By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



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



Category — i. Itineraries for Walt Disney World

Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary

Below is my FastPass+ based Disney World itinerary for higher crowd weeks.

Updated in May 2017, it includes guidance for the new Avatar: World of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  On its first Animal Kingdom day, it uses a Rivers of Light Dining Package to save a FastPass+. If your visit is so soon that you aren’t able to book one, use this for the first and second Sunday! Note that this package is available sometimes only 3-4 months ahead, rather than the 180 days ahead that most dining is available.

This itinerary does not work all dates, and some dates that it mostly works it may need some little adjustments. Check your week here.


As in all images and tables on this site, click it to enlarge it.

The recommended dining reservations and FastPass+ that make it work are in the To-Do List.

Daily agendas are in the links:

The 2017 easy Guide

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To-Do List: Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary

This To-Do List is for the Disney World  Higher Crowd ItineraryFor To-Do-Lists for other itineraries, see this.

(Note that a good travel agent, such as Kelly at Destinations in Florida at 980-429-4499 or at Kelly@DestinationsInFlorida.com can do almost all of this for you, for free. If you use Destinations in Florida as your travel agent and tell them you came from this site, then they share a bit of the pixie dust they get from Disney with me.)

A. MORE THAN 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR PLANNED ARRIVAL DATE

1. 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. Create your My Disney Experience account here and add your family members to it

4. 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.)

  • If you are following my itinerary, you want the hotel you’ve picked for 8 nights, nine day no hopper tickets, the Dining Plan, and Disney’s Magical Express if you are flying
  • Itineraries other than mine will have different requirements here

B. 181 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

San Angel Inn at Epcot from yourfirstvisit.netDecide whether on your first night you’ll be dining at Akershus or the San Angel Inn. Akershus is a princess meal–you’ll have another princess meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table on Thursday.  If you really like princesses, do Akershus; otherwise, San Angel Inn is the better choice.

Login to your MyDisneyExperience.com account, click the “Things to Do” tab at top right, under Dining hit “Make Reservations,” and practice trying to reserve restaurants (hint: use the search box at the upper right).

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.

C. EXACTLY 6am EST, EXACTLY 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

(For an 180 day calendar, see this).

Be on the restaurant website 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 Tusker House), in the exact order listed–but note that sometimes the Rivers of Light Dining Package is not available until 90-120 days before:

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table Lunch (dining plan, two credits): Thursday at 11a or later if you can; earlier than 11 only if your sole option…
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue (dining plan, two credits): Tuesday 6.15p show. The later time will keep you up later than you need to be, OK if all you can get. Avoid the earlier time–it’ll cut into your park time too much
  • Chef Mickey’s (dining plan, one credit) Tuesday 11a.  Later is OK, but not a whole lot earlier–no earlier than 10.30a
  • Tusker House as Rivers of Light Dining Package (dining plan, one credit). First Sunday 5.30p. You can schedule for as late as Disney will allow you to do so, but not earlier.
  • Crystal Palace (dining plan, one credit): Second Saturday 6p if you can; earlier OK, but not later
  • Akershus Banquet or San Angel Inn (dining plan, one credit): First Saturday 6p.  No later than 6.30p, but earlier is OK if your travel plans allow for an ealrier arrival at Epcot.

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

D. 60 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

Liking the Name on This MagicBand1. Be on your MyDisneyExperience account by 7a and set up the following FastPass+

  • First Saturday afternoon and evening at Epcot: Tier One: Frozen Ever After. Tier Two: Spaceship Earth. The Tier One FastPass+ is your priority. Set the Tier Two times for when your travel plans permit you to be in the park. If you van book just one because of your travel schedule, choose Frozen Ever After
  • First Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Na’vi River Journey, Finding Nemo: The Musical, and Kali River Rapids. Set Na’vi for 10-11a, Nemo 11.30 to 11.45 for the noon show, and Kali River Rapids at 12:40p
  • Monday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Great Movie Ride. Tier Two: Tower of Terror and Indiana Jones. Set Tower of Terror for 9-10a, Great Movie Ride for 10-11, and Indiana Jones for the noon show time.
  • Tuesday at the Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Jungle Cruise. Set Space Mountain for 9-10a, the Speedway for 10-11a, and Jungle Cruise for 3-4p.
  • Wednesday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Toy Story Midway Mania; Tier Two: Star Tours and the Frozen Sing-Along. Set Toy Story for 1.10 to 2.10p, Frozen for the 2.30p show, and Star Tours for 3.15-4.15p
  • Thursday at the Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and the Haunted Mansion. Target Seven Dwarfs for 1-2p, Belle for 2-3p, and the Haunted Mansion for 3.30-4.30p.
  • Friday at Epcot: Tier One: Test Track. Tier Two: Mission: SPACE and Turtle Talk with Crush. Set Mission: SPACE for 9a-10a, Test Track for 10a-11a, and Turtle Talk with Crush for 12.30p to 1.30p.
  • Second Saturday at the Magic Kingdom: Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, and a third ride. Set Big Thunder for 9-10a, and Pirates for 10-11a
  • Second Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Avatar: Flight of Passage and Festival of the Lion King. Set Flight of Passage for 9.30 to 10.30a, and Festival of the Lion King for 10.30-10.45a for the 11a show.

