First Timers - Help on Which Parks to Visit Each Day Please! (4 + 1/3 days)

4 Adults visiting for the first time.

We’ll be checking into Port Orleans French Quarter on the 14th of Jan and then leaving on the 18th.

Non park-hopper park tickets for 5 days so we’ve got:

14th - Should be all checked in at POFQ by around 4-4:30pm
15-17 - All day/night
18th - Only until 4pm (6pm flight)

Definitely want to visit all four parks.

We have the Dining plan (1 table, 1 counter, 1 snack) and will likely be doing a table service Dinner on on the 14th-17th to get the most value out of it. Though depending on which park we’re visiting perhaps a buffet lunch on the 18th instead of dinner on the 14th since we have such little time on the day of our arrival? (just seems like it’s giving up some of the costly investment in the dining plan to use a sit down credit for lunch?)

Any help, insight, and advice would be appreciated!

You do not have ADRs yet and this is January 2015?

Edit to add:

Do you have a My Disney Experience account set up? Since you have not picked parks I expect you have not made fast passes yet?

Congrats on finding us!

Yes Jan. 2015 and only just booked our Dining Plan and Park Tickets last night. Have just set up the MDE account.

So my priorities are in the next 24 hours to decide on the parks, then make the ADR’s and Fast Pass reservations accordingly.

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OK, first of all, consider dropping the Dining Plan if you can. I’m not sure what the ADR availability is for the dates in question, but you may find that you will not be able to get TS reservations that will work well with your touring plans. Second, with 4 adults I am assuming that you will be up for some all-out touring, and by that I mean hitting RD, taking advantage of EMH, and doing full days.

Wed Jan 14: MK until close, or possibly EP (open 1 hour later, better selection of restaurants)
Thur Jan 15: MK 8am - 9pm (taking advantage of mEMH)
Fri Jan 16: EP 9am - 11pm (taking advantage of eEMH)
Sat Jan 17: HS 8am - 9pm (taking advantage of mEMH)
Sun Jan 18: AK 8am to ??? (taking advantage of mEMH)

Other suggestions:

  • Book your FPP reservations now, either using the suggestions from the standard Adult 1-day TPs or from Optimized Personalized TPs that you make yourself.
  • Book ADRs now, and keep checking back daily for better fits for your plans.
  • How are you getting to the airport? MDE, rental car, taxi? You will not be able to tour until 4pm if you have a 6pm flight, but a rental car or taxi direct from AK will give you more park time. Regardless of how you are getting there, use the Resort Airline Check-In Service in the morning before you head out to the park - that will save you time at the airport, and you can check your bags right then and there.

I would also recommend dropping the dining plan. While it may seem convenient, ADRs will be a very difficult thing to snag at this point in the game. It will be hard to maximize the value. @brklinck also has a really good idea in attempting to make RD, take advantage of EMH. I would recommend going into this with the idea that you will not be able to see everything you’d like on this trip. You’ll be pressuring yourself a lot less than if you try to see ~~ALL THE THINGS~~!

Good luck!


If you choose to keep the dining plan, your January dates should work in your favor. I’ll be in the World Jan. 15-19, and I’ve been tinkering with my ADRs a lot lately (although just for a party of 2 adults). Even so, I’ve seen great times for Sci Fi, BoG, Cali Grill, Flying Fish, etc. in just the last week.


All of the restaurants we’re most interested have been showing availability at the times I’ve checked. Once my touring plans firm up if the ADR’s are not looking good I can always cancel then. My number one concern at this point is settling on the park days.

What is “RD”?

As for EMH, most of what I’ve read suggests avoiding those parks because they bring the biggest crowds on that day no?

Don’t worry, we’re not planning on running ourselves ragged and trying to do/see EVERYTHING. We’d rather enjoy what we do than run around like mice in a maze. :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for the excellent tips!

What are thoughts here on the EasyWDW Crowd Calendar? Many claim they found it was much more accurate? Considering there is virtually no overlap at all between the two I’d love to hear perspectives on that.


RD is rope drop. They mean arrive at the gate 30 to 40 minutes before the park opens. You can get much more done early in the day before the crowd arrives.


