Park Itinerary for Kids

We are taking our three kids (ages 9, 7 and 6) on our first trip to WDW and US at the end of October. The crowd calendars look good for each park for most of the trip (Oct 27-Nov 2) but I am looking for suggestions about our park itinerary based on how tiring they will be for the kids. Basically I am trying to spread the tempo of the parks out throughout the trip.

Right now we are thinking about this order- HS/US/US/EP/AK/MK. I am not 100% about leaving MK for the last day because of my kids ages but they are really excited about US too and I didn’t want them all crammed together. Any suggestions?

Thanks for your help!

My thought is this - they will almost certainly like MK best. I know you want to see more parks, but maybe you could get park hopper and do AK then switch over to MK. Same with EP and HS. Spend maybe 3/4 of a day in each of those parks so you can spend more time in MK. Just a thought.

We have the hopper passes for both WDW and US. I hadn’t thought about using the hopper feature too much but that is certainly an idea. I don’t think that my kids will be too excited about EP because of their ages but its hard to guess since this is my first trip too!

For a first timer - kids will not be interested in the World Showcase. I think it’s amazing, and you likely will too. But kids will want to ride things and there just isn’t that much to ride there.

As far as rides in EP - my favorite is Soarin, but they may like Frozen as well. Test track is fun, but, as with Soarin, can be a little intense. You know your kids better than I do, so use your own judgement.

Most of the rides in MK are family friendly. Most of them. Space Mountain is a little on the intense side, because it’s in the dark. My then 6yo daughters didn’t care for the big drop on Splash Mountain either.

In HS, Rock n Rollercoaster is arguably my favorite ride in all the parks. But it is also maybe the most intense ride in the all the parks too. Pretty much everything else in HS is family friendly, except maybe the ToT, which in my opinion isn’t too bad. YMMV though.

I have been to AK, but not since they have FOP. FOP is supposed to be the most awesome ride in all the parks. I can’t wait to do it myself.

So here is my 2 cents. I have 3 kids and have done 2 trips with them. Ages 8,8, and 4 and the second trip this past May when they were 9,9, and 6. There is no way to really guess which parks your kids like best their first trip. In 2016, we did 2 MK, 1 Epcot, 1 AK, 1 HS and a waterpark/DS day. Favorites were HS and Epcot for the 8 year olds. The 4 year old didn’t have a favorite. He seemed to like something about all 4. MK is me and my DH’s favorite. So the next trip we did 2 MK, 2 Epcot, 1 AK and 1 HS. And my kids did like doing the World showcase for the food, characters, and getting their Duffy bear stamped (which has changed to a passport of sorts).

As far as the layout of how we did the parks, our second trip was the best. We did a rest day on arrival day, MK from PPO at BOG until our dinner ADR, Epcot PPO at GG until dinner time. Open to close at HS, lunch to close at MK, lunch to 8pm at AK, Epcot lunch to 8/8:30 pm, DS on departure day. With our kids, we found only one day doing open to close, doing rope drop or PPO to dinner at the beginning of the week and then letting them sleep in and close out the park or leaving when tired to work the best. Everyone is raring to go at the beginning of the week, but by Thursday we seem to hit that wall. I know you are doing Universal as well, so that changes things some, but I find that happy kids (and DH) make for a happy trip. Pushing too hard to fit it all in is just too exhausting. Hope that helps some.

My suggestion:
Start organizing what you’d like to do in each park to streamline your process. You’ll need to prioritize what you can, and cannot do. Don’t worry about what you cannot do at ALL. You’ll still have a whole lot of fun. Once you have your list of what you’d like to do, eliminate even more if you need to because of time restraints. Don’t overdo it, because you’ll be miserable - ON AN EXPENSIVE VACATION. Well, sometimes the parents just have to endure it for the sake of the kids. Don’t make your kids miserable, though. You’ll see the miserable kids of others. Don’t pay a boatload for this vacation, and wind up hating it. Relax where you can, and need, and enjoy what you can of it. If you get a plan of attack together of exactly what you’d like to do, that will help avoiding the "where do we go next?’ conundrum, and add to the ease of knowing what you are doing at all times. You’ll already know what is important for you to do. WDW is HUGE, and it has tons of sidetracking diversions.

