Our Walt Disney World itineraries offer strategy for 1-day and multi-day visits to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Plus, touring plans for Universal Studios Florida, Disneyland, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong. These time-saving tips will help you avoid crowds, high wait times, and long lines for rides. (Updated November 7, 2021.)
The Florida and California itineraries have all been overhauled following the phased reopening of Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and updated again for Late 2021/Early 2022. A lot has changed in the last several months from a strategy perspective, both good and bad. Additionally, these parks have increased attendance limits–capacity is no longer being capped at 35% on either coast–while also improving attraction efficiency, all of which impacts wait times and crowds.
We visit the parks on a regular basis, tracking wait time data, crowd patterns, and other changes. Along with all of that, we’re frequently testing various approaches, and fine-tuning strategy as crowds have increased and decreased throughout the last several months. These overhauled WDW itineraries are the fruits of those experiences, wait time data, and observations…
Additionally, strategy has been updated to include the new headliners: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. Two of those use a frustrating virtual queue and boarding pass system. (On a positive note, Web Slingers and Rise of the Resistance at DHS have ‘paused’ their virtual queues.)
Other itinerary tweaks account for attraction closures, new offerings at Epcot, the opening of Soaring Fantastic Flight, and more. Additionally, the Disney Skyliner gondolas and new resorts at Walt Disney World are now included in some of our “beyond the parks” itineraries.
Our patented (not really) park strategy guides are unlike most theme park itineraries that you’ll find. We take a balanced approach that prioritizes efficiency and avoids long wait times for attractions (“I love waiting in lines!” ~said no one, ever) while also savoring Walt Disney World’s ambiance.
This results in Disney touring plans that allow you to get a lot done, while also enjoying the scenery and what the theme parks have to offer beyond the rides. We do not view the parks simply as collections of attractions that should be completed checklist style, so the plans balance “getting stuff done” with “having a nice, leisurely day.”
If that approach sounds appealing to you, check out our touring plans for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the international Disney Parks…
Walt Disney World Itineraries
With 4 theme parks, plus 2 water parks, a couple dozen resort hotels, and lots of “other stuff” our 1-day plans for Walt Disney World barely scratch the surface.
Here are our current touring plans for Walt Disney World, all of which have been updated as of Late 2021 to account for current crowd patterns and more. We would recommend those with Walt Disney World trips through Early 2022 use these while planning.
We’ve updated these itineraries for Late 2021, essentially overhauling them following the start of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration and the Christmas season, plus the rollout of Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours, as well as Genie+ and Lightning Lanes–the the paid replacement for free FastPass. All of this has dramatically changed the way to approach efficiently experiencing attractions at Walt Disney World.
The steps have also been tweaked for the holiday season, which we’re anticipating will be busy–especially peak weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Beyond that, there’s still pent-up demand, and the return of international travel and longtime fans who postponed visits to coincide with overlap of Christmas and the World’s Most Magical Celebration could further spike attendance. The itineraries are still your best plan of attack, you just can expect to accomplish slightly fewer rides per day.
Magic Kingdom 1-Day Itinerary – An aggressive itinerary for Walt Disney World’s flagship park that starts with an early morning in Fantasyland and Frontierland. It also covers snacking, shows, and more. It’s normally tough to do Magic Kingdom in a single day, but this comes very close.
Epcot 1-Day Itinerary – Few Epcot touring plans can hit the “Big Three” (Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and Soarin’ Around the World) in a single day, but this one manages to do exactly that–with minimal waits. You’ll also fully experience Future World and be able to have a pleasant time in World Showcase.
Hollywood Studios 1-Day Itinerary – Everything you’ll want to do in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, roller coasters, and the park’s many shows. This DHS touring plan also includes two table service meals, which are among the best-themed restaurants at Walt Disney World!
Animal Kingdom 1-Day Itinerary – Post-reopening, this is our most counter-intuitive itinerary. While Animal Kingdom is a full-day park, it requires a different approach than the others. This itinerary gets you in and out of Pandora – World of Avatar efficiently, bypassing the frequent two-hour waits for Flight of Passage. It also allows ample time for exploration, animal watching, and eating.
1-Day at Magic Kingdom with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – Magic Kingdom is the park where Genie+ is most useful, and we highly recommend using it here. This will walk you through a sample day using Genie+ to book Lightning Lane reservations, with insight into top priorities and more.
1-Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – After Magic Kingdom, DHS is the park that makes the most sense for buying the paid Genie+ service. Given the number of headliners, you can easily save 4 hours in line simply by scoring ride reservations for Slinky Dog Dash, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
1-Day at Epcot with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – Unlike the top two parks, Genie+ is far less useful at Epcot. We only recommend it during peak holiday dates, or if you plan on Park Hopping.
1-Day at Animal Kingdom with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – It’s a similar story between Animal Kingdom and Epcot–and pretty easy to Park Hop between the two, starting your day at DAK and finishing at Epcot!
Magic Kingdom 2-Day Itinerary – Our preferred way to experience Magic Kingdom. The pace here is slightly more leisurely, allowing for more snack time, soaking up the beautiful details, and meals at the best restaurants in the park. (Not updated for post-reopening operations.)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Half-Day Itinerary – Those short on time and not interested in hassling with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance may only want to do an evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This touring plan manages to hit many of the highlights in a half-day. (Not updated for post-reopening operations.)
