Basic Itinerary: Daily Links

By Dave Shute

Itineraries for the Rest of the Year      Basic December Itinerary
Summary    To-Do List    Sat    Sun    Mon    Tues    Weds    Thurs    Fri    Sat    Sun

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

Click here to return to the introduction to the Basic Itinerary

Disney-World-Basic-December-Itinerary-v3-hspThis Walt Disney World itinerary is designed for three specific December weeks. (Click here for itineraries for the rest of the year.)

You can review the basic itinerary by clicking on the thumbnail; if you need to enlarge it, click it again.

There is also a page for each day of your vacation, with specific instructions for that day. See links below.


The links below take you to pages with specific guidance on what to do every day of your first family Walt Disney World vacation, and the To-Do List for preparing for your trip.

Click here to return to the introduction to the Basic Itinerary









1 totally confused { 01.24.11 at 5:12 pm }

Need help I’m looking for a itinerary Jan30 – Feb 4. Kids ages are 5 and 8 and we are really planning not to do the water parks and Animal kingdom..
from a Stressed out Mom

2 Dave { 01.24.11 at 6:26 pm }

My itineraries are for longer periods. This page shows how to build your own itinerary:

An alternative is (you have to pay a few bucks). They have recommended parks by day, and also itineraries for each park.

Hope this helps and have a great trip!!

3 Sue Rivers { 06.15.11 at 3:00 pm }

We will be a party of five adults travelling to Orlando 21 Dec 2011. We would like to book the Candlelight procession at Epcot on Christmas Eve but how difficult will this prove? I would imagine I will have to be very quick to book and worry if I miss the date when tickets/reservations will be online. Do you have any advice?

4 Dave { 06.15.11 at 9:12 pm }

Hi Sue!

You want to book the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package–for more, see

The dates may first come out here: or here:

I’d check both every day as soon as you get up for when they are reservable…

Hope this helps!! Dave

5 mamawbud { 12.17.11 at 6:19 pm }

Our family is going to be in wdw Dec 26-Jan1. 7 adults and 5 children (ages 4-10 3boys and 2 girls) It is the first trip for the children and the 2 daughter-n-laws. I am sure we will all be overwhelmed. We have reservation ot eat at Tusker house on Friday at 11:30. But we would appreciate any suggestion on what to do to make the best of our time. Thanks

6 Dave { 12.18.11 at 9:40 am }

Hi Mamawbud–a question for you because it affects my response–where are you staying?

7 Amy { 08.07.12 at 8:16 pm }

I just saw where the grand opening of the new Fantasyland is on Dec 6. We leave to come back home on Dec 2. I am so sad. Do you know if they will have any “sneak peaks” in the days before the grand opening?

8 Dave { 08.08.12 at 4:25 am }

Hi Amy, previews being Nov 19–see this No guarantees everything will be operating all the time during previews, but you should have a good shot at seeing New Fantasyland!

9 Amy { 08.08.12 at 9:18 pm }

Thank You!!!

10 Dave { 08.08.12 at 10:00 pm }


11 Troy { 10.04.12 at 12:20 am }


As always, thanks for what you do. Question regarding Magic Kingdom’s hours. We’re coming in 11/24-12/2 – all arranged in the last few days. So pretty last-minute, but we’re still getting reservations pretty well. However, now that we’re all set for restaurants and such, I noticed that MK’s hours on Tuesday, 11/27 are not the same as on your itinerary. The itinerary has them staying open late and we were planning to see Wishes that night, but Disney’s website shows them open 9-7 as normal.

Obviously, I don’t blame you for this (how dare they decide their own hours! :-) ), but do you know something that might be coming up that’s not reflected on their website? Will the hours be tilting to what you expected, or is Monday the day they’ll be open late and do Wishes (as their website says)? This puts a kink on eating plans and everything – if we were to pull back to Mon, then we’d need new reservations for there and AK which would be pushed to Tues – and we’d lose the extra hour at AK.

Sorry for the novel. Point is: will these times change toward what you’ve reflected, or should we just keep as-is and just miss Wishes?


12 Dave { 10.04.12 at 12:59 pm }

Hey Troy, the December itinerary and its to do list assume that you buy an additional set of tix for the Tuesday evening Mickey’s Very Merry Xmas Party, whihc starts at 7p (when the park closes to guests without that ticket)–see this:

13 Troy { 10.04.12 at 11:54 pm }

Man, you keep busting me on things that I’ve missed in other places! I appreciate your hand-holding. We are going to buy tix to it, however, we were planning to come (as part of our 8-day pass) to the park anyway that day – we have already made reservations to Liberty Tree Tavern at 1:40. So are we not going to be able to come in for that? Or once we’re in, are we good, and we just show our Christmas passes at some point? Thanks!

