First Timers at Disney World but not a lot of time!

Hello folks! Last year we got to go to Disneyland when my wife had a business conference at the resort. Thanks in no small part to the wonderful folks at Touringplans and forum members, we had an AMAZING time. We got four-day park hoppers and really made the most of it between meeting and such (it WAS a conference after all.)

Note: we are two adults in good health with no kids.

Anyway, this year, it’s in Orlando at the Swan and Dolphin which is where we will be staying. Unfortunately, we do not have an unlimited budget or unlimited time so we will have to make some decisions.

Near as we can tell, we will have roughly two FULL days to ourselves with no conflicts, one afternoon/evening after 3pm, and an all day until about 6pm-9pm. We had the same basic schedule in DLR and we definitely got our fill of EVERYTHING, believe me, but I’m keenly aware that DW is a MUCH different experience.

First decision is, no Universal Studios, we just can’t work it in time wise or budget wise.

Second, we definitely want to see all four parks, ESPECIALLY Epcot as we’ve both wanted to go since we were 11 years old! :slight_smile: By some work of serendipity or Disney Magic, it seems like the 4-Park Magic Ticket will be, well, just the ticket for us. We will be there 4/25-4/29 so we just missed the black out date, but still time to purchase them before March 5th when it ends. I considered the park hopper option, but holy cow the parks are spread out compared to DLR! Not exactly “hopping” in my opinion! With the 4-Park Magic Ticket you get a full day at each park at a price less than a regular four day ticket, which sounds perfect. Also, since we are staying at the Swan, it looks like we get access to the “extra magic hours” (but not Magic Bands, unfortunately.)

Anyway, for a couple that has never been to DW but did Disneyland pretty thoroughly just a year ago, we need to get an idea of how much time we can spend in each park so we can prioritize. I’m definitely thinking that MK and Epcot should be our two full days. Even though MK is similar to DL, we enjoy the cornball kid’s rides as much as anything.

Here is our “available” schedule:
Wed - after 4pm until close
Thurs - all day until 6pm-9pm (dinner meeting)
Fri - ALL DAY!

So, you can see this makes things a little complicated. As i said, I would like to use our two “all day” days for MK and Epcot, but the hours of the other parks make that tricky, mostly on Wednesday. I was thinking Thursday would be good for AK since it closes at 7pm anyway, but that would make Wednesday Hollywood Studios which would only give us about four hours there. We hated Tower of Terror at DCA and aren’t into roller coasters either, but we LOVED Star Tours and Toy Story Mania. The Great Movie Ride and Muppet 3D looks cool too. Factoring in a quick meal, will that be enough time to enjoy ourselves?

I briefly considered MK for Wed night as it’s open until 11pm, but that’s still only 5-6 hours we would have there.

The final option available is to just stay an additional day, then we would have three uninterrupted days and one mostly open day, but we have to pay for the extra day out of our pocket where the other days are comped by work.

Sorry, I know this is a lot, so I’ll cut it for now, just looking for opinions! I know the general idea is to spend as much time as you can! We probably won’t be back any time soon, if ever, so we do want to make the most of it.



Before you discount the park hopper due to distance between parks, remember that you can take a bus from one park to another. So for example, if you start at Animal Kingdom and decide you’re done and want to head to HS, you can hop on the HS bus and it’ll take you directly to HS. The park hopper is expensive to some, but if you’re limited on days, might be worth it.

Depending on which rides you do, Epcot will probably be a full day, as will MK.

One possible suggestion if you got the park hopper:

Wednesday - Magic Kingdom
Thursday - Animal Kingdom
Friday: 1/2 day at Hollywood Studios - hop to Magic Kingdom for rest of day
Saturday - Epcot

This way, you’d still get the equivalent of a day in MK but you’d also get a good half day at HS as well.

The more experienced travelers might have better suggestions, though!

Good luck!

Thanks for the suggestion! My other concern is budget though, and the price difference will be $230 to go from two “Magic Tickets” to the four day park hopper. Is Animal Kingdom that small?

It’s not small. It really just depends on what you’re interested in and how long you spend in each attraction. I’d think if you left off Everest (roller coaster) and maybe one or two more rides, you could definitely be done by 6PM. I’ve planned those things in my touring plan and I think we’ll still be done around that time. Now, depending on when you go, if the Avatar section is open, I’d imagine that might affect things.

You might be able to play around with a couple of touring plans on those days and see if you’d be able to do everything you wanted. I’d be more concerned with getting everything you want at HS without either a park hopper or extra day. You might be fine with what you listed above (doing HS Wednesday), depending on what you want to do. Personally, we’ll spend a full day there, but we also love Rock N Roller Coaster and will likely also do Tower of Terror. You could get FPP for Star Tours and TSM (I believe they’re in different tiers - possibly Great Movie Ride, too) and that would save a lot of the waiting in line.

You probably don’t need me to tell you that adding a day would be the “best option” for enjoying the parks. That being said, your approach is the one I came up with given your days before I read that it was what you were considering. You definitely want full days for MK and EP. A long “partial” day will be sufficient to see most of what AK has to offer without feeling rushed.

I have a hard time making recommendations about DHS, maybe because it’s my least favorite park. If you want to do all of the rides and see most of the shows, it will take a full day. The shows, for the most part haven’t changed in decades and I’m pretty much burned out on them; I rarely go to any other than Indy occasionally. Using RD and FPPs, I can knock out the 5 major rides by lunch, sometimes with a ST re-ride. You’ve only expressed an interest in 4 rides; using FPPs, I think it’s entirely realistic to get them done in 4 hours, grab a QS meal, and maybe even see the SW PM show. You’ll probably have to “write off” the live shows, except perhaps Little Mermaid (it’s relatively short, you usually don’t have to line up early, and there are a lot of showings. If you had a chance to see Aladdin in DCA, you will be disappointed in the DHS shows; none of them live up to the production standards set by that show. FWIW, TSMM, ST, and Muppets are essentially identical to their DLR counterparts (but the WDW TSMM has a much more interesting queue).

