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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Disney World 4 Day Itinerary - Making the Most of a Short Disney Trip

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney World 4 Day Itinerary 

Our most recent Walt Disney World trip was a bit unusual compared to a typical stay. Instead of our typical 7 day itinerary, our trip consisted of a four day itinerary which was honestly something we've only done on a select few trips to the parks. In the long run it was an excellent trip, and while it wasn't the ideal situation, you can really make the most of a trip with the 4 day itinerary we used for our vacation. 

There's no perfect plan for any particular Disney stay and there's certainly no "one size fits all" solution for every guest's needs. Fortunately, that's part of the fun of the planning experience and a part of customizing your trip to your given needs and wants. In the long run though, it does help to go into your vacation with a plan or an iteration of that plan to help make the most of the time that you have available. 

Truth be told, that was the goal of our entire trip and our entire itinerary for this trip. We arrived in Orlando on a Wednesday afternoon and left the following Sunday morning. So, when you really think about it we had around 3 and a half days in the parks. To many, that sounds like a short trip and it really did come and go quite quickly, but I can say that we achieved just about everything we intended to. That's the key to this whole itinerary. Inevitably you're going to have to pick and choose what you want to do most. So, before you arrive select your: 
  • must do attractions 
  • must do dining locations 
  • must do activities (pool time, miniature golf, etc.)
Cinderellas Castle


Choose What's Most Important to You 


If you have each member of your group select their "must-do's" of the trip, everyone will get their favorite things accomplished and at the end of the stay, at the very least, you all did something you wanted to do more than anything else. It sounds quite simple but it works. Beyond that tip, here's a closer look at our recommended 4 Day Disney World Itinerary. You'll have to modify it some to fit your needs, but at the very least if you follow this plan you'll get a ton of things done on your 4 day Walt Disney World trip!  
    

Consider Your Budget First 


Before we get into the specifics, as you prepare for your trip planning, really consider your budget. I know that sounds obvious, but the type of resorts you can afford and travel expenses can play a big role in the length of your stay and the type of things you may consider during your vacation. Instead of eating table service meals, you may want to look into quick service options. If you're looking at flying to the parks, maybe you can save money by driving and stay in a deluxe resort instead of a value or moderate tier as a tradeoff. In the big picture, this is what we tend to decide first. The budget may change a little as the planning progresses, but starting with a basic idea of what you can spend and how you plan to spend it will play a role in how your itinerary is altered or changed in comparison to ours.

One last thing you'll want to consider is that our Disney trips tend to be pretty fast paced. With the exception of really long trips 7+ days, we tend to spend long hours in the parks, and make the most of the park hopper option. Also worth noting is that we've almost mastered Disney's transportation systems and as a result it makes our park hopping a bit more efficient than many first time guests. I don't say that to discourage anyone, but it's something to consider as you attempt to jump from park to park. Don't let that missed bus or missed fastpass+ selection destroy your trip. Unfortunate circumstances are inevitable at Walt Disney World every once in a while, but above all else try to enjoy every little moment of the experience and don't let the trivial problems be what you remember long after your trip draws to a conclusion. 

With all those little things out to the way, here's a closer look at the plan we recommend in order to get the most out of 4 days at Walt Disney World!   

Day 1 - Partial Day at Magic Kingdom


For most four day stays a majority of guests will lose either part of the first day or part of the last day traveling. If you're arriving on any other day than Monday I would recommend heading straight to Magic Kingdom after dropping off your luggage at the hotel (Mondays are incredibly busy at Magic Kingdom). Magic Kingdom is typically the park that most guests want to accomplish the most attractions, shopping, and shows in throughout their stay. By utilizing this partial day, you can really accomplish quite a few things in a short amount of time. 

If you make your fastpass+ selections far enough in advance you can manipulate the times in My Disney Experience so that each of your selections fall in the afternoon/nighttime hours of the day. If you can work out the times just right you'll guarantee yourself rides on some of the most popular attractions even if the park is ridiculously crowded. 

