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How To Plan A Day Trip To Disney


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Caitlin Braithwaite



Planning a day trip to Disney can be an exciting and memorable experience, filled with enchantment and adventure. Whether you’re a Florida local looking to spend a day in the most magical place on earth or you’re visiting from out of town and want to make the most of your limited time, careful planning is key to ensure a smooth and enjoyable day at the park.


With its world-renowned attractions, immersive themed lands, and iconic characters, Disney offers something for everyone, from thrilling rides to captivating shows and delicious dining options. However, a successful day trip requires careful consideration of various factors, such as choosing the right date, researching ticket options, deciding on transportation, planning attractions and rides, making dining reservations, organizing FastPass selections, packing essentials, and navigating the park effectively.


In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of planning a day trip to Disney, providing insider tips and valuable information to help you make the most of your time at the park. So, grab your Mickey ears, put on your comfortable shoes, and let’s embark on a magical adventure!


Step 1: Choosing the Date

The first step in planning your day trip to Disney is selecting the perfect date. Consider your schedule, the time of year, and any special events or promotions happening at the park. Keep in mind that certain days, such as holidays and school breaks, tend to be more crowded, while weekdays during the off-season are usually less crowded.


If you have flexibility in choosing your date, aim for a weekday when the park is less busy. This will allow you to experience shorter wait times for attractions and make the most of your time without feeling overwhelmed by large crowds. Avoiding holidays and popular vacation periods can also help you avoid the peak crowds.


Another factor to consider when choosing the date is the weather. Florida is known for its warm and sunny climate, but it’s also susceptible to sudden rain showers and high humidity. Check the weather forecast in advance to ensure you’re dressed appropriately and prepared for any changes in weather conditions.


Additionally, keep an eye out for any special events or promotions happening at Disney during your chosen dates. Disney often hosts seasonal events, such as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. These events can add an extra layer of excitement to your day trip and provide unique experiences that you won’t want to miss.


In summary, when choosing the date for your Disney day trip, consider factors such as crowd levels, weather conditions, and any special events or promotions. By selecting a date that aligns with your preferences and priorities, you’ll set the foundation for a successful and enjoyable visit to the park.


Step 2: Researching Ticket Options

Once you have chosen the date for your Disney day trip, it’s time to explore the various ticket options available. Disney offers a range of ticket choices to accommodate different budgets and preferences.


Begin by visiting the official Disney website or contacting their customer service for the most up-to-date ticket information. Familiarize yourself with the different types of tickets, such as one-day tickets, multi-day tickets, and park hopper options. One-day tickets allow admission to a single park for one day, while multi-day tickets offer flexibility to visit multiple parks over a specified period. Park hopper tickets grant access to multiple parks in a single day.


Consider the duration of your day trip and the number of parks you wish to visit when choosing the most suitable ticket option. If you have limited time, a one-day ticket to a single park might be sufficient. However, if you want to explore multiple parks or have a more leisurely experience, a multi-day ticket or park hopper option would be a better choice.


Keep in mind that ticket prices can vary depending on the day and time of year. Disney utilizes a demand-based pricing model, meaning that tickets for peak days or high-demand periods might be priced higher than tickets for slower times. It’s wise to compare prices for different dates to find the best value for your chosen day trip.


Additionally, consider any special ticket promotions or discounts that Disney may offer. These can include deals for Florida residents, military personnel, or annual passholders. Take advantage of these opportunities to save money on your tickets if you are eligible.


Lastly, be sure to purchase your tickets in advance to avoid long lines and potential disappointment if tickets are sold out on your desired date. Disney tickets can be purchased online, at authorized ticket resellers, or through authorized travel agents. Be cautious of purchasing tickets from unauthorized sources, as they may be invalid or fraudulent.


By researching and selecting the right ticket options for your day trip, you’ll ensure a seamless entry into the park and have the freedom to enjoy all the magical experiences Disney has to offer.


Step 3: Deciding on Transportation

Once you have your tickets sorted out, the next step in planning your Disney day trip is deciding on the best mode of transportation to get to the park. Fortunately, there are various transportation options available to suit different needs and preferences.


