For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.

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.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

b. How Long to Stay

By Dave Shute

How Long to Stay      Other Trip Lengths

Designing Your Own Itinerary        Shorter Itineraries


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).

  • Magic Kingdom takes at least two days
  • Epcot takes a day and an evening
  • Animal Kingdom takes a day and a half
  • Hollywood Studios takes two partial days

If you can’t stay this long, see Shorter Walt Disney World Itineraries. With five park days, about the minimum, with for example four full days and two partial days on your travel days, figure to spend the equivalent of two days at Magic Kingdom and one day in each of the other four parks.
How Long to Visit Walt Disney World from

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.


Follow on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!


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 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:

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 We’ll create the Magical Disney vacation of your dreams.

13 Jessica { 05.20.16 at 3:27 pm }

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.

17 Sue { 02.10.19 at 10:45 am }

Hi Dave,
I have 4 days planned at the parks for the week of Sunday March 10 -Friday March 15 inclusive
my daughter is 8. We have not been to Hollywood Studios before. I was wondering if you could assist with which parks might be preferred on what days- we were thinking of 1 day at MK (been there a couple times already), 2 days at AK (daughter requesting 2 days) and 1 day at Hollywood studios. I am able to book Fastpasses this week for staying off site. Can you leave the park and come back for the end of the day or once you leave you can’t come back? we are not getting the park hopper option. Wondered too if most people stay on site and have dinner or leave at dinner time? Thanks for your suggestions. Sue

18 Dave { 02.11.19 at 10:03 am }

Hi Sue!

All of your days will be quite busy, so good plans and good FastPass+ choices will be essential! My book has one and two day plans for each park in it, but you will be too late for some of its FastPass+ recommendations.

Including all 4 parks for other readers,
3/10 avoid HS
3/11 avoid AK
3/12 avoid Epcot
3/13 avoid MK
3/14 avoid Epcot
3/15 avoid MK

You can leave and then return to the same park on the same day as often as you wish. You do not need a hopper so long as you enter just one park in a day–but you can re-enter that park that day as much as you want..

AK does not take two full days. If you divide the day into three parts–morning, afternoon, and evening–it takes four day parts. SO you might do there a morning and an afternoon, and an afternoon and an evening.

19 Nanette { 02.17.19 at 2:25 pm }

Hello. Planning 4 days for my oldest daughters 9th birthday arriving 11/30/19. Also have a 4 year old who lives princesses. I don’t plan to do a park that day, but Ohana for dinner. It’s complicated by the fact that she is disabled. We are staying at Beach Club and will have park hoppers and DAS. Skipping HS as she can’t ride big roller coasters (trunk control). My plan is one day AK, 3 MK and every afternoon at Epcot (as we can walk over and use DAS to get on one ride’s wait while we eat dinner, tour world showcase). Does this sound ok to you?

20 Dave { 02.19.19 at 7:37 am }

Hi Nanette!

I won’t be able to comment on specific days until Disney’s calendar for then comes out, which is about 3 months away.

Your general approach sounds fine, except every day in Epcot is perhaps too much, and you might want to add a few late afternoons/dinners at HS–there’s much more here than thrill rides, and a few good dinner options, and it is almost as convenient as Epcot from the Beach Club.

If Star Wars opens by then, then do avoid HS!

21 Barbara { 04.13.19 at 12:02 pm }

Do you have any thoughts on longer trips? We are looking (way) ahead to a trip in December of 2020. My daughter has little ones that will be 3 years, 8 month, and 1 year, 9 months, at the time of the trip. I think a couple of days at MK and maybe one at AK would be good, but my daughter disagrees and wants to go all parks, but agrees emphasis should be on MK. We are thinking 2 park days, a resort/rest day, 2 more park days, another resort/rest day, and then 2 final park days, which would probably be MK. Do you think that’s a reasonable idea? I have no idea how to break it up with the other parks, other than thinking one EPCOT day would probably be enough. As always, I appreciate your insight and assistance!

22 Dave { 04.15.19 at 9:40 am }

Barbara, as noted on this page and elsewhere I recommend for a first and possibly only trip that kids be eight or older, and that you devote about 9 park days
A day and half (spread over two actual days) at each of HS, AK, and Epcot
Two+ days, spread over three actual days, at MK.

Kids as young as the ones you are bringing will find many rides inappropriate, others with height requirements they can’t meet, and others where they will miss some, or much, of what is going on.

I would recommend a couple of half days at MK, half day at each of HS and AK, and probably skip Epcot entirely.

23 Barbara { 04.15.19 at 7:00 pm }

Thanks again for all your help! I’m sorry I wasn’t clear, this won’t be the only trip, just their first. I think a big trip would just be money wasted at their ages. I like your suggestion, and have the next year and a half to convince my daughter!

24 Dave { 04.17.19 at 7:50 am }

Got you, Barbara. Two things may be worth noting–if you can return, then you really can’t make any errors on this visit that you can’t fix on a later visit. Second, overdoing it tends to be self correcting, as the kids will show you all pretty clearly when they have had enough!!

25 DJ { 04.29.19 at 10:32 pm }

Hi Dave,

Help! We are headed down in, heaven help us, July for a ten day stay. We arrive on Wednesday July 10, leaving on the 21st. With our mid week arrival day I’m having trouble planning our park days. We are WDW fans and have visited about a dozen times, so I’m most interested in getting as much done as we can before melting in the heat – we don’t have to push ourselves. We usually visit in non summer months but it was the only option this year. There are 4 of us-me, my husband, and our two kids who like to ride everything. Any insight you could give on park day planning (that is, which park which day, I’m good with FP planning after I get my days set) would be so helpful. Thank you for the terrific work you do! The book is great too.