In a simliar way, if you can manage to stay late (near park closing time) you can catch a few more attractions as many guests leave directly after the nighttime performance of Happily Ever After concludes. You wont find a short wait for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but you may catch a short queue at Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin or Dumbo before the park officially closes. If you're staying till close you wont want to miss these two articles: 


Our plan for our first day consisted of an early dinner at the The Plaza Restaurant at around 3:45, followed by our first fastpass+ selection of the day, Peter Pan's Flight. After that experience we hopped on the train for a quick ride around (considering on this particle day even the Peoplemover had a 20 minute wait) the entire loop starting and ending in Storybook Circus. At that point, we checked a few wait times in Fantasyland but ultimately ran out of time before our second fastpass, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Upon exiting the attraction (one of our favorites) we headed to Frontierland for our final fastpass of the day, Thunder Mountain Railroad. 


As if it were planned that way, we headed to Fantasyland for one final attraction, Mickey's Philharmagic, before going to pick out a viewing location for the Happily Ever After fireworks spectacular. By that time of night, the hub area was beyond full so we retreated to Main Street near Casey's in the middle of the street. It wasn't the perfect location, but it did set up a great opportunity to grab some photos before calling it a night after a long day of travel.    
                          

Day 2 - Full Day at Epcot 


Day two tends to be the most productive day on a short vacation. A majority of guests have a ton of energy at this point in their stay, and Epcot is the ideal place to spend that second day. The park is large and requires quite a bit of walking, but to start the day off right I recommend grabbing a fastpass for Soarin, Test Track, or Frozen Ever After. If you can time it right and set your first fastpass about an hour after the park opens you can head straight to whichever attraction you didn't get a fastpass+ for first and avoid the lines leaving just one attraction that you'll have to face the queue for. 

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

From our experience, the best case scenario for our needs is to head straight to Soarin and get a fastpass+ reservation for Test Track. After riding Soarin you may have a few minutes to ride Journey Into Imagination with Figment, The Land, or even the Seas with Nemo and Friends before your designated fastpass+ timeframe. If you're looking for a great breakfast options to throw in the mix, we highly recommend Garden Grill!   

Once you complete the attractions you would like to experience, head to the World Showcase to spend the afternoon or to eat your way around the countries and take your time exploring the little details as they unfold before your eyes. While a more in depth plan of our ideal day at Epcot can be found in the article - Our Tried and True "Epcot in a Day" Touring Plan this should give you a quick idea of what to expect out of day two! 

Day 3 - Split Day at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom... And Even Animal Kingdom!  


As day three arrives, you'll really start to make the most of the park hopper option. In our case, we started our day with early extra magic hours at Magic Kingdom. If you get there when the gates open, you'll be shocked at how much you can get done in a very short amount of time. The first 90 minutes will be your most successful and productive time of the entire day and quite possibly the entire trip. If you're careful about managing your time, you can Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+! That particular article is one of my favorites because it really puts into perspective how important those early hours can be for those looking to ride as many attractions as possible.

Tower of Terror

After making that grand 6+ attraction run, take a break and head to breakfast. In our plan we went to Crystal Palace because it truly is one of our favorite breakfasts on property. It even made our list of top character dining options on property. If you want to follow our plan step by step, at this point we left Magic Kingdom and went over to Hollywood Studios. It feels like a short time at Magic Kingdom, but you'll be surprised by what you can get done in a few short hours.

For that particularly day, we avoided using our fastpasses in Magic Kingdom in order to guarantee rides late in the day at popular attractions and shows in Hollywood Studios. Our first fastpass was Voyage of the Little Mermaid, but before that experience began we made a quick trip into Star Wars Launch Bay for a quick look at the exhibits and to make a pass through the gift shop (a great place to pick up unique merchandise) before enjoying the Little Mermaid show. As soon as that was finished we were ready for our Toy Story Mania Fastpass. Toy Story Mania is a fairly quick attraction, so once it concluded we caught a quick show and still had plenty of time to head to our final fastpass for the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.

I know that sounds like a quick trip through Hollywood Studios, and in all reality it is. However, we did leave the park at this point in order to arrive at a Whispering Canyon reservation for dinner that night. Truth be told, if you spent a few more hours at Hollywood Studios you could really accomplish nearly every attraction and show offered in that park currently (until Toy Story Land opens June 30th). Later that night we decided to pass on Fantasmic and went straight to Animal Kingdom to take in the miraculous spectacle that is Pandora - The World of Avatar at Night!        