If you’re staying at a Disney resort, utilizing the complimentary transportation provided by Disney is a convenient and hassle-free choice. Disney resorts offer transportation options such as buses, monorails, and boats that can transport you to and from the park entrances. This option eliminates the need to navigate traffic and find parking, allowing for a more relaxed start to your day.


If you’re not staying at a Disney resort, you can still take advantage of the Disney transportation system by parking at one of the designated Disney parking lots and boarding the complimentary buses or trams that will transport you to and from the park entrances. This option is especially useful if you prefer to drive and have the freedom to explore other areas of Orlando.


Alternatively, if you prefer the convenience and flexibility of having your own transportation, driving to the park is another viable option. Disney has ample parking spaces available, both standard and preferred, but keep in mind that parking fees apply. Arrive early to secure a spot closer to the park entrance and save time on commuting from the parking lot.


For those visiting from out of town or not wanting to navigate through traffic, utilizing rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft can be a convenient option. Simply arrange for a ride to and from the park, and you’ll be dropped off and picked up right at the designated areas for rideshare services.


If you’re staying in a nearby hotel, some accommodations offer shuttle services to the Disney parks. Check with your hotel to see if they provide transportation options and inquire about any fees or reservations required.


Lastly, for those looking to add an extra touch of luxury and convenience, hiring a private car service or booking a shuttle service specific to Disney can be a great option. These services ensure a comfortable and stress-free journey to and from the park, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the ride.


When deciding on transportation, consider factors such as convenience, flexibility, cost, and personal preference. Choose the option that best suits your needs and will provide a smooth start and end to your Disney day trip experience.


Step 4: Planning Attractions and Rides

One of the most exciting aspects of planning a Disney day trip is deciding which attractions and rides you want to experience. With so many options available, it’s important to plan ahead to make the most of your time at the park and ensure you don’t miss out on any must-see experiences.


Start by familiarizing yourself with the layout of the park(s) you’ll be visiting. Disney World in Florida is divided into four main parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Each park offers a unique experience with a variety of attractions, shows, and character meet-and-greets.


Research the attractions and rides available at each park and make a list of the ones that interest you the most. Take into consideration factors such as ride intensity, height restrictions (if traveling with children), and wait times. Disney’s official website provides detailed information about each attraction, including height requirements and thrill levels.


Once you have your list, prioritize the attractions based on your preferences but also be mindful of their popularity and wait times. Some attractions, like the iconic “it’s a small world” at Magic Kingdom or “Soarin'” at Epcot, tend to have long wait times throughout the day. Consider utilizing Disney’s FastPass+ system to help minimize wait times for your favorite attractions.


FastPass+ allows you to select specific ride and attraction times in advance, reserving a shorter wait time for you. Take advantage of this system by booking FastPasses for the attractions you don’t want to miss. Make sure to review the FastPass+ availability and criteria on the Disney website or app. You can book up to three FastPasses per day, and once you’ve used those, you can book additional FastPasses (subject to availability).


Keep in mind that while it’s great to have a plan, flexibility is also important. Be open to spontaneous moments and allow time for exploring, enjoying shows, dining, and interacting with characters. Disney is filled with magic around every corner, and sometimes the best experiences happen when you least expect them.


By planning your attractions and rides in advance and utilizing the FastPass+ system, you’ll maximize your time and create a well-rounded day of fun and adventure at Disney.


Step 5: Making Dining Reservations

Part of the Disney experience is enjoying delicious meals and dining in unique and themed restaurants throughout the parks. To make the most of your day trip, it’s important to plan your dining options in advance and make reservations, especially for popular restaurants.


Disney offers a wide range of dining options, from quick-service counters to fine dining establishments. Start by deciding whether you want to have a sit-down meal or grab a quick bite between attractions. Consider your preferences and the overall pace you wish to maintain throughout the day.


