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Walt Disney World Trip Planning Part 4 – Let’s get down to business.

As I write this post we are just under 2 weeks away from departure date. That means it’s time to compulsively check the weather, start packing way too early, and flip flop on plans a few times day! Not really. I mean, I’ll do all those things; but in reality it’s time to run back through my trip plan, make sure I have the ADRs I want to plan my trip around, and make any last minute tweaks. So let’s get down to business and walk day by day through the plan*. (*plan is subject to change 28 times over the next 2 weeks.)

Hollywood Studios After Hours Scene
Hollywood Studios After Hours Scene

Day 1

The first day of the trip starts with an 8 AM flight from the northeast to Orlando, but my Disney trip will start even before I get on the plane. We’re going to spend the afternoon/evening of our arrival day at Hollywood Studios and I need to make sure we can ride one our favorites, Slinky Dog Dash! That means I need to plan around the 7am virtual rope drop for lightning lane bookings. Fortunately, with a 8 AM scheduled departure, I should be at the airport and through security by then. So, I’ll book the ILL for Slinky Dog as well as my first normal lightning lane. The general idea is going to be to stack lightning lanes for later in the day.

The timing of the flight should work well for lightning lane bookings. The flight is scheduled to land around 11 AM, which happens to be when I’ll be able to book my next lightning lane while waiting to deboard the plane.

I plan to take an Uber/Lyft from the airport. This is an increasingly popular option so I am prepared for a bit of a wait here. With the flight landing around 11, I will consider a 1pm arrival at the Boardwalk a success.

What happens next depends on if our room is ready or not. I don’t plan to make any room requests to hopefully maximize the chances of our room being ready by the time we reach the resort. We all want that perfect room location, close to everything, quiet, view of the fireworks. For this trip though, a “short” 5 night stay where I plan to maximize time at EPCOT, the view won’t really move the needle too much for me. The flexibility that an early room assignment offers is move valuable to me. It means I won’t have to wait around, or leave the park in the middle of touring to get settled. If our room is ready, we’ll get settled and head to HS. If it’s not, we’ll likely check our bags and head over.

We have a 4:20 reservation at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater with the Fantasmic! Dining package. We have never seen Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. For us, the added cost of the dining package is worth it. With only one night planned at Hollywood Studios, I don’t want to have to stand in line for the show.

Otherwise, I plan on leveraging the lightning lanes I stacked earlier to experience our favorite attractions, do some shopping, and maybe have a drink at Baseline taphouse, before ending the night with Fantasmic!.

Normally, I wouldn’t plan on such a full itinerary on arrival day. There is way too much that could go wrong and throw off timelines. So this is what I hope to happen, but I’m prepared to audible as needed. I’ll report back on how things actually went!

EPCOT Spaceship Earth
EPCOT Spaceship Earth

Day 2

The second day of our trip is all about EPCOT. We’ll do Early Theme Park Entry and then finish it up with Extended Evening Hours. In between will all the attractions we want, Dinner at Biergarten, and Festival of the Arts food booths and activities. It’s going to be a busy day, but I can’t wait! I simply love EPCOT and I love the Festival of the Arts. We’ll do rides in the morning, take a break back at the hotel for a few hours, then return for evening touring around World Showcase before using the evening hours for more attractions. I couldn’t imagine a better day!

Update: As I was writing this post, Disney released some updated Magic Kingdom hours for several of the days we’ll be there. This includes updating the hours for this day to 8:00AM to 4:30PM. It is closing early for a Cast Member event. Most people are going to look at those hours and avoid MK that day. This is exactly why we now plan to start our day there and this is the flexibility that Park Hopper tickets provide. People will struggle to get the park for the now 7:30 opening for on site guests and then the rest will choose a different park. This should help to ensure one of the lightest crowds of the year at MK and I intend to take advantage of it. We’ll start our day here, then hop to EPCOT when we’re ready to pick up the original evening plan from there. Zig when they zag and be stay flexible!