As far as EMH go, yes the WDW resort guests will go to those parks. If I was staying off property then I would avoid them. However, if I’m staying on property then I would take advantage of them. That extra hour in the morning makes a big difference to me. My family likes to hit RD every day and then go back to the resort about Noonish for a break. Then we go back in the evening when the tired and weary walking wounded are leaving and close the park. Just my $0.02 worth.


The advice to avoid EMH parks is true if you are not able to take advantage of the extra hour(s). However, if you are staying on-site and will be able to be in the parks to take full advantage of them then they are a huge advantage.

Whether EasyWDW is more accurate that TP is a matter of opinion. However, TP are very open about the results of their projections, with a weekly Blog post on how they did and full historical calendars. EasyWDW, not so much.


RD just means rope drop. Arriving at the park 30 to 45 minutes before it opens is a huge time-saver. As an example, I arrived at RD almost every day on my last trip. At Magic Kingdom, I was able to ride Peter Pan, Splash Mountain three times, Big Thunder Mountain and the Haunted Mansion within about 90 minutes of the park opening. And that was with what many would consider an inefficient use of time. While crowds may be bigger on EMH days, I believe arriving at RD will allow you to accomplish more.


Another plan, if you want to avoid the EMH parks because you do not think that you will actually be able to utilize the extra time. I am still keeping AK on Sun despite the mEMH, as I think that it is the best park given your travel plans.
Wed Jan 14: MK until close, or possibly EP (open 1 hour later, better selection of restaurants)
Thurs Jan 15: EP (lowest crowd of day ex AK)
Fri Jan 16: HS (lowest crowd of day ex AK)
Sat Jan 17: MK (lowest crowd of day, open until 1am)
Sun Jan 18: AK 8am mEMH

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I like @brklinck’s second plan. I would want to spread out my MK days. How old are you ( not exact age, just range)? Will you want to be out bar hopping or at DTD at night and sleep in?

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Here are a few of my thoughts.

Definitely work on a touring plan ahead of time because it helps manage your expectations on what you can get done. Even with a TP though, I still find everything takes longer than you think, especially if you are trying to soak it all in. Try not to skip the soaking it all in part.

I agree with @brklinck and @PrincipalTinker and like the second plan. I always like my first and last nights to be at MK.

If you drop the dining plan, consider the lounges for a meal since you have all adults. EP has a bunch that you can get a drink and a good meal. HS has the Brown Derby lounge and I think a couple others. If you can’t get an ADR or don’t want to be tied down with a time, this is a good way to get a nice sit down meal.

We like RD and then an afternoon break.

Since you are staying at POFQ, consider popping into POR one night for YeeHaw Bob. That show is so much fun!

Have a fantastic trip!

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OK, I’m waiting for people to respond to my data requests and I’m bored, so I did some more work on this. :smile:

I looked at every possible sequence of 1 park per day and calculated the Total Crowd Level (the sum of the Crowd Levels for the selected parks). Ignoring arrival day (where the Crowd Level for each park is 3), the Total Crowd Levels range from 20 to 26, so we are not looking at a huge difference between the best and worst plans, only an average of 1.5 CL a day.

My first plan (MK, EP, HS, AK) is the “worst” one at 26, but I still like it the best because it hits EMH at each park, which in my mind will more than make up for the additional crowds.

My second plan (EP, HS, MK, AK) is in the middle at 23. It is really hurt by the CL 9 day at AK, but the mEMH should make up for that. Also, AK is a great park for visiting just in the morning/afternoon, as it has no evening parades/shows).

The “best” plan is AK, HS, EP, MK at 20, but if you do this one you definitely have to do MK on your arrival day if you want to see the evening parade and Wishes. I really don’t like this one, as I think that it sacrifices too much MK time.

Here is a summary of the data for all possible plans:

On arrival day I have you going to the Day 4 park, except when AK is the Day 4 park, as it is pointless to try to go there because of how late in the afternoon you arrive. On days where HS is on Day 4 you could go to either MK or EP on Arrival Day if you are not interested in seeing Fantasmic.

I warned you I was bored… :wink:


I like the second plan better, but that’s just my opinion.

