What to See and Do With One Day at Walt Disney World

What to Do with One Day at Walt Disney World

If You Only Had One Day to Spend at Walt Disney World, What Should You Do?

While it’s always nice to be able to spend a full week at Walt Disney World Resort, sometimes you may find yourself in the enviable position of being in close proximity to the World. This may be during a stopover in Orlando, or because you are attending a conference in Orlando — or any other reason.

Whatever the case may be, if you find yourself in the position of having only one single day to explore Walt Disney World Resort, what should you do? What should you see? Where do you begin?

Disney Ursula Map of the World

Walt Disney World is much too big to see in one day.

Walt Disney World is Much Too Big to See it All in One Day

First, some basics.

Walt Disney World is massive place (43 square miles big, to be exact). So you can’t see and do it all in one day, let alone a week.

Walt Disney World is comprised of four separate theme parks (Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park), two water parks (Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach) and a huge shopping and entertainment complex (Disney Springs). There is even more than this in terms of Resort hotels, a sports complex, golf and so on, but for the most part these seven places are what most people think of when they think about Walt Disney World.

There is an internal transportation network, but if you’re only there for one day you may want to skip the buses, boats and monorails and rely on Uber, Lyft or taxis to speed you around much more quickly.

Your one day at Walt Disney World will likely focus on visiting the theme parks. Realistically, you can comfortably visit two parks in one day if you are alone. You will need a Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket in order to visit more than one park in a single day (you can visit all four parks in one day with this ticket if you wish…and you just might try to do that).

Disney's Magic Kingdom Park

Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park remains the classic, original Disney World Park.

Which Walt Disney World Theme Parks Should You Visit?

This question comes up a lot from travelers who have less than a full week to spend at Walt Disney World. There is no easy answer as to where to spend your time because the parks have different themes will appeal to different people from a prioritization perspective.

That said, here is the approach I recommend for your one day at Walt Disney World.

Visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park first.
This is the original Walt Disney World Park and for that reason it holds much of the Disney magic and is what most people picture when they think of Walt Disney World. Get there a few minutes before the park opens to maximize your experience and minimize lines (If you planned ahead, you may have been lucky enough to pre-book a few FastPass+ reservations for rides and attractions). Go first to the rides you most want to visit and then you can enjoy and explore the park for a few hours. Plan to eat lunch there and then leave the park in mid-afternoon for your second destination.

After Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, your second park is very much a toss up. Here are some cues to help you decide:

This park has two areas: Future World and World Showcase. If you like to explore different cultures and visit exhibits from different countries around the world, then Epcot will appeal to you. You can sample food and drink from these destinations as well, so if you are a cultural traveler, Epcot may be your choice.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Do you love Star Wars and Disney films and entertainment? If so, Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be the second park on your list.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
Obviously, this park is going to appeal to the animal lovers out there — along with fans of the film Avatar, as there is a relatively new land (Pandora) in the park dedicated to celebrating this science fiction film.

Yeti Mandir, Expedition Everest

Yeti Mandir, Expedition Everest. The ambiance at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.

There is a Better Way (If You Have the Money)

Depending on your energy level and love for Disney, you can get an awful lot done in one day.

However, if money is no object you can get even more done and see and do pretty much anything you want without having to worry about pre-booking FastPasses.

The Disney VIP Tour is a custom tour that pairs you with a VIP Disney Tour Guide. You will have the run of Walt Disney World Resort, transportation from park to park and you won’t have to wait very long to get on any ride or attraction that you want. Of course, this type of VIP experience does not come cheap and will be pushing somewhere around the $3,000.00 to $4,000.00 range to do it. But if you have the means and desire to see as much Disney as you can in one day, then this is unquestionably the way to do it. Keep in mind, however, that these VIP tours will need to be booked in advance and park admission is extra.

Interested in Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation?

Be sure to read my Guide to Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation and my post on the Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning.

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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel