Disney World is a great place for a weekend getaway. Today we are sharing our tips for planning a weekend at Disney World.
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I recently returned from a weekend at Disney World and it was a great trip! With so many activities at Disney World this 2 days at Disney World will help you plan a perfect Disney trip with kids or adults.
There is so much to do at Disney World and no matter how many times you visit you will find something new to experience. Our Disney World 7 Day Itinerary Planning Guide can help plan a week at Disney, but if you don’t have a week you can still plan a great weekend at Disney World trip.
If you want to see all the parks you will need to have a plan for maximizing your time, prioritizing your attractions, and having a plan for what you want to see and do.
We recommended setting your expectations and what you can and can’t get done before you arrive to ensure you have a great Disney World weekend trip!
Tickets & Discounts: I always recommend shopping for the best travel deals when planning a trip! This takes time but can help you SAVE! Our favorite places to check: Theme park tickets and hotels check out Undercover Tourist and Get Away Today. Theme park and attractions check out CityPass. Hotels and other travel needs check out TripAdvisor and Bookings.com. Always compare prices because they often have specials and deals during the year.
Tips for Planning a Weekend at Disney World
What Parks to Visit
Walt Disney World has 4 theme parks and 2 water parks. When planning your weekend in Disney World you need to decide what parks you want to visit.
You also have the option to purchase a park hopper ticket. This allows you to visit multiple parks in one day. Keep in mind park hopping doesn’t start until 2:00pm. You also need to secure a park ticket and park reservation for the park you will start at.
Epcot with kids is great, but it is also really fun on an adults only Disney World trip. Most adults will enjoy trying different drinks or food options through out the World Showcase. Epcot is a large park to visit in a short time so you will need to prioritize what you want to do.
Animal Kingdom is a great park to walk around and enjoy the ambiance. It has animal walk-through exhibits as well as rides and shows. Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safari are some of the best rides at Animal Kingdom.
You should pick the parks that are most interesting to you and have the shows, rides, and attractions you most want to experience. A park hopper can allow you to visit a lot more in a short time during your Disney World visit.
Theme park tickets and resorts check out Undercover Tourist.
Where to Stay During a Weekend Getaway to Disney World
When visiting Walt Disney World guests have a choice of on-site Disney Resorts or off-site accommodations. For a short visit I would suggest staying on-site at Disney World. This allows you to take advantage of Disney transportation to get to and from the parks.
Disney World has resorts that are value, moderate, or deluxe and can fit anyone’s Disney budget. We really enjoyed our stays at Art of Animation and Disney’s Riviera Resort, as well as Pop Century and Caribbean Beach.
Each Disney Resort is located in a specific area of the Walt Disney World Resort. If you are not visiting all four parks you should look at a resort close to the parks you are visiting.
- Magic Kingdom Resorts: Grand Floridian or Contemporary. Both have walking paths to the Magic Kingdom and monorail to Epcot.
- Epcot Resorts: Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk are a short walk away. Skyliner from Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera Resort.
- Hollywood Studios: Skyliner from Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera Resort.
- Animal Kingdom: Animal Kingdom Lodge bus transportation.
All of the theme parks offer bus transportation to and from the parks. The resorts that have the Disney Skyliner to Epcot and Hollywood Studios will offer less bus transportation options. There is also boat transportation from some resorts.
Where to Eat during a Short Trip to Disney World
There are two options that you should consider when planning your dining at Disney World. They are quick service dining or table service dining.
Table service dining is sit down and will take more time out of your day. If you are prioritizing attractions and rides you may want to skip table service dining. You also need to make reservations 60 days in advance for table service dining.
Quick Service at Disney World has many varieties of options that are just as good as table service meals in my opinion. We like to use the Mobile ordering option on the My Disney Experience app to skip the ordering lines.
Things to Consider When Planning a Weekend Trip to Disney World
Pace of Trip
Do you want to be up from open to close and see everything or do you want to take it slow and experience what you can in the time you have? If you want to visit all 4 parks you will most likely have to move at a quicker pace than if you are only visit one or two parks during your trip.
Prioritize What You Want to Accomplish
2 days isn’t enough time to get all of Walt Disney World done so you need to prioritize what you want to see and do. Are there shows you want to see? Rides you want to experience? Make a list of what you want to accomplish and be realistic with the time you have.
Discuss Expectations of the Trip
Discuss expectations for your Disney World weekend before you arrive at the parks. Do people in your group want to sleep in, stay up late, see the nightly fireworks and shows? These are things you want to have figured out before you start planning your trip.
Be sure to discuss what everyone want to see and do. Make a list and then prioritize that list. You can always be flexible once you arrive but it is beneficial to set expectations before arrival.
If you are planning a short visit and want to do all four parks you can save a lot of money with accommodations and dining. You will get less done with less time but if you are on a small budget a short trip to Disney is better than no trip to Disney.
Theme park tickets and resorts check out Undercover Tourist.
2 Days in Disney World Plan
I recently went on a girls weekend to Disney World and we had 48 hours to spend at the resort and parks. We had to prioritize what we wanted to do and make a plan.
Everything didn’t work on perfectly and there were a few favorites that were missed, but overall we had a great trip with a visit to all four of the parks.
Ideally I would book as early a flight as possible to maximize our time at the parks but I my flight arrived around 4:00pm to Orlando International Airport. My friend that I was meeting picked me up but if you need transportation check prices on Mears or Sunshine Flyer. Lyft and Uber are also available. Magical Express is no longer available to guests.
We checked into Pop Century, dropped off our things, and planned to head to Epcot for the evening. Be sure to book a park reservation for Epcot as soon as you purchase tickets.
Before we went over to Epcot we decided to grab dinner at the resort. Epcot has amazing restaurants but I was pretty hungry from missing lunch at the airport so we ordered up from the quick service restaurant at Pop Century.
After dinner we got on the Skyliner to take to Epcot. This will take you to Caribbean Beach where you will get off and then board the Epcot Skyliner route. The ride takes between 10-15 minutes.
Epcot is a great park to walk around in the evening, it can get very hot during the summer months. Check out Visiting Disney World in Summer | Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) take a Summer Vacation to Disney World for tips when its hot.
We didn’t plan on doing any of the most popular attractions and picked our attractions based on wait times. The app was showing 15 minutes for Soarin’ so we headed over to the World Nature area of the park to ride.
After Soarin’ we rode Living with the Land and Finding Nemo. Then we walked over to the new Guardians of the Galaxy area to look around and finished the evening with a walk through the World Showcase.
Had we arrived earlier to Epcot, we may have considered purchasing Genie+ to skip the lines or purchase the Individual Lighting Lane for Ratatouille (and soon Guardians of the Galaxy) but we decided to enjoy the ambiance of the park and ride the attractions with short wait times.
We also skipped the nightly show and headed back to the resort for dessert in the room. We had a full and early day for tomorrow.
Quick Itinerary Glance for Arrival Day
- Arrive at Pop Century Resort
- Dinner at Pop Century Resort On-Site dining
- Take Skyliner to Epcot (Be sure to make park reservations for Epcot.)
- Check My Disney Experience for Wait Times to see where to go first.
- Ride Soarin’, Living with the Land, and Nemo.
- Walked around the World Showcase.
- Returned back to Pop Century via the Skyliner.
Full Day at the Parks
During our weekend at Disney World we had one full day at the parks. We knew we wanted to maximize our day so we planned an early start at Hollywood Studios and then planned to park hop to Magic Kingdom.
Be sure to book a park ticket and reservation for Hollywood Studios as soon as you purchase your ticket. Park hopping begins at 2:00pm and you do not need a reservation for the park you are hopping to. There is bus transportation to and from the parks.
We started our morning with coffee in our room and then took the Disney Skyliner to Hollywood Studios. We left our room around 7:10am. On-site guests can enter the park 30 minutes before stated park opening. On the day of our visit Hollywood Studios opened at 8:30 so on-site guests could enter the park at 8:00am.
We arrived at Hollywood Studios around 7:30am and were walking to Slinky Dog Dash by 7:40am. We also purchased Genie+ and an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance at 7:00am, before we left our resort. Learn more about Genie+.
We did not secure a genie+ lightning lane pass (previously FastPass) for Slinky Dog Dash but did get one for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Because of this we decided to rope drop Slinky Dog Dash.
