A very common question is what is the best order to visit the Disney World Parks?
The answer is perhaps not as easy as perhaps most people are looking for! There are a number of factors that you need to take into account.
Here we will talk about Disney’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
For this guide, I am not including the Disney Water Parks when deciding which order to visit the Disney parks.
There are various strategies and thoughts as to which are the best days to visit each of the Disney parks. The answer depends on a number of factors, possibly the strongest of which is a personal preference!
The things to consider are:
- How many days that you have to spend in Walt Disney World?
- What day do you arrive and leave?
- Are there any special events in the park you are visiting?
- What is your personal preference?
All these have to work in tandem for you to decide which is the best order to visit the Disney World parks for your vacation.
As we all know, recent years have been somewhat different at Walt Disney World – whilst attendance patterns and best days to visit used to be at least a bit predictable, a lot of that has simply gone out of the window in recent times.
There are some generalizations about the busiest days in each park which still do have some validity.
Many guides suggest that you start with Magic Kingdom first, followed by Epcot and then Hollywood Studios. This leaves Animal Kingdom as the last Disney theme park to visit on your trip.
However, it really isn’t as clear cut as that – there is some other advice to take into account.
When Should I Visit Magic Kingdom?
There is one view and this certainly has a lot going for it.
You should visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom on the first day of your vacation.
Because this is everyone’s traditional idea of what Disney World is all about.
It’s true that if you visit Magic Kingdom first it will help get you right into that Disney fun frame of mind.
If you have a young child this can really be something that you need to think about.
Let’s just think this through.
Is your three-year-old going to be fine with going to Animal Kingdom Park first and you have to explain that Cinderella doesn’t live here?
Or going to EPCOT and your child is disappointed because they wanted to see the Disney Cinderella Castle or ride on Dumbo?
Of course, if you are going to visit all of the Disney World parks you are going to face this issue at some point! However, would it be better to visit Magic Kingdom first and get the quintessential Disney Magic on day one?
Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park has the most popular attractions of any of the parks. There are a lot of rides here!
Popular rides here include Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Only you can decide whether visiting the Disney theme park that most people identify first with is going to be a big thing for your particular situation.
For many guests on their first visit to Disney World going to Magic Kingdom first is a good choice.
Having said that, there are some days that are seen as the “ones to avoid if you have a choice”.
Magic Kingdom is mostly at its busiest on Saturday and Monday. Two decades have shown that this is a pretty safe general prediction.
But this is only a general prediction, which can be disrupted.
Particularly if there is a special event going on such as occurring during Halloween and Christmas.
These separately ticketed events as they are known, mean that Magic Kingdom closes earlier than other days. If you want to be in the park late at night then you have to have a separate ticket for the event, such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Guests with a “party” ticket tend to arrive from around 4 pm meaning that it starts to get crowded from that time. But the other effect is that people tend to avoid Magic Kingdom in the morning if they see there is an event.
So it might be a good strategy to go as early as you can on one of these days if you don’t have a party ticket for the evening.
If you don’t have a party ticket but you do have a Park Hopper it can be a good strategy to go early in the morning on that day and then “hop” to another park at around 4 pm when lots of people start to arrive.
Generally, better days to visit Magic Kingdom are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – subject to what I have just said about the party days.
If Magic Kingdom is open until eleven or even midnight as it is on certain days you could still take advantage of park hopping from other parks.
You could visit another Disney theme park for the morning and early afternoon, but then park hop to Magic Kingdom so that you can see the fireworks and take advantage of the late opening hours.
When Should I Visit Epcot?
Often people ask what does Epcot stand for?
Many people say it stands for “Every Person Comes Out Tired”.
Epcot it a large park. You walk miles and miles here.
It probably isn’t what you think of as a traditional Disney theme park. But for me, this is my favorite park.
There are so many great attractions including Test Track, Soarin’ Around the World and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
The World Showcase park of Epcot has some of the best shopping and dining opportunities in the whole of Walt Disney World.
Which day should you visit Epcot?
If you can, avoid Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays at Epcot.
A lot of the visitors to Epcot are local and so travel on the weekends.
An activity known as Drinking Around the World is very popular with locals visiting Epcot on Friday nights and at the weekends.
This is a change in Epcot that I have seen happening over the past decade – it really is a very different park on a Saturday night.
This trend on the weekends doesn’t really mean that the lines for the rides get any longer. But it does mean that the atmosphere is very different.
Also good luck with how much extra time you will be standing in line for any Quick Service Epcot meal or snacks on a busy weekend!
And getting reservations for any of the fabulous Epcot restaurants is significantly more difficult.
Don’t get me wrong. Epcot is my favorite park. However, it is somewhere I would very much avoid on a weekend evening.
In addition events such as the Food and Wine Festival draw large crowds, particularly in the evenings on a weekend.