14 Dave { 10.05.12 at 8:32 am }

Hey Troy no worries. You come in on a regular ticket. At some point in the later afternoon cast members will being giving party wristbands to people who show them party tickets.

15 Troy { 10.06.12 at 1:11 pm }


Thanks again for your advice so far.

We’re coming in on your #2 week for 2012 – 11/24-12/2. However, I just discovered, and I’m panicking. Sat 11/24 is a 10 out of 10 for crowds, and Sun 11/25 is a 9 out of 10. On 3 of the days w/ your itinerary, we’re going to the “park to avoid.” 11/25-HS, 11/30-EP, 12/1-MK. And we’re taking Thursday off to go to Seaworld, so we’re having to fit HS all in on 11/25 – the day they say to avoid on a 9 out of 10 day.

Do you have any calming words of advice for me? I know you said that the weekdays will make up for it (MK on Tues and Wed is the best park to be in and that’s where we are). We’ve made restaurant reservations everyday, so if we revamp, plans are thrown into chaos 7 weeks out. We’re going w/ 2 kids and my parents, so I expect a nightmare.

Can you make me feel better? :-)

16 Dave { 10.06.12 at 1:36 pm }

Troy don’t worry you’ll be fine!

Saturdays and Sundays always have high crowd ratings because almost every trip–short or long–includes them, and locals can most easily go those days. Sat the 24th is a ten because it’s the last day of Thanksgiving crowds, but my itinerary doesn’t have you in any lines on Saturday. Sunday won’t be a 9–it’ll be closer to a 7 or 6.

Also don’t worry about the “parks to avoid” point. With one exception these are relative, not absolute, as you can tell if you dig into TP’s daily crowd calendars by park–crowds are low even at “parks to avoid”, and a good plan is, as they themselves say, 5 times more important than picking a specific park on a specific day.

The exception is Sunday the 25th at HS, which they have as a 9.9.

I understand why they would have it as a “park to avoid”–it has Extra Magic Hours, and AK and MK close early. But since Sunday won’t be a 9, HS won’t be a 9.9. However, if you are still concerned, swap Sunday and Thursday–see this (it’s about Harry Potter, but applies to all the non-Disney parks)

17 Troy { 10.07.12 at 11:07 pm }

Thanks Dave! Yes, we tend to agree with the reasoning of why the non-Disney parks are so low on Sunday – because people are going to Disney first! And yes, we’re probably going to do the same because we just got in.

So do you happen to have an itinerary somewhere doing an all-day of HS on a Sunday? Or a way to fit as much in as possible in one long day? Just when I think I’ve seen everything on site, you point me to something I haven’t seen. :-) If not, no problem.

Thanks for all you do!

18 Dave { 10.08.12 at 6:30 am }

Hi Troy, not exactly, but you can use the Monday HS itinerary here for Sunday

Add Fantasmic (currently scheduled for 6.30p, but likely to have an 8p show added) and (if you can) the opening of the Osborne Lights (6p) to it. If there’s not a later Fantasmic added, then skip the opening of the Osborne lights, and just visit them later in the evening…

19 Troy { 11.15.12 at 1:10 am }

Continuing on the theme above, we’ve switched around a little bit, and we’ll be going to HS on Mon, Nov. 26. Shorter hours, but better crowds. We have to do HS in one day, and the group I’m with probably won’t be able to handle a marathon long day where we could use EMH.

I’ve gotten 4:15 reservations for 50s, and then we were going to have to do the hour long wait for Fantasmic at 6:30. (How soon would they be determining if they would have an 8:00 show which you allude to above?) So essentially our day at the park would be ending at 4, as it’s dinner then wait then Fantasmic. I’ve been concerned that we wouldn’t have time to fit everything in by 4.

Well, a 1:10 reservation at Mama as part of the Fantasmic Dining package just opened up, so I took it as well while I figure out which reservation to keep. I’d rather eat in 50s, but I like the idea of not having to wait as long with the package, plus not feeling like our day has ended at the early hour of 4 pm.

What are your thoughts? Which path would you recommend? And the dining package with reserved seating: is that reserved seating in a good spot? (Or at least in the top half which I hear is the best place to be?)


