By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

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Instructions for Your First Visit to Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute



Follow the instructions that follow for your first family visit to Walt Disney World to save thousands of dollars, and avoid dozens of hours waiting in line, while seeing all the best of Walt Disney World!

Want a second opinion?  Then buy the book! you make great Disney World plans quickly!!1. When to Go to Walt Disney World:

If you can, arrive at Walt Disney World one of the first three Saturdays after Thanksgiving.      More…    Next best dates to go…

2. How Long to Stay:

You can have a wonderful trip spending as few as 5 days. However, if you can, be in Orlando for 9 days–a Saturday through a Sunday.    More…    Going for a shorter trip…

3. How Old/Tall Your Children Should be:

Kids of any age can have a wonderful time at Disney World. However, if this may be your kids’ only childhood visit, consider going when your youngest child is at least 8 or 9, and your shortest child at least 48 inches tall.      More…    Planning for going with younger/shorter kids…

4. Where to Stay at Walt Disney World:

Stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort if you can afford it, or at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort if you can’t.   More…    Next best resort options…

5. How Much to Budget:

You can have a wonderful first visit for $3,000 or less. However, to see all the best of Walt Disney World, budget if you can $8,400 if you are staying at the Polynesian, or $5,300 if at Art of Animation.    More…    Developing a much lower or a different budget…

6. When Your Plans Need to be Firm:

Your plans should be firm at least 181 days before your arrival date.      More…    Planning if it’s already later than that…

7. How to Eat at Walt Disney World:

Sign up for the “Magic Your Way Plus Dining” package. More…    Planning if you can’t do this package…

8. Where to Eat:

The Basic Itinerary tells you exactly where to eat (as do the Other Itineraries).      More…    Next best dining choices…

9. How to Spend Your Time at Walt Disney World:

The Basic Itinerary tells you exactly how to spend your time in Orlando (as do the Other Itineraries).      More…    Other Itineraries…

10. What to do When:

See the To-Do List for an exact list of what to do when to prepare for your trip.       More…    To-Do Lists for Other Itineraries…

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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1 Christine Gilbert { 11.11.17 at 9:36 am }

Me again:) are the itineraries available?
Hello Dave! We are travelling to WDW in April 2018 and will be in the parks 5 days between April 11-17. What itineraries can you recommend for then & what Parks should be avoided on which days? TIA

2 Dave { 11.14.17 at 11:39 am }

Hi Christine–so sorry it’s taken me so long to respond–I’m at Disney World right now and have been having fun while neglecting the site!
4/11 avoid MK
4/12 avoid Epcot
4/13 avoid MK
4/14 avoid MK and AK
4/15 avoid HS
4/16 avoid AK
4/17 avoid Epcot. 4/16 will be unusually good at MK, because it clioes early (at 6p) which tends to scare people off.

I have no five day itineraries on this site, but my book has one and two day itineraries for each park.

3 Jan { 11.28.17 at 10:59 am }

Hi Dave. Just wanted to say a big thank you to you for recommending visiting Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party while I was on holiday in October. I had a blast! I followed your plan and toured the park and rode rides until the fireworks and then watched the parade. The only thing I did wrong was down to me and that was eating too much of the sweet stuff!!! I have never seen (or heard) fireworks like that … I fear it has spoilt me for anything else though. Anyway, many, many thanks. I will be back again … currently saving for my third visit. Kind regards to you and your family.

4 Dave { 11.29.17 at 9:17 am }

Hi Jan! So glad you had a great experience, and thanks for writing!

5 Maria Luiza Bergamaschi Moretti { 01.23.18 at 7:24 am }

Ola! gostaria de uma opinião sua sobre nosso roteiro de Parques.Temos apenas 4 dias e vamos fazer quatro parques em fevereiro de 2018 Nessa ordem após consultar calendario de lotação.24/02 Island,25/02 Universal,26/02 hollywood 27/02 MK Alguma sugestão por favor? Malu

6 Dave { 01.25.18 at 7:55 am }

Hi Maria! I can’t comment on your Universal dates. For Disney, I would flip your two days–do Hollywood Studios 2/26 and MK 2/27.

7 PS { 02.22.18 at 1:45 pm }

In your 2019 rankings, you have a few weeks in October/November ranked very highly, and this is when I am planning a trip. What do you expect the opening of SW:GE will do to the resort at that time? Will it make HS impossible to visit, especially the new land itself? And will the rest of the resort feel incredibly crowded? I am trying to reconcile the advantages of that time of year with the drawbacks at being there when such an anticipated new attraction is opening. Do you still recommend these weeks? Any guidance would be appreciated.

