5 Day Park Hopper + Sleepyhead Plans

I am looking for advice on the best way to structure our upcoming WDW vacation. We will have 3 adults and 3 children in our party - ages 11, 8 and 7. They are all pretty much pirate and animal fans - could care less about Dumbo, princesses and fairies. We have 5 day park hopper passes. We are not super early risers and running crazy tired on vacation makes me hyperventilate so I like the sleepyhead plans. :smile: Though, realistically, we can make it to the parks by 9-10. We will be going the first week of June. Right now we are only planning on visiting MK, AK and Epcot. I have made touring plans for all of those, basing the MK one off of the Pirate plan, that are pretty open so that we have plenty of time to not be rushed anywhere but none of them include meals or breaks to return to the hotel. Right now we are doing Epcot on Monday, MK on Tue and Wed and AK on Thursday. We’ll leave Friday open for anything we want to go back to or for just lounging at the pool. Here is our wish-list for everyone in our party for each park:

Epcot: Spaceship Earth, Test Track, Living With The Land, Soarin, Illuminations
MK: Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, Monster’s Inc, Aladdin’s Magic Carpet, Meet Peter Pan, A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasure of the Seven Seas, Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial, Disney Castle, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Magic Kingdom Evening Parade
AK: Dinosaur, Kilimanjaro, Expedition Everest, Avatar, Meet King Louie, It’s Tough To Be A Bug, Kali River Rapids

My husband really wants to see fireworks, light shows and parades so we have FP+ Illuminations at Epcot. :neutral_face: . I know. But we have decided that Epcot will be for the adults so I am trying to prioritize hubby’s requests at Epcot and he is all about the best seats and views for fireworks. :laughing:

On Tuesday we are planning to see the nighttime parade at MK.


  1. Realistically, is it possible to go back to the hotel mid-day and then return to the parks later in the evening and still get everything done? I am thinking that on Monday and Tuesday when we are staying for the parades that maybe we should take a mid-day break. But with travel time back to the hotel what does that leave us?
  2. Should we book a late lunch or early dinner at the parks where we will be staying for the evening shows? This would be Epcot on Monday and MK on Tuesday. Recommendations?
  3. We will be so close to AK. Any good nighttime shows for that park? Or recommendations for that park?
  4. Any parking advice at the parks? That looks like it is going to be a big expense.
  5. We arrive late Saturday and are planning on just relaxing and hanging out at the motel on Sunday. However, we do need to pick up our tickets so I was thinking we could go over to AK since it is so close and at least get those so we do not have to do it on Monday. Can we do this without activating the tickets for the first day? I don’t want our 5 days to start until Monday.
  6. Dining recommendations at each of the parks? We will have a big breakfast at our hotel so, with the exception of the 1 or 2 nights we do dinner in the parks we will probably just be having quick lunch/snacks or counter service food.
  7. Any other or better suggestions for fireworks/light shows and/or parades that I have not included? All of the plans and several posters have suggested Wishes at MK but I cannot even find that to add it to our plan. Where is Wishes?

Any other good tips or advice would be greatly appreciated! This is our first WDW trip. :slight_smile:

It is great you have your priorities and must-dos in order. Here are some answers out of order:

  1. There is no night-time parade at MK anymore. (Bummer!) Disney just started a new fireworks show Happily Ever After which would replace Wishes. You should be able to put that in your plans. Epcot has Illuminations and Animal Kingdom does have a nighttime show - Rivers of Light. I haven’t had a chance to see that yet. They also do projections on the Tree of Life which are really cool at night.

  2. As far as timing - I find that time goes incredibly fast when I am in the parks. I think a mid-day break is nice IF you are there early for when/before the park opens - stay until 12 or 1-break for four hours - and then come back for the evening. It does take a decent amount of transit time back and forth. I find it hard to take breaks especially when staying offsite but other families swear by them. I would rather have a late start or an early evening instead of a break. If your family is hard to get out of the door - maybe a later start would work better.

  3. I think a table service restaurant is a nice break in the AC if you are staying late. Epcot has so many to choose from. MK is more limited. Maybe see what reservations are available now and go from there. You could also travel to a MK resort for dinner like the Wave at the Contemporary.

  4. Parking is what it is at Disney. You do only have to pay once per day though if you do decide to take a break or hop.

  5. You could pick up your tickets at AK (but would probably have to pay to park). There is Guest Services at Disney Springs. The tickets aren’t activated until you scan them at the park. You have 14 days after your first use to use your five days.

You did mention that you had park hopper tickets but it doesn’t look like hopping is in your plans. You might want to work that in - you could go to a different park in the evening after a break. Or you could look into not getting the hoppers if you aren’t going to use them.

My other comment that if you want to do all your priorities at Epcot - you might need to arrive at park open. Soarin’ and Test Track without fastpasses (since you have Illuminations) have long waits. Or you might want to schedule a fastpass for your 5th day if these are important to you.

Thank you! Very helpful information. I had forgotten about the park hopping but that could definitely work for an evening show.