Flex Your Planning Skills

I would definitely prioritize Magic Kingdom over the other parks.

Arriving your first day around 10am @ MCO, I would plan to not get to the parks until after lunch.

Maybe take a bit of time to have everyone check-in and get settled before rushing off to your first park. Are the twins swimmers? Maybe a quick lunch by the pool for an hour or two before getting everyone ready to go to MK.

It looks like park hours are set until 6pm on that day. Since you do have Genie+, I would suggest you book a ride that you feel would really start the family off excited while in MK. Will you have access to the internet at 7am EST? Having a ride or two or three “stacked” for when you get to the parks would help with the overwhelming emotions and sensory input you will have on day one.

Maybe Dumbo, IASW, and PPF. Throw in some extra fun time for an ice cream (the sandwich of course :slight_smile: ), or cotton candy. A ride on the Carousel would be a great addition as well. If the children recognize some of the classic movies an songs, maybe give Philharmagic a try.

Unless the little ones can handle loud bangs, you may want to skip the fireworks or bring earmuffs. You always have access to the fireworks from within your hotel room (and can control the volume).

I would give MK, HS, and AK each a day. I would only add EP if the parents want a day at F&W. IMO, I think EP is tailored to an older demographic. However, you can weigh that against them getting to ride FEA and the RAT.

Definitely add mid-day breaks for naps and rest time by the pool.

I would add a day off maybe after the 3rd park day. (11/11)

To optimize the days, definitely take advantage of the Genie+ you have purchased. You will have to get someone in the family to be the point person for scheduling everything. Make sure they are diligent at the 7am drop and the 2 hour rule.

Make sure you do a “test” with the characters and the little ones. Some take right away to the characters, and some are just plain scared of them. If they are OK with the characters, maybe get them an autograph book and see how many character signatures they can get.


When mine were little, our first day (after a 2.5 hr flight) consisted of checking in, getting lunch at the resort, and then heading to MK for a few hours.

Both kids rode IASW as their first WDW ride. It eased them into rides with the slow moving boat, happy music, and small person animatronics.

FWIW, my son was completely freaked out by Dumbo at 2yo. We kept him off the similar rides and I was a bit confused as to how a child of mine could hate riding Dumbo!! A few years later he was diagnosed as autistic including a host of sensory issues. He basically thought he was dying once they took off.

After a few hours of Fantasyland, we would round out the day with an early dinner at Chef Mickey’s. It gave everyone a low key way to see the big cheese and friends, and checked off the box to see them all w/o standing in any lines.

Then we would head back to the resort for an early night.

Kids are now 16 & 20. Enjoy the magic with your littles!!!


I think it’s more typical to alternate days of the same park. But I’m quite interested to hear what others think, and the pros and cons.

Does anyone put 2 (or 3) MK days back to back?


The twins (and even the 2 year old) LOVE the pool. I wasn’t sure about check-in time, though, I thought we wouldn’t get our room until 4:00ish. Is it typical to get access beforehand? If so, I’d love to check into our rooms as soon as possible, give the kids some downtime, I just figured we wouldn’t be able to.

If we cannot get into our rooms, would you still suggest time at the pool? Are there enough facilities to change?

And if you have the heart, can you explain a bit more about Genie+? Can you book for a certain time of day? Like if we knew we wouldn’t be getting to the park until 1:00, could we start booking rides for 1:00, or is it first available? And can you book more than one at once?
Thank you!

Looking forward to hearing other’s thoughts on doing parks back to back. I was struck by the Unofficial Guide 2022 book’s suggestion to start with AK and work your way to MK last, because anything after MK is a disappointment, and I wasn’t sure if that was the lived experience of most visitors with young kids.

Right now, I’m leaning towards 2 days at MK, AK, and EP, as my husband and I are foodies and my kiddos, while they love Disney movies, aren’t really aware of Mickey/Minnie or Star Wars, so it seems like most of what happens at DHS would not be of interest.

Re: the pool

Although 4:00pm may be the official check-in time, you may be able to get into your room earlier. Some others may have tricks to make that happen, but talking to a cast member at the check-in desk can work wonders.

During our last trip our room was not yet available when we arrived at the hotel. The kids immediately went to the nearest bathroom, threw on their swim trunks and they were in the pool.

Re: Genie+ tricks

There is a whole thread on Genie+ education and tricks on this forum. ( The Genie Thread! All WDW Info Here ) I have not read all of it and I have not partaken in its use, but here is what I can gather for your situation.