8 Dave { 02.23.18 at 7:52 am }

PS, like everyone else I am guessing. The analogy I see is when Harry Potter opened at Universal. That led to spectacular difficulties in entering Islands of Adventure, and spectacular lines to enter Hogsmeade. However, the other rides at Islands of Adventure, and the other park Universal Studios, actually saw fewer people. So my guess is that HS will be a problem–Disney may use its FastPass+ capabilities to even ration entry into the park–and that unlike Universal, we will see some spillover effects, but not massive ones–you will be able to manage them via strong daily plans. However, if you are risk averse, avoiding WDW during the fourth quarter of 2019 and first quarter of 2020 is indeed the safer play.

9 Diana { 02.22.18 at 6:33 pm }

Hi Dave,

I am planning a family of 4 trip to disney for spring break, second week, March 2019 or summer, early August 2019. What time frame would you recommend? Also, I have been looking for the best disney packages on their website, when is the best time for disney deals on packages? Thanks in advance, Diana

10 Dave { 02.23.18 at 7:56 am }

Diana, on deals they commonly get released about three months ahead of time. For my week rankings of 2019, see this. I’m not keen on either of your choices, but check back with me in the summer, as for two summers in a row summer crowds have actually been ok.

11 Lisa { 03.12.18 at 1:16 pm }

Hi Dave,
I plan on visiting the last week of July 2018 staying at the Wilderness Lodge. Do you know the timeframe for when discounts will be released and usually what type of discounts will be available? Thats in advance. Love your site! Lisa

12 Dave { 03.14.18 at 7:43 am }
13 Maggie { 03.19.18 at 10:07 am }

Hi Dave,
I thought I hit submit the other day but I apparently did not since I did not see my post this morning. So, if I am repeating myself, please forgive me.
We just returned from WDW and just wanted to let you know that your advice was perfect. We had a great trip! It’s time to start planning for our Oct. visit. We will be going Oct. 2 – 11 and staying at the Boardwalk Villas. Can you please advise which parks to avoid on which
days? Also, do you think Disney will offer any discounts (like passholders) on rooms for October? We were going to book while we were there but the bounceback deals were not offered for Oct. or Nov. I think Disney may have figured out that October is favored by many guests. It sure has gotten more crowded over the last few years. Also, I think Disney has figured out how popular the Minnie Vans are. Two weeks before our arrival they raised the price to $25. It’s still a good deal depending on where you want to go and if you need car seats or not. As always, I really appreciate your advice. Thanks!!

14 Dave { 03.19.18 at 10:11 am }
15 Marie { 04.04.18 at 8:43 am }

Hello Dave!

Thanks for a great book and an amazing site. I have used both to plan three successful vacations over the last few year and an upcoming one late August. My sister-in-law (family of four with kids aged 8 and 12) booked a five-night stay in June (arrival in the evening of June 22 – staying at the Dolphin or Swan – she did not consult with me first unfortunately :)). They are first time visitor and I am struggling to pick the best parks for them / per day. Here is what I am thinking:
6/23: HS (nephew is a huge Star Wars fan)
6/24: AK
6/25: MK
6/26: MK
6/27: Epcot (they have until 4:00 pm roughly in the Park before leaving for their hotel to go back home)

Does that seem reasonable?

Thank you for your assistance,


16 Dave { 04.05.18 at 7:50 am }

Hi Marie, I’m so glad the book and site have been helpful!! And yes, these look fine!

17 Kyle { 04.15.18 at 11:08 am }

Hi Dave! My family and I are going to Disney World for the first time ever. Our daughters are ages 4 & 11. We are arriving on Thursday 6/7/18 around noon and we leave to head back around noon on Tues. 6/12/18. I was thinking of saving MK for the latter day or two of the trip but wonder if that will be a bad idea since that will be falling on the weekend. I haven’t had a chance to check out the book yet (it’s on it’s way) but was wondering if you had any insight on which park which days to get the most out of our trip for the kiddos 🙂 Thanks in advance for any input! The whole family appreciates it!

18 Dave { 04.16.18 at 10:55 am }

Hi Kyle, and thanks for getting the book!

6/7 Avoid Epcot
6/8 avoid MK
6/9 avoid MK and AK
6/10 avoid HS
6/11 avoid AK
6/12 avoid Epcot

19 Kyle { 04.17.18 at 11:21 pm }

Thanks Dave!

20 MartinNaild { 04.23.18 at 1:48 am }

Hi All im newbie here. Good post! Thx! Love your stories!

