Written by Megan duBois, Theme Park Journalist
When you head to the Walt Disney World® Resort theme parks, you’re in for a vacation filled with endless magic, treats galore, and memories to last a lifetime. But, what if you only have one day to experience it all? You may want to consider doing all four Walt Disney World Resort parks in one day. I’ve rounded up the five things you need to know for visiting all four parks in one day to maximize the time you have in each park. Let’s get started!
Do a Little Pre-Planning
When you decide which date you’re visiting all four theme parks, you must do a little pre-planning. Check out the park hours on the Walt Disney World Resort website or on the My Disney Experience app. If any of the parks have Extra Magic Hours in the morning, you won’t want to start your day there. Why? That park will already have guests inside and on attractions before those not staying on Walt Disney World Resort property. Instead, choose one of the other three parks to start. If none of the parks have early Extra Magic Hours, start where you would like (ideally Disney’s Hollywood Studios® for Toy Story Land or Disney’s Animal Kingdom®Theme Park for Pandora – The World of Avatar) and make plans for the rest of the day based on the park that is open the latest, which is usually Magic Kingdom® Park.
Next, list out any highlight attractions you want to hit at each park. This might include Slinky Dog Dash at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Frozen Ever After at Epcot®, or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom. I suggest getting a Disney FastPass+ reservation for any of these attractions. You can make FastPass+ reservations 30 days before your arrival date, so be sure to mark that date on your calendar. Also, know that once you use your initial three FastPass+ reservations, you can continue to make one at a time throughout the rest of the day. Remember, you can reserve FastPass+ at only one park at a time.
Tips for the Big Day
Once you choose your park order, start making your FastPass+ reservations. I suggest making your initial three FastPass+ options at the second park on your list.
All four of the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks do an official rope drop. Although no actual rope is dropped, it’s a term used to signify the official opening of the attractions listed on the times guide. Try to arrive at the park 30 minutes to an hour before the official opening time for a chance to ride your priority attraction first. If you’re present for rope drop, there’s a chance you’ll already complete two or three rides within the first hour! For example, I arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 7:30 a.m. and rode my first ride at 8:45 a.m.
To make things a bit easier throughout the day, remember to pack the essentials. I always bring a second T-shirt, especially for hot Florida days. Changing into clean clothes halfway through the day can help you feel refreshed and energized. Also, I never visit the theme parks without a few disposable ponchos in case of the typical Florida splash and dash showers. Another essential is a portable phone charger. Don’t have one at home? No worries – there’s FuelRod! With just $30, you can have your own personal phone charger throughout the entire duration of your trip. Sprinkled around the parks, you’ll find FuelRod dispensers in select locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort. Simply drop your used charger in the slot and out comes a fully-charged rod. Just for reference, I swapped three times during my day doing all four parks.
Make the Most of Your Dining Experience
It’s a good idea to take a break for lunch and do a table-service meal to rest your feet and refuel for what’s likely to be the busiest and most challenging part of your day. For the table-service meal, choose one without character dining. Although they’re a wonderful experience, they’re usually longer meals in order to meet each character that comes around every few minutes. There are plenty of other great options at each park with delicious food and a shorter wait time. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I recommend the 50’s Prime Time Cafe (try the pot roast and tasty fried chicken). Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Tiffins is a great option, especially if you like carne asada and butter chicken. If you’re stopping at Epcot, the Rose and Crown Pub & Dining Room is a classic spot for great fish and chips, or bangers and mash. Magic Kingdom is where you’ll find the coveted lunch spot – Be Our Guest Restaurant. You must try the fantastic croque monsieur or French dip sandwich for the full experience. And maybe try The Grey Stuff…I’ve heard it’s delicious!
To save even more time, consider mobile ordering your meals and snacks. You can do this through the My Disney Experience app. You’ll need to have a credit card on your account, and this allows you to essentially skip the line to order food and set a designated pick-up time. Most quick service and snack spots use mobile ordering. If anyone in your group wants a DOLE Whip® at Aloha Isle at Magic Kingdom, use mobile ordering since the line gets long very quickly.
