First Sunday: Walt Disney World Summer Itinerary v2

By Dave Shute

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Note: see this for a revised approach to Disney’s Animal Kingdom that incorporates no legacy paper Fastpasses!


You begin and end the day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and are off late morning and early afternoon to nap and play in the pool.

Your goal this morning is to see one of the two most popular rides in the Animal Kingdom—the other you will see on Wednessday– and just a few other things.

This afternoon you will return in time for the parade and a few more rides.


Get up early and have breakfast in your room

Be at your hotels’ bus stop by 7:20 am, and catch the bus to Disney’s Animal Kingdom


  • Arrive at the park by 8am
  • Get in line and await the opening
  • At opening, pick up a guide map and “Times Guide” (a show schedule), follow the crowd heading left to Africa, and ride Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • When you get off, check your show schedule. If Festival of the Lion King is starting within the next half an hour (but more than 10 minutes from now) head to Camp Minnie Mickey and see it. Otherwise, plan to see the next showing of Lion King and in the meantime explore the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail right by the Safari exit; if you still have a lot of time until the next “Lion King,” see It’s A Bug’s Life next
  • If you have not yet done the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, do it now; if you haven’t done “Bug’s Life” yet, you can see it tonight–get a fastpass for it on the way out if the fastpass return is 3:30 or later
  • Head back to your hotel the way you came for lunch at its counter service (counter credit), a nap, and/or a swim


  • Pack spare clothes, as you will get soaked on Kali River Rapids!
  • Be back at your hotel bus stop by 2:35p, bringing with you your Times Guide and guide map from this morning
  • At the park, rent a locker for your spare clothes, and then find a spot on the Asia side of the parade route to watch the 3:45p parade
  • While waiting for the parade, check the times guide for the schedule for Finding Nemo. You will need to be in line for this at least 45 minutes before show time, and ideally 60 minutes
  • Work in around “Nemo,” Kali River Rapids, the show Flights of Wonder, if possible (see it Wednesday otherwise), and It’s a Bugs Life, if you missed it this morning.
  • The lines likely will be too long at the other rides you have not seen to be worth your while—this is why you return on Wednesday. Explore the arcades in Dinoland, and head back to your bus stop for your hotel!

Note: Bring The Comprehensive Guide to Rides and Rides that Might be Skipped in case your day gets to be too intense!


Tomorrow you will begin your visit to the Magic Kingdom.

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1 Danny { 05.08.13 at 11:04 am }

So at AK, you don’t leave much of a break. Basically what I see is at 12:15am, go back to the resort (probably arrive at 1:15pm). Let’s say it takes 10 min to walk to the hotel counter. So at 1:25pm people would have lunch. Say it tales 1 hour for them to eat and finish. So at 2:25pm they will be done. Then 10 min again to walk back to the bus stop, and 1 hour to get back to ak. So they would arrive at AK by 3:35pm. I am trying to point out, that this doesn’t seem much of a break to me, or worth going back to the resort for.

2 Danny { 05.08.13 at 11:12 am }

Also to tell you that people won’t be done before 12:15pm is here: So they arrive at AK before rope drop. Say it takes them 15 min to get to the back of AK in Africa. Ride the Safari (Wait will be at least 10 min). So they would be loaded on and ready to ride by 9:25am. The ride takes 19 minutes. So they would be done by 9:44am. It will also probably take 5-7 minutes to get off the ride, with like 50 other people. So lets say it takes 7 min, and they will be off by 9:51am. So then say it takes 10 min to walk to camp mickey & minnie. AT this time it will be 10:01am. Since this is the summer, people probably won’t want to be at The Lion King later than 1/2 hour before, especially since there is only 2 air-conditioned shows. So the show starts at 10:30am. It ideally takes 25 min, but I would add an extra 5 min just incase, because it probably won’t start right at 10:30am. So let’s say the show is done by 11:00am. With like 500-700 people, it will probably take 12 min to get out, so they would be out of the show by 11:12am. Say it takes 10 min to walk back to africa. They are about to enter pangani by 11:22am. Let’s say they take 35 min strolling. they would be done by around 11:57am. And say it takes 15 more min to walk back to the gate, and then takes 5 min to find there hotel’s bus stop. So by that time it will be around 12:17pm.

3 Danny { 05.08.13 at 11:13 am }

The rest works fine, except they probably won’t be able to work flights of wonder in there, since the last show is at 3:00pm.

4 mayhem { 05.10.13 at 4:32 am }

Thank you for this great help.
If I get to Orlando on Sunday, should I just shift the schedule by a Day?
Again, thank your good advise and suggestions.

5 Dave { 05.10.13 at 1:41 pm }

Hi Mayhem, no you can’t–everything is tied to the day. So “First Sunday” means “First Sunday,” not “Day 2.”

