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



b. How Long to Stay

By Dave Shute

How Long to Stay      Other Trip Lengths      Itinerary Design Goals

Designing Your Own Itinerary        Shorter Itineraries

HOW MANY DAYS TO SPEND AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

How Long to Visit Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netPlan to spend 9 days in Orlando, arriving late morning or early afternoon on a Saturday and departing in the late afternoon or evening of the following Sunday.

This amount of time balances the time needed to fully appreciate the 4 theme parks (6ish days) with time for breaks from the parks, while fitting into a typical “week off from work.”

If you can’t stay this long, see Other Trip Lengths.

This schedule gives you 7 full days and two partial days in Orlando. The basic itinerary (see this for details) has you spending part or all of 7 days in the parks, with one full day off, two additional mornings off, and one additional afternoon break.

For those with difficult budget or transportation challenges, the time in Orlando can be shortened to 8,  7, or even 6 days: a late-morning arrival day, a late afternoon departure day, and 4 to 6 full days–but only at the cost of making what is already a steady pace a hectic one.

See Other Trip Lengths for details on shorter Disney World trips.

MORE ON HOW LONG TO STAY AT WALT DISNEY WORLD



71 comments

1 Melissa O { 09.09.11 at 11:47 am }

Hi Dave,
I love all the addivce you have given. I am planning on taking my 5 year old daughter to WDW next year. My question to you is when should we go? We will have a small buget, and we want to stay on the resort this time. I went with my husband 3 years ago in October and it was nice but still pretty hot. What would you sugest?

2 Dave { 09.10.11 at 2:49 pm }
3 Aaron { 11.14.11 at 5:10 pm }

Hi Dave,

Great site you’ve got going here. Just had a few questions. I am planning on visiting Orlando with my girlfriend mid January 2012. We are lucky that we can spend up to 10 or 11 days in Orlando to check out all the Disney theme parks and Universal Studio theme parks. Wanted a suggestion which theme parks to visit first, what park hopper tickets to get and if it is worth it to stay in a Disney resort hotel or to stay outside the Disney resort and save some cash.

Since Orlando is filled with theme parks, is it wise to rent a car if staying out side the Disney resorts or just depend on shuttle and public transport? I would think parking would be a nightmare and would be pay parking.

Doing some research I see that some theme parks would require to visit twice to see everything, I am not keen on this and would like to see one theme park per day, maybe alternate between a Disney theme park and a Universal theme park. What would you suggest.

Looking forward to your suggestions and looking forward to seeing Orlando

4 Dave { 11.15.11 at 4:32 am }

Hi Aaron. Regarding whihc to see first, Disney is more crowded Sat-Mon, which means Universal is less crowded then. So I’d frame the basics around that, and then avoid whichever Disney park has morning extra magic hours. The Magic Kingdom needs two days, and Epcot may. You don’t need park hoppers for Disney–with the time you have there’s no need to hop.

You won’t have any luck with public transport, and shuttles can be expensive and inconveninet. I think you are best off staying off site and renting a car.

5 Chinero { 11.15.11 at 10:07 am }

I’m planning a trip to WDW May 20, 2012 – May 27, 2012 for a family of six ages 8, 11, 14, 38, 38, 70. We are following your advice and staying at the All Star Music resort & following your Autumn Spring Winter Itenerary. Do I need park hopper passes? Anything new I need to know? This is our first trip to WDW or any major theme Park.

6 Dave { 11.16.11 at 9:37 am }

Hi Chinero! If you follow one of this site’s itineraries–ie a modified version of this one, which is for a Saturday arrival http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/itineraries-for-the-rest-of-the-year/v2-of-2009-autumn-winter-spring-itinerary/ then you can also use its to-do list–see http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/to-do-list/to-do-lists-for-alternative-itineraries/to-do-list-v2-of-2009-autumn-winter-spring-itinerary/

This itin has you hopping one night. If you modify it so you don’t need ot hop, then you can skip the park hopper ticket add-on.

7 Paula { 02.16.12 at 11:06 am }

Hi Dave,
Thanks for all you do. My husband and I want to take our 2 sons (7&11) to Disneyworld April 14-17 or April 21-24 arriving on Sat and leaving on Tuesday. During those times which day is best for Magic Kingdom n which is best for Universal as to the less crowded days.

THanks
Paula

8 Dave { 02.16.12 at 12:03 pm }

Hi Paula! First, I’d pick your later dates, as on the earlier ones you may hit the last day or two of the post Easter crowds.

Disney World is busiest Saturday through Monday, which makes those good days for Universal. The best day in your ranges for Magic Kingdom is Tuesday, with Monday the next best day.

Hope this helps and have a great trip!

