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Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide
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Brian Bennett

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How Long to Stay

I personally recommend spending at least nine or ten days when traveling to WDW. I know it sounds very long, and it can be very costly, but to see most everything in a realistic pace, and allowing for a daily afternoon break of a couple hours or so, nine or ten days is needed.  With a trip of that duration, you'll have sufficient time if your goal is to see everything there is to see at WDW.  You must be realistic in realizing that enjoying the theme parks, water parks, all the resorts, golf, activities and so on take time. It simply isn't possible to see most everything at WDW on a strict time budget.

Having said that, it's only reality that everyone does indeed have a time budget -- and that ten days is usually not available. Since that's the case, I strongly suggest you look at what parks, resorts, and activities are available and set priorities based on your own interests (and of course, the interests of others in your party). Then you can plan a reasonable pace and see and do those things that are most important.

Based on my experience, which I've had mostly during the least busy times of the year, you need the following amount of time to "do it all":

  • Magic Kingdom...two full days
  • EPCOT Center...two and a half full days
  • Disney/MGM Studios...one and a half full days
  • Animal Kingdom...one and a half full days, less if you're interested in just rides and attractions, but the full day and a half to thoroughly enjoy the animals and horticulture (which is just spectacular at this park)
  • River Country, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach...the water parks can be enjoyed for a full day, or visited for just a few hours (with a length of stay or annual pass) to break up the day
  • Pleasure Island...at least one evening
  • Village Marketplace...one evening (try to avoid Weekend nights, though, because the Marketplace is busiest on those evenings)
  • West End...one evening for browsing, but you might want to visit more than once to enjoy the restaurants 
  • Resort Hopping...you can reasonably enjoy one of the resorts in an hour or less. What I like to do, though, is take a nice walk around the grounds to really enjoy the atmosphere.  Some of our my favorite memories of recent trips are of my family's evening strolls.  Another excellent way to enjoy the resorts is to have a meal at one of the uniquely themed restaurants.

As far as non-Disney activities, you should plan on a full day or more for Sea World, the Space Center, Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure if you plan on visiting those attractions as well.

Of course, you can spend just a few days at WDW, but you have to remember to cut back on your expectations, too. You simply can't do as much in a three day trip as you can in five or seven days.  As long as you limit your expectations for shorter stays, you can thoroughly enjoy a trip to Walt Disney World regardless of duration.

On the  bright side, there is a big advantage in shorter trips.  You'll almost certainly be less foot sore after three or four days than you will after seven or nine days. Therefore, the need for an afternoon break (one of the most important features of a long trip, in my own opinion) becomes less stringent.    Frankly, I would still recommend taking the break, but some diehards out there will still do it their way. I sympathize with the rest of the people in their party.

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