21 Dave { 04.23.18 at 8:02 am }

Hi Martin, and welcome!

22 John { 05.08.18 at 12:11 pm }

Hi, Mid May 2019 for crowds and weather. I am assuming crowds will be okay till around the weekend of the 25th? Weather I guess around mid 80s, but obviously can be unpredictable!

23 Dave { 05.09.18 at 6:53 am }

John, it should be similar to May 2018–see this.

24 Sarah { 05.27.18 at 9:35 pm }

Hello Dave,

We are planning to be in Orlando July 6-13th. My daughter is 5. Is there a certain day of the week that is less crowded at Magic Kingdom? Also, is there a meal/princess event you would suggest for her age – Cinderella Royal table? I was thinking lunch time to give her a break. We may do 1 or 2 days at Magic Kingdom. Maybe this is a silly question. But if you prefer-booked a ticket day because of a event meal – what happens if it rains that day? Thank you for your help!

25 Dave { 05.28.18 at 10:01 am }

Hi Sarah, it rains almost every day (often just briefly) in the summer in Orlando, and most simply ignore it and continue with their park plans. There’s no refunds because of rain. The Disney World restaurants begin booking 180 days out, and the most popular–like Cinderella’s’ Royal Table–sell out months before. I would check availability for it, for Crystal Palace (WInnie the Pooh), for Chef Mickey’s (Mickey and friends at the nearby COntemporary) and 1900 Park Fare (Cinderella in the evenings, Mary Poppins at Breakfast) in the nearby Grand Floridian.

Magic Kingdom is busy in July. The best days there are Tuesday and Thursdays, so the 10th and 12th are your best options!

Once you have set your dates you need to book your FastPass+ ASAP, as otherwise you will face needless waits.

26 Liz { 06.05.18 at 1:58 pm }

Hello! My family and I were thinking of going to WDW on February 1-8, 2019. We would do all 4 parks and Universal and I wanted to ask if this time of year is a good time to go and is it will be crowded or not. Thank you!

27 Dave { 06.06.18 at 7:04 am }
28 Denise Williams { 06.10.18 at 8:03 am }

We will be traveling to WDW 7/2/2018 -7/6/2018. I am bringing 4 adults, age range from 30-60 years young, and 2 boys and 2 girls, ages range from 8-13 years old, and a baby boy 10 months old. This is are very first visit and want to know which park to go see that everyone will be happy and see fireworks on 7/4/2018.

29 Dave { 06.10.18 at 8:48 am }

Hi Denise, you are a bit behind, and need to read this and then book your FastPass+ as soon as possible.

Those are traditionally very busy dates (although summer crowds have been down the last two years) and the Fourth is a particularly rough day. The best way to see the fireworks is to watch them the day before, when they show July 3 at Magic Kingdom.

On July 2, avoid Epcot
On July 3, avoid MK
On July 4, there are no good choices. AK might be best.
July 5 avoid Epcot
July 6 avoid MK

30 Deanna { 07.02.18 at 10:21 am }

Going to Disney for the first time in January 27th 2019 what parks should be avoided and which days we have passes to each park.

31 Dave { 07.03.18 at 10:16 am }

Hi Deanna, the official calendar for then is not out yet. There’s an unofficial calendar I can use to help you, but I need to know your end date!

32 Cindy { 07.02.18 at 2:20 pm }

Hello Dave,
Where would you recommend purchasing a Disney Platinum Plus Pass?

33 Dave { 07.03.18 at 10:17 am }

CIndy, I would get it online on Disney’s site.

34 Joe Ostrander { 07.06.18 at 8:42 am }

Hi Dave. Planning October 2019 for my 50th birthday. Right now have 2nd, 3rd, and 4th weeks booked for a Saturday to Saturday stay. Waiting to see what crowd projections and airfare rates will be before finalizing the exact week. Do you have any opinions? My preference would be the 4th week as it is my actually birthday week. Thanks.

35 Dave { 07.08.18 at 8:30 am }

Hi Joe, the later in October the better. The wild card in all this will be the impact of Star Wars, on which I have some thoughts here.

36 Valorie { 08.05.18 at 8:42 am }

How do I sign up for this site

37 Dave { 08.05.18 at 12:01 pm }

Valorie, I don’t really have a sign up, but of you follow my facebook page that might help. It’s at

38 Luis { 08.17.18 at 2:47 pm }

Hello Dave

What days do you recommend to visit each park?

Thank you

39 Dave { 08.20.18 at 9:41 am }

Luis, it depends entirely on the dates of your visit–let me know!

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