Disneyland Resort Itineraries
After being closed for over a full year, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (DCA) have reopened and truly hit the ground running. Earlier this year, the new Avengers Campus opened at DCA, which is Disney’s first Marvel land. Countless attractions, entertainment, and restaurants are also returning at a faster rate than Walt Disney World.
Normally, we recommend two full days at Disneyland, especially following the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Additionally, we recommend a full day or more at Disney California Adventure to see and explore the more leisurely park without feeling rushed. There’s so much entertainment in addition to attractions that it’s difficult to see and do it all in a single day.
However, that advice arguably does not apply for anyone visiting between now and early 2022. While it’s true that more is reopening and crowds are growing, there’s still a significant lack of entertainment and nighttime spectaculars. The good news is that more is coming back for Christmas 2021, but it won’t be until 2022 before most normal entertainment returns.
Disneyland Park 1-Day Touring Plan – Our most aggressive single-day itinerary for the Disney theme park with the most attractions, this Disneyland touring plan starts in Fantasyland, includes strategy for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, along with plenty of snacking and soaking up the quaint charm of “Walt Disney’s original magic kingdom.”
Disney California Adventure 1-Day Touring Plan – If you want to do Radiator Springs Racers, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, or DCA’s other thrill rides without waiting in long lines, our Disney California Adventure itinerary is for you. We also have recommendations for experiencing the “Heroic Encounters” in Avengers Campus, scoring a Web Slingers boarding pass, and much more.
Disneyland 2-Day Touring Plan – A Disneyland touring plan with time to breathe. This one covers all of the same ground as our 1-day itinerary, while also seeing and doing things that you’d have to skip in a single day due to a lack of time. (Updated to include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.)
Universal Orlando Itineraries
1-Day Universal Studios Florida Itinerary – The “other” studios theme park in Orlando, there’s a lot to love about Universal Studios Florida, from the wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley to rides based on the Simpsons, Transformers, Men in Black, E.T., Despicable Me, and more. The park offers some great roller coasters and other thrill rides, plus excellent entertainment.
1-Day Universal’s Islands of Adventure Itinerary – At Universal Orlando’s second gate, you’ll find some of the best and most popular theme park rides in Florida, including the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk Coaster, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
1-Day Universal Park Hopping Itinerary – A greatest hits touring plan that’ll give you a taste of the highlights in both parks. If you’re not eligible for Express Pass and Early Park Admission, you have absolutely no chance at accomplishing everything. On most days, you’ll be lucky to accomplish half of what Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure have to offer. We strongly recommend you do at least 2 days.
Outside the Parks at WDW
1-Day Skyliner Sip & Snack Itinerary – Walt Disney World’s new aerial transportation system presents some great opportunities to glide around via the gondolas, doing some delicious dining, drinking, and hotel hijinks along the way. This is either a half-day or full-day itinerary, depending upon how long you linger at each stop.
1-Day Self-Guided Christmas Itinerary – The very first itinerary we published was our “Self Guided Yuletide Tour,” as a way of exploring Walt Disney World’s many beautiful resorts at Christmas. This totally free plan covers the best of Disney during the holidays, including Wilderness Lodge’s towering tree, Grand Floridian’s gorgeous gingerbread house, and more!
Walt Disney World “Beyond the Parks” 1-Day Itinerary – Have a free day but don’t want to spend it poolside or simply shopping the day away at Disney Springs? This itinerary takes you around other under-the-radar spots at Walt Disney World that are fun but do not charge admission.
International Disney Parks
In this case, “International Parks” means the two parks at Tokyo Disney Resort and Disneyland Paris, plus Hong Kong Disneyland. Much like Disneyland, neither Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea can be fully experienced in a single day. However, we recognize that’s how much time most people will allocate to these parks during a trip to Japan, so here are our plans for those parks:
Tokyo Disneyland 1-Day Touring Plan – Another challenging castle park thanks to a surplus of attractions and live entertainment. Nevertheless, this Tokyo Disneyland itinerary allows you to do as much as possible via efficient ordering of rides.
Tokyo DisneySea 1-Day Touring Plan – Our favorite theme park in the world, period. This Tokyo DisneySea itinerary does the tough tightrope walk of getting you through popular rides efficiently, while also savoring this ornately designed park like a fine wine.
Disneyland Paris 1-Day Touring Plan – We take that same ‘fine wine’ approach here, as Disneyland Paris is the most lavish–and best designed–castle park in the world. This itinerary strikes the perfect balance.
Walt Disney Studios Park 1-Day Touring Plan – A far cry from the castle park next door, WDSP is–bluntly–a utilitarian park. This itinerary gets you in and out as quickly as possible, so you can do the rides and shows here and then hightail it back to Disneyland Paris.
Hong Kong Disneyland 1-Day Touring Plan – The new quaint, uncrowded Disney park, Hong Kong Disneyland is the only castle park that does not require an efficient plan of attack. Nonetheless, waiting in line is never fun, so this HKDL itinerary covers what order to do the popular rides here.
That covers it for our Disney Parks itineraries! If there are any other plans you’d like to see, or if you have questions about the current Disney Parks plans, please let us know in the comments!
Planning a visit to one of the Disney theme parks? Check out our Disney Parks Vacation Planning Guides for everything you need to start planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Aulani in Hawaii.
What would you include in your ideal day at the Disney Parks? If you haven’t visited yet, what do you plan on doing? Anything you’d add to any of our plans? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!