Disney World weekend guide

Easy Guide to a weekend at Disney World in Orlando, Florida

Disney World in Orlando is a perfect getaway for a weekend. It spans a large area and has hundreds of rides and attractions. Did you know that it’s the same size as the city of San Francisco? When planning a weekend trip to Disney World, you need to consider many things – rides and attractions to see, resorts to stay, restaurants to eat, transportation options, long queues, and many more. With all of the details that need to be considered, you could find yourself lost in the shuffle. In this article, we will explain how to plan a trip to Disney World, with all the tips and tricks you’ll need to have the best time possible on your Disney trip.

How to Plan a Trip to Disney World

1. Make a List of Places You Want to Visit

Disneyland trip

It’s impossible to explore all of Disney world in just one weekend. So you have to prioritize what you want to see and do. The first thing to do before your Disney trip is to create a list of all the places you want to visit – rides, performances, or even restaurants you want to try out. This list will serve as your easy guide to a weekend at Disney.

If you are totally clueless about the attractions at Disney World, you can simply visit their official website and make a list of attractions you find interesting.

Basically, Disney World has 4 theme parks and 2 water parks:

  • Magic Kingdom – The first theme park to be opened in Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom gives visitors a classic Disney experience filled with fantasy and fairy tales. It has six ‘themed’ lands, each having countless great attractions: Main Street USA, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Adventureland. At Magic Kingdom, you can visit the iconic Cinderella Castle for Happily Ever After, a magical night-time show, or see Mickey and his friends in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade or go on a high-speed roller coaster ride on Space Mountain. Our favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom are Little Mermaid and Buzz Lightyear. They are always a must-see for us!
  • Epcot – Epcot is a theme park dedicated to technological innovations and world cultures. It’s a great place for both adults and kids alike. The park has two main sections: World Showcase and Future World. Some of the most popular attractions at Epcot are Frozen Ever After, An American Adventure, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Spaceship Earth, and Mission: Space. Epcot is a large park, and it’s difficult to experience all of its rides and attractions in just one day.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Studios give you a glimpse into the magical world of showbiz. It’s divided into several themed areas, including Hollywood Boulevard, Pixar Place, Animation Courtyard, Echo Lake, and Sunset Boulevard, each of these sections having rides, live events, character meets, performances, and other Hollywood-inspired attractions. Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land, Tower of Terror, Rock’ n’ Roller Coaster, Beauty and the Beast live performance, and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! are some popular attractions. Hollywood Studios is a busy park, often with long lines. This is why it’s important to plan your weekend trip to Disney World so as to avoid these queues and gain the maximum benefits of your time.
  • Animal Kingdom: Disney’s fourth park Animal Kingdom is one of the largest parks in the world and showcases the themes of nature, animals, and environmental conservation. Did you know that it’s home to about 1700 animals? These include rare African elephants, lions, giraffes, crocodiles, hippopotami, and rhinoceros. Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, Avatar Flight of Passage, and Primeval Whirl are a few of the best rides at this park.
Animal Kingdom

When you write down the rides and attractions you want to see, categorize them according to the park. i.e., Note the attractions in one park together. This way, you will have a basic idea about the time you have to spend at each park and this list will be your easy guide to a weekend at Disney. Since you have only two days, it might not be possible to visit all parks at Disney World. So why not dedicate one day for one park? This way, you can cover two parks during your weekend.

2. Park Hopper Tickets – Do You Need Them?

Most people recommend park hopper tickets. With a park hopper, you can visit more than one park during the day. But our advice to you: save money, skip the park hopper. Moving between the parks is time-consuming, and you will most probably end up spending one day at one park, making a park hopper totally useless.

We actually purchased the park hopper tickets on our weekend trip to Disney World, but we didn’t end up actually using them. We spent the day at one park and relaxed at the resort at night or stayed late at the park to watch the fireworks. You can save money and do one park each day!

3. My Disney Experience App – The Best Tool for a Disney Trip

My Disney Experience is the best app to use for an unforgettable weekend at Disney. It helps with meal planning, ride times, show times, check out, and so much more! Download the app before the trip. This will give you some time to get familiar with the features of the app.

A good knowledge of the park maps, dining reservations, and wait times will be a real time saver for you! With this app, you can use Book Lightning Lane and Disney Genie+, Self-Checkout at Disney Gift Ships, Mobile Order Food, and MagicMobile Wallet, (scanning this mobile wallet helps you go touchless at the parks, rides and pay for food)

Our recent weekend trip to Disney World would have been totally impossible without the My Disney Experience app.Bonus Tip: When you are at Disney world, make sure to set your alarm and wake up before 7am! You’ll want to book your fast pass tickets as early as possible to maximize your time at the park.

4. Stay on the Property for a Full Disney Experience

Disneyland with 2 beautiful kids

To get the best out of your weekend trip at Disney, make sure to stay on the property. This saves a lot of time traveling to and from the parks. In fact, there are several transportation modes between on-site resorts and parks, including bus, boat, monorail, and Skyliner transportation. Disney has many different types of accommodation options – from value hotels to luxury hotels.

If you are on a budget, All Star Movies Resort, All Star Music Resort, Art of Animation Resort, Pop Century Resort, and Caribbean Beach resort are good options for you. But if you are looking to splurge, we highly recommend the Grand Floridian or Disney’s Polynesian Resort. If you plan to visit all 4 parks, make sure to choose a central location from all of them. Our recommendation is Port Orleans Riverside, which is just a 10–15-minute bus ride away from all 4 parks.

5. Choose the Best Dining Options to Save Time

Disneyland dining options

At Disney World, there are two dining options you can choose from: table service dining and quick service dining. The table service option involves sitting down and takes more time. Then you have to find the restaurant you reserved and sometimes wait for a seat.

If you are trying to squeeze most of your day into rides and attractions, we recommend skipping this option altogether. For table service dining, you also need to make reservations many days in advance. But if you really want to enjoy a fancy dining experience, try Mama Melrose at Hollywood Studios, Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge, or Tiffins at Animal Kingdom. They sometimes accept last-minute dining reservations. 

There are many places in Disney World to grab a quick bite on the go. Ronto Roasters, Les Halles Boulangerie Pattisserie, Captain Cooks, Earl of Sandwich, and Woody’s Lunch Box are some of the best quick-service restaurants. You can also use the Mobile ordering option on My Disney Experience to skip the wait times – you can simply preorder the food and pick it up at the counter when you’re ready.

6. Don’t Over Plan – Just Go with The Flow

You might not be able to cover all attractions in just two days. This is why we advised you earlier to choose your priorities – what are your must-see attractions at Disney World? I know, this sounds a bit contradictory. But, don’t over plan your day. Just decide on three or four must-see rides in one park for a day.

Depending on the lines and wait time, you can also see other attractions in the area – catch a parade or explore a new part of the park. Without a tight schedule, the day will also feel longer. Remember not to make your vacation into a mission.

Wrap up

In this easy guide to a weekend at Disney, we gave you several practical pieces of advice on how to plan a trip to Disney World. Are you ready to plan your weekend trip to Disney World now? Do you have any questions?

Let us know in the comments below!