26 Dave { 04.30.19 at 6:23 am }

Hey DJ–how are you at getting up early? The best way to avoid the heat is when you are not pushing yourselves is to head to the park with morning EMH, leaving by noon, and returning e.g. for evening shows or dinner in the early evening. This works even better with park hoppers–do you have those?

Let me know on the early morning point and I will get back to you!

27 DJ { 04.30.19 at 10:27 pm }

Hi Dave, we are ok with early mornings! And yes we will have park hoppers. Also thinking about doing an after-hours event at MK on 7/11. Thank you so much for getting back to me!

28 Dave { 05.01.19 at 12:16 pm }

Great, DJ!

29 Nathan { 05.01.19 at 3:23 am }

Hi Dave,
We are planning on traveling to Disney World during the first week of December of next year. We are looking forward to seeing the Christmas things at the parks. We are concerned though that the parks will be closing early and that we will not be able to get our monies worth. Do you recommend the beginning of December even though the park hours are shorter or is there another time that is better to visit that has low crowds and longer hours. Thank You.

30 Dave { 05.01.19 at 12:30 pm }

Nathan, in general more days in the parks is more important than operating hours. See this for an example of a December itinerary

31 Nathan { 05.01.19 at 8:41 pm }

Thank You.

32 Nathan { 05.01.19 at 9:00 pm }

How many days do you think we should spend at each park if we are planning to stay the full day at the parks and not take off during the middle of the day. Like for example you wrote in your example itinerary that for Animal Kingdom Park on Sunday you would go to the park in the morning then take off in the afternoon and come back in the evening. How many days would you suggest we should have at Animal Kingdom if we stayed the whole day there on Sunday and not take off in the afternoon should we still plan on coming back for a second day.

33 Dave { 05.02.19 at 12:25 pm }

Nathan, are you bringing kids? 12 hour days in the parks get pretty wearing. Frankly you can adapt to almost any number of days if you have to. For full days and to see almost all of the best, I would advise 2 full days at MK, and 1.5 at Epcot and HS, and 1.25 at AK.

34 Dionte { 06.25.19 at 7:32 pm }

I’m planning for next spring break April 3-12. I know that’s the busy time but that’s the only time kids are out or a week besides summer. My question is with the length of time I’m staying do u recommend the dining plan? Which is better for the length of time? Do you suggest the ticket with or with hopper for the length of time? Being indecisive doesn’t help with all these options.

Thank you in advance.

35 Dave { 06.26.19 at 7:31 am }

Hey Dionte, how old are the kids? That affects the value of the dining plan a lot…

And for some basics that will help you decide how long to stay, see this.

Generally I advise against the hopper, but it can be a good choice for families who 1. are visiting during a high crowd period, 2. are staying in an EMH-eligible hotel (all the hotels on this page are EMH eligible) and 3. are up and moving and able to be at a park entrance by 6.30a. Is your family of that sort?

36 Marjorie { 12.04.19 at 1:50 pm }

First of all, sorry for my poor English. 🙂
I come from Belgium and in less than three weeks, for the first time, I will be in Orlando with my parents and my 8 year old daughter.
We will stay 4 days in Orlando from 23/12 until 26/12 in the Lake Buena Vista Hotel before going to Miami. We will rent a car for all trip.
We are maybe a bit crazy but we intend to visit 2 parks in 1 day on 24 December (with Park Hopper): Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. We plan to arrive early in the morning to Animal Kingdom and make the 2 rides in the World of Avatar, Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris. Around 4:00 PM, we intend to move to Magic Kingdom to only see the parade and the fireworks. We do not really want to do attractions because we have almost the same park in Paris.
I know that’s a lot but do you think is it possible to do both in one day? Can we still enter the park in the late afternoon?
Is there a shuttle between the parks? How long does it takes to go to MK from AK? Do you think it will be easier to take the car?
Is the fireworks still going on Christmas Eve?
In the event that two parks are impossible in your opinion, is it possible to see the fireworks from outside the park? If so, do you know a good spot?
(We also intend to visit on 23 December 2 parks in 1 day: Universal Studio and Universal Islands of Adventure. I do not know if you can answer but do you think it is a good day to do it or it is better to go there on 25 December? Is it possible to do 2 parks in one day on this period? Do you recommend the fast pass?)
Sorry to bother you with a lot of questions 🙂 and thank you in advance to taking time to respond to these.

37 Dave { 12.05.19 at 10:33 am }

Hi Marjorie–a couple of thoughts and points.

First, that is one of the busiest periods of the year at both Disney World and Universal.Be sure to use Disney’s FastPass+ program, and yes, I would advise Universal’s Universal Express.

Given how busy it will be, Animal Kingdom may well open earlier than currently scheduled. You want to be in that park at least an hour before official opening, and when it opens head straight to Flight of Passage in Pandora. Which hotel exactly are you staying in? I can advise a bit more on getting to Animal Kingdom if you tell me that.

Magic Kingdom will be mobbed all day. The parade is scheduled for noon and 3p, and the fireworks for 10p. There is a bus from the Animal Kingdom to Magic Kingdom. You would need to be at the bus stop by no later than 1p to get to MK, get in, and find a spot to watch the parade. Frankly, as good as the parade is, I would skip it, stay longer in AK, head back to the hotel for a nap, and go to MK later for the fireworks.

At either Disney WOrld or Universal, the busiest day among your choices will be the 25th. I would avoid the theme parks on that day. You can do some of both Universal parks in one day, but do need to get the ticket that allows that.

Leave a Comment | Ask a Question | Note a Problem

My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2020 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.