If you are locked into two days at Universal, and this is your first trip, I’d only do half of a day at Epcot. Kids generally LOVE TT and Soarin, and Mission Space. I’d also do Spaceship Earth, and be done with Epcot for this trip. On the next trip, do more at Epcot.

Hollywood has the best thrill rides, and the Indy show, and the Star Wars stuff, and Fantasmic. A lot of ppl say it’s a half day park. That may be, but I like Hollywood, and 3/4 of a day is no issue for me.

I’d essentially make sure to be at AK/EP/HS for rope drop to maximize what you can do and get out to relax. Early am is precious time for getting things done instead of standing in lines while the line for what you want to do next gets even longer. Your feet are going to take a pounding.

-Don’t overdo it.
-Have a plan to eliminate wasted time on things that are not important to you (this time.) it sounds harsh, but the reality is that whatever catches the kids’ eyes might be insignificant compared to what you want them to see next. They are kids, they don’t know. Let them know beforehand.
-Remember to relax and enjoy this time with your family.

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It’s interesting how different each family can be. For our family last trip (DD was 4) we ended up spending 2 days at Epcot (2 at MK, one each AK/HS). I anticipated she’d want a 3rd day at MK, but she choose Epcot instead. That was fine with DH & me as that’s our favorite as well. It’ll be interesting to see which park she chooses for out last day this upcoming trip (when she’ll be 10).

Anyway, all this to say, you know the interests of your family best. Got adventurous eaters-kids that are interested in other cultures, they might love WS. Mine certainly did. My kiddo is super cautious, so we had to adjust our course when she decided she wouldn’t even go on Spaceship Earth. We were surprised when she did want to meet all the characters (she can be pretty shy, but I think she felt like she knew the princesses and other characters).

Talk about the rides, things to see at each park with the kids and see what they are interested in. As far as general plans, TP’s has a lot of great plans of how to tour the parks with different aged kids. That would probably be a great place to start for a first time trip. Hold onto your plans loosely, in case they throw you for a loop!



It always makes me sad when people assume kids won’t like World Showcase. My sister and I LOVED it when we were kids - first visit at age 8 (me) and 3 (her). Talking with the CMs from the different nations and seeing all the different things? We loved it!

It makes me sad to see people write off that wonderful area and experience on an assumption that kids won’t like it.

(We loved Future World and the Magic Kingdom too FWIW.)


Our DD (age 4) also loves World Showcase. She really enjoys all the live entertainment (the Chinese acrobats are a favorite), looking around the stores and coloring at the Kidcot stops. Also, during the Food & Wine Festival you have Remy’s Scavenger Hunt which is great fun! Last month she also spent some time in the new play area behind Mousegear. F&WF is also a great way to have lunch, with taster portions which are a great size for kids. DD absolutely devours the lobster roll and scallops. Far from all of it is adventurous - there’s plenty for those with more plain tastes.


OK, I apologize. I was just going on personal experience with my own kids I guess and when I was a kid, I remember not liking WS as much because it didn’t have as many rides. If kids like it, that’s awesome. I think it’s great and a good learning experience for kids to learn about different cultures, etc. if only for a little while.

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I’m guessing your experience is the norm though. I went with a group of 7 when I was 12/13 and I hated it. All of the “kids” did. (at least this is what my mom told me - I barely remember).

Love it now. Kids are neutral about it - they at least accept that it’s something the parents are going to do. They do like some of the entertainment, but would rather be in Future World, if not another park.


I didn’t want to steer Tina wrong because she has never been there. Then, several people mentioned that their kids loved it. My kids will unequivocally state that World Showcase is the least fun, and in fact, not fun at all. They did accept that we were going to do it, but we minimized our time there.

