Disney Trip Planning: How Many Days Should I Spend in the Parks?

think think think

think think think

There’s a lot to consider when you first make the decision to take a Disney Vacation in regards to how many days you will be booking your hotel stay and park tickets. I personally like to book the maximum amount of days because I only get to travel to one of the Disney Resorts once a year or once every two years. Of course, the more days you spend away on vacation, the more the costs add up, so I usually have to limit my Walt Disney World trips to 7 or 8 days (instead of the 2 weeks I desire!). To some people, that might seem like a lot, but once you start to see how many things you can do while you are at the Disney Parks, you’ll be wishing for even more days!

Four Parks, One World!

Walt Disney World Parks

In Walt Disney World (the Florida Park) there are 4 main theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), 2 water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon), and the Downtown Disney area. That’s just within the Disney resort area! That doesn’t even count if you are looking to visit the 2 Universal  Studios parks,  Florida beaches, or any other Florida attraction (maybe the Richard Petty driving experience?) that’s a-whole-nother story! Now you see why I like to schedule at least 8 days of vacation! Generally I break up my vacation as follows: 2 or 3 days in Magic Kingdom, 1 day in EPCOT, 2 days in Animal Kingdom, and 1 day in Hollywood Studios, then one day of resort hopping/visiting Downtown Disney/doing “free” things. Animal Kingdom is my favorite park second to the park that screams “Disney,” which is obviously Magic Kingdom, and you may not agree with me and instead like to spend 1 day in AK and 2 in, say, Epcot (I know Josh would). Also, I’m not a huge water park person, but if I do add those on, they are generally the mornings or afternoons of the parks I visit multiple times. For a first time visitor, you are most definitely going to want to spend at LEAST one FULL day per park (this is why I was never huge on the park hopper option), and preferably 2 in the Magic Kingdom. Honestly, if you only have 4 days to spend in the parks and have small children, you could probably get away with getting the park hopper, spending 1/2 a day in Animal Kingdom, the other 1/2 in Hollywood Studios and save 2 full days for the Magic Kingdom. It’s really worth doing whatever you can to get those full 2 days in MK, in my opinion, even if you are an adult. But, now I am just rambling!


Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort

If you are traveling to WDW and have a limited amount of time to be there, it may be worth getting a park hopper, especially if you have been there before and know what attractions you wouldn’t mind missing out on. If you are doing 1/2 days in each park, I would definitely recommend checking out the lists of attractions listed on the Disneyworld.Disney.go.com website and having a top 5 or so list of must do attractions for each person in your group! This way you don’t miss out on anything you might consider essential!

The Disneyland Resort in California is a different story. There are 2 parks (Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure) and a Downtown Disney area. No water parks or anything like that, but there are a lot of attractions you may consider visiting outside of the Disneyland Parks, such as Hollywood or California beaches! Because there are the 2 parks, 3 or 4 days might be plenty for you! This May Josh and I are planning a trip solely to the Disneyland Resort, no outside attractions, but it is my first time ever visiting the west coast parks, so we are making sure to spend 2 full days per park, plus a 1/2 day the first night in Disneyland to catch the fireworks! This may be something you consider if it is your family’s first trip there, too. Though there are only 2 parks, there is SO MUCH to do; touring the Disneyland property hotels, shopping in Downtown Disney, and experiencing as many attractions and shows, and as much entertainment as you can in the 2 parks! You could easily spend 2 days per park, plus one day touring the resorts and Downtown Disney and still not see everything. But, for the seasoned Disneyland traveler, you may be able to get away with a quick weekend getaway and feel fulfilled with the amount you were able to do since you’ve seen it all before and don’t mind skipping a lot of the attractions in the parks!


Disneyland Park

In the end, it usually comes down to cost and how many vacation days people are allotted at work. Cost-wise, spending 7-8 days at WDW is really only going to be a “value” when booking a Value resort (WDW has different tiers of resorts considering price, distance from the parks, luxury, etc.). Honestly, I’ve only been able to afford this much time in the parks when I went during an off season and because of that was able to get 20% off the resort cost. Otherwise, flight plus room and park tickets adds up, then each day in the park you end up spending as much on food as you would for a week of groceries at home! (but remember, the more tickets you buy to the parks as a package, the cheaper they get per day, to the point that if you are adding a 7th or 8th day it’s something like $20 per person or less!) Disneyland ends up being a little more cost-effective considering the fact that it is smaller, if you stay off-property anyway. This is because you are MOST LIKELY going to be spending less than a week in the parks, so that cuts down your costs right there!
We are planning our trip for May 2014!

We are planning our trip for May 2014!

If you are only able to visit the parks every few years or it is your first time to the parks, it is really worth saving up and splurging for that extra few days if your vacation time off at work allows. For example, Josh and I were originally planning our Disneyland vacation for February with 4 days in the parks, but we just moved it to (and officially booked it!!) for May instead so we could really save up and splurge while we are there, spend an extra 5th day in the parks, celebrate my birthday, and our anniversary! (so that will sort of save some extra money on anniversary and birthday stuff we would have been doing at home anyway!)

No matter how many days you spend in the parks, you are going to have a good time – just remember that! Even after reading this you may feel discouraged that you just can’t spend enough days in the parks, but you know what, just do what you can, because you are in Disney and every moment will be magical and each memory will stay with you forever!

How many days do you usually spend in the parks? How many times a year are you able to visit? Leave your answers in the comments below!

Angie Carreiro


About The Modern Mouse Crew

Modern Mouse Radio is a multimedia Disney fan site run by Josh Taylor and put together by a crew of amazing individuals. Check us out. You won't be disappointed.

Posted on February 4, 2014, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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