Pandora at Night


Day 4 - Split Day at Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, and Magic Kingdom 


The final day always bring two things. First and foremost you'll start to feel the fatigue of long hours, early mornings, and late nights. Second, thoughts of heading home will start to creep into your mind. Both are inevitable, but one thing to think about is that the one day you have left may be the only day another guest may have to experience Walt Disney World altogether. It's not the ideal solution but it does help put things in perspective and allows you to make the most of every minute of your stay.

On our final day we started at Animal Kingdom and made every effort to enjoy our favorite attractions early on in the day. For years, Animal Kingdom was a half-day park for us. It wasn't that way because you could do everything in half a day, but rather because we wanted to spend more time at Epcot or Magic Kingdom. To an extent, that concept remains true in this length of stay. We spent the morning and recommend riding Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, catching breakfast at Yak and Yeti (their quick service option), enjoying Na'vi River Journey, and of course Festival of the Lion King! To an extent, the order you complete these attractions and shows doesn't entirely matter, but I highly recommend going to Na'Vi River Journey first if you can secure a fastpass for Flight of Passage. If not, go straight to Flight of Passage when the gates open. 

We had a fastpass for Flight of Passage, so we managed to avoid the line for that attraction, but it was the last thing we did in that park before leaving and heading to a late lunch reservation at Homecomin' Kitchen over at Disney Springs. After the meal (or any other number of dining options at Disney Springs you would like to choose) we explored the area a bit and went in a few of our favorite stores before moving locations one last time and heading to Magic Kingdom to end out the vacation with a few last minute attractions.

At the end of that last day I recommend one final thing that so many guests overlook. Take a moment upon returning to your resort to find a quite place and reflect on the vacation. Our accommodation of choice for this trip was the Boardwalk Resort. In my opinion, it was the ideal place to think back on the events of our short stay. No matter what resort you're at, find a quite place, and just sit and enjoy the moment and reflect upon the memories you've created with friends and family. In my opinion, it is the very best way to end a trip of any length.                 

Things to Consider: 

Check Park Hours Before Planning Days 


Unless you want to follow this itinerary word for word, look up the park hours for your stay and selected dates before you pick your park days and what park you will go to on each day. Extra Magic hours can be vastly beneficial in squeezing in a few extra experiences, so you'll want to try and plan around those hours as much as possible.  


Park Hopper is a Necessity


If you want to use our plan or a variation of it, the park hopper option is a must when buying tickets. If you don't buy it you'll be limited to whatever park you start in for the day and will have to visit just that one park for the day. You can come and go as you please, but any other park is off the table. 


Let Someone Guide You


If this sounds overwhelming, don't let it discourage you from booking a trip. If you have questions feel free to message me on Facebook anytime and I'll personally get back to you as soon as possible. Additionally, consider an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner like our fiends over at Destinations to Travel (link to no obligation quote request form). When you support them it also helps support us in return and as an added bonus its absolutely free!      


Modify The Plan as You Go!


Even if you follow every single element of this plan, you will have to modify it along the way. Alter your plans as you go and do what works best for you as the situation unfolds. Be a bit spontaneous in your travels and the results may genuinely surprise you!   


Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!


How Do I Create These Posts? 

Every once in a while I get questions about my gear. This is what I use and highly recommend at the moment in the realm of content creation. This list is varied and tends to change from time to time, but this is my current set up of gear used to create these posts. If you have any questions or need some tips in the site building process, feel free to message me on Facebook!

Computer: Macbook Pro  
If you get one of these you'll inevitably need dongles (The USB-C Struggle): 
Main DSLR Camera: Nikon D3400 (kit lens currently)
Tripod for Night Photography: PrimaPhoto Traveler 
Photo Editing Software: Lightroom 6 Stand Alone Version (Not Creative Cloud) 
Secondary Camera: iPhone 7 (Older Photos on the Site) 


Ready to Plan?


Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



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