  • You will not be in a park until the afternoon.
  • Let’s say that the afternoon park you will be picking is MK.
  • WDW is still using park reservations.
  • WDW is still enforcing no moving from your reserved park for the morning to another park until 2pm.

With Genie+, it will look at the park you have reserved for the morning when selecting your attractions. So if you were to book an Park Reservation for AK, Genie+ will allow you to book attractions for AK starting at 7am. However, if you instead searched for attractions in MK, it would not show you anything available until at least 2pm. Therefore you could start reserving your afternoon rides.

It seems like this “loophole” is still open and can be utilized for your situation.

Once you have reserved your first Genie+ reservation at 7am, the next one is typically available to you 2 hours after park opening. So if MK opens at 9am, you can book or “Stack” a second Genie+ reservation at 11am (2 hours after park opening).

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Here are my thoughts along with some questions:

(1) You will need more food/water/washroom breaks than you probably currently envision (and each child will “have to go” at a different time. Keep this in mind when making plans. And if you decide to step into a long line for an attraction, offer a washroom opportunity to the kids before getting in that line.

(2) Are you renting strollers? I highly recommend with kids that age.

(3) What times do you plan to spend a the parks? Are you early morning rope droppers? Will you take a break in the afternoons (in the park or going back to the resort?) Will you go back to the park for evenings? Will the 2 y/o nap in the park in the stroller or does it need to be back at the resort? Do the 5 y/o nap? If not, are they the type of kids who would prefer to spend all day at the park (like my DD7 did when she was 4.5 yo) or are they more like my DS4.5 who prefers a mid-day break?

(4) Measure your kids height in advance so you have an idea of what rides they will need to skip in advance. Helps for planning your day and also helps avoid kids getting excited for a ride, only to be disappointed when they are not tall enough.

The attractions my kids were tall enough for might also influence the number of days I picked for each park along with …

(5) Do your 5 y/o’s enjoy thrill rides? Do they like Star Wars?

(6) For a onece in a lifetime trip, if it fits in your budget I would consider the MK Fireworks dessert party with the garden view of the fireworks. We did this when my kids were 4.5 y/o and 2 y/o. The garden will be crowded but much less crowded than the regular viewing area. And what kid doesn’t love free reign at a dessert buffer for 45 mins. That was one of the highlights of that trip for my kids. NOTE: I would be bring sound deadening earphones for the kids unless you know that they are ok with very loud fireworks.

(7) Since you have G+, read the G+ thread in these forums. So much valuable advice. I have been to WDW many times, but last month was my first trip with G+ and that thread helped save me a lot of time in the parks.

(8) Minor tips, but I have found these helfup: Bring disposable ponchos (multiple for each person). Bring portable battery chargers for your phone. Bring snacks for the kids to the parks (more optimal, but saves time and money). Bring post-it notes to stick over the sensor on the toilet if your kids may be scared of the loud noise of auto-flushers that could go off while they are sitting on the toilet. If you rent strollers, also get stroller rain covers and cup holders.

I would spend a full day at each park and a second full day at MK. I would lean toward doing your first partial day as a few hours at MK (stack those LLs!), but if you told me your twins were over 40", love thrill rides and love Star Wars, I could see spending that partial day at HS. The way HS works, it will be very hard to do the Star Wars Rides, the Toy Story Rides, ToT and MMRR in one day without staying all day and waiting in some long lines. Broken up into 1.5 days, you may be able to do them all with Genie+ LLs (and ILL for Rise of the Resistance) and avoid really long lines.

@bebe80 we don’t do the same park back to back. Especially with littles, going back to a park after break of a day or two makes that park have more of an impact because on the second visit, the park is familiar. Familiar is memorable.

We don’t do the same park all day, even. For many years we’d do Epcot every evening because that park was open later.

@mskfio , we’d been to WDW several times before we brought littles - then 2 and 3 years old. They were basically along for the ride rather than the trip being for them. Their parents - our adult kids and spouses - were the focus of the trip. We were 7 adults, so high adult to littles ratio. At 2 and 3 they were really interested in all the sights and sounds. Epcot was hugely entertaining.

Several years later on another WDW trip we brought another 2 yo that didn’t care for lots of noise. Our first day has usually always been whichever park is expected to have the least crowd. I don’t recall what park that was that trip. I do know when we did go to MK we went to Adventureland first and rode Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. Couple days later we did Fantasyland. Now that 2 yo is a teen and we still do Magic Carpets first; it’s tradition. :blush:

A non park day mid stay is popular. We’ve done mid day breaks. Maybe less for napping and more to get away from the sensory overload for a little while.

