When I was a guest on the Latin Babbler podcast, I was asked what I would recommend to someone visiting Disney World for only one day. I did answer this question, but I thought more carefully about it after the fact. What should you prioritize more? Food or rides? Character meets or shopping? Of course these things vary by person, but this would be my ideal one day in Disney World!
Morning Rope Drop
I’d start my day by “rope-dropping” Hollywood Studios, and running right to Slinky Dog Dash. The line won’t be tiny, but it’ll move quick and Toy Story Mania likely has a short wait too, and it’s right nearby to ride after Slinky. I’d then move on and grab my quick “breakfast.” I personally love Woody’s Lunch Box and their lunchbox tarts. They’re delicious, but also save you time for rides. When I visit the parks I love to eat park food too, and I rarely ever bring food from grocery stores inside the parks, so that’s my plan. Anyways, I’d then have a Fastpass scheduled for Tower of Terror or Rock n Roller coaster, depending on your group’s choice.
For lunch, I would head over to Docking Bay 7 in Galaxy’s Edge. If you have a big Star Wars fan in the family you may want to ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, (the line is usually VERY long) but otherwise I’d eat lunch and try blue milk and some other snacks. Definitely explore the market and the stores, and take amazing photos of the Falcon and any characters you see!
To get to Magic Kingdom, I’d take the cost of a lyft or even a “Minnie Van” if you want to keep the Disney feelings coming. This is the fastest way to get between these two parks, because the monorail and skyliner do not travel between them. You could also take a bus, but you may have to wait longer for it to arrive!
Characters and Photos
To me, it’s important to meet at least one or two characters. You can get a fastpass for almost any meet, but many don’t need it. Gaston, Pooh/Tigger and some princesses in the Fairytale Hall can typically be met within 30 minutes or less. After that, you should definitely take photos in the classic spots like in front of Cinderella’s castle or Space Mountain. You will have your character photos to keep dear, but everyone needs a new Instagram photo posing with the park icons!
Other Fast passes
My last two fast passes would be for Magic Kingdom. I’d either choose Big Thunder Mountain or Splash Mountain for one, and between Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean for the other. (You get allotted three fast passes per day, and you definitely want to choose them as soon as your reservation window is open for your trip.) These four rides are all classic but you will need to Fastpass to ride them in less than 45 minutes. The two will have to be scheduled an hour apart as per Disney’s reservation restrictions, so between, try a Mickey pretzel, a dole whip/citrus swirl, or whatever other snacks spark your interest!
For dinner, I’d go for a full sit-down meal. You won’t have to do a ton more running around in this plan post-dinner, and MK is home to one of my favorite restaurants in Disney World. Liberty Square is home to Liberty Tree Tavern, which offers a plethora of comfort food “all-you-care-to-enjoy” style, and they have something for all diets. It is a perfect example of what makes Disney parks different from other amusement parks, and I try to go on all of my trips. Also try the sticky toffee pudding!
Happily Ever After
Depending on how important a fireworks viewing spot is to you, line up anywhere from an hour to 30 min before the nightly fireworks in the area in front of the castle. Make sure to ask when they are, because it changes seasonally. The Happily Ever After fireworks are a must-see, and they are unlike any other display you’ve probably ever experienced!
One Last Ride
When the park is coming to a close after the show, (again, how long it stays open after changes seasonally) hop on line for Space Mountain. The wait will probably be long on the app, but they MUST let you on even if the park closed since you’ve been waiting. Most people don’t know this and avoid getting on line at this time as a result. The ride is one of the longest waits in Disney World, and this is the best way to get on without snatching a hard-to-get Fastpass. The other fast passes I included are more sought after, but easily accessible if you book them when your window opens.
Final Disney Experience
I’d finish the night with one last Disney World tradition: the monorail! Take the monorail to any stop (Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian or Transportation and Ticket Center) and then take a lyft to your final destination, wherever this may be.
I hope this gives you a solid idea of a great day in Disney, especially for a first timer! Thank you for reading!
Hannah Bouchard is the co-creator for Completely Magic.