“Walt Disney World on a Time Budget” is a comprehensive, slightly critical, travel guide for the ambitious, and slightly deluded, who think they can fit in a few days at Walt Disney World as part of their vacation. This installment details the best approach to a non-travel day. That is, a day where you wake up and bed down in the resort, and needn’t worry about airports, flights, shuttles, rental cars or checking in or out.
Today is your Park Day. You have a full day in the resort, spend it at a park. With a Park Hopper you can visit them all. This is not recommended unless you are blessed with multiple non-travel days. With only one such day you will be overwhelmed. It takes time to traverse between parks, and at each park you will be anxious, feeling the pull of every other park. In every line you will feel the sand slipping through the hourglass, and every meal will be rushed. Shopping, well, there will be none of that, you won’t have time.
Heed the overly ambitious traveler’s lament, “We tried to see everything, and saw nothing.” If you have a personal list of can’t-miss attractions at a number of the parks, go ahead with a Park Hopper. Still, a less-is-more approach is recommended. Don’t try to hit every park.
You can spend multiple days at any single park, and not run out of things to do, see and cherish. A single park admission really is your best option. If you cannot stomach staying in one park for your only entire Park Day, but can justify the added expense, get a Park Hopper. Still, try to rein in your expectations, set a reasonable plan, and try to stick to it.
If you are sentimental, go to the Magic Kingdom as it is the original Flordian park. If you are not so nostalgic, and even typing this feels like blasphemy, you can skip the Kingdom. The other parks house a higher degree of must-see attractions, which you will miss unless you make sacrifices.
Absolutely go to Epcot. This is the park you must visit. You could spend months at Epcot; it is certainly a worthwhile way to fill your Park Day. Epcot and the Magic Kingdom are linked by Monorail, and with a Park Hopper you can easily hop between them, but, again, consider what you must give up to in return.
The Animal Kingdom is the newest park, and has several un-missable attractions, as does Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Getting to any park from any other is not difficult, but does take time-traversing and waiting for boats and buses-as does standing in line for the really good rides. Realistically, unless you are content to breeze through every park, without eating, shopping or riding anything, and willing to exhaust yourself for the sake of getting your money’s worth from a Park Hopper, don’t try it. Save it for another time, when you have more time.
For today, get a single park ticket. Go to Epcot, and use the extra time and money truly enjoying yourself. The wise and practical decision to visit Epcot exclusively will relieve your anxiety. Know that you still aren’t going to see everything. There is simply too much to do.
First time visitors should pass through Epcot’s front entrance. Enjoy, but do not dawdle in the Future World section of the park. If an attraction has a short line, go ahead and ride, especially if it is Mission: SPACE or the Test Track. Generally, though, you should be making your way to the World Showcase. This is where you will want to spend the majority of your day, and you should do so before you exhaust your time and energy.
Returning visitors to Epcot are advised to enter through the International Gateway, thus reducing the day’s walk and inconvenient urge to explore The Land.
If you have an agenda, and are an accomplished walker, you may visit the International Pavilions in an order of your choosing. Otherwise, travel in either direction around the World Showcase and take in everything. Every nation is represented with incredible sights, wares and fare. The reckless consumer rarely gets one-third of the way through the Showcase before running out of room in their stomach, and money in their wallet. Again, and this applies to everything you do, approach or attempt at Walt Disney World, pace yourself.
As dictated by time and your cultural capacity, you may find yourself venturing back into Future World. A personal note to returning travelers: Future World is not the same as it was a decade ago, and is not the way you remember it. Turn around, go to the Mexico Pavilion and get your wife a Margarita. With all the walking you’ve done in the last two days, she’s earned it.