2. Do online check in, requesting as you do special location points

3. Customize your MagicBands

E. NOTES ON PACKING ETC. BEFORE YOU LEAVE

1. Bring your MagicBands in your carry-ons

2. If you use Disney’s Magical Express, you do not need to collect your bags at the Orlando airport unless you arrive late in the evening/at night or are an international traveler. 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.

The 2017 easy Guide

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Epcot Day 1 Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary

(Note: this is from the Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary.)

EPCOT DAY 1: FIRST SATURDAY AGENDA

Check in, get settled if your room is ready, and be at Epcot as soon as you can.

FIRST THINGS

  • Arrive at your hotel, following the instructions in your Disney’s Magical Express packet if you are using it to get from Orlando International to your Disney Resort. Check in
  • Unless you are arriving late, your room will likely not be ready, but you can leave your bags. First change into clothes more appropriate for the weather–which your To-Do List reminded you to pack in your carry-ons. You can ask to be called or texted later to find out your exact room
  • If your room is ready, and if you have time–you want to be at Epcot as soon as you can–get food and supplies (bowls, napkins, scotch) for your breakfast in the morning, which you will be eating out of your room. Also get (from the counter service restaurant)  “Refillable Mugs,” which you will be able to re-use at your resort for free drinks over your entire stay
  • Head to Epcot as soon as you can

Belle at Akershus from yourfirstvisit.net

AT THE PARK

  • Your plan today is to see as many of Epcot’s lengthier attractions as you can to free time on your second visit, see parts of World Showcase that are most fun in the evening, see the Frozen Ever After in Norway, and see Epcot’s park-closing spectacular IllumiNations.
  • You should have FastPass+ for Spaceship Earth and Frozen Ever After, and dinner reservations for either Akershus or San Angel Inn at around 6p. Those arriving late may have to thin the below to just dinner, Frozen Ever After, World Showcase, and Illuminations
  • Go through the turnstiles and pick up a park map and “Times Guide”–a schedule. Use your Spaceship Earth FastPass+ and then see Ellen’s Energy Adventure.
  • Head to World Showcase, and while keeping an eye out for your dinner reservation at around 7p, see the pavilions starting with Mexico and going clockwise.
    • Each pavilion will have some or all of shopping, special exhibits, a ride, a movie, and other special events—such as acrobats in China.
    • Check your map, times guide, and the pavilion itself, to see what each pavilion has.
    • For scheduled events like the acrobats, etc., sequence what you do when among items that are not scheduled (shops, exhibits, and rides), and bounce back and forth between nearby pavilions, so that you don’t have to wait long for the scheduled item
  • Have dinner at whichever you chose to reserve between San Angel Inn inside the Mexico pyramid or the Akershus Royal Banquet  Meal in Norway at 7p
  • Continue touring World Showcase clockwise until about 8:30p, using your FastPass+ for Frozen Ever After
  • Pick a spot for Illuminations as near its FastPass+ area on the Spacehsip Earth side of the lagoon as you can find
  • Watch Illuminations, and if you are parked, taking the monorail, or taking a bus back to your hotel, immediately at its end start walking briskly to the park exit (on the far side of Spaceship Earth) to beat the crowds.
  • Return to your hotel

BACK AT THE HOTEL

Buy food, supplies (bowls, spoons, etc.) and refillable mugs for breakfast in your room at your hotel counter service or gift shop, if you did not have time, or a room assignment, earlier.

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

You will spend the first of two days at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You have an early morning–you want to arrive by 45 minutes before open. Check with your concierge on transport (likely buses) and what time you should be at the bus stop.