9 Bianca { 03.07.12 at 10:49 am }

Hi Dave,
I just came across this site. I’ve been to Disney World numerous times and I’m thinking of going again this summer with my kids (boy, girl ages 11 & 12) they have already been 4 times. I can only go the 2nd or 3rd week in August. This trip I wanted to do Disney, Seaworld and Universal. My kids are not thrill seekers and I’m worried they might not enjoy Universal. However, they definitely want to visit Seaworld. I was thinking of purchasing a 2 day waterpark and more Disney ticket and a one day ticket to Seaworld and Universal. What do you think? How many days should we stay and is staying on Disney property feasible? Should I split my stay half on Disney property-half at a hotel closer to Seaworld? Thank you for your help.

10 Dave { 03.07.12 at 12:50 pm }

Hi Bianca…yup, other than Harry Potter, there’s not much at Univeral for kids that age who do not like thrill rides.

If you want to do Harry Potter, stay at a Universal hotle at least one night so you can use its early entry privileges–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2009/12/13/summary-of-instructions-for-your-first-family-visit-to-the-wizarding-world-of-harry-potter/ and this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/07/12/review-loews-royal-pacific-resort-at-universal-orlando/ That also puts you closer to Sea World. Note that you get two days of early entry for one night in the hotel–the morning you check in (you can get your keys at 7a, tho of course your room won’t be ready then 🙂 ) and the day you check out.

You know better than I how many Disney days you want…I’d think at least one for each of the kids’ favorite parks…keep in mind that both those weeks are pretty crowded, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/01/22/august-2012-at-walt-disney-world/

11 chereen { 03.29.12 at 5:36 pm }

Hi dave I’m planning my wdw vaca in may 13-22 2013 . Does disney still have their
pal mickey doll that tours around the kingdoms acting like a gps the last i heard about them was back in 2004.

12 Dave { 03.29.12 at 5:47 pm }

Hi Chereen! Pal Mickey was discontinued in 2008–see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pal_Mickey

13 JULIE { 04.12.12 at 3:20 pm }

Hi Dave. We are planning our Familys first Disney trip Oct 12-22. My question is we are arriving on a Friday early afternoon, we are not staying on property but very close by. I have read on your site that we should start at Epcot. My question is, should we still start at Epcot even though it is the food and wine festival? My kids will be 7 and 13 at the time of the trip. We are planning on spending 7 days at the disney parks. Any advice you have would be very helpful.

14 Dave { 04.12.12 at 3:40 pm }

Hi Julie!

It’s “Epcot first” because younger kids–e.g. your 7yo–are often disappointed by it compared to the other parks, so doing it before them means they see it fresh and fairly without comparisons, so I’d still do it first. Food and Wine has little impact on the ride lines, so don’t worry about that…

For your 7 days, a couple of thoughts:

Given all the time you have, try to avoid the parks on Saturday/Sunday/Monday, as they are the busiest days at WDW.

Avoid parks on days they have extra magic hours

Hope this helps and have a great trip!!

15 Amanda Byron { 04.18.12 at 5:23 pm }

Hi there!! What a wonderful page you have! My husband and I are planning our family of 5’s 1st Disney trip. (NONE of us have been if you can believe it, so we are excited!) As of right now we are thinking somewhere between Oct 13- the 27th (probably end up being there for a week give or take) I chose that timeframe per your suggestions. My question is, do you think it’s wise to bring my youngest child? My childrens ages at the time of the trip will be 8, 6 and 14months. Are there accomidations for families with infant/toddlers? or would it be more of a hassle than its worth to bring her along? It seems that heat and crowds wont come into play, so if you know any tips or have suggestions I would GREATLY appreciate it!!! I also want to add that Im unsure if we will stay there or with my cousin who lives in Orlando, which would get me the best bang for my buck? (I know there are packages, etc) Thanks so much!!!
Amanda

16 Dave { 04.19.12 at 8:14 am }

Hi Amanda and thanks!

I may sound heartless, but if you can leave your 14 month old with a babysitter you will have a much better trip. While you can work around a baby at WDW, it’s much easier not to have to…

Regarding where to stay…it’s partly a question of where you’d stay if you did not stay at your cousin’s, how far your cousin is from WDW, and if you’d rent a car if you stayed with them. You’d almost certainly save money at your cousins, but with car rental and parking not perhaps as much as you think– especially if your next best choice is a value resort…

17 Jeff Hunt { 07.15.12 at 2:57 am }

Hi Dave. I’m starting to plan my 3rd WDW visit using your site, so thanks for that! I have a family of 4 (girls age 12 & 5) and we’re considering an 8-night stay at a moderate WDW resort sometime between April 3-20, 2013. Based on your charts, I know this is a fairly good time of year to go. But since I have some flexibility on days, I wondered is there any particular day of the week you would recommend to start the WDW visit? Your sample 8 day itineraries start on a Saturday, but you also mention WDW is busiest on weekends. Would it be better to start on, say, a Wednesday so you get only 1 Saturday but 2 Wednesdays? Maybe I’m looking into too much, but it was just a thought.

