By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon 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

Plan to spend 9 days in Orlando, ideally 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 (7ish days) with time for breaks from the parks, while fitting into a typical “week off from work” (note that other travel days may yield less expensive airfare or hotel costs).

If you can’t stay this long, see Shorter Walt Disney World Itineraries.
How Long to Visit Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.net

This schedule gives you seven full days and two partial travel days in Orlando. All of my itineraries have you in the parks almost every day, as this maximizes your FastPass+ opportunities and gives you more partial days in the three parks that take more than one day but less than two.

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 Shorter Walt Disney World Itineraries for details on shorter Disney World trips.

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55 comments

1 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!

2 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…

3 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!!!

4 Dave { 04.24.15 at 8:05 am }

Lisa, for parks to avoid by day see this

5 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?

6 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.

7 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.

8 Tatum { 11.15.15 at 9:28 am }

Do they ever do any thing special for thanksgiving

9 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/

10 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.

11 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.

12 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.

13 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?!

14 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.

15 Lisa { 02.02.18 at 11:36 am }

Hi again Dave, wow am I glad that I stumbled across your site as a first time planner for Disney. Your detail is amazing 🙂 So we are a group of 13 going in November 2018. 8 adults and a 9, 6, 4, 3 and almost 2 year old. We are going for 7 nights Saturday to Saturday and because of the two youngest, we really want to avoid park hopping. Also we really don’t have intentions of taking the kids back again as we enjoy beach vacations and exploring much more. Maybe I will feel different after November 😉 Also we plan to have 2 resort rest days and 4 full park days as the littlest ones will need it. What intinerary would you recommend? Is there a park that we should just skip or do we do all 4 parks on 4 separate days? Thanks so much for your expertise and guidance!

16 Dave { 02.03.18 at 6:46 am }

Lisa, a trip for the youngest would be profoundly different than a trip for everyone else. For a 4, 3 and 2 year old, just a few half days at Magic Kingdom might be enough–plus for the 4 year old perhaps another half day each at Hollywood Studios and ANimal Kingdom, skipping Epcot.

For everyone else I’d advise 2 days at MK, and at least a day at each of the other three parks. I don’t have itineraries on this site that are even remotely useful for the length of your trip and the ages of your party. You can find one and two day touring plans for each park in my book, some of which are designed for younger folk and some for older.

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