Just trying to give the best advice I can. I am always searching for new trips/tips, and always appreciate any advice I can get. So, I’m trying to do the same. :slight_smile:

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An advantage of MK on the last day is that you can say later without worrying about getting up early the next day (unless you have an early flight). I think the important thing is to pace yourself and spread out the shorter days (maybe with pool time) vs. longer days. But you’ll have fun no matter how you do it.

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It’s hard to recommend which parks to emphasize for other families.

But two general things-

  1. I’d cut back on the days at Universal, or even eliminate them. My kids didn’t go there until they were teens. Universal has great rides, but a lot of them aren’t for younger kids, and they don’t have near the theming and non-ride attractions that Disney has. Disney is immersive. Universal just isn’t like that. I think little kids and imaginative/romantic types love the idea of literally being in another world, which is what you get at Disney. That’s why we keep coming back- it’s not just about the attractions.

By confining your trip to Disney, you’ll have a chance to slow down and really appreciate all these little extras that Disney works so hard to incorporate, and really get into the spirit of the place.

  1. Only you know what your kids really like. Mine are the kind that love museums, science, etc. They have loved EPCOT from when they were old enough to have a preference, including the world showcase. If your kids love all the classic Disney movies and are surrounded by Disney toys, then the MK is for them. If your kids are nature lovers, then AK might be the place to start & finish with.
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I haven’t done it, but people say Agent P’s is a great way for kids to enjoy (or at least tolerate) time in World Showcase. Since my kids are big Phineas and Ferb fans, we’re actually planning extra time to try to do more than 1 mission.

@tina we are there the same days as you! Kids 7, 5 and 4. Doing Disney only (agree with advice on saving US) our plan is MK/Epcot/AK/rest&MNSSHP/DHS/MK not staying late first three nights then doing everything late last three nights and taking mornings easy. Hoping I can talk DH into adding a day after we get there :slight_smile: I’d do one more Epcot. As for World Showcase, we plan to have kids do the passport and KidCot centers. Maybe we will see you around!

I’ve always found it impossible to predict what my kids are going to want to do on any given day of a vacation. I tend to put the “must do” stuff early so that we have options if the weather doesn’t cooperate or if we run into some other unexpected hiccup.

Plus, it’s nice at the end of a trip (as people start to wear out) to provide options: do you want to do [x] or have a rest day?

I’ve never been to WDW yet (our trip starts Nov 2) so I can’t offer any specific suggestions, other than I’ve seen a lot of people suggest rest days at the resort on longer trips to rejuvenate your group.

This is great advice. I’ve already started telling my kids that we may have to walk past some things that look fun in order to have time for even better things. I think this will be the biggest problem in MK, which we’re trying to complete in a single day with a long mid-day break. My strategy is to plan out the morning with military precision but leave the late afternoon relatively free to go back and do the things they wanted but weren’t on the must-do plan.

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While you can’t tell which park will be your kids favorite, MK does have at least double the rides/attractions than the others, so on that basis I would schedule more time there. Where are you staying? as that would influence my advice. We park hopped a couple of times and it worked well for us. We did a pre rope drop breakfast at BOG and then did 6 rides in Fantasy Land, starting with Peter Pan by 10am, we then hopped to AK where we used our FPP and called it a day around 4/5pm. Another time we hopped between EP & HS the boat trip was a ride in itself. There are always exceptions but I wouldn’t do rope drop to closing, and with only 6 days for 6 parks, you will need to narrow down your must do’s. How set are you on doing both WDW and Universal?

This is just my personal belief, but I think whatever park you think your kids will like the most (for us it was MK) you should do first. I think that with the hustle and bustle of a Disney/Orlando vacation kids can get pretty burnt out by the end of it and I would hate to “save the best for last” but everyone is tired and cranky when the “last” happens.