It’s no secret that a trip to Walt Disney World isn’t a cheap experience. As such, it leaves many (myself included) questioning whether you can save money without compromise by only spending one week at the resort.
One week is enough to visit three or four of the Walt Disney World parks, provided you plan your trip in detail in advance.
However, if it’s your first visit to Walt Disney World or you want to experience everything the resort has to offer, I’d highly recommend visiting for two weeks instead.
Of course, if I had to choose between one week or no weeks at Walt Disney World, I’d always choose one week. Just be prepared to have minimal downtime if you want to maximise your trip.
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How Many Parks Are At Disney World?
Those looking to enjoy everything the Walt Disney World Resort has to offer will need to make time for the four major parks, two water parks and Disney Springs entertainment complex.
The parks at Walt Disney World include;
- Magic Kingdom
- Animal Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Blizzard Beach
As you might expect, each park has unique attractions and features.
As such, those working with a limited time frame may need to choose the parks that most appeal to their preferences and skip the others.
When Disney World first opened in 1971, it only consisted of Magic Kingdom. This park had many of the same rides and attractions as the Disneyland park in California.
However, since then it’s evolved into the most visited theme park in the world with more than 20 million visitors annually. As such Magic Kingdom is almost synonymous with Walt Disney World and shouldn’t be missed on a trip to the resort.
As you walk into Magic Kingdom you’re greeted by the quaint Main Street USA shops that extend toward a towering Cinderella’s castle.
From this central point, guests have the option of exploring five areas:
- Liberty Square
We often take the circular route around Magic Kingdom starting in either Tomorrowland or Adventureland exploring the unique rides, entertainment and dining options available.
While Magic Kingdom isn’t the largest Walt Disney World park it’s certainly the most popular, therefore to experience everything you may find yourself spending at least two days here.
Animal Kingdom is the largest park at Walt Disney World, however, you’ll luckily not be exploring it all on-foot. That’s because a large portion of the Animal Kingdom park is actually home to a wildlife reserve filled with incredible animals.
If you’re looking for thrill rides then sadly they are few and far between here, with Expedition Everest being the only one of note.
However, if you’re a fan of the Avatar film then Animal Kingdom is a park you’re not going to want to miss. That’s because in 2017 the incredible Pandora, an area entirely dedicated to the Avatar film opened to the public.
While Animal Kingdom is fantastic, if you’re not a huge fan of zoos and want to instead experience more of the traditional Walt Disney World atmosphere then you could look to remove this park from your one week itinerary.
Fans of Star Wars and Toy Story are not going to want to miss Hollywood Studios which despite the recent addition of Toy Story Land & Galaxy’s Edge is still the smallest park at Walt Disney World.
As such one day at Hollywood Studios is relatively achievable without compromising on your experience and given the versatility of the rides and entertainment it’s a park that fits nicely into most one week interaries.
Have you ever dreamed of travelling the world and exploring exotic locations? If so, you’ll want to make sure you have time to visit EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow).
This Disney World park is home to The World Showcase, eleven distinct pavilions featuring iconic architecture, cuisine, and entertainment from around the world.
EPCOT is also home to several fast-paced and exhilarating rides, including:
- Test Track
- Mission: SPACE
- Soarin’ Around the World
Disney World doesn’t only have four major theme parks. It’s also home to two massive water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
Typhoon Lagoon is the older water park, and it’s also a little better suited for adults than its younger companion park.
Typhoon Lagoon has the same number of attractions as Blizzard Beach, but it also has deeper pools and stronger wave generators. There are also fewer theme decorations at Typhoon Lagoon, giving it a slightly more mature look and feel.
If you have little ones and are visiting Disney World during the spring or summer months, you might want to set aside time to visit Blizzard Beach.
This water park has a miniature golf area and multiple watery play areas for children and teens.
However, most of the taller slides here are appropriate for riders that are at least 4′ (121.9 cm). As such, very young children may be disappointed that they cannot ride the biggest slides in the park.
While Disney Springs might not have any roller coasters or log flume rides, it’s a favourite destination for Disney World guests. That’s because Disney Springs is bursting with entertainment, restaurants, and shops.
Unlike your standard shopping centre, Disney Springs offers guests some unique items in the world from world-class manufacturers and retailers.
Many of their venues also follow specific themes and feature fun interactive moments.
How To Make the Most Of Your Time At Disney World
If you’re limited on time, you can take steps to ensure that you spend your time wisely at Disney World.
For example, you could:
- Arrive at parks early.
- Stay at Disney World Resort.
- Invest in Disney Genie.
- Visit during the off-season.
If you choose to combine all of these tricks, you might be able to squeeze in all the fantastic things Disney World has to offer within a week or more.
So, let’s discover how beneficial they might be for your upcoming vacation.
Arrive At The Parks Early
One of the best ways to make the most of your time at Disney World is to arrive at the parks as soon as they open.
The bulk of Disney Parks open at 9 am, so arriving when the park opens may mean waking up at 7 am if you’re staying in an off-site hotel, or about 8 am if you’re staying at one of the Disney World Resort locations.
It’s also crucial to note that resort guests have the best shot at entering the parks at rope drop.
Guests that stay at one of the Disney World Resort locations can take advantage of early theme park entry and extended evening services.
They allow resort guests the opportunity to enter parks up to 30 minutes earlier and stay several hours longer in the park than those with standard admission tickets.
To take advantage of these extended park hours, you’ll need a MagicBand. These are available for purchase before you arrive at Disney World, or you can buy them after arriving.
Buying your MagicBand early is an excellent way to enjoy a discounted price. Be sure to order it at least two weeks before your vacation if you want the MagicBand shipped to your home.
Stay On-Site At A Disney World Resort Hotel
While you’ll likely pay more to stay at a Disney World Resort than you would at a standard Orlando hotel, doing so is one of the best ways to make the most of your time.
Resort guests have access to extended park hours and a handful of park perks that can help you enjoy everything Disney World has to offer.
Travel to and from the parks is included in the price of a resort stay, and each resort offers on-site restaurants, swimming pools and entertainment to keep the whole family happy. Resort guests can even walk or take a Disney World bus to nearby Disney Springs.
If you’re on a budget, consider looking into hotels that offer a complimentary shuttle to the Walt Disney World parks. These hotels are often located very close to the entrance of the resort. However, they only offer fixed shuttle times which means you’ll often be limited as to how early / how late you can spend at the parks.
Invest In Disney Genie
To create the ideal Disney vacation schedule, you don’t have to spend hours poring over park maps and attractions lists. That’s because the My Disney Experience mobile app now features a service called Disney Genie.
Disney Genie takes your interests and preferences and works them into a smart itinerary, helping you travel from attraction to attraction with ease.
For example, if you and your family are interested in both rides and live shows, Disney Genie can list nearby rides with short wait times while also letting you know about upcoming live entertainment.
It does this while anticipating the amount of time you’ll be waiting in line, the length of the ride it has recommended, and the average walk time to the next destination. As such, Disney Genie can do all of the hard work for you regarding scheduling and planning.
If you’re willing to spend a little more to guarantee shorter or fewer waits for rides, you can opt for Disney Genie+, a paid service that replaces the old FASTPASS system.
Visit During The Off-Season
Disney World is rarely empty, but it does have seasons that are busier than others.
So if you intend to visit the parks during the spring, summer, or fall seasons, you can expect to contend with large crowds.
However, if you visit Disney World during January, February, and March, you’re less likely to see two-hour-long lines and massive crowds of visitors.
Therefore, those looking to make the most of their time at Disney World may want to visit during the winter.