Day 3

After a late night at EPCOT, a late start to the day is prudent. Animal Kingdom is a great park for a relaxed start, especially if you’re willing to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage (or don’t care about riding.) So that’s the general plan for day 3. A late start at Animal Kingdom with an ILL for Flight of Passage and a relaxed approach to experiencing the park. I love observing the wilflife throughout the park and there are some quick service gems to help power the touring.

The park closes at 6pm, so we planned for dinner back at the Boardwalk at the Flying Fish. We’ve eaten at this restaurant once before back in 2017 and couldn’t have been more impressed. I’m excited to try it again now 7 years (!) later to see if it still stacks up.

Cinderella and Her Prince Charming from Festival of Fantasy Parade
Cinderella and Her Prince Charming

Day 4

After a leisuirely Day 3 an action packed Day 4 is on the docket. We’ll be following the early start, late ending model of Day 2, but this time at the Magic Kingdom. I hope to utilize early entry to do most of the rides in Fantasy Land before heading towards Liberty Square, Adventureland, and Frontierland for Big Thunder Mountain. I attempted this during our last trip, but was thwarted by Peter Pan being down when early entry began. We ended up riding It’s a Small World as the first ride of the day, and it was actually pretty great. It just goes to show that getting thrown off your plan is just an opportunity to try something you otherwise wouldn’t.

That said, I hope this early entry goes according to plan. I want to see how this plan plays out! I plan to purchase Individual Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarves Mine Train while stacking LLs for other tier 1 attractions for the evening. If the start of the day goes according to plan I’ll be able to ride my best do’s while touring the park in the beautiful evening hours at a relaxed pace.

We will take an afternoon break back at the Boardwalk. Maybe have a quick swim if the weather permits. Otherwise, just a few hours off our feet to kick back, relax, and recharge. We’ll have dinner at the park, either Liberty Tree Tavern or Tony’s Town Square. Both so-so options from a culinary standpoint, but classic Magic Kingdom experiences; and both new to us!

After dinner we’ll do some more attractions then find a spot for the fireworks. We’ll redo our favorite attractions during the extended hours and just take in the experience of a relatively quiet Magic Kingdom at night. It’s one of those magical moments that should be savored.

Update: As mentioned in Day 2 we now intend to spend that morning and early afternoon at MK to take advantage of some very unique operating hours. Now we’ll start this day at EPCOT, following the original Day 2 morning plan, before an afternoon break and hopping over to MK for the extended hours. Bob and weave, baby!

Day 5

This is a free day with only one thing planned, the Behind the Seeds Tour at Living with the Land in EPCOT at 3:30PM. I am ridiculously excited about this hour long behind the seeds (get it?) tour of the gardens that attraction is built around. This isn’t something I’d recommend for a first, or even second, time visitor, but for someone now on their 5th trip since 2017 (and COVID basically froze everything in time) it’s a unique experience to make the trip special. It’s $35 per person and last for an hour. I’ll report back with my thoughts, so be sure to check back if you’re a nerd like me and these things appeal to you.

Oterhwise, this will be a relaxed day centered around EPCOT. We’ll head over when we feel like, do the tour, then figure out where to go from there. Do a few more rides, eat food, do more Festival of the Arts things. Basically whatever we feel like doing, gosh!

Day 6

This is departure day, but our flight doesn’t leave until 8 pm. I intend to spend the morning packing while having an existential crisis before checking our bags with bell services and heading to EPCOT for a Space 220 lunch reservation. Then we’ll do some final touring and shopping before catching an rideshare back to the airport around 5:30 or so. We have TSA pre check so even the enormouse lines at MCO aren’t too bad and 2ish hours to check in and get through security should be plenty. Hey, if we miss our flight I’ll just grab another night at a resort and mayb try again the next day.

So that’s the general idea heading into this trip. I’m sure things won’t go according to plan, but I’m sure it won’t matter too much in the moment. One thing I’ve learned is that planning is fun and does help in general preparedness, but it doesn’t have to go accordingly to plan to mean a great time. Be prepared to go with the flow and throw those plans out the window if you have to!

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