Planning the Perfect Disney World Vacation: Planning Your Day

This is my favorite part of planning! Deciding what rides and shows we want to see each day is so much fun. If you've been following along we've talked about lots of Disney World vacation planning tips - favorite resources, deciding when to go and where to stay, and planning your stay.

Now it's time to get down and plan what you're going to do each day - planning your park touring strategy. If you've planned your week, then you have a general overview of what you're doing and how you'll be spending your evenings. If you're planning any sit-down restaurants then you'll have those on your schedule too.

So now it's time to fill in those mornings, afternoons, and evenings and book your Fastpass+ choices.

The first thing I like to do is grab a trusty guidebook {affiliate links -->} (like Passporter's or easy Guide) and sit down with the family to talk about the rides, shows, and other entertainment choices. Watching some of the rides or shows on YouTube is fun too (especially for timid kids who like to be prepared).

Planning a Disney World vacation? You'll want to read this series - full of great tips & advice!

Creating a Disney World vacation park touring schedule

This step can seem overwhelming when you think of the sheer size of Disney World. But if you just take it one day at a time (remember that handy weekly itinerary you created yesterday!) and focus on that one day then it won't feel so overwhelming.

Choose your 'must-dos'

The first thing you'll want to do is have everyone in your family choose their top 3 rides or shows for each park. Those are the things you want to make sure get on the schedule.

It's really not possible to do absolutely everything in one Disney World vacation so it's important to include those things that your kids (and spouse!) are looking forward to the most.

Of course you'll have plenty of time for other things, but you don't want to miss out on those favorites.

Use the easy WDW cheat sheets

These are THE BEST planning resources around! All the major work is done for you – choosing the most popular rides and making sure you’re fitting them in at the best times (instead of standing in long lines). You will definitely want to use the cheat sheets at easy WDW to plan your perfect day.

You can use the cheat sheets as is or use them as a starting point to plan your own park days. Also, check out the other websites I listed with my favorite resources – for show times and character meets. And don’t forget to book your Fastpass+ selections (see down below for more details). Also take a look at the restaurants that are nearby during meal times. Check out the menus and make note of those that interest your family.

After you work out all your days, type them up and print them out. Here’s a peek at the Epcot days from our most recent trip looks like (on the back of each page I list any Photopass shots I want to get, snacks I’d like to try, or gifts I’d like to purchase at that park):

disney world vacation park touring pages.png

Yes, I even add in bathroom breaks! No one wants to leave a line to rush to the bathroom. Put ’em on the schedule!

Vary your days

A lot of people take the “commando” approach to park touring – they are in the parks from open to close. That can be fun, but with kids especially, it can be awfully tiring (especially if you’re staying for more than a few days).

Instead, I like to plan a variety of park days. Here are a few choices:

  • Morning/break/Evening – arrive for park opening, stay until after lunch to maybe 1 pm. Take an afternoon break before returning for the evening. This is a great choice when parks are open later or when it might be more crowded but you want to see those evening shows.
  • 3/4 day – arrive for park opening and plan to stay until about 3 or 4 pm. In the evening you could go shopping, hang out by the pool, or find another activity outside the parks
  • Late arrival day – plan to arrive between 11am-1pm and stay through park close. This is a great strategy with the Fastpass+ system. All your FPs are prebooked so you can sleep in and relax but still get a chance to enjoy the popular rides. It’s also a great choice for the day after a late park night.

This is what our most recent trip looked like (as you can see we have a variety – one long day, a few 3/4 days, two late arrival days, and one with an afternoon break):

A few things to keep in mind…

Don’t forget about the Fastpass+ system. When you have your plans ready to go, be sure to book those FP+’s on your My Disney Experience account! On-site guests can book their selections 60 days before their trip and off-site guests can book 30 days in advance.

Even with Fastpass+, prime touring time is the first 2 hours of the day. My suggestion is to choose a morning or two to sleep in (especially after a late night the evening before) and for the rest of those mornings, plan to be at the park for the opening. But, as I shared above, there’s no need to spend all day at the park. Break it up with an afternoon nap and some time to relax by the pool. You don’t want to go home needing a vacation from your vacation!

There you have it – all the steps to planning your perfect Disney World vacation!

Tonia L

Hey! I'm the owner of Happy Homeschool Nest - a website devoted to helping homeschool moms balance the needs of homeschooling with managing a healthy and happy home.