Once you have an idea of the type of dining experience you’re looking for, visit the official Disney website or use the My Disney Experience app to explore the available restaurants and their menus. Take note of any specific requirements, such as character dining experiences or dietary restrictions, to ensure there are suitable options for everyone in your party.


Popular dining locations and table-service restaurants tend to fill up quickly, so it’s recommended to make reservations as early as possible. Disney dining reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance, and it’s advisable to book as soon as your dining plans are finalized.


There are several ways to make dining reservations. You can book directly through the Disney website, use the My Disney Experience app, or call Disney Dining Reservations to make your reservation over the phone.


When making your dining reservations, consider your schedule for the day and allow for enough time to enjoy your meal without feeling rushed. It’s also a good idea to allocate some flexibility in your itinerary in case there are unexpected delays or changes in plans.


Remember that dining reservations do require a credit card to hold the reservation, and cancellation fees may apply if you don’t cancel within the specified timeframe. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the cancellation policy for each reservation made.


By making dining reservations in advance, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ll have a table waiting for you at your desired restaurant. This will allow you to relax, enjoy a delicious meal, and recharge before continuing your magical adventure at Disney.


Step 6: Organizing FastPass Selections

To make the most of your day trip to Disney, it’s important to take advantage of the FastPass+ system to reduce wait times for popular attractions. FastPass+ allows you to reserve a specific time slot for select attractions, giving you a shorter wait time and ensuring you don’t miss out on the experiences you’re most excited about.


The first step in organizing your FastPass selections is to review the available attractions and their FastPass availability. Visit the official Disney website or use the My Disney Experience app to browse the attractions at the park(s) you plan to visit and make a list of the ones you want to prioritize.


Consider factors such as ride popularity, wait times, and personal preferences when selecting your FastPasses. Aim for attractions that tend to have long wait times throughout the day, as FastPasses for these experiences can be especially beneficial.


Disney allows you to book up to three FastPasses per day in advance, and you can book them for one park at a time. Determine the timeframe in which you want to experience these attractions and choose FastPass slots that align with your overall schedule.


When selecting your FastPasses, be aware of any scheduling conflicts or overlaps. Allow enough time to travel between attractions, account for breaks or meal times, and consider the overall flow of your day. It’s important to create a balanced itinerary that allows for flexibility and enjoyment of all the park has to offer.


If you’ve used your initial three FastPasses, you can check for additional FastPass availability the day of your visit through the My Disney Experience app or at FastPass kiosks throughout the park(s). Take advantage of these opportunities to secure FastPasses for additional attractions you wish to experience.


It’s essential to be mindful of the FastPass return window printed on your FastPass ticket or displayed on the My Disney Experience app. Plan your activities accordingly to ensure you arrive at the attractions within the designated time frame, as Disney strictly enforces these time slots.


Lastly, keep in mind that FastPass availability is subject to change, and certain attractions may have limited availability. Be prepared with alternative choices in case your preferred FastPass selections are not available at your desired times.


By organizing your FastPass selections in advance and ensuring they align with your overall schedule and priorities, you’ll be able to maximize your time at the park and enjoy more attractions with reduced wait times.


Step 7: Packing Essentials

Packing the right essentials for your Disney day trip can greatly enhance your experience and ensure you have everything you need to stay comfortable and prepared throughout the day.


Begin by considering the weather and dress accordingly. Florida’s climate can be hot and humid, so lightweight and breathable clothing is recommended. Opt for comfortable shoes to tackle the miles of walking you’ll be doing, and consider bringing an extra pair of socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable.


Since you’ll be spending the day outdoors, don’t forget to bring sun protection essentials. Pack sunscreen with a high SPF, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield yourself from the sun’s rays. It’s also a good idea to bring a small umbrella or poncho in case of unexpected rain showers.


Hydration is crucial, especially in the Florida heat. Bring a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day. Disney allows guests to bring in outside food and non-alcoholic beverages, so you can refill your water bottle at any of the water fountains or quick-service locations throughout the parks.