I know many feel that they’ll miss too much time in the parks with a daily break. I think everyone needs to figure out what their personal focus is at WDW. Ours has been making memories. When that 3 year old was a senior in high school he said even with 3 days only for a visit he’d still take a mid-day break. He said, “It’s Disney World, not Disney Parks. The resorts are part of it.”

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All of these suggestions are super helpful! We will be buying some earphones for all three kids. I also appreciate the sentiment that the resorts are part of Disney World.

My whole family adores sweets. The Dessert Party is something I’ve never heard of, and seems like it would create a memory to last a lifetime!!!

I’ll be spending some time on the G+ threads. It honestly feels like I’m earning a Minor in WDW to prepare for this trip!!!

I’m not sure about whether my kids like thrill rides, but I will definitely be testing them beforehand to see what their tolerance is.

I think we will all benefit from a mid-day break to decompress. Maybe early morning starts, an afternoon break in the room, and go back to the park when the crowds thin? We will see!

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The dessert parties often sell out so if interested I would recommend booking as soon as reservation dates are released for your dates.

My daughter who was 4.5 at the time still talks about the dessert party we went to in 2019. My son was 23 months old then and had a great time, but of course he doesn’t remember the party.

That’s what I’d do.

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Since your trip is in November, one thing to keep in mind is that historically Tuesdays in November have been Mickey’s Christmas party (separate ticketed event) days. On your arrival day, you may want a park open later than 6:00 pm.

Also, check the Christmas party schedule when it comes out. The days with a party scheduled at night tend to draw less crowds at MK due too the early close time. I found those days to be great days to go to MK with very young kids because of the lower crowds during the morning and early afternoon. And conversely, the non-party days in November were very crowded at MK.

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Good catch. Here were the hours and schedule from last year:

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The MK closing time may depend on whether Disney continues with Very Merriest After Hours or switches back to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. In 2019, I think MK closed at 6:00 pm on the Christmas party days. Since WDW is bringing back Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party wiith 6:00 pm MK closings this fall, I think there is a decent chance that the Christmas party will be back too.

We shall see. Just something for the OP to keep in mind.


This is all incredibly helpful, thank you all.

In terms of timing, what are the critical dates to know? For example, when are the hours the park will be opened released? That seems like a crucial influence for what days you would want to go, and therefore, what reservations you would want and which days. I know you can book restaurants 60 days beforehand, but what other dates should I be looking out for?

I think it has been at least 75 days in advance recently. Pre-Covid it was more like 180 days in advance.

But if you have already purchased your park tickets, I would suggest making a tentative schedule and booking park reservations for those days. Currently you can switch a park res to another park res that has availability (on a date your tix are good for). I already have park res made for my fall WDW trip.

We had our 3 great granddaughters on a trip in September 2019, ages 9, 8 and 5. None had been on any amusement park ride. I think maybe the train at the zoo.

We had discussed testing ahead of time - maybe you tube videos. In the end we just winged it.

As it happened our first WDW morning was MK so first ride was Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. The girls screamed in terror.

Then we did Pirates and Splash - never mentioning anything, just going on them. The girls loved them. They eventually rode Tower of Terror just fine. The 9 yo tolerated RnRC and EE but loved Dino. The 8 yo had her arms in the air on RnRC and EE and was terrified on Dino. None would agree to repeat Magic Carpets. :rofl:

But again, we were several adults and few kids. We went and they followed along.


The hours are posted far in advance, but they frequently change as the dates draw closer (in my experience, the changes generally add hours, unless they are adjusting for an after-hours event). If you’re tracking your trip days on Touring Plans, you’ll get emails any time the hours change - I love those emails because I usually wind up squealing with delight seeing that I’ll get extra park time because of the changes!


I’d see which park is open latest, probably MK, and do that on your first PM half day. I would also put my rest day as in the middle as possible: so three park days, rest day, three park days. I’d also use the crowd calendar to choose which days I went to which park. And with littles as young as yours I’d focus on MK first and AK second.

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What do you think about attending the “after the fireworks” MK dessert party? My biggest concern would be staying out too late for the littles (right now, they are generally ‘good’ until about 9:15, and then they start to meltdown).

The reasons the after the fireworks appeals is because (1) from a seating and cost standpoint, that seems like the way to go, since you would get priority seating outside and (2) I hope we would be at the tail-end of the crowd departing, so it would be easier to get transportation back to the hotel (though I may be delusional and the crowds could be just as bad).

So the main questions would be

  1. In the fall, what time do the fireworks start/end?
  2. How long do the after-fireworks dessert parties run?
  3. How quickly does MK clear out?

TIA, as always, for your A+ advice!