For most of us, a trip to Walt Disney World means we plan six months in advance and spend at least a week to be able to see every parade and show, ride every ride, and have dining reservations for every day.  But if you only have one day to be able to experience Walt Disney World, is it worth the trip? Yes. And here are the 9 tips you need to make the most of Walt Disney World in just one day.

Walt Disney World in One Day

Magic Kingdom Photo Credit: Rebecca Darling Texas Traveling Mom

9 Great Tips to Navigate Walt Disney World in One Day

TMOM-disclosure-graphicEarlier this year, we found ourselves in Orlando on business and had a free day.  Should we try to spend a day at Walt Disney World or is one day not enough? There really was no debate involved; my teen who was traveling with me emphatically wanted to go to Walt Disney World.

But can you really do all you want and see all you want of Walt Disney World in one day?  And is it worth the cost of the ticket for only one day?  Those are decisions you have to make on your own. However, with my 13 year old and the right plan going in, we were able to visit 3 parks and ride 22 rides in one day. Here’s how we did it:

1. Walt Disney World in One Day: Make a list of your Must Dos

Before we headed out, we each made a list of our must do’s at Walt Disney World.  For my teen, that involved a lot of rides – the roller coaster rides, that quite possibly could have long waits. For myself, I included Dole Whip and a photo in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  It’s the simple things:

Walt Disney World in One Day

Once you have a list of what everyone wants to do, have a discussion to see if you reasonably can get to them all before moving to the next tip.

2. Walt Disney World in One Day: Pick your Parks

It was important for us to see as much as we could in our one day, but you might prefer a leisurely day in the Magic Kingdom. Regardless of your plan, be aware of the predicted crowds on the dates you have chosen to visit. Ideally, November, January, and May are the best months to visit in terms of lesser crowds.  Check the crowd calendar for the date you are going and see if that changes your mind as to what parks to visit.

Traveling Mom Tip: Avoid the Walt Disney World Park that has the Early Magic Hours as it tends to be the most crowded for the whole day. 

3. Walt Disney World in One Day: Purchase Tickets in Advance

Don’t wait to get to the parks to purchase your tickets, buy them in advance online.  The last thing you want to do is spend precious time waiting in a line to buy a ticket or even pick them up at Will Call.

4. Walt Disney World in One Day: Schedule Fast Passes

As soon as you know when you are visiting the parks, schedule Fast Passes either online or via the My Disney Experience app on your mobile phone. Take into consideration your plan and must do’s and try to get those Fast Passes. You are allowed to schedule only 3 Fast Passes per day and all 3 must be in the same park to start.  Once you have done all 3, you can schedule another and it can be in another park. We were able to use 6 Fast Passes the day we went because of smart planning.

Traveling Mom Tip: Schedule Fast Passes for the morning if possible, leaving you time to schedule more throughout the day. 

Walt Disney World in One Day

5. Walt Disney World in One Day: Arrive Early (and Stay Late)

If you only have one day, plan to arrive early at the parks. Always factor in at least an hour to get to the parks – no matter if you are driving and parking or using Walt Disney World transportation. The best thing that could happen is that you arrive so early you get to see the Opening Show!

And if you have the time to stay late, do it! The only way we were able to get so many rides in the day my son and I visited was because we took advantage of Magic Kingdom being open until midnight the day we visited.

6. Walt Disney World in One Day: Stay at a Disney Resort

I always advise staying at a Walt Disney World Resort as all the complications of driving & parking are gone.  You can take advantage of the WDW transportation and get delivered directly to the parks (for most of the resorts).  And by staying on property, you can take advantage of Magic Hours that are offered to resort guests and not the general public.

7. Walt Disney World in One Day: Don’t make Dining Reservations

Unless dining at a signature restaurant is one of your must do’s, we advise against a sit-down meal during your one day.  On average, a table service meal takes one to two hours from the time you check in til you pay the bill.  That’s valuable time to see the parks!

Traveling Mom Tip: Avoid eating at peak dining times and you won’t have long lines to wait for food in.  Ideally, we like to eat a snack for breakfast, wait for a big lunch around 2 or 3 pm and enjoy a sweet snack later in the evening. 

8. Walt Disney World in One Day: Avoid the Parades and Shows

Again, unless your must-do is a parade or show, the best times to experience shorter lines for rides are at this time. As much as we love Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s signature fireworks show, we have seen it a lot, so we choose to ride as many rides as we could while 75 percent of the crowd was watching the show.

9. Walt Disney World in One Day: Be Willing to Not Do It All

Chances are, you will not be able to do everything that was on your list as crowds at Walt Disney World are unpredictable. One of our must-do’s was Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster but the single rider line wait was 60 minutes.  So we had to decide if we wanted to wait that long or get a few more attractions in instead. It can be disappointing to not ride everything you wanted in your one day, but look on the bright side, you’re at Walt Disney World!

Traveling Mom Tip: A few rides have single rider lanes (Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, Test Track). Try taking advantage of those and most of the time your wait will be half as long as the regular line. 

Some people may think that it is a waste to attempt to do Walt Disney World in one day. For my son & I, it was an incredible memory to be able to visit 3 parks and ride 22 rides in one day.  If you have a lot of stamina and want to see the parks, I encourage you to try too!

What’s your best Walt Disney World time-saving tip? 

9 Tips to Do Walt Disney World in One Day