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How to Prioritize Walt Disney World – TouringPlans.com Blog


With four theme parks, two water parks, hundreds of shops and restaurants, and lots of recreational activities, there’s plenty to do at Walt Disney World! In fact, there may be too do!

For some people, WDW is a unique journey into life, and for most others, like me, it’s only once a year or every few years, so you really want to make the most of your time and try to experiment as much as you can. Unfortunately, it is literally impossible do all the WDW in one trip; even if you have 1-2 weeks for your vacation, you won’t be able to do it all.

With so much to see, do and eat, you have to make tough decisions!

And that’s very difficult, especially when you can’t visit it whenever you want. It’s hard to say “we’ll do it next time” when you have no idea when it may be “next time”.

So how do you decide what to do when you can’t do everything? How do you prioritize your limited time? Here are some tips that I hope will help you make some tough decisions and turn them into an amazing journey!

Prioritize parks

With half of the EPCOT under construction, should you prioritize other parks?

Ideally, you will have time to visit the 4 theme parks, as each one is wonderfully unique. However, this is not possible for everyone due to several factors.

So, if you find yourself having to prioritize which of the parks to visit, here’s what I recommend:

  • Read general information about each park: to understand the theme and overall feel of each park, and which one you find most interesting
  • Attractions / entertainment / research food available at each park: because you know what each park has to offer
  • Make a list of the things you are most interested in experiencing: Make sure every person you travel with can contribute to this list
  • Select the parks to visit that have the most (or most important) activities to do for your group: for example, maybe Animal Kingdom has more “must-have” attractions, but your family really likes Star Wars, so you prioritize Hollywood Studios anyway.
  • Don’t forget the water parks: if your group is interested in water parks, you may also decide that you want to sacrifice a theme park so you can experience one or both water parks.

Prioritize attractions

Want to experience Splash Mountain before you get back to theme?

Even if you have a full day to dedicate to one of the theme parks, you won’t be able to fit in all the attractions and show what this park has to offer (and there are probably some that don’t interest you, anyway).

I like to take the list of attractions and entertainment of each park and separate them into 4 lists:

  • Must do: These are your top priorities – the things you’ll feel really sad about if you don’t. Try to keep this list short to avoid disappointment.
  • Want to do: These are the things that seem like a lot of fun and that you would definitely like to be able to experience, but it wouldn’t ruin your trip if you miss them.
  • If there is time: These are the things you can take or leave. It would be great to do them if you have time, but if not, it’s no big deal.
  • No: These are things you are not interested in.

Once you have these lists, with the input of your entire group, you can start building your travel plans around them, prioritizing your Must Do attractions and then your Want to Do. If you optimize your plan throughout the day through the Lines app, just make sure your essentials stay in the plan.

Prioritizing the dining room

If dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table is a priority, be sure to get it and ADR!

There are amazing dining opportunities at parks, Disney resorts and Disney Springs. With just so many meals you can eat in one day, it will be especially hard to define which restaurants you want to try!

Here are some tips:

  • Check out the restaurants at each park you plan to visit. You can read them and see reviews in the unofficial Walt Disney World Guide or on the Touring Plans website, as well as check out the menus through My Disney Experience. Highlight or write down the ones that sound best to you and your group.
  • Decide if you want to focus on fast food / counter meals, table service meals, or a combination of both. I recommend a combination so you can get quiet meals at signature restaurants and cheaper meals that don’t hold you back.
  • Make advanced dining reservations for all table service meals. They can be made 60 days in advance (plus the duration of the trip for guests of the resort). It’s also a good idea to choose a security option for each table service meal, in case you can’t get an ADR for your first choice.
  • Look for dining options at Disney resorts. Whether you are staying at the property or not, if there are any that you really want to experience, you may want to try them on your free days or take the shuttle from the park to a food complex. Keep in mind that it can take a significant amount of time off the tour, so it all depends on your priorities!
  • Don’t forget Disney Springs! They also have lots of great options, both fast service and table service. If you’re already planning to spend some time shopping there (see below), choose a restaurant (or two) that you’d like to try while you’re there, or see if you can accommodate them at another time in your trip.

Prioritize other activities

Is a day off for links important to you?

Depending on the length of your trip, you’ll probably want one or more days out of the parks to rest, explore other recreational activities, or experience other attractions in the area. The general rule is that you will want a “rested” day for every 2-3 days of park.

So what can you do these days besides sleep and go to the pool? (Or maybe just make them, if you like!)

  • Investigate other activities available throughout the WDW. These include golf (normal or mini), shopping at Disney Springs, spas, bike or boat rentals, horseback riding, archery lessons and more. Again, write down any activities you need to do for your group.
  • Check offers outside the property. Is your group interested in Universal Studios, Sea World, LEGOLAND, the Kennedy Space Center or a trip to the beach? Keep in mind that if you want to visit another theme park other than Disney, it won’t really count as a “rested” day, so you may have to sacrifice a day other than the park.

Seasonal considerations

How do you prioritize seasonal and regular offers?

If you travel to WDW during your Halloween or Christmas celebrations, or one of the EPCOT festivals, this can affect how you want to prioritize your time. Since they only happen at certain times of the year, this may be your only chance to experience them.

  • Investigate offers: each celebration or festival can include special out-of-hours events, live entertainment, food and drink and more. Find out what interests you.
  • Decide what is most important. Will you sacrifice a table service meal at the EPCOT for snacks at the festival booths? Would you rather enjoy a short wait for walks or see all the special entertainment at an out-of-hours event? These are really hard questions to answer, but only you can do them.

Remember

Walt Disney World is the most magical place on earth, and you’ll have a magical time, as long as you don’t get caught up in what you missed or couldn’t do. Prioritizing in advance will help you create a plan for your vacation that will make all members of your group feel comfortable, and hopefully allow you to experience the things that are most important to you.

Try to come in with the right attitude – knowing that you won’t be able to see it and do everything, but that everything you see and do will be amazing!

How do you prioritize WDW? Let us know in the comments!

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