The 2017 easy Guide

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Animal Kingdom Day 1 Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary

ANIMAL KINGDOM DAY 1: FIRST SUNDAY AGENDA

Today you begin and end your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which you will return to next Sunday morning. You should have dinner booked at Tusker House as the Rivers of Light Dining Package.

You should have FastPass+ for Na’vi River Journey, Finding Nemo, and Kali River Rapids. Bring spare socks and shoes to change into after Kali River Rapids.

(Note: this is from the Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary.)

MORNING PLAN

  • Arrive at the turnstiles 45 minutes before open
  • At open, head to and ride Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • See Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • See Na’vi River Journey (FastPass+)
  • Explore Pandora
  • Have an early lunch
  • See the noon Finding Nemo: The Musical (FastPass+)
  • See the Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • See Kali River Rapids (FastPass+)
  • See the 1.30p Flights of Wonder
  • See it’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Head back to your hotel for a nap and dinner

EVENING PLAN

  • Be back in the park in time for your Tusker House Rivers of Light Dining Package dinner.
  • See Rivers of Light (FastPass+)—be in the FastPass+ line 30 minutes before show start
  • Explore Tree of Life Awakenings and Pandora: World of Avatar after dark
  • Ride, if you wish, Expedition Everest and/or Kilimanjaro Safaris after dark
  • Head back to your hotel

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

Tomorrow you begin your visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, arriving 45 minutes before opening.

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Hollywood Studios Day 1 Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary

(Note: this is from the Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary.)

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS DAY 1: MONDAY AGENDA

You begin and end today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with an afternoon break between. You should have FastPass+ for Tower of Terror, the Great Movie Ride, and Indiana Jones.

AT THE PARK

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage from yourfirstvisit.net

  • Arrive by 45 minutes before open, and at open head to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Ride it, and re-ride if you wish
  • Ride Tower of Terror (FastPass+), and re-ride if you wish
  • See Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Ride the Great Movie Ride (FP+)
  • See the 11a Beauty and the Beast
  • See the noon Indiana Jones Stunt Show (FP+)
  • Check for Fantasmic FastPass+ (keep checking)
  • Head back to your hotel and take a break
  • Return to the park by 5.45p
  • Have dinner at a counter service
  • Depending on the timing of Fantasmic (you want to be in line 45 minutes before it is scheduled) see MuppetVision 4D, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, and Disney Jr. Live on Stage (any you miss you can see on Wednesday)
  • See Fantasmic

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

Tomorrow you begin your visit to the Magic Kingdom.

The 2017 easy Guide

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Magic Kingdom Day 1 Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary

(Note: this is from the Disney World Higher Crowd Itinerary.)

MAGIC KINGDOM DAY 1: TUESDAY AGENDA

Today you start your visit to the Magic Kingdom, seeing Tomorrowland and then touring some lower-wait attractions in Adventureland and Frontierland. You have brunch at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort near the Magic Kingdom, and end your day at Fort Wilderness’s Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue.

You should have FastPass+ for Space Mountain, the Tomorrowland Speedway, and the Jungle Cruise. The other fixed points in your schedule are Chef Mickey’s and Hoop-Dee-Doo.

FIRST THINGS

Be at the park by 45 minutes before open.

AT THE PARK

Space Mountain from yourfirstvisit.net

  • At open, head to Tomorrowland and see Buzz Lightyear
  • See Space Mountain (FP+)
  • Ride Astro-Orbiter
  • Ride the Tomorrowland PeopleMover
  • Ride the Tomorrowland Speedway (FP+)
  • Exit the park about 10.30 and either walk or take the resort monorail to the Contemporary Resort. Eat at Chef Mickey’s
  • Return to the park, head into Tomorrowland, and see the Carousel of Progress and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Go to Adventureland and fit the Swiss Family Treehouse and the Enchanted Tiki Room around your FastPass+ for the Jungle Cruise
  • Find the passage into Frontierland and see the Country Bears
  • If you have time, find the rafts near Big Thunder Mountain and see Tom Sawyer Island
  • Around 5p head for the main entrance and look for the boat docks right in front
  • Take the boat to Fort Wilderness (not the Wilderness Lodge), and follow the crowds to the Hoop Dee Doo area, and check in for the 6.15p show.
  • See Hoop-Dee-Doo
  • Ask cast members outside for the best way to get back to your hotel.  Most likely you will return by boat to the Magic Kingdom, and catch a bus or monorail there.

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

Tomorrow you have the morning off, then complete your visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The 2017 easy Guide

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