If you can, I also wonder if you have any advice about dealing with diabetes in WDW? My 12 year old was recently diagnoised with Type 1 Diabetes (insulin shots, etc.) and this will be our first trip since, so we are a little nervous about how that will change things.

18 Dave { 07.15.12 at 9:25 am }

Hi Jeff, and glad the site has helped!

First, on the diabetes front, buy and read this: buy and read this book: PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges You will find yourself quite reassured.

Second, given your schedule flexibility, don’t even consider arriving until after April 6, because the Easter crowds won;t be gone til then. Any you are right–to minimize both crowds and prices, an early week arrival (e.g. the 7th) is the best choice…

19 Ashleigh { 08.21.12 at 4:12 pm }

Hi Dave, planning a trip for my sone next november 2013, looking at arriving the Sunday after Thanksgiving and staying 4-5 days. I know Disney did a meal plan this year for that week,. think they will again? Should i go ahead and skip the meal plan option now and wait till they release the info? Or if I book will I get refunded?

20 Dave { 08.21.12 at 5:59 pm }

Hi Ashleigh, there’s no telling if they’ll do it again next year–it depends on the economy and its implications for Disney hotel occupancy rates…but if I had to bet, I’d bet they’d do it for that week.

You can get the deal and your dining plan refunded if they offer it and your hotel and arrival dates are eligible, so if you are gonna do the dining plan either way, go ahead and book it!

21 Janet { 09.07.12 at 4:36 pm }

Dave – We are planning a trip to Orlando with our 5 (boy) and 4 (girl) year old grandchildren Nov. 4 – Nov. 7. We were planning on 2 days at Disney. Could you please advise as to which days will be best to go & where & an itinerary. Thanks for your help.

22 Dave { 09.08.12 at 10:33 am }

Hi Janet, with kids that age, you can go focus on just the Magic Kingdom. The best 2 days in your window will be 6th and 7th. I don’t have an itinerary that short, or for kids that young, but you can start with the Magic Kingdom days here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/itineraries-for-the-rest-of-the-year/v2-of-2009-autumn-winter-spring-itinerary/ and edit them based on this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/

23 Maria { 11.23.12 at 7:33 pm }

Hi Dave,

Very informative site! We’re planning our 1st family trip during Christmas break in 2013 (not going to take kids out of school, so we accept that it’ll be high season pricing). We honeymooned at WDW in 1999, so it’ll be exciting to come back as a family. Our kids will be 10 (boy) & 8 (girl), but our daughter is special needs (non-mobile & non-verbal). She has a wheelchair, but the problem we have is sleeping arrangements. She’s at risk for falling and simple bed rails aren’t sufficient, so we need something low to the ground. Is there anything that can be done? Any recommendations on dates as well? We want to do the holidays on a budget.

I’m going to get the Pass Porter book, since our son has ADHD, and I know it’ll be helpful.

24 Dave { 11.24.12 at 2:26 pm }

Hi Maria! Prices go way up in the second half of December. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/09/04/walt-disney-world-2013-price-seasons/ and for my recommendations see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/09/19/2013-weeks-to-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-in-order/ Off hand I can’t think of any normal bed that will help with your daughter, but would bringing an air mattress work?

25 Liss { 01.07.13 at 2:10 pm }

Hello!

My husband and I are looking to take our 2 daughters (5 & 8) in May for 5-6 nights…is there a savings we could benefit from if we don’t stay over a weekend?? Would it make a difference Thu – Tue, Mon – Fri or any other combination?

Thanks!

26 Dave { 01.07.13 at 6:09 pm }

Hi Lisa!

Many, but not all, of the Disney hotels have two rates within a price season, one for Sunday-Thurs nights and one for Fri and Sat. So if you minimize the number of Fri/Sat nights you book you will save if you are in one of these hotels

If you didn’t already know, note also that there’s a deal that covers your dates—see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/01/03/new-walt-disney-world-discount-mid-february-through-mid-june-2013/

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27 joree326 { 01.16.13 at 3:38 pm }

In regards to Maria’s question about a bed for her daughter, I wanted to mention that the Port Orleans-Riverside resort (Bayou section) use to have trundle beds in some of the rooms that were just inches off the floor. This may be an option to consider if they are still available. I hope this helps.

