dining reservations, FastPass+ selection. You can reach me at kellyb@destinationsinflorida.com or 980-241-7066

22 Dave { 01.17.15 at 9:06 am }

Meredith, on a longer trip the expenses that go up proportionately are hotels and food. The 4th and further days of tickets are much cheaper than the per-day cost of the first three days, and of course your transport costs are the same. So I’d aim for a longer trip–and focusing on the least expensive hotels to make it work. For a family of 5, the least expensive WDW options are Caribbean Beach and the Alligator Bayou section of Port Orleans Riverside. The next best choice for you will be off site. (For more on these two hotels, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/03/25/walt-disney-worlds-moderate-resorts/ )

Note also that your hotel costs vary profoundly depending on when you go–see this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/10/13/projected-disney-world-2015-price-seasons/ and also this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2009/12/21/the-tightwads-guide-to-when-to-go-to-walt-disney-world/

Any trip ought to include at least two days at MK. After that, given the ages of your kids, Id ‘recommend a day at HS, then a day at AK, then a day at Epcot, in that order.

23 Roshanda { 01.19.15 at 1:29 pm }

Hi Dave,
I am looking for a sample itnerary for a 5.5 days at WDW. I say 5.5 days because we are staying five nights but our flight on day 6 is in the early evening. I am taking my daughter who will be 4.5 at the time of our trip, April 25 through April 30. This will be her first time there but definitely won’t be her last. She’s into all things Frozen and Disney Princess. Also, anything that deals with dressing up and putting on make-up. I am having a hard time finding a short 5-day itinerary for a pre-school aged child for this time of the year.

24 Dave { 01.20.15 at 9:08 am }

Roshanada, at that age I’d plan 2-3 days at Magic Kingdom, and one each at the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. I don’t have itineraries for kids that age on this site, but you can find them at the end of Chapter 6 of my book: The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit 2015

25 Roshanda { 01.20.15 at 10:39 am }

Hi Dave, thanks so much for the information. I am ordering your book!

26 Dave { 01.20.15 at 5:14 pm }

:)

27 Sue { 01.23.15 at 10:16 am }

Hi Dave!
First off, your website is AMAZING! I have used it for the last 2 trips we have taken, and I am currently using it again for our upcoming trip in August 2015! Every time someone tells me they are planning their trip, your site is the first thing I tell them to go look at!

I was wondering if you had a PDF version of your blank itinerary with the fast pass+. When I click on the link you have, it downloads it and opens up to a cryptic page of nonsense for me! Thanks so much for whatever you can do!
Sue

28 Dave { 01.23.15 at 1:25 pm }

Sue you are so sweet and thanks! Great idea on the PDF, I just made one and put a link to it right after the excel link.

29 Andrea { 02.17.15 at 2:38 pm }

Our 60 days is coming up on 2/24. My 5 y.o. is ALMOST 44 inches. I’m worried that she won’t quite be tall enough for Space Mtn. Should I just skip booking a Space Mtn. FP+ and get something else? Then, shoot for hitting it up first thing in the morning? Are there typically Space Mtn. FP+ available to use as a 4th?

30 Emily { 02.17.15 at 2:59 pm }

Hi Dave,
We’re planning our first disney trip with our kids to arrive Nov 8th 2015. I was trying to figure out our itinerary so I can make our dining reservations 180 days in advance. Reading on your site I see you say that it is very important this time of year to go to the right park on the right day. But how do I figure this out since Disney only releases their calendar 6 months in advance? Do you have park suggestions for each day of the week? Also, it is my daughter’s birthday on Mon 11/9/15 and she really wants to go to the animal kingdom. From the itineraries I’ve seen on your site you don’t seem to recommend this. What do you think? I was thinking about breakfast with Donald at Tusker house at AK but had no ideas for dinner. Any ideas for an animal lover on her birthday? We are staying at AK lodge. Thanks so much!
Also, why do you recommend Cinderella’s royal table for lunch instead of dinner? Is it possible to time it at CRT to see the fireworks too?

31 Dave { 02.18.15 at 10:13 am }

Andrea, I guess it depends on what else you’d spend the FP+ on. Me, I’d book Space, as it will be easier to change it to another great ride than to get a 4th FP+ for it.

32 Dave { 02.18.15 at 10:18 am }

Emily, the operating calendars come out about 6.5 to 6.75 months before so you can pick your parks before 180 days. Not sure what you mean in your AK question. Consider Sanaa at AKL-Kidani for dinner, some seats have views of the animals. CRT is at lunch or late breakfast in most of my itineraries because a. early breakfasts in the parks are a bad idea and b. lots of great offerings are available only in the evenings, so not doing it for dinner frees time for those. If you want it for dinner, go for it!