Given your short schedule, I would not recommend hoppers; you’ll be hard pressed to get everything in in each park as it is without “wasting” time hopping (best case is 20-25 min; an hour is not unheard of).

AK is NOT small. Some people think it is because it has the fewest “rides”. Actually it’s the largest park in acres in WDW, but over half of it is the Kilimanjaro game preserve accessible only on the KS ride. People who go “just for the rides” will often call it a “half-day” park. Other people (like me) who want to take in at least a couple of the shows, spend time on the trails looking at the animals, and just take in the incredible detailing and ambiance of the park can spend an entire day there and wish they had more time. Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo are both excellent shows and should not be missed; Flights of Wonder is not the best bird show I’ve seen, but still very worth seeing.

The chances of Pandora being open during your trip are pretty slim; there are rumors circulating for a late May “soft opening”, but I have read nothing credible that indicates April. Rivers of Light (the AK PM show) might be running by then, but given your schedule, that might have to go into your “next time” box.

I would run your costs for the 5th day and see whether your budget is comfortable adding the day. If the 4 days is more comfortable, I think I would go with your days as planned. Pick a few must do’s and a few lesser priority items and have fun making touring plans!

I think your current plan is right on track and you’ll have an awesome time. Keep in mind that WDW has an advantage over DL in terms of fastpass. Since you can schedule in advance, you can target exactly what you want to exactly the time you have available. With that in mind, I think you’ll be ok for HS. You can FP toy story mania & star tours plus one more, and just be realistic that you can’t see all the shows, but you can prioritize what sounds most interesting to you.

We’ve never park hopped, both because of cost and because it eats up time.

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You could fastpass TSMM (tier 1), star tours and Muppets or a show you want to see (if you want to see Indy, given that you probably have a max of 2 possible show times to choose from, you may want to get a fastpass to make sure of seeing it).

If the Star Wars light /fireworks show is on and you’re interested then watch it and then make a dash for GMM; or if you don’t care for Star Wars then do GMM during the show.

Also, do you have to eat in the short time you have? Grab something to eat as you go there, and book a meal after maybe? It doesn’t take long to get back to the Swan, and if park closes at 7 then allowing time to saunter out (Sunset blvd is worth a stroll along), then you could book for 8:30. You could always eat on the go too.

Thanks everyone for the advice. We ran though a bunch of scenarios and ultimately decided to stay an extra day. So that means full days (F-S-S) for three of the parks, and a mostly full day on Thursday for one of them. We will just use our free afternoon on Wednesday to enjoy the resort instead and not feel so rushed.

We even thought about staying offsite for cheaper and renting a car to get her to her meetings, but it just didn’t add up in either money or convenience. The hotel (Swan/Dolphin) we are staying is also where the conference is, and a short walk from Epcot and Hollywood.

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Just tossing this out… Have you checked the price for a 5 day ticket instead of a 4? I didn’t, so I don’t know the price diff, BUT, if you go to Epcot on Thursday late afternoon, you can knock out three fastpasses, probably some other things - maybe a street show or three, and Illuminations. The beauty of The Swan, is, you’ll be back in your hotel room before many of the ppl are at a bus queue or their car. I guess that would also probably be best for you if you did a hopper, so you could split a day for more Epcot after Thursday. One thing to keep in mind is that with the Epcot resorts, in the am and pm, you are not at the mercy of Disney busses. The boats are pretty good, but walking to Epcot is seriously ten minutes, and walking to Hollywood will more than likely be faster than the boats unless you happen to catch a boat on its way when you walk out.

If you stick with non park on Wednesday, you can also go check out The Boardwalk, which is basically at the hotel’s back door. I think there are some street shows there as well. Not sure if there are times for the street shows posted. No shame in just chilling at the hotel though. Their pool system is fantastic. Two or three different heated pools, and one sprawling pool separated into three pools, the waterfall has a decent sized seating area behind it with bathrooms, the slide next to the waterfall is actually pretty fun a few times for adults, and The Cabana Bar/Grill will bring drinks out to you.

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Hi seebee, I didn’t check until you suggested it! The 5-day tickets are $68 per day, while the “4-Park Magic Ticket” works out to $69.75 per day (as opposed to the $81.25 per day of a standard 4- day ticket), and you are locked into a different park per day with no hopper option.

Still, she will be in work meetings most of the day Wednesday (8-3pm), so a low key evening on the resort will be nice, get to bed at a reasonable hour and hit the ground running on Thursday is probably the best plan.

In regards to your comment: “but not Magic Bands, unfortunately,” You can purchase a basic magic band for $13 each online at the Disney store and then link them to your ticket very easily through “my disney experience.”

That’s true, but what I meant was, since it’s not a “true” Disney resort, it’s not included in your room charge, it doesn’t act as your room key, and you can’t charge purchases to it in the parks. So basically, you are just paying extra to not have to use your ticket/card to get in the parks and get fast passes, right?

You are correct, but should also add the photopass and ADR thing as well (if that matters.)
We bought them, but mainly because we have a kid and didn’t want to be fumbling around for room keys, and also because we’ll probably go back a few times before the batteries run out, and we really liked the Swan pkg/price, so we’d have no issue staying there again if we can’t find a better pkg at a 'true" on site. The package we got easily saved us money over any similar Epcot area resort. Even with airport transport and magic bands. It was a no brainer. We’re currently trying to figure out if CBR + Free Dining will even be a better deal than Swan.