Since you will be going at a lower crowd time you should get much of what you want done. However, you WON’T get EVERYTHING done. (Reason for another trip? :smiley:)

So I would look at what’s available and choose your top 3 or 4 and make sure you get those in.

Remember to slow down occasionally and just take it all in. One of the reasons Disney works so well is the attention to detail. Rushing from one thing to another it’s easy to miss that.

I second YeeHaw Bob. His show is a lot of fun.

I also STRONGLY encourage Rope Drop. Personal example: Family & I were there in September ( a low crowd time). We got to the parks early, rode most of what we wanted and were then able to go back and ride other things, or ride a second time, or just relax and enjoy. DSIL and family arrived at 1PM and the first thing they needed to do was eat. By the time that was done, they rode about 3 rides, and then the park was closing, as it was a Halloween party night. She was ticked off and felt she didn’t get value for her ticket. Doh!

Make sure you find time to see the nighttime shows (Illuminations, Wishes, MSEP, Celebrate the Magic & Fantasmic) They are outstanding.

Whatever you decide, it will be magical. Enjoy.

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Can I change my vote? The “best” plan would have you at MK the first and last day. I think for first timers, that is ideal.

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Some great tips up there ^^^
I’m planning my first trip too (june) so just wanted to say hi! :smile:

I think one of the best tips I can provide is when you get there - enjoy! don’t put too much pressure on yourself and family to stick to plans and if you need to change something on the fly, change it.

We did DLR last year and found that RD - Rope Drop - so being first in the parks - made it very easy to tick of a lot of items in a short space of time. We could then escape back to the hotel for a swim/rest and go back to the parks in the afternoon/evening.

Have fun!

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Ooh glad you said that @Quattro. Triggered something else.

If you DO use a touring plan, and you get behind - or ahead - or just decide to skip something, you can re- optimize in the parks on the fly using the phone app. Just make sure you’ve checked off things you’ve done and it will adjust your plan.

Don’t try it at home, though. It will optimize assuming you are in the park and you have X hours left to tour - which can give you some pretty strange plans. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Thanks to everyone for all the invaluable insights!!!

So after doing a bit more reading morning EMH are just not going to work for us because if being at the gate for Rope Drop is as much of an advantage as everyone says it is, then being out of bed, showered, having coffee and getting to the park by 8:30 is already going to be a big enough feat for us! Trying to accomplish that by 7:30 am is wading deep into this-doesn’t-feel-like-a-vaction-at-all territory. :wink:

So with that in mind I’m currently considering this plan:

14 MK 4-8pm
15 EP 8:30am-9pm
16 MK 8:30am-11pm
17 AK 8:30am-7pm
18 HS 8:30am-3pm


  • Some have said the MK is the park that will most benefit from extra time so we could catch Wishes and a few things on the night we arrive then have dinner at one of the resort restaurants after it closes.
  • All of the above are “recommended” on the EasyWDW Crowd calendar with three being their 1st choice and also either ideal or not too bad according to TouringPlans Crowd Calendar.
  • I’ve heard HS is considered by many to be a half day park this time of year so it seems well suited for our last day which is cut short?
  • None of the above are EMH days which we wouldn’t be taking advantage of anyway so we’re spared any extra crowds that brings, and will instead aim for rope drop at the regular opening time every day while getting a bit more sleep.


  • HS on the day we leave means we couldn’t do Fantasmic :frowning: (if we go against the crowd calendars we could swap HS and AK)
  • For the first night since we’re arriving late Epcot would get us one more full park hour before closing.
  • Some have suggested starting and ending with MK is a great thing for first timers, though I’m concerned that with the early closing on the 14th and having to check out in the morning and leave the park on the 18th by 3pm we’re not even getting a full combined day to experience MK.

On swapping AK and HS for the last two days, AK on the 18th and HS on the 17th are predicted to be heavier attended parks at both TouringPlans AND EasyWDW Crowd Calendars. Even being the slow season since these are our weekend days that may still be a significant consideration? (Touring Plans rates AK 9/10 crowd heaviness on the 18th and HS on the 17th is marked 7 vs 6 at all the others… EWDW lists them both as 2nd to worst in red those days)

Thoughts? Critique? Things I’m missing? Improvements to be made? I’m All Ears! :slight_smile: