The Walt Disney World Resort is a sprawling complex filled with theme parks, hotels, water parks — even multiple golf courses. There’s enough within its borders to easily keep you occupied for weeks, especially if you want to experience everything. However, if you only have one day at Disney World, that doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out.
Let’s take a look at the must-dos for visiting Disney in one day, including the top attractions for each theme park and tips to maximize your time.
Walt Disney World in a day
If you’re trying to visit the entirety of Walt Disney World in one day, some advice: Don’t. You’d probably pass out from exhaustion before you make it a quarter of the way through. Instead of trying to do everything there is to do, we recommend focusing your time on the four theme parks at Walt Disney World.
Magic Kingdom is likely the park that springs to mind when you think of Walt Disney World. Comprising several themed lands and featuring the massive Cinderella castle at its center, Magic Kingdom has quite a few popular attractions.
Many of these, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Haunted Mansion, can also be found in other Disney theme parks. They’re classics and should be enjoyed if you have the time. If you don’t, there are a couple of rides that could be considered “can’t miss” at Magic Kingdom:
Tron Lightcycle / Run is Magic Kingdom’s newest high-speed roller coaster experience. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is also a roller coaster but suitable for all ages. Neither of these rides can be found at California’s Disneyland, so you’ll want to get them in while you can.
Epcot is another theme park at Walt Disney World that you’ll definitely want to hit if you’re going to Disney for a day. Along with 11 different pavilions highlighting food and cultures from around the world, there are a few key attractions you’ll want to visit:
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
These are very popular rides, so it may be difficult trying to fit them in just by using the standby queue. If you’re not looking to spend any extra money to skip the queue, consider sticking with just Test Track and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Both are high-speed thrill rides and are near each other.
Hollywood Studios tends to focus on film-related attractions, so the best ride you’ll find here is based on a movie. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the only must-do at Hollywood Studios.
Animal Kingdom is the last on our list and, like Hollywood Studios, has one attraction that you’ll definitely want to jump on. Avatar Flight of Passage is a unique experience that combines a big-screen 3D experience with physical effects. It’s unlike anything you’ve ridden before, so it’s well worth schlepping over to Animal Kingdom for a visit.
Tips for one day at Walt Disney World
A day trip to Disney World is a big undertaking, but there are some tricks to help make it easier.
Purchase a VIP tour
The best thing you can do for yourself if you’ve only got one day at Walt Disney World is to purchase a VIP tour. It’s incredibly expensive, starting at $450 per hour for a minimum of seven hours, but it’s going to be the fastest way to get around the parks and onto the rides.
Visitors on VIP tours are able to bypass all standard queues for attractions. They’re also able to skip out on the regular entrances to the theme parks, which can save tons of time.
Pay for Lightning Lane access
Lightning Lane access is a paid option available to all visitors, though the method by which you obtain it will vary. Nearly all of the attractions on the list are part of the A La Carte Lightning Lane, which means you’ll pay per person, per ride, to skip the standard queue. Depending on how large your party is, this option can get pricey. However, it’s much cheaper than paying for a VIP tour.
Go early and stay late
As obvious as it may seem, hitting the parks early and staying until close is going to be the cheapest way to experience all four parks in one day. Crowds are always the lowest at park open and close, which means you’ll be able to run to a few different rides without encountering huge lines.
Stay at a Disney resort hotel
Guests of Walt Disney World resorts are entitled to early entry to all four theme parks, which can make a big difference when it comes to maximizing your time. No matter which resort you’re staying at, you’ll be granted access to the parks 30 minutes before they officially open to the public.
If you’d like to do Disney in a day
A Walt Disney World vacation is always a tiring experience, but this is compounded when you’re trying to visit Disney in just one day. If you’re interested in visiting the parks but have limited time, make sure you’re maximizing every moment so you can enjoy as much as possible — and take advantage of our tips to ensure it all goes smoothly.
(Top photo courtesy of Walt Disney World)