28 Dave { 01.16.13 at 3:57 pm }

Hi Joree and thanks! The trundle beds are now gone, replaced by a short Murphy bed that unfolds from the TV cabinet–see http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/11/19/review-port-orleans-riverside-alligator-bayou-rooms/

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29 Stephanie { 01.17.13 at 2:15 pm }

Hi Dave, my husband and I want to take our son next January to Disney for his 5th Birthday. Do you think we should start planning a year in advance? Also, I have seen you do not recommend January due to ride closures, but I am pretty sure we will be returning to Disney in a couple of years, so what week in January do you recommend? Thanks for such a helpful site, it’s amazing!

30 Dave { 01.18.13 at 7:22 am }

Hi Stephanie, and thanks!

You need to plan early enough to be able to make your dining reservations 180 days before your arrival. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-your-plans-need-to-be-firm/

For January, just arrive after MLK day (1/20/14) and you’ll be fine!

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31 Albert { 02.09.13 at 12:57 am }

Hi again Dave. We plan to arrive at the Art of Animation on Thursday April 25th for 6 nights. What do you suggest we do on our first day there and the last day. We’re travleing by plane from Toronto and we should be there by 1pm. Thanks again for your help.

32 Dave { 02.09.13 at 2:16 pm }

Hi Albert, all my itineraries suggest Epcot the first evening, and either MK or downtown Disney the last morning. Ticket days after the first three cost very little (about $11/person/day), so going to the parks on travel days makes a lot of sense. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/06/03/disney-world-ticket-prices-2012-to-summer-2013/

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33 Heather { 05.06.13 at 1:42 am }

Hi, great site! I am taking my 9 yr old for his first Disney trip in November, I think. I can stay any amount of time and days. I am staying in the park, so my question is, I would like to go to Seaworld. I know it is not close, should I plan a day and rent a car? Any other ways to do it? I want to use disney shuttle to get back and forth from the airport so the Seaworld trip has to be within the time we are there, not after our trip or anything, thanks for any ideas!

34 Dave { 05.06.13 at 12:54 pm }

Hi Heather and thanks! The most straightforward way to do Sea World is to rent a car the night before. It’s simpler than you might think–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/02/28/renting-a-car-at-walt-disney-world/

The best days at Sea World tend to be the weekend and Monday–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2009/12/15/when-to-go-to-the-wizarding-world-of-harry-potter/ (about Harry Pottter, but applies ot all the non-Disney parks).

Other options include getting a cab, or arranging with someone like Mears for a shuttle…

With your “any amount of days and time”–cool! See this, and add two days–one for Sea World, and then another off day: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/how-long-to-stay/

Hope this helps!!

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35 Wendy { 05.25.13 at 3:00 pm }

OK, Dave, we are coming up to our 180 day window! Very exciting! I would like to run our plan by you…we are planning Magic Kingdom first since we have young kids in our group and they might focus on that many days, and for our kids, Epcot and Animal Kingdom are what they are most excited about!

Here is the plan…

Our trip for 10 people is Nov 23 – 29th this year. We will be staying at Wilderness Lodge. We have people 5 – 67 in our group – it will be so fun!

We are planning on one reservation a day – since we are a large group at such a busy time of year…here is the plan!

Sunday – no early hours – Magic Kingdom
princess make-overs at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for the three girls in the AM – 10 or
11? for three girls
Be Our Guest – dinner reservation – as early as possible
We might NOT be able to get this…many report they cannot get one even in the first
minutes. What should be our backup?
Cinderella’ s Royal Table – it is pricey, but we are up for it if that looks better than
Akershus or if we want to do 2 character meals.

other ideas? Liberty Tree? Plaza?

Monday – early Animal Kingdom
if it gets too busy…Epcot – mid-day
lunch – Yak & Yeti at AK

Tuesday – Hollywood Studios
back to Animal Kingdom

??? for all? our son would like the Sci-Fi Drive-in at HS, I think…but may not be
a hit for all 10 of us. What do you think?
We loved the Brown Derby at HS 15 years ago (before kids!) – but again, not sure
it is a fit for all

Wednesday – Epcot
breakfast 10ish – Akershus Banquet (Character Meal – our only one?)

Thursday – nothing?
early – Magic Kingdom?
lunch – Whispering Canyon Cafe at our hotel
dinner – Artist Point at our hotel

Friday – early Epcot??
Magic Kingdom??

head the airport about 3:00 PM…

Any comments? Ideas?

As always, thanks for taking time to help us plan well for a wonderful trip!

Wendy

36 Dave { 05.25.13 at 3:16 pm }

Hi Wendy, looks good! My main comment is that the back-up to BOG should be Crystal Palace. BOG has a wonderful setting going for it, but limited food options of appeal to kids. Crystal Palace is a buffet, so all can find something to delight in…and everyone loves Winnie the Pooh!