Snacks are another important consideration. Packing some light snacks, such as granola bars or fruit, can help keep you energized between meals and save you from purchasing expensive snacks inside the park. Just be sure to avoid bringing any glass containers or perishable items that may spoil in the heat.


Other essential items to pack include a small backpack or bag to carry your belongings, a portable phone charger to keep your devices powered up, and a camera to capture all the magical moments. It’s also a good idea to bring a portable fan or misting fan to keep cool during the hotter parts of the day.


Additionally, consider any personal items you may need, such as medications, baby supplies, or items for individuals with special needs. Disney is accommodating and provides various services for guests with disabilities or specific requirements, so don’t hesitate to reach out to Guest Relations for any assistance you may need during your visit.


Lastly, don’t forget to bring any necessary park essentials, such as your Disney tickets, identification, and any MagicBands or FastPass+ reservations you have made. These will be essential for park entry and accessing your FastPass selections.


By packing these essential items, you’ll be well-prepared and equipped to make the most of your Disney day trip, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience from start to finish.


Step 8: Arriving at Disney

After all the planning and anticipation, the day has finally arrived for your Disney day trip. As you make your way to the park, there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure a smooth arrival and start to your magical adventure.


First and foremost, give yourself ample time to travel to the park. Consider traffic conditions and any potential delays. Arriving early will give you a head start and allow you to enter the park as soon as it opens.


If you’re utilizing Disney transportation or staying at a Disney resort, be sure to check the transportation schedules and plan your departure accordingly. Factor in any additional time needed to board buses, monorails, or boats to reach the park entrance.


When you arrive at the park, have your tickets, MagicBands, or FastPass+ reservations readily available for a smooth entry. Be prepared for security bag checks and follow any specific instructions given by the park staff.


Once inside the park, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the map and the layout of the park(s) you’ll be visiting. This will help you navigate your way and optimize your time by avoiding unnecessary backtracking.


Consider making a game plan for your day, taking into account your FastPass selections, dining reservations, and must-see attractions. Having a loose itinerary will guide your journey and ensure you don’t miss out on any key experiences.


Ensure every member of your group is aware of meeting points and safety protocols, especially if you’ll be splitting up to ride different attractions. Set a designated meeting spot in case anyone gets separated to avoid any unnecessary stress or worry.


Finally, embrace the magical atmosphere and immerse yourself in the Disney experience. Take time to appreciate the details, interact with characters and cast members, and savor every moment of the enchantment that surrounds you.


Remember to stay hydrated, take breaks when needed, and wear comfortable shoes to keep your energy levels high as you explore the parks.


By arriving at Disney prepared and with a clear plan in mind, you’ll be ready to fully immerse yourself in the magic and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Step 9: Enjoying the Day

Now that you’ve arrived at Disney and your day is in full swing, it’s time to fully embrace the magic and enjoyment of everything the park has to offer. Here are some tips to make the most of your day and ensure a memorable experience:


1. Stay flexible: While having a general plan is important, allow for some flexibility in your schedule. Be open to spontaneous moments, unexpected interactions, and exploring areas of the park you may not have initially planned on visiting.


2. Take advantage of entertainment options: Disney is known for its incredible live shows, parades, and fireworks displays. Check the park schedule for the day and make sure to catch these captivating performances. Find a good spot in advance to secure a great view.


3. Capture memories: Don’t forget to take plenty of photos and videos to document your magical day. Whether you use a professional camera or simply your smartphone, these memories will last a lifetime and serve as a reminder of the joy and excitement you experienced.


4. Pace yourself: Disney parks can be overwhelming with all there is to see and do, so it’s important to pace yourself. Take breaks throughout the day to rest, refuel, and recharge. Use these moments to enjoy a snack, people-watch, or simply find a quiet spot to relax.


5. Engage with characters: Meeting beloved Disney characters is a highlight for many visitors. Take the time to interact with characters and get autographs or photos. It’s a truly magical experience that adds an extra layer of enchantment to your day.


6. Explore different areas: Each Disney park has its own unique themed areas and attractions. Make sure to explore all the different lands and immerse yourself in the distinctive atmospheres. Whether it’s the whimsy of Fantasyland or the adventure of Tomorrowland, there’s something for everyone.


