Every Disney vacation is magical from the first few moments to the last glimpse of Cinderella Castle, but all vacations have one thing in common: guests wish they were longer. This brings up the question of how long is the perfect Disney vacation? While there is no right answer, guests tend to agree that the longer the better. However, sometimes time is a luxury and a shorter trip is the only way to enjoy a Walt Disney World vacation. While a shorter trip can be a little trickier to plan in terms of time management, it is still every bit as magical as a long one. Here are the top ten tips and tricks to have the best four-day Disney vacation ever.
Editor’s Note: We understand that with the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, some of the advice in this article may not apply if you visit while park hours are reduced, capacity limits and physical distancing are in place, and some of our favorite experiences—fireworks, parades, and character greetings—are temporarily suspended. (You can read everything you need to know about the phased reopening by clicking here). We will continue to share articles that give guidance on a “normal” vacation to Walt Disney World, along with any special changes or instructions you may need to be aware of during the phased reopening to provide the best tips we can regardless of when you are visiting. ~ Chad & Cindy
1 – Check-in Early
The key to kicking off a perfect four-day trip to Walt Disney World is arriving early and checking in as early as possible. Guests should take the earliest flight possible or aim to arrive at Disney early on in the day to maximize the most of their day one hours. By checking in early, guests can hop aboard Disney transportation and be on their way to the fun.
2 – Have A Schedule
A great way to make the most of a four-day vacation in Walt Disney World is to have a schedule before arriving. This entails mapping out which park or parks will be visited each day and knowing each morning what the plan is. This saves lots of time as guests aren’t trying to figure out a game plan each morning or wasting lots of time hopping back and forth between parks because they are disorganized.
3 – Book FastPasses
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, FastPass+ is temporarily suspended.
FastPasses are one of the best ways to save time and be able to experience more while in Walt Disney World. FastPasses allow guests to choose popular attractions and experiences and reserve a time to enjoy them with little to no wait time. Guests are entitled to three FastPasses per day booked in advance and then are able to book one additional FastPass after using the initial three. Guests who stay on property at a Walt Disney World Resort can book their FastPasses up to sixty days in advance and guests who stay off property can book thirty days in advance. Some of the best options to book FastPasses for are Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Avatar Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, Alien Swirling Saucers, Slinky Dog Dash, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Test Track Presented by Chevrolet, Toy Story Mania, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Dinosaur, and Expedition Everest.
4 – Book Advanced Dining Reservations
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, the dining booking window is 60 days. Also, not all restaurants have reopened. Check the My Disney Experience App for up to date hours.
Guests who are planning on enjoying a full-service meal in their four days in Disney definitely need to book Advanced Dining Reservations. These reservations can be made up to one hundred and eighty days in advance and are absolutely necessary for popular locations like ‘Ohana, the California Grill, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Le Cellier Steakhouse.
5 – Visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom in The Mornings
Guests who plan on visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom should definitely plan to do so during the early hours of the day for several reasons. First off, the park will be less crowded than in the afternoons making the pathways easier to maneuver and the wait times shorter. In addition, the animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris tend to be much more active in the mornings thanks to the cooler temperatures making it an amazing time to enjoy the phenomenal attraction. Early morning is also the perfect time to visit Pandora – The World of Avatar since both attractions have very long wait times later in the day.
6 – Know The Must-Dos
With shorter Disney vacations inevitably comes less time which makes guests have to think long and hard about what their must-do experiences are. By knowing which attractions, entertainment, and experiences are priorities, guests can be sure to work them into their days in the parks and not miss out on favorites.
7 – Leave Time to Return to Favorites
In addition to making time for favorites, to begin with, guests should also leave some extra time at the end of each day or on the final day to return to favorites and enjoy them again. By building in extra time, guests are sure to feel like they got to experience all of their favorites more than once.
8 – Use Mobile Order Service Wisely
Recently, Disney changed the process for Mobile Orders at quick-service restaurants. Rather than just being able to order and pick up your meal immediately, you now choose an “arrival window” when you order. Arrival windows are 30 minutes long and a new window opens every 15 minutes (i.e. – 12:00-12:30 pm; 12:15-12:45 pm; 12:30-1:00 pm; etc.). Disney now sets aside a select number of orders per ‘arrival window,’ so once a time slot is full, no more orders for that time will be accepted. On particularly busy days, prime arrival window time slots will fill up quickly. So, if you go to order your food at 12 noon, the first arrival window you can choose may not be until 2:00 pm. For this reason, we strongly suggest that you order and choose your ‘arrival window’ early in the day and place your order for lunch and/or dinner as soon as you have an idea of where you’ll be dining. You can always modify and cancel your order if needed, so there is no risk in getting that order in early!
9 – Don’t Skip the Classics
While visiting favorite attractions is a must-do, so is taking the time to enjoy the classics. Some of the classic attractions in Walt Disney World tend to be overlooked and are considered underrated, but they are amazing experiences that can’t be missed even on a short trip. Some great classics to enjoy on every Disney vacation are Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Muppet Vision 3D, the Maharajah Jungle Trek, and the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
10 – Make Time to Relax
One of the most important things to remember in order to make a short Disney trip enjoyable is to take the time to relax! It can be tempting to try and squeeze as much in as possible on each day of the trip, but this is sure to leave guests exhausted and cranky by the end. By taking a little time each day to splash around in the pool, take a short nap, or pause to enjoy a meal in air conditioning, guests are sure to perk up and be ready to conquer the rest of their day in Walt Disney World.
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