One Day at Disney World

how to spend one day at disney world

So, you only have one day at Disney World. You want it to be the perfect, but is one day at Disney enough?! How do you decide what to do? No fear friends, here is some info that might help you plan your perfect day!

A few years back I went to Orlando with my friend Ashley on a spring break trip. We road tripped down and stopped along the way at the beach in North Carolina and I wanted to be back in Baltimore for the weekend since Easter was coming up. We only had the budget and time to visit Disney for ONE day.I was really worried one day wouldn't be enough to really see Disney World.

Thankfully, she’s from Orlando and has been to Disney many times. Yessss! I told her I really wanted to ride the most popular rides, see a show, and experience classic Disney. She knew what pass to get, where to go, and what to do in one day to make the most of it. So, our day at Disney was really a success because of Ashley’s knowledge which I am now gifting to you (THANKS ASHLEY!). So how should you spend one day at Disney? Here’s what I think.

  1. My BIGGEST and MOST important tip for visiting Disney is pick the right pass. I’ve got a lot to say about this one so bear with me here. Here is the DL on passes for Disney for a day:

Disney has a bunch of different pass options. You can get a pass for one or all of the parks. These passes range in price from $107 to $117 on peak days for a single park (Magic Kingdom is about $10 more) to $170 - $174 for a park pass which includes entry to all parks. The more days you buy, the more the price goes down. I’ve seen them for as low as $75 dollars per day on Disney’s website. With one day to spend, it made sense for us to buy a park hopper pass so we could see the most. Plus, with a park hopper pass, we got fast/scheduled entry into three different rides in every park. This was a HUGE plus because it saved us a ton of time.

If you are going to spend just one day at Disney, get a park hopper pass! You can see a little bit of everything and take advantage of everything Disney has to offer.

But can’t you buy tickets through a different site besides Disney? Well, not really. You can get them at a slight discount through some places like Costco or AAA. Honestly though, it is really hard to find discounted tickets. They have your name on them and so you can’t buy tickets from someone else. Plus, the discounts I was able to find were not significant (maybe liked $5 which is something, but still…). Because of this, we bought directly through Disney’s website.

The other thing to note, is that tickets are $10 - $20 cheaper in off-season. If you can at all swing it, wait to go until off-season.  Especially if you are only there for a day! Florida is warm all through the year.

Park Hopper Pass Perks:

  • You can make dining reservations without having to plan out which park you are in. Most restaurants want a reservation for dinner in Disney.
  • Great for flexibility. One park is busy? Try going to another for a little bit, then head back.
  • You get to choose 3 rides in each park where you want a “Fast Pass” so you can easily get to all your must do rides in different parks faster.
  • You can ride all the major rides and see the major sites in one day.

So now that you have the pass what about maximizing your time and have a blast? Here are my top tips!

  1. Start your day early!

We started off in Hollywood Studios right when the park opened and this was huge! We missed lines for the Tower of Terror, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, and The Great Movie Ride with basically no lines.

  1. Even with a park hopper pass, a day is not enough time to see all of the parks.

We knew we couldn’t make it to all the parks in Disney Land. Don’t expect to in a day! Instead, pick two or three parks to explore (we went with three which was perfect!).

  1. Use the My Disney Experience app to leverage your time

Disney has an app you can download and schedule things within the park.  This was so helpful for us since our time was limited. We could save time by signing up for rides, shows, and restaurants at specific times. We spent time in other areas of the park until our reservation and didn’t waste a single minute!

  1. Pick shows wisely.

While there are tons of shows in Disney parks, all are themed a little differently and many are geared toward small children (at Disney?! What?!). So, be careful, look up reviews for specific shows, and don’t waste time at the wrong ones. We went to one based on Pirates of the Caribbean it was pretty fun and interactive! There are so many shows though! Pick carefully so you don’t waste time in a show you aren’t interested in.

  1. There are often really long lines to meet characters. If you really want to meet one, plan to wait for a few hours.

We thought about meeting some Disney princesses because it is part of the Disney experience! But, with just a day, there were so many more exciting things to see we didn’t want to wait in line for something that would take up a ton of our time. We opted to wait in line for some rides we really wanted instead. It is definitely a trade-off!

  1. Disney World is in Florida, which is tropical. It could rain at any minute!

Seriously. It started raining in the middle of the day which felt like it was out of nowhere! My friend who grew up in Orlando reassured me it was completely normal for this to happen. The funniest part about this was we were totally unprepared and stuck in a shop in Epcot. While in the shop, all of the workers just pull out giant boxes of ponchos and start selling plastic ponchos for like $10 apiece. So many people waited in line for one and my friend said we could buy them but the rain will probably stop within ten minutes. We ran to the next bar, grabbed a beer, and by the time we were done (and soaking wet by the way), the rain ended and we were back in the park. Good thing we didn’t buy the ponchos! We did wish we had brought some with us though!

  1. Take advantage of all the delicious food in the different parks, especially Epcot!

We did Epcot midday specifically because of all the different countries and foods to try! We tried food at different countries