7. Enjoy the food: Disney offers a wide array of culinary delights, from quick-service snacks to fine dining experiences. Take the time to savor the delicious food options available, whether it’s indulging in a Mickey-shaped treat or enjoying a themed restaurant.


8. Embrace the magic: Above all, don’t forget to embrace the magic and wonder of Disney. Take in the sights, sounds, and atmosphere. Talk to cast members, participate in interactive experiences, and let your inner child come alive. Allow yourself to be transported to a world of fantasy and imagination.


By following these tips and fully immersing yourself in the Disney experience, you’ll create cherished memories and make the most of your day at the park.


Step 10: Returning Home

As your unforgettable Disney day trip comes to an end, it’s important to have a smooth transition back to reality. Here are some tips to wrap up your day and return home with wonderful memories:


1. Time your departure: Be mindful of park closing times and plan your exit accordingly. Keep in mind that it may take some time to navigate your way out of the park, so give yourself enough time to make it to transportation or your parked vehicle.


2. Reflect on the day: Take a moment to reflect on the magical experiences and memories you made during your visit. Discuss highlights with your travel companions and share stories of moments that stood out to each of you.


3. Shop for souvenirs: Before leaving the park, consider visiting the gift shops to pick up some mementos of your trip. Whether it’s Disney merchandise, character-themed items, or personalized keepsakes, these souvenirs will serve as tangible reminders of your special day.


4. Say goodbye to Disney: Take one last look around the park as you bid farewell to the magical world of Disney. Appreciate the magic and wonder that you experienced and express gratitude for the memories you created.


5. Reflect on the trip back: During your journey home, reflect on the day and reminisce about the highlights. Share your favorite moments and discuss what you enjoyed the most. This reflection will help solidify the memories and keep the joy of the day alive.


6. Rest and recharge: Once you arrive home, it’s time to rest and recharge. A day at Disney can be both physically and mentally exhausting, so take some time to relax and recuperate. Get a good night’s sleep and allow yourself some downtime to reflect on your amazing adventure.


7. Share your experience: Share your Disney day trip experience with family and friends. Discuss your favorite rides, attractions, and dining experiences. Share photos and stories to bring the magic to life for those who couldn’t be there with you.


8. Start planning your next visit: As you settle back into your everyday routine, consider starting the anticipation for your next Disney trip. Look into upcoming events, new attractions, or different Disney parks you’d like to visit in the future. This will keep the Disney magic alive and give you something to look forward to.


Your Disney day trip may be over, but the memories and joy will stay with you forever. By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth transition back home while cherishing the enchantment of your magical day at Disney.



Planning a day trip to Disney is an exciting and magical experience. By following these steps, you can ensure that your visit is well-organized, enjoyable, and filled with cherished memories.


Choosing the right date, researching ticket options, deciding on transportation, planning attractions and rides, making dining reservations, organizing FastPass selections, packing essentials, arriving at Disney, enjoying the day, and returning home are all important components to consider when planning your trip. Each step plays a vital role in creating a successful and unforgettable experience.


Remember to be flexible, embrace the magic, and prioritize the attractions and experiences that are important to you. Take advantage of resources like the official Disney website and the My Disney Experience app to help you navigate and plan your day more efficiently.


Throughout your day trip, immerse yourself in the enchantment of Disney. Engage with characters, enjoy the shows and performances, savor the delectable food offerings, and take plenty of photos to capture the magical moments.


Returning home, reflect on the joy and happiness you experienced during your visit. Share your stories, display your souvenirs, and begin dreaming of your next Disney adventure.


Whether you’re a Florida local or visiting from afar, a day trip to Disney is an opportunity to escape reality and enter a realm of fantasy and imagination. With careful planning and a sense of wonder, you can create memories that will last a lifetime.


So, get ready to let your inner child come alive, put on your Mickey ears, and embark on a day filled with magic, laughter, and enchantment. Your Disney day trip awaits!