Getting Around Walt Disney World Resort
When you’re doing all four parks in one day, there are three main options for transportation. The first option is your personal car. This is the easiest and most efficient way to get around the Walt Disney World Resort property. The second is to use a rideshare service to get from your resort in Kissimmee to the different parks throughout the day. The third way to get around is by hopping on the complimentary Walt Disney World Resort transportation. You can choose from buses, boats, monorails, and soon-to-be gondolas.
For the easiest way to visit all four parks, I suggest using a personal car, which is how I navigated throughout the property this day. If you don’t have access to your personal car or a rental car, using on-site transportation is the next best option for reliability and close proximity to the entrance gates. Buses travel between all four Walt Disney World Resort parks about every 20 minutes. The buses are not the fastest, but they’re free and reliable. Boats travel between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot only and depart about every 20 minutes from each park. Again, the boats are not exactly fast, but they’re free and a nice way to take a small break between parks. Monorails travel between Magic Kingdom and Epcot about every 10 minutes and are a somewhat faster way to get between those two parks. I’d suggest using a rideshare service only when necessary, such as a last-minute reservation or when you desperately need to get in that nap.
My Itinerary and What I Completed in 11 Hours
I took on this challenge Monday, May 13, 2019, to see exactly how to put everything into action. That day, Walt Disney World Resort operated from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. I first arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where I had my three initial FastPass+ reservations. Even though I mentioned not to make your FastPass+ selections for the first park, I scored a Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ for around 10 a.m. I made an exception since I couldn’t grab any other top-tier attractions. Below, you’ll see my whole day: the parks I visited in order, attractions, meals, character meet and greets, and if I used a FastPass+ or stood in the standby line.
7:30 a.m.- Arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
8 a.m.- Grab coffee from STARBUCKS® and wait for the park to officially open
8:45 a.m.- The park opens early and I head to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
8:50 a.m.- Ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror on standby
9:07 a.m.- Ride Star Tours® - The Adventures Continue on standby
9:45 a.m.- Meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse
10:05 a.m.- Ride Slinky Dog Dash with FastPass+
10:17 a.m.- Eat breakfast at Woody’s Lunch Box inside Toy Story Land
Note: I did have three FastPass+ selections but didn’t use all of them. My other two were For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration and The Voyage of The Little Mermaid.
10:45 a.m.- Drive to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
11:10 a.m.- Arrive at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and make my FastPass+ selections
11:45 a.m.- Ride DINOSAUR with FastPass+
12:20 p.m.- Watch It’s Tough To Be A Bug!® on standby
12:45 p.m.- Meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse in their safari outfits with FastPass+
1:15 p.m.- Lunch at Tiffins
2:30 p.m.- Walk through Pandora – The World of Avatar
2:45 p.m.- Drive to Epcot
3 p.m.- Arrive at Epcot
3:10 p.m.- Ride The Seas With Nemo & Friends® on standby
3:25 p.m.- Ride Living with the Land Presented by Chiquita® with FastPass+
4 p.m.- Go to La Cava del Tequila at the Mexico pavilion for a drink and chips with guacamole
4:45 p.m.- Meet Anna and Elsa at the Norway pavilion
5:20 p.m.- Drive to the Magic Kingdom Park parking lot to walk to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
6 p.m.- Get a Lime DOLE Whip cone from Pineapple Lanai
6:22 p.m.- Arrive at Magic Kingdom
6:45 p.m.- Ride Space Mountain® with FastPass+
7 p.m.- Ride the Tomorrowland® Transit Authority PeopleMover on standby
7:10 p.m.- Get spring rolls near Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
7:15 p.m.- Ride Pirates of the Caribbean® with FastPass+
7:45 p.m.- Ride Haunted Mansion® on standby
8:25 p.m.- Ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with FastPass+
8:45 p.m.- Leave Magic Kingdom
9 p.m.- Arrive back at the car