20 Dave { 11.15.12 at 7:27 am }

Hi Troy, on balance I’d go with the 1.10 at Mama Melrose. The reserved seating is actually so-so–you are off to the side of the viewing area–but the added flexibility you gain at the end of the day–and the saved half hour of waiting–probably make sit worth it…

21 Jo-Ann { 02.12.13 at 9:10 pm }

Hi Dave, Thank you again, so very much for all the help. My hubbie and I are going on our first trip (since the 80′s) Jan 2/14 – Jan 9/14. We are staying at the polynesian at your recomendation. We are getting organized with our ‘desired meal events’. We will be travelling witha 7 year old (the trip’s for her)……a 2 year old, and all the grandparents. We were just looking on advise for itenerary on these dates…………since we’ll be arriving on a Thursday. We would like to do a Mickey’s breakfast character meal, a Aloha Dinner show, and maybe the Hoop-De-Doo review. Also, we would like to see the Illuminations at Epcot, Wishes at MK, and Fantasmic at HS. We’re trying to figure out how to build our itenerary around this? As you can tell from the age of our little ones, missing a few rides, won’t be the end of the earth….if that helps in the suggestions……… Thanks

22 Dave { 02.13.13 at 6:53 am }

Hi Jo-Ann! The first part of your visit–Jan 2 through Jan 4–will be wildly crowded…are you sure you want to arrive then?

Regarding an itinerary I won’t have anything tight to offer until Disney releases its January calendar, whihc it won’t do until mid-late June. I expect to see very different operating calendars over the two weeks that your trip partly covers, so it’ll be tricky.

If you simply want a starting point to plan (and daydream) with, take a look at this

Then get back to me in later June so we can nail this down!

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23 Mike { 04.17.13 at 10:00 pm }

Thanks for all your hard work. Cant wait till may to find out what the announcement is. You and josh do a helluva good job with peoples disney planning

24 Dave { 04.18.13 at 7:42 am }

Thanks Mike!

25 Donn { 07.09.13 at 6:47 pm }


Love your site! I have found some great ideas for our next trip to Disney World. I do have a question for you. I am looking to go to Disney World in December, the first couple weeks, but have not seen any deals that cover those weeks. Any idea when I can expect to see a deal for those weeks?

26 Dave { 07.10.13 at 8:55 am }

Hi Donn and thanks!!

Right now there’s no deals out beyond September. New ones may come out any day, but my guess is that we won’t see them until early August.

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27 Crystal B { 09.19.13 at 9:04 pm }

We finally have a finalized plan, 12/2-12/8 at the beach club, 10 day park pass w/hopper, and the dining plan, then onto wilderness lodge from 12/8-12/13, without dining plan. We are doing: 12/2 HS hopefully by noon, 12/3 AK cape May for dinner, 12/4 EP Akershus for breakfast, 12/5 MK in the morning then a break and then back by 6 for MVMCP, 12/6 free day w/ dinner at 1900 park fare at 6, 12/7 DD raglan road for late lunch then la nouba, 12/8 check out, drop off the bags, AK tusker house for late breakfast-1015, check in at the lodge and ohana for supper at 8, 12/9 HS sci-fi diner for lunch, 12/10 MK, 12/11 sea world and then whispering canyon for supper at 745, then maybe MK for fireworks, 12/12 EP w/garden grill at 345 for the candlelight processional by Dennis Haybert at 645, then 12/13 up at an ungodly hour to fly out at 722 for pa. Do you see any major problems or suggestions for the plan, we are 2 adults and a just turned12 year old, we plan to celebrate her bday, she turns 12 on 11/24(will we still be allowed to get her a b-day pin?), and our 5th anniversary which is 1/3.

28 Dave { 09.20.13 at 6:00 am }

Hi Crystal! This looks pretty good! One thought is to move Sea World to the weekend, as it tends to be better Sat-Mon. The othe ris to be sure to see Illuminations on 12/4 so you can leave Epcot on 12/12 right after thre [processional–to get some sleep!

Yes you can get birthday pins pretty much year round…

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29 Karen { 10.04.13 at 10:38 am }

We will be visiting Fl December 7 th thru 13th, we r purchasing the military 4 day tickets. Two adults one 8 year old. Do you recommend the extra purchasing of tickets for the Very Merry Christmas Party? Is is worth the extra money and what do we get with this extra $200 purchase?

30 Dave { 10.04.13 at 12:13 pm }

Karen, see this for the Party: The problem wiht the military salute 4 day tix is that ideally you really need 6 park days. MVMCP on another day, because of its short lines and the fact that you can typically get in at 4p–not 7p as the tickets will say–in effect gives you a fifth day for a little less money than buying one-day tickets.

