Most people plan Disney vacations for a week or so, but what if you’re itching to get to Disney World and only have a weekend? Don’t worry – with some good pre-planning you can pack a ton into a weekend trip. There are many ways to do a weekend getaway at Disney, and this plan focuses on maximizing theme park time and hitting all 4 parks.
1. Where to Stay
For a weekend getaway, we definitely recommend staying on Disney property so that you can spend most of your time in the parks and not worry about driving back to an off-site hotel or condo. Staying on property will also maximize the “Disney feel” of your trip. Since you’re only paying for 2 nights of lodging, you may be able to splurge for a Deluxe resort even if that’s normally not in your price range. A resort on the monorail or at Crescent Lake will be your best bet, as these each have really convenient transportation to two of the four parks. If you do need to stay off property, try to stay as close to the parks as you can.
2. Day One – Friday
Make sure to arrive by mid-day on Friday so that this can be a ½ day in the parks. Check into your resort, leave your bags with bell services if your room isn’t ready, and then head right to EPCOT. EPCOT is a great ½ day park, and especially nice in the evening. Plan your three Fastpass+ selections for as soon after you plan to arrive at the park as you can, and plan them in order from the entrance to your dinner destination so you don’t waste time backtracking. Since it’s probably been a busy day of travel, making a reservation for a table service restaurant for dinner is recommended. EPCOT has a large selection of table service dining options and their theming will really help you get into vacation mode. You should be able to fit in another attraction or two after dinner, and then make sure to stick around for the evening entertainment on the World Showcase Lagoon.
3. Day Two – Saturday Morning
To make the most of this day, and to be able to hit all four theme parks during your weekend getaway, make sure to have a park hopper ticket for this day. Start the day at Animal Kingdom, particularly if you’re visiting during warm weather (which is most of the year!). Animal Kingdom is the hottest of the parks, so it’s nice to do it in the morning before the sun is super strong. The animals also tend to be more alert in the early hours than in the afternoon. We recommend grabbing a quick breakfast at your resort before heading to the park, but if that doesn’t work out Animal Kingdom has several quick service and bakery locations to get something light. Focus your Fastpasses on the rides – Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest and Flights of Passage are all recommended – and use the gaps in between to check out the walking trails to see more animals and catch one of the Broadway quality shows (Festival of the Lion King or Finding Nemo). As soon as you’re done with your third fastpass+, get on the My Disney Experience app and schedule your next Fastpass+ for Magic Kingdom. Grab a quick-service lunch before leaving Animal Kingdom. There are plenty of options, so pick the restaurant closest to your last attraction to save time.
4. Day Two – Saturday Afternoon/Evening
Head to Magic Kingdom for the rest of your day. You’ll have to keep your expectations in check because you won’t have pre-planned fastpasses so you won’t have your pick of the best rides without a wait. But the main reason we’re sending you here in the evening is for the fireworks, so enjoy as many rides and shows as you can, make a dinner reservation at a table service restaurant, and then grab a good viewing spot for the nighttime entertainment. If you’re visiting during a busy time when the Magic Kingdom is open late on Saturdays and has two fireworks times, you should find shorter lines during the fireworks, so enjoy one show and then ride during the other!
5. Day Three – Sunday – Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is a great ½ day park, and a nice way to end your weekend. If you need to travel home in the afternoon, you’ll definitely want to arrive at Hollywood Studios a few minutes before opening to make the most of your time. If you are traveling in the evening, you can have a more leisurely start to your day. Again, we recommend grabbing a quick breakfast at your resort (or splurge and schedule a room service delivery!), but you can also grab a pastry at Starring Rolls bakery. You’ll want to book your Fastpasses early because most of popular rides go quickly. Focus your Fastpasses on rides and try to sneak a show in during your gap times. Don’t worry about a Fastpass+ for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster because there is a single rider line that can get you through quicker. Whichever top tier ride you’re not able to get a Fastpass for can be ridden first thing in the morning when lines are shorter. Enjoy your day at Hollywood Studios and, if you have time, make sure to book a late lunch or early dinner reservation at 50’s Prime Time Café for a hearty meal before you head back home!