At HS, Sci-Fi is an adequate choice. Brown Derby likely will be too boring for the kids, and high-priced. The fun of 50’s Prime Time works much better with smaller tables–e.g. 4 or 5…

Hope this helps…

37 Wendy { 05.25.13 at 7:13 pm }

Thanks – just the help I needed…

Wendy

38 Tracy { 05.28.13 at 12:09 pm }

Dave, We will be going to Disney for the first time with our boys 4 1/2 and 81/2 during Christmas Break this year!!! I know this is the busiest time of the year but it works for our schedule!! We are arriving early the 27th of December and leaving late evening on the 4th of January. Please give me some planning advise if you have time! We would like to make reservations for 1 meal a day. Also when do the New Years Eve festivities becuase available? Will the Dining plan cover that meal for New Years? Is there a list of the buffets that are covered? We are staying at Carribean resort a pirate room of course.

39 Dave { 05.29.13 at 6:48 am }

Well, Tracy, you’ll be facing 3 hour waits and park closings…I would strongly urge finding other dates.

But if you are set on these, then this itinerary (which includes dining suggestions) is a pretty good fit: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/12/06/summer-itinerary-for-walt-disney-world-v2/ It’s called “Summer Itinerary” but is in fact a “High Crowd Itinerary.”

There’s no special tickets for the New Year’s Eve events. You–and hundreds of thousands of others–just show up with standard park tickets, and you reserve meals like on any other day.

Finally…and I may seem like a meanie but I’m just calling them as I see them–the Pirates rooms are the worst rooms at CB. CB is already a remarkably convenient resort, and the Pirate Rooms are the most inconvenient rooms there–see this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/04/12/review-the-pirate-rooms-at-disneys-caribbean-beach-resortresort/

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40 Tracy { 06.23.13 at 10:33 pm }

Hi Dave,
I am traveling to DW for the very first time the first week of Dec 2014 with 10 people. We would like to stay at a Disney resort and would like to know when would be the soonest we could make reservations. We are all adults, youngest is 16 two 18 one 20 one 21 one 23 to 45 and two seniors needing mobility help. Any suggestions for my crazy group? Look forward to hearing from you.

41 Dave { 06.24.13 at 7:32 am }
42 Ryan { 10.23.13 at 9:45 pm }

I am planning on taking my family on our first Disney trip together. I have been to Disney world 4 times, my wife once. I have two boys that will be 7 and 5 at the time. We are taking your advice and going during one of the weeks in December. My question is what type of dining would be best since we won’t be doing any princess events. Also what itinerary should we follow if I am thinking about a Tuesday-Tuesday trip? My boys want to stay at the cars hotel. Any advice on room? We are AAA members. My wife doesn’t like the thought of animal kingdom, should we even go? My kids love Star Wars, pirates, Pixar. Your site is great. I appreciate any help. Should we book this far in advance or wait and see. Thanks again

43 Dave { 10.24.13 at 7:36 am }

Ryan first book your dining now or you will be shut out entirely!

As you note, my itinerary won’t quite work. Not only does it have different start and end days, but also it’s longer and aimed at older kids.

BTW I have several itineraries-this is the one designed for the first 2/3 of December: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/basic-itinerary-daily-links/

The simplest fix is

1. Start it on Tuesday with what it shows as Tuesday, and then as the weekend rolls around fill back in with the Saturday and Sunday stuff at the beginning
2. With the ages of your kids, and your trip being shorter, cut the Epcot time, and use this to filter out some of the more scary rides http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/
3. Don’t skip Animal Kingdom–whatever your wife is imagining it is, she’s not right. Better to experience it and then not like it than to assume you won’t.
4. Kill Cinderella but keep Akershus…
5. See this for more on the Cars rooms: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/08/28/photo-tour-of-a-cars-family-suite-at-disneys-art-of-animation-resort/ Request a lake view room on an upper floor

Was this even remotely helpful?

Well then mosey on over to the home page, and like it on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest!

44 Carla { 02.10.14 at 7:40 pm }

Hi Dave…..I just found your site. What a wealth of information! Our family will be in Orlando from July 15-25, 2014 . I know it is a very busy time of year but we are extending a family cruise and these are the only dates that work. My kids are 12 and 14 so we can break up the parks to get a reprieve from heat and crowds. I was going to buy a 7 day park hopper with water parks added on. Does this sound right? Do you know anything about the Wyndham Buenaa Vista resort? I found some places on verbose.com that look really nice (we aren’t interested in the timeshare but these are rented from owner). I really like lots of space and a cooking facility when I travel. Do you recommend renting a car or just using shuttles? I was looking a at “mouse savers” website to book tickets if you think his is a reliable site. This trip might break the bank but I want to do it right and have some time to relax. We are from Vancouver Canada and have done Disneyland before. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated. Thanks so much for your assistance. Carla

45 Dave { 02.11.14 at 7:54 am }

Hi Carla! I’m not keen on staying off site, especially during busy times, but it can be less expensive. You will need a car, and you’ll have to pay for parking. For a trip that long, you don’t really need a hopper, and the “waterparks” option is overpriced unless you think you’ll go to the waterparks–which will be just as crowded–twice or more. I don’t have much to say about the lodging options you raised as I can barely keep up with the WDW hotels…and Mousesavers.com is a great source of good deals!