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31 Corrina { 10.16.13 at 6:33 pm }

Your itinerary looks great, with lots of down time, which everyone forgets they’ll need. But I cannot believe you didn’t start people off at Magic Kingdom!

32 Chris { 01.21.14 at 2:21 pm }

I just entered “November 21 less 180 days” into Google the other day because I wanted to know what day would show up, however your website was the first selection! I can’t believe I didn’t hear about it earlier, & I can’t believe how helpful it is! Great job! I’ve researched a few family trips to DisneyWorld already, with good success. Your advice is even better than what I could find on my own!

My dilema: I would like to arrive at Disney on Nov 28, 2014 (Fri) this year for a 6 or 7 night stay. Three main reasons I want to arrive on Friday; 1. You recommend the week of Nov 29 as the #1 week this year. 2. My youngest daughter of three girls, turns 3 on Saturday Nov 29 (I wanted to save $ by checking in a standard room at Music or Art of Animation the day before she turns 3.) 3. The flight arrives in Orlando at 12:30pm on Friday, instead of at 9:30pm on the Saturday flight.

In your opinion, would I still be eligible to take advantage of possible discounted dining plan or resort prices because the majority of my vacation is after the busy “Thanksgiving Week”? Or because I’ve checked-in on the Friday instead of Saturday or Sunday, I won’t be eligible for the sale?

Thanks again for the awesome website!

33 Dave { 01.22.14 at 7:31 am }

Hey Chris, and thanks for the kind words! I had no idea that Google likes my 180 day calendar that much lol…

I’m gonna double check this with an expert (so check back here), but free dining and room rate deals work differently. For free dining, you have to arrive on an eligible date. For room rates, you can get the deal on any eligible night, even if you arrive before the deal.

That said, I don’t expect free dining your dates in 2014–as there was none those dates in 2013…

34 Dave { 01.22.14 at 8:11 am }

Chris, my expert says I am right about dining, but not so sure about room rate deals–he’s seen it go both ways…

He reminds me (what I should have remembered anyway!!) that either way, if you have to, you can always split into two reservations–one covering the ineligible dates, and the second beginning the first day you are eligible. You would then, after re-booking these two, cancel your original reservation. This adds complexity (perhaps you will need to change rooms)…

35 Jason { 02.15.14 at 2:30 pm }

looking for intinerary for sept 14-20, 2014. we have 5,4,2, and 1 year old going with us all girls. staying onsite and have meal plan. we are trying to plan ahead for character meals so we can make reservations as soon as we can. any help would be greatly appreciated.

36 Dave { 02.16.14 at 8:07 am }

Jason, my itineraries are all for older kids than yours. At those ages, I’d focus on the Magic Kingdom for 2-3 days, with a morning each at Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom.

I will be able to give you more precise advice on parks to target by day within a few days–as soon as Disney releases its September calendar, which could be as early as Monday afternoon.

So check back in a few days, OK?

37 Jason { 02.16.14 at 7:05 pm }

Thanks i will be checking back. we know we would like to see the parades and fireworks. we are also going to use your basic itinerary for that time frame with a few tweeks. we are going to visit all the parks so any help is greatly appreciated.

38 Dave { 02.17.14 at 10:37 am }

Jason, the basic itinerary is designed for just three weeks in late November and early December. Your starting point should be this itinerary: tho as noted I may have to offer changes based on the actual schedule then…

39 Jason { 02.23.14 at 2:36 pm }

Thanks again for your help! I will be checking back for updates on schedule.

40 Jason { 02.23.14 at 3:21 pm }

Could you also provide link to itinerary for Sunday arrival and Saturday departure for sept 14-20. Thanks again

41 Dave { 02.24.14 at 7:42 am }

Jason I don’t have an itinerary to link to for you–mine are all longer and designed for much older kids. But I can give you advice on which days to go to which parks, and how to spend those days. That’ll take a bit, and I’m about to run off to my real job, so I’ll get back to this later!

42 Dave { 02.25.14 at 5:57 pm }

Jason, those dates MK will be best the 14th, 16th, and 19th. Ak is best the 16th, and HS the 17th.

You can use this to target rides and Josh’s cheat sheets– the “character” ones–to lay out your days here:

43 Jason { 02.28.14 at 9:08 am }

Thanks! now the fun begins trying to plan it and make everyone happy

44 Dave { 02.28.14 at 12:38 pm }


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