Welcome to the Williams Family Blog!

Now that you have found us, we invite you to return often for more adventures!



Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Walt Disney World Planning--Thinking About What Park on Which Day

A reader asked me to explain how we would go about planning a Walt Disney World visit in terms of what parks on what days.  I’ve attempted to do this before—click here to read more, yet am happy to do so again.

Let me begin with congratulations on not only a Disney trip in the future, but a willingness to plan parts of your trip ahead of time!  This will save you time, frustration, and add more opportunities for magic in your vacation.

For this post, I am going to pretend that we are traveling to Walt Disney World in March---Spring Break—Easter Week.  I am also pretending that we are flying in on Saturday and flying back home the following Sunday.  Also, that we have an 8 day base ticket (Park Hopper can be added, but not for this trip).  Why 8 day instead of 7, you ask?  Well, depending on the arrival time of our flight on Saturday, we may want to hit the parks or depending on the time of our departure flights, we could get in some park time Sunday morning.  Also, the cost difference between an 8 day ticket and a 7 day ticket is minimal so adding the extra day won’t break the bank.

I’ve gone to WDWInfo.com to find the park calendar for March.  It can be found under “Park Hours.”

I am going to pay special attention to the week of our trip.  Notice the orange times as they represent AM Extra Magic Hours when the park opens an hour early for resort guests—you must be staying on site or on property in a Disney resort to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours.   The green times represent PM Extra Magic Hours when the park will stay open 2 hours after general closing for resort guests.
(Click on the picture to make it larger.)

Now, let’s begin our planning:  

Saturday, well, depending on our arrival time, we might hit a park.  I would say if your arrival time is before 3:00 pm and you get to your resort using Disney’s Magical Express-click here to read more—by 5:00 pm you have a few hours of park time.  It might be great to go the Magic Kingdom, just to get that initial goose bump experience.  Otherwise, relax at your resort, or head to Downtown Disney.

Sunday—it looks like both Magic Kingdom and EPCOT have morning extra magic hours.  Personally, we don’t get much out of AM Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom as only Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are open—and we don’t know if the New Fantasyland will be included in that until after Dec. 6, so if my family was willing to get up early and head out, EPCOT would be our destination.  Grab some Test Track or Soarin’ Fastpasses and enjoy the time.  Be sure to be at the park prior to opening which will be 8:00 am.  If you are not at the park before it opens, you will not get the benefit of low crowds for Extra Magic Hours.  And, since we don’t have Park Hopper for this trip, make sure to have dining ADR’s at EPCOT or a nearby resort for this day.

Monday—Disney’s Hollywood Studios has AM Extra Magic Hours and we are so there!  Again, be there prior to park opening and head to Toy Story Mania right away to ride and grab Fastpasses for later.  Be sure to get a Times Guide as well as a park map so that you can plan for the shows, such as Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and Lights, Motors, Action!  Are you staying for Fantasmic?  There are two showings:  8:30 pm and 10:00 pm.  One of the great ways to enjoy the show is to make a Fantasmic Dining Package ADR.  This will allow you reserved seating for the first show.  Click here to read more.  When making your ADR be sure to avoid the 3:00 pm time if you want to see Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! at Hollywood Studios.

Tuesday—It looks like Magic Kingdom has AM Extra Magic Hours every day this week, so we are going to have to bite the bullet and hit it one day at least.  Today is as good as any.  Just be sure to arrive at the park before opening.  Fastpasses for Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Jungle Cruise will be available at 9:00 am, when the park opens to the general public.  Be sure to get yours as soon as possible!  Enjoy your day!

Wednesday—Animal Kingdom, here we come!  Morning Extra Magic Hours for resort guests means the park will open at 8:00 am and the animals on Kilimajaro Safari will be out and about first thing.  Go there first!  Grab a Times Guide so you can plan your day and see Festival of the Lion King—click here to read more—it is a must see!  A dinner ADR at Ohana’s or Chef Mickey’s might be good for today, as you can head out of the park after the parade and take a bus to another resort for dinner. 

Thursday—If you haven’t made it to Downtown Disney yet, today is the day!  Sleep late, have a late breakfast, and make your way to Downtown Disney via Disney bus for some sight seeing and shopping.  The world’s largest Disney Store is located at Downtown Disney.  Careful—you could get lost inside!  Some swimming at your resort for the afternoon sounds divine.  And, since you have a park ticket for the day, how about an evening at EPCOT enjoying a dining reservation and Illuminations at 9:00 pm?  EPCOT is open for evening Extra Magic Hours, so be sure to take time and stroll around a moonlit World Showcase after Illuminations.  You slept in so you are prepared for a late night.

Friday—Depending on your preference, Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios could be the destination of the day.  If it were me, we would be off to morning Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios for some more Toy Story Mania action, but that is just me.  We might schedule a dinner at Cape May Café and take the boat from Studios to the Beach Club and then back again to catch our bus to our resort.

Saturday—This may be the last day, so decide which park you want to go to again.  Magic Kingdom and EPCOT may be tops on the list.  Know that Magic Kingdom has morning Extra Magic Hours, so plan accordingly.  You know the drill. . . arrive when the park opens.  Since this is the last full day of your vacation, you may want to return to your resort mid-day for a rest and then return to the Magic Kingdom for the night time festivities—Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes.  Even with a base ticket you can leave the park and return to the same park again that day. . . just no park hopping.

Sunday—Be ready with your return paperwork for Disney’s Magical Express that will pick you up at your resort approximately 3 hours before your flight.  I know it sounds like a lot of time, but trust me, it is just the right amount of time.  Due to this being an especially busy time of year the security lines at Orlando International will take a while to navigate.

There you have it.  Our planning in a nutshell.  Adding Park Hopper to tickets adds a bit more complexity to the trip, as you can go from one park to another on the same day.  Dining plans add another layer as making ADR’s as far in advance as possible will allow for getting the most out of the plan.  Water Parks and More option allow for entry into either/both of Disney’s Water Parks—Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, both of which have their own hours of operation including Extra Magic Hours during the summer months.  Disney Quest, a multi-level indoor arcade at Downtown Disney, admission is also included when Water Parks and More option is added to a base ticket.

Don’t forget that there is also miniature golf course, regular golf courses, spas, water sports, fishing, etc. that are also available at the Walt Disney World Resort and we didn’t plan for ANY of those.  Oh, well, must schedule another trip.  Which reminds me to remind you to look for “bounceback” offers in your resort room.  They are usually located on the table in your room and will offer an incentive or discount if you reserve and pay a deposit for your next Disney vacation prior to checking out.  If you don’t see a “bounceback” offer, contact the resort concierge and ask if any offers are available.

Have a magical trip! 


  1. Wonderful!!! This is exactly what we are doing before our Jan/Feb trip.

    Now... a post on what to bring into the park / how to occupy little ones while waiting / dining plan or not?


  2. Oh, OrangeBlossom, how you challenge me so! If you search Dining Plan on the Williams Family Blog you will find lots of info on the Dining Plan. We have yet to travel to Disney without the Dining Plan if that gives you a hint. A post about what to bring into the park may be coming soon. Thanks for the suggestion!