46 Ann { 03.06.14 at 12:29 am }

Hi Dave,

What a wonderful website you’ve created.

My family and I are planning to visit Orlando in May. We can go anytime from May 3 – 17.

This is our first time to Orlando and Disneyworld; and we do not plan to return again. In addition to Disney World, we would also like to visit the Kennedy Space Center and spend a day at the beach.

My husband does not ride (motion sickness) and my son is only 7 1/2 years old. Any guidance that you can give regarding which parks to visit and in which order would be great. We love Harry Potter and Star Wars.

For accommodations, we prefer more up to date hotels and more spacious rooms. We are considering the Hilton Doubletree. Would you recommend it or is there a better choice for us.

Thank you in advance for your help.

47 Dave { 03.06.14 at 8:41 am }

Hi Ann!

First, I only attend to the Disney hotels, so can’t comment on the Doubletree. My advice is to stay on property, as that way you can make FastPass+ selections before your arrival. My hotel rankings are here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/ Based on what you’ve noted, the Contemporary would be a good–though expensive–choice.

Your son is old enough to enjoy pretty much everything. For Disney that translates into a 9 day trip, and adding Harry Potter would add a day, as would KSC.

Example itineraries for May are linked to from here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/

If you are Star Wars fans, you need to know about Star Wars Weekends https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/hollywood-studios/star-wars-weekend/

48 Savannah { 05.25.14 at 12:23 pm }

We will have five people going on the trip with us. We are on a budget but planned to stay on a WDW property. It seems that we can only book a suite for five people but that does not work for our budget. Is there anyway we can book a four person room to help save on cost (we would bring an air mattress for the fifth person)?
Thank you for this wonderful site!

49 Dave { 05.26.14 at 7:41 am }

Savannah, for any number of reasons–no room ticket, no FastPass+, the risk you take of being evicted–the air mattress won’t work well. To fit five for the least money, aim for either two value resort rooms, or, if one of your party is short enough, a five person Alligator Bayou room: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/11/19/review-port-orleans-riverside-alligator-bayou-rooms/

50 Kristen { 07.04.14 at 2:50 am }

What an incredible site you have and you are AMAZING at responding! A rare quality indeed. (I LOVE your advice about 1st day at Epcot. Definitely taking note of that and agree!!)

We are planning a DisneyWorld Feb 2-5 with our 5 year old daughter. We will be driving from TX (have done this previously when she was 13months). We want to stay on site with some character (pun intended) to the room. I know we are nearing the 180 day mark and
When do they start releasing any “specials” or discounts for Feb dates, if any?
Are there are any dining deals during that time? We have gone full-on dining there with no plan (honeymoon) to almost-no-dining there (her trip at 13months). Just not sure what the best options – I’m all about bringing my own food for lunch, having snacks on us, eating breakfast at room, etc. but I also want the best for my $$ when we spend within the park.
Princesses… we want to do Cinderella’s breakfast and the Boutique… any others that a 5 year old Disney-loving-princess-obsessed girl needs to have in her repertoire?
We plan on 4-5 days of actual parks… do we *need* the park-hopper for any reason?
I will read up more on your site and again and am thrilled to see such fine responses from you to those of us who are so needy when it comes to Disney wisdom. 🙂
Thanks!!

51 Dave { 07.04.14 at 8:33 am }

Hi Kristen and thanks!!! I wouldn’t expect to see any deals for then until December or so, and don’t expect to see free dining in 2015 til August–but do think you’ll get a room rate deal. Note that booking now won’t preclude your ability to try for a room rate deal later. And with a five year old and 4-5 ticket days, I don’t think a hopper is needed.

The value of the dining plan varies, but it makes the most sense for families with lotsa kids under ten who are planning a lot of one credit character meals. Cindy is a two credit meal, and is cheaper in cash than using two credits (unless you would otherwise return home with an un-used credit, or throw a credit away on something you don’t really want to do but are doing just to absorb the credit.) One credit princessy meals worth considering are Akershus at Epcot (see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/10/31/review-princess-dining-at-akershus/ ) and 1900 Park Fare at the Grand FLoridian (see the mini-review later on this page: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/05/22/review-disneys-grand-floridian-resort-spa-page-3/ )

And no you don’t need a hopper with that many days!