33 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 02.18.15 at 11:51 am }

Emily – Breakfast at Tusker House would be a great way to start your daughter’s day. You could do a quick service meal in AK for lunch or snack and then plan your dinner. RainForest Cafe is right there at AK (It can be a bit loud, but my kids just loved it). You could plan any of the resort restaurants for dinner, or you have the Park Hopper option any place on property. If you haven’t already booked your vacation I would love to help you plan. You can contact me at kellyb@destinationsinflorida.com. When you book with Destinations in Florida you will get Itinerary Planning, Dining Services, Future Discount Search, FastPass+ planning all for FREE.

34 Megan { 02.24.15 at 3:58 pm }

Dave,
We are planning a trip to Disney in May of 2016, specifically the week of May 8th, 2016. My daughter will be spending her 7th birthday (5-11-16) at the park. If you had to choose ONE thing that would totally blow her mind on this day, what would it be? Maybe throw in a 2nd & 3rd for fun! Is there anything at all we can reserve/arrange for this far in the future? Next, with her birthday being on a Wednesday in 2016, I’m assuming the best place to spend that day is MK. What other suggestions, as far as itinerary, do you have leading up to that day and following that day?
Looking forward to your response,
Megan

35 Dave { 02.25.15 at 1:16 pm }

Megan, I own;t have any itinerary thoughts–or even confirmation that MK is the best place–until Disney publishes its operating calendar for then, which it won’t do until around November. In terms of “blowing her mind”–it depends so much on what she likes! Lunch with Cinderella at Cinderella’s Royal Table? A do at Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boutique? The special fireworks desert party?

36 TeriLoman386 { 03.24.15 at 6:24 am }

Great article.

37 Crystal { 04.16.15 at 2:21 pm }

I’m a little confused … at the beginning of this page you said

“Divide your days among the parks. You have two different issues here: the overall use of your time at the four parks, and the days you can spend at each. Because you can pre-book only three FastPass+ per park, two half days–and thus six FastPass+–are more valuable than one full day.”

Does this mean I will get 6 fastpass+ if I’m planning 2 parks/day?

38 Dave { 04.17.15 at 8:35 am }

Crystal, what I mean is something like “do a half day Wednesday, and a half day Thursday, rather than taking Wednesday off and going all day Thursday, and you’ll get the same time off but 6 FP+ instead of 3.”

39 Jessica { 04.19.15 at 10:17 pm }

Hi Dave! Your site has been very helpful in planning our first trip to Disney World. We are going in October and so far plan on arriving midday on Friday (my daughters 6th birthday) and leaving evening time Wednesday. So 5 nights and 6 days. Do you think one day (arrival day) in downtown disney, two days and one evening(after animal kingdom closes for the day) in magic kingdom and one day in each of the the other three parks are sufficient. Or should we aim to cut our time short somewhere else and spend a half day more in Epcot?

40 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 04.20.15 at 8:43 am }

Jessica- I know that Dave is busy in Disney today, so I’ll try to help out. I think your plan is great. With your daughters age, one day in Epcot should be plenty. Make sure to get your FastPass+ scheduled. Epcot can be a child’s favorite (like mine), but the vast majority would rather ride the TeaCups than stroll through World Showcase. From your plans, it looks like you have the park hopper option. So remember heading somewhere else is always an option. You may find you don’t need a full day at Hollywood Studios, and can always explore Epcot that night too.

41 Lisa Chandler { 04.23.15 at 11:30 pm }

Hello Dave,
We are planning on a trip from Dec. 11-19th. this year. I took a look at your basic itinerary for Dec. and I was wondering why you jump from park to park, instead of doing two days in one park back to back? We will be attending the Christmas party so I am trying to figure out which park to do the day after because it will be a late night for our two children. We have planned on two days for MK, two for Epcot, one for HS, one for AK and one day for the Christmas party.

42 Dave { 04.24.15 at 8:09 am }

Lisa, the parks have very different crowding patterns by day, so the days in the itinerary are set to reflect this. Also note that the December calendar is not yet out–it should be out in a couple of weeks–so the itinerary may change.

43 Lisa Chandler { 04.24.15 at 1:23 pm }

Dave,
Thank you for your response. I will keep an eye out for the December calendar. We are planning our first trip to Disney with our children and your website has been a great help!

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