Between the hotel reservations, fast passes, and dining options, planning a Disney World vacation can be involved to say the least. Another decision you have to make is deciding which park to visit each day of your trip. Four great parks, but what order do you visit them in and does it matter? It can matter a lot! Here are four tips for picking the right park for each day of your Disney World vacation.
- Look at Extra Magic Hours. If you are staying on property, you will be able to attend Disney’s Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours are hours before the parks open or after the parks close that are just for Disney hotel guests. At least one of the four parks has Extra Magic Hours every day. Many guests simply choose to visit whichever park has Extra Magic Hours on a given day. They want to get in as much park time as possible and hope for a few hours with a lesser than normal size crowd. My husband and I often reverse this, however, and it has helped on occasion. If we did not care to get up for an earlier hour at the park or stay two hours past park closing, we went to a park without Extra Magic Hours to avoid the crowd of Disney hotel guests doing the opposite. Sometimes, this will get you shorter lines as well!
- Check parade and firework schedules. While all the parade and firework shows occur almost every day, there are days, particularly in less crowded months, when a firework show or parade may not happen. For instance, there are some days in September when the Magic Kingdom will not be running the Wishes fireworks show or the Main Street Electrical Parade. If you have your heart set on the electrical parade, then visit Animal Kingdom or Epcot on those days instead and choose a different day for the Magic Kingdom. A great place to check out parade and firework schedules is at the DIS’s website at www.wdwinfo.com. There are monthly calendars up to six months in advance.
- Know about special events. A family we knew visited the Magic Kingdom last September only to discover that the park closed at 7:00 p.m. that day for Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party. They were very upset, and Disney graciously gave them return tickets. On a similar occasion, my family was visiting the Magic Kingdom without knowing that high school bands were performing that day in a special parade. We needed to leave the park at 2:00 but were unable to make our way past the parade to the front gate at the time needed. If we had done our research, we would have chosen a different park for the day or left before the parade began. It helps to know what is going on before you arrive. If you are not a Star Wars fan, you might want to avoid Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends. Disney also hosts several marathons and race events throughout the year which can increase crowd levels at the parks. Know before you go!
- Use Information Websites and Apps. Undercover Tourist is a terrific source for crowd level and event information. Visit their crowd calendar and choose the month you will be traveling to the parks. They will show you the projected crowd levels at each park, hours of operation, magic hours, and any special events taking place. Based on last year’s attendance and events, individual days in each park are designated as “most recommended,” “neutral crowds,” or “most crowded.” You may want to avoid the park or parks designated as “most crowded” for a given day. You can also download the Undercover Tourist app before your trip. Other useful websites that offer similar crowd information are Dad’s Guide to WDW and Easy WDW. Touringplans.com is another excellent source but will cost a subscription.