There’s a couple of room options that are princessy–Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation (expensive for a value, rarely discounted) http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/23/review-standard-little-mermaid-rooms-disneys-art-animation-resort/ and Royal Rooms at POR (expensive for a moderate) http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/12/30/review-royal-rooms-port-orleans-riverside/

Hope this helps!!

52 Sarah { 09.25.14 at 12:11 pm }

We are from St. Louis and are going to Florida in Nov/Dec. We are staying in Daytona Beach for a couple days and arriving in Orlando on November 28th and leaving December 6th. My husband and I have two boys – 12 & 9 yrs old. I would like to know what parks you think they would spend the most time at and if a 4 day park hopper would be a good choice. We would also like to spend a day at Sea World and hopefully 1 or 2 days at Universal. We are staying at Bonnet Creek Resort (Staying with my parents and 2 nephews, this saves us from having to pay for lodging). We are on a limited budget but are trying to get the most out of the trip. Don’t know if we will be able to get back while the kids are still young. I have been to disney when I was 12 (about 24 yrs ago, lol), but my husband and children never have been. So I would appreciate any advice/itineraries that you can give me.
Thanks, Sarah

53 Dave { 09.26.14 at 6:56 am }

Sarah, I think they will like all the DIsney parks, and advise six days at them. I don’t have any shorter itineraries, but you can find one and two day park touring plans in my book The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit:

54 Kyla { 10.05.14 at 8:14 pm }

Hi Dave! I have reservations at Pop for nov 18-25, traveling for first time (driving 6-7 hours) with a 1 and 5 year old. Im debating on lessening stay to 20-25, debating on adding park hopper, and not sure what days to visit which parks. I did buy the Mickey Xmas party tix for Friday 21st. Advice please! Thank u in advance 🙂

55 Dave { 10.06.14 at 8:34 am }

Kyla, the 22nd and on will be pretty lousy from the Thanksgiving crowds, so if anything I’d try to move earlier rather than later.

Kids that age can enjoy a trip focused entirely on the Magic Kingdom. Your two month window for FastPass+ has already opened, so I’d advise sharpening your dates right now then getting back to me with them, and I’ll suggest parks and dates.

I don’t have daily plans on this site for kids that young, but you can find them in my book, at the end of Chapter 6: The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit

56 Kyla { 10.06.14 at 8:45 pm }

Ok so def dates will be nov 18-25, wish i can move it sooner but my husband cant with work :-/. Thanks agaim!

57 Dave { 10.07.14 at 6:51 am }

Kyla as noted try to push your park visits to before the 23rd.

The 18th avoid MK and Epcot
The 19th avoid AK
The 20th avoid Mk unless you get there early, well before EMH starts at 7a
The 21st avoid Epcot
The 22nd avoid MK and HS
The 23rd avoid MK and AK
The 24th avoid MK and HS
the 25th avoid Epcot

58 Meghan F { 04.06.15 at 11:27 am }

Hi Dave
Just found your site and it’s awesome. I am by no means a Disney expert, but I have been several times and consider myself moderately WDW savvy. We are planning a big family trip for Fall 2016 for my three boys and one daughter, who will be 17, 14, 11 and almost 5 then. Since this is likely the only trip we’ll ever take with them as “kids”, we’re hoping to make the most of it (our oldest will be a senior by then). We love the water parks, probably won’t waste much time on parades, are hoping to utilize a meal plan and character meals for the little princess to get her character fix and are considering either Art of Animation or one of the All Stars. My questions are this:which hotels sleep 6 for a reasonable price AND you recommend, do you foresee any obvious challenges (besides wildly divergent interests lol), and when should I book? I understand I can book as soon as this month for a Sept ’16 arrival, but the rates are not set. Is this wise? Is it easy to apply a special if one comes up after the fact? Thanks so much for all your effort. You help make magic happen!

59 Dave { 04.08.15 at 8:38 am }

Hi Meghan and thanks for the kind words!!

As you note, there’s two “reasonable” options for 6: Family Suites at All-Star Music and at Art of Animation. Links to reviews of both are here. The Music review in particular goes through the pros and cons of both types. Think about who will sleep where!

These suites are unlikely to sell out so there’s no rush to book them…

60 lisa { 04.23.15 at 2:30 pm }

Hi, I am trying to decide on an itinerary for Nov 2105. We are looking at dates anywhere from Nov7 thru Nov 17. We are flying in from Arizona so our 1st and last day are travel days only. We may be able to get in a dinner the 1st night. We want to spend 5 or 6 days in the parks and also want hopper passes and water park. We went about 7 yrs ago and everyone loved the water park and wants to go again. Not sure how to organize all of this. We have a total of 8 (2 adults, 2 college age, 16,15,12,6) so the older kids may want to hop around more and not follow an itinerary. planning to spend 2 days at MK, 2 at Epcot, and 1 split AK/HS, or 1 AK, 1 HS depending on if we can get enough days off. Can you let me know based on the dates which parks to avoid and any tips with everything we want to accomplish? Thanks!!!