Let me know if you are staying at a WDW resort, and how old your kids are, and I’ll suggest revisions!!

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6 Mayhem { 05.28.13 at 6:06 am }

Thank you, I will be staying at the Marriott Grand Vista. We will be going from the 7th of July leaving on the 21st of July. We might go to the Cape for a day or so, and we will stay also in the resort so we have some time. Maybe the best is to assume a free time from the 7th to the 13th and then start with your program from the 13th.

Again thank you for your help.

7 Dave { 05.28.13 at 7:48 am }

Mayhem, how old are the kids?

8 Mayhem { 06.03.13 at 6:49 am }

Sorry for the delay in verifying the site. I lost it as I did not bookmarked t. I will now :).
The kids are 8 and 12 (both boys).

9 Dave { 06.03.13 at 3:41 pm }

Ok Mayhem, a couple of thoughts.

First, with two boys I’d kill one of the two “Princess” meals in the itinerary–suggest killing Cinderella’s Royal table, as it is both more expensive and more “girly” than the other (Akershus.)

Second, the itinerary assumes that you are in a WDW hotel, and thus can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. This affects in particular Tuesday and Wednesday–which you can fix by just flipping these days in both the itinerary and To-Do List.

Finally, for your Friday arrival–you could do just as you note, and begin the itinerary the 13th. But with the extra time, it’d be great to build some more off days into it, as the itinerary as written will wear you out. Moving any one, two or three of the non-Magic Kingdom days to the prior week befroe the 13th–so long as you move day for day and remember the swap of Tuesday and Wednesday–will make for an easier overall vacation!

Hope this helps…Dave

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10 Maurice { 06.04.13 at 5:03 pm }


I am taking my family of 5 on a spur of the moment trip to DW. We are staying offsite @ Marriott Grant Vista so we can take advantage of the space – 2 bedrooms/2 bath, full kitchen, etc. I’m looking at the June 8th itinerary but just read your comments to another question about Saturday not being day 1, etc. We are arriving June 10 mostly late as we are driving from Virginia (13 hours yes crazy but way less expensive than flying 5). We depart on June 16. I’ve purchased a 5 day pass – no hopper. My children are daughter 18, son1 14, son2 8. What changes would you recommend or itinerary for our visit. This is a gift for my daughters high school graduation. Yes – I know I should have planned this long ago.

Much appreciated..

11 Dave { 06.05.13 at 7:08 am }

Hi Maurice!

The combination of the short trip, off-site hotel, and different days means you can just use my itinerary as a thought starter–especially for what to do first thing in the morning. With 5 ticket days, aim for 2 at MK, and one at each of the other three parks.

Here’s parks to avoid by day:
6/11: Avoid Epcot
6/12: avoid Ak
6/13: avoid MK
6/14: avoid Epcot
6/15: avoid HS

So with that I’d do AK the 11th, Epcot the 12th, HS the 13th, and MK the 14th and 15th…

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12 Todd { 06.07.13 at 11:16 pm }

Hi Dave -
Similar to Maurice above . . . I am taking my two kids 6 & 7 (boy and girl) to Disney tomorrow 6/8 late arrival, have 3 day pass, not hopper, no dining plan, staying at Carribbean Beach (pirate room). What itinerary you recommend, assuming we want to keep it somewhat mellow. It is last-minute, so we are missing all the character meals. We are thinking we will skip Epcot. What parks to avoid on what days (and why do you recommend this?)? Thanks so much.

13 Dave { 06.09.13 at 7:54 am }

Hey Todd, apologies for the slower-than-usual response–family and “day job” issues have gotten in the way. Today, the worst choice is HS, second worst is MK, and the best is AK. Tomorrow will be best at MK, and Tuesday any of the parks but Epcot will be fine.

For how I make these calls, see this, especially the second half:

14 Sharmon Brannen { 08.08.13 at 2:14 pm }

Hey- we are planning a trip to WDW the first week in December this year. We are driving down so the plan is the visit AK the first day. I just read that the Festival of the Lion King is being moved. My first visit to AK was in 2012, husband had been before, and we missed all of the shows and much of the park itself. So this trip our focus is to be more relaxed and easy going. Last time he was trying to be sure we rode the main things and did as much as possible. Some rides I will not care about so much this time, so shows take a higher priority. With all that being said, will the times of the FOLK show be changed or will the show be cancelled and where can I look to get this information. I am trying to set up a tentative schedule for us now. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks!

15 Dave { 08.09.13 at 11:31 am }

Hi Sharmon, I have not seen dates for an actual closure of FOLK during the transition to its new space.. They have to build the new space first–and I think they just started that. The place I count on for such updates is the WDW update that comes out weekly on –although the quality of that is dropping–they have three points of fact wrong just this week…

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