Special events generally draw crowds to the World Showcase area of the park.
If you really can’t avoid visiting on those days because that is when your trip is scheduled, you can use another strategy that may help.
What most visitors do is visit Future World and then make their way to World Showcase during the afternoon and evening.
If you want to avoid some of the crowds then behave in the opposite way and visit World Showcase first and then go to Future World.
Another strategy could be to get to Epcot early in the morning. There are some good options for eating breakfast in Epcot. Visit World Showcase from lunchtime. Go back to Future World and then park hop.
Another consideration though is that you really need to see the fireworks at Epcot at least once on your Walt Disney World vacation. Try and make sure that you fit the Epcot fireworks into your itinerary at least once.
It can be an exhausting strategy but it can mean that you can certainly cover more ground. The Skyliner is now available from World Showcase so you could visit Hollywood Studios very easily from there.
The monorail is also available to travel from Epcot Future World entrance to Magic Kingdom. It takes more time but can be a good strategy.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – When to Visit
Should Disney’s Hollywood Studios be a park that you visit first on your Walt Disney World vacation?
Again. It depends.
If you are a Star Wars fan this may be the park that you have been looking for. And you will be wanting to visit it first.
If you want to pilot the Millenium Falcon this is definitely the place for you.
Crowd patterns are difficult to predict. Even with the Galaxy’s Edge expansion, this is a park with less to do, and it is certainly less taxing as there is less walking than in any of the other parks.
If your Disney World vacation is over a weekend, and let’s face it, it probably is, Disney Hollywood Studios is probably your best bet for a weekend day.
And if you are a Star Wars fan and really can’t wait to experience Rise of the Resistance, just go. Although you do need to be prepared for long lines.
There are some great rides in Hollywood Studios such as the Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller Coaster. Toy Story Land is a great place for all the family, particularly younger kids.
Don’t forget to ride the very popular Slinky Dog Dash Roller Coaster. This is a lot of fun, particularly if you ride it at night. It is an attraction that is a great option to do at the end of the day when the lines tend to be shorter.
There is no easy answer here about what the best order to visit the Disney parks is – so if you have a personal preference then go for it.
When Should I Visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
I have to say that I was a late convert to the appeal of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
It was only when my kids were older that I really appreciated just how great Animal Kingdom park is.
The addition of Avatar Land helped a lot, but Animal Kingdom, whilst it does have a lot of appeal for kids, I see it as probably the most grown-up of all the Disney parks.
That is not to say that if you have young kids or early teens this is not the park for you. It is. Animal Kingdom has so much going for it.
The obvious point is that if you love animals you are going to love Animal Kingdom theme park.
One of the highlights is the Kilimanjaro Safari Attraction. This is the closest most people are going to get to a real safari!
Just that I think that we all appreciate the attractions and the incredible attention to detail in this park. Joe Rohde is a genius. However, even the retired Imagineer said that
“I do think it could use a few more things for younger audience members and more attention to sightlines below 3 feet”.
However, just be mindful that if you have younger kids, as with all the parks, give them the expectation that this is not Magic Kingdom.
Pandora is an incredible addition to the park. A must-do attraction is Flight of Passage. It is difficult to describe but it is both a fun and an emotional experience.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a good park to visit on any day. Particularly if you are smart and arrive early, or stay late.
Is There Really a Best Order to Visit the Disney Parks?
Whilst it may be tempting to give a definite answer – there really isn’t one.
It depends a lot on personal preference.
There are definitely some guidelines that can help you, such as avoiding Epcot on a Saturday, or going to Magic Kingdom first if you have young kids.
However, which Disney park to visit first really is a combination of many factors some of which are unique to your own unique family circumstances.
For instance, if the only day you can get a reservation for your favorite Epcot Restaurant is a Saturday then that is the day that you should visit.
It is all a balance.
Equally important as which order you go to the Disney parks is planning ahead so that you have the knowledge to make the best use of your time when you are actually there.
The Disney World parks are busy for most of the year these days. Yes, some days are better than others, but it is important to know how to use your time wisely.
Consider if it is worth the expense of a Park Hopper to make the most of your time.
Look at the opening and closing times of each park so you can stretch out the value of
your ticket by lengthening the day.
Start your day at the park that opens earliest. End your day at the park that closes last. Hours of operation
change from day to day in some parks.
You will probably be exhausted, but it will get you the maximum actual time in the parks. Again, it’s a personal balance of how to spend your time most wisely.
You need to factor in where you are staying. Is it going to be worth the upgrade to stay at one of the Disney World Monorail Resorts? You will have very easy access to Magic Kingdom.
Or if your priority is Epcot then an Epcot Hotel Resort is the best choice. And you will have easy access to Hollywood Studios from here too.
Do you have any thoughts on what is the best order to visit the Disney Parks?
Walt Disney World – Want to Know More?
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.