61 Dave { 04.24.15 at 8:05 am }

Lisa, for parks to avoid by day see this

62 Lois M { 07.04.15 at 2:57 pm }

Hi Dave! Thanks for your website. I am getting lots of good info on it. However, my husband and I have a few questions as we plan our trip to Disney World next fall with our family of 10. (My husband and I, our daughters and their families – kids ages next fall will be 9, 7, 6, and 1.) We are thinking 3 rooms at Pop Century, Art of Animation, or Caribbean Beach resort so everyone has their own space. Your recommendation?
We are also planning on a few days at the parks (with Park Hopper?) and a short Disney cruise.
Can you advise us on how to best use our week to get the parks and a cruise in?
Is it recommended to book directly online on the Disney website or perhaps with a AAA agent since we’re members?
Is there a discount for teachers? My daughter and I are both teachers in Missouri.
One last question for now… is it worth the money to get a Disney meal plan?

63 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 07.06.15 at 9:16 am }

Hi Lois,

I’m Kelly, the dedicated Destinations in Florida agent for YourFirstVisit. It sounds like you have the makings of a wonderful family vacation. I would love to help you with all your Disney vacation planning (and remember my services are FREE). I would love to answer your questions and spend some time talking about specifics of traveling with a group such as your family. Please contact me at kellyb@destinationsinflorida.com or 980-429-4499.

64 Dave { 07.07.15 at 7:48 am }

Hi Lois!

Any of those resorts would be a good choice. Reviews of each are linked to from here.

I don’t focus on cruises, so can’t really comment on that. Five full days in the parks is pretty much the minimum–2 at MK, one at each of the others. A park hopper is usually not necessary if your visit is long enough.

There’s no teacher discount.

The Disney dining plan can be a good deal for families a. with lotsa kids between 3 and 9 who b. plan to book a lot of buffets/character meals.

65 Tatum { 11.15.15 at 9:28 am }

Do they ever do any thing special for thanksgiving

66 Dave { 11.17.15 at 11:17 am }

Tatum, there’s a number of special meals –they may all be booked up– see this: https://www.undercovertourist.com/blog/thanksgiving-dinner-at-disney-world/

67 Sameh { 03.14.16 at 2:28 pm }

Hi dave,
Thanks for the good info in ur site.
I’m planning to visit orlando with my wife and 4 years kid in july I know it is very busy.
I’ll stay for 9 days on budget and want to visit all 4 disney parks , discovery cove , seaworld. I want to know how can I arrange the days and whether it deserves to add disney water parks or discovery cove is enough.
I’m also planning to visit miami for 2-3 days extra. Whats ur advise for the suitable time for miami whether at the end or in between disney.

68 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 03.14.16 at 8:55 pm }

Hi Sameh – I would plan the Miami portion of your trip at the beginning. After spending your days and nights filled with so much magic and fun, to go to quite and laid back might be somewhat of a “let down” especially to a little one. They’ll be expecting more of the same.

The Water Park Fun and More option could be a great option. It’s a one time fee. It will be equal to your the number of days of park tickets you have. So if you have 5 days of park tickets, you’ll also have 5 entitlements to the water parks (and more). You can use them on different days or the same days you visit the parks.

I would love to help you book your vacation. You can contact me at KellyB@DestinationsinFlorida.com. We’ll create the Magical Disney vacation of your dreams.

69 Dave { 03.15.16 at 8:32 am }

Sameh, I have no real opinions on Miami. July crowds are heavy every day at WDW, but weekends are a bit worse. I think one waterpark is fine! For help picking your July park days, see this.

70 Jessica { 05.20.16 at 3:27 pm }

Hello,
Ive been reading through and love all the advice. We will be heading to Orlando 5/29-6/5. It will be myself and husband who went to Disney as kids and our 3 year old son. I’m 30 weeks pregnant but walk a lot and am active. We are deciding on how many days and what activities to do. I’m debating between 2, 3 or 4 days. I know we want to do Magic Kingdom for sure but am open after that- thinking Animal Kingdom and then thought some other activities in Orlando to allow ensure downtime for the beaches, gold and time at the water resort on site at the hotel. How many days do you recommend and which parks / activities are must include for our party? Other advice besides bring water, snacks and a stroller?!

71 Dave { 05.25.16 at 9:03 am }

Jessica, first sorry it’s taken me so long to respond–I’ve been off at my son’s wedding. At that age a few days at MK and a half day at AK and HS make sense. My ride advice on this site is for much older kids, but take a look at this. You need to book your FastPass+ ASAP.

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