I also want to preface about how we planned our day with the fact that we didn’t prioritize getting everything done at the parks. There were only 2 of us on this weekend at Disney and we moved at a slow pace. We didn’t mind missing attractions or taking things slow during our trip.
Once we arrived and were through the gates of the park we walked to Slinky Dog Dash and were on it by 8:00am. Then we walked to Rock n’ Roller Coaster that had a 5 minute wait. After that we got breakfast at Hollywood Scoops.
The blueberry Mickey waffles from Hollywood Scoops was so delicious! It was a perfect morning break. After that we walked over to Galaxy’s Edge to see the wait times. Unfortunately the wait times were all over 60 minutes for most attractions.
We didn’t want to wait so we walked around Galaxy’s Edge and watched a Storm Trooper show. Galaxy’s Edge is a really immersive area to explore. There are many stores to check out and I notice something new each time we visit.
After Galaxy’s Edge we walked over for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Once we used our Genie+ we booked our next Genie+ for Toy Story Mania after lunch.
We then waited for Star Wars. This was about a 45 minute wait and was longer than I would have liked but we had time at the park so we waited. Then we headed to lunch at Woody’s Lunch Box followed by Toy Story Mania!.
Once we checked into Toy Story Mania we made a reservation for Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom.
At this point there wasn’t a lot of options left for Genie+ reservations at Hollywood Studios before 2:00pm which is why we started booking for Magic Kingdom. You can make reservations every 2 hours or when you use your ride reservation.
After this we picked up a coffee and walked to the bus to Magic Kingdom. We waited about 15 minutes for a bus. Be sure to consider transportation wait times when making a Genie+ reservation.
Our first ride was Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. Then we headed over to Sunshine Tree Terrace for a treat. I got the Strawberry Dole Whip. After that we rode Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. Had dinner at Columbia Harbour House and took a last ride on the People Mover before heading back to the resort.
We didn’t stay for any evening shows during our trip this time. Of course you could easily work them into your weekend at Disney.
Overview Itinerary of Our Full Day at Disney
- Purchase Genie+
- Book Individual Lightning Lane at 7:00am for Rise of the Resistance
- Book Genie+ reservation for Slinky Dog Dash, no luck, booked Mickey n’ Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Rope dropped Slinky Dog Dash.
- Rode Rock n’ Roller Coaster
- Breakfast at Hollywood Scoops.
- Walked around Galaxy’s Edge
- Rode Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Rode Star Tours
- Rode Toy Story Mania
- Lunch at Woody’s Lunch Box
- Muppets 3D Show
- Reservation at Rise of the Resistance
- Coffee and walk to buses to park hop to Magic Kingdom
- Splash Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Snack at Sunshine Tree Terrace
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Haunted Mansion
- Dinner at Columbia Harbour House
- People Mover
- Return to Resort
For our last day we were spending the morning at Animal Kingdom before my afternoon flight home. We slept in a little, checked-out of the resort, and drove over to Animal Kingdom. If you don’t have a car be sure to factor in the time for transportation to and from the airport.
We didn’t purchase Genie+ because we only had a few hours at the park and didn’t arrive early enough to get in line for Flight of Passage. By the time we arrived the most popular Animal Kingdom rides had over 30 minute wait times.
We were lucky to ride Expedition Everest with a 20 minute wait and then picked up breakfast at Joffreys. Behind Joffreys is a sitting area overlooking the river. While sitting we saw 3 characters float by. It is a great little spot to have breakfast and see characters.
At this point we had time to walk around the Tree of Life and then made our way to the parking lot to drive to the airport.
Best Tips for Planning a Weekend at Disney
- Expect that you can’t ride everything.
- Decide on 2-3 things each person wants to do and prioritize those activities.
- Enjoy a slower pace and discover things you might not have when you are trying to get it all done.
Overall we really loved our weekend at Disney. I wouldn’t suggest a weekend visit for a first time visit to Disney World but it is a great way to experience the parks for return visits.
Theme park tickets and resorts check out Undercover Tourist.
Read Next: Visiting Disney World in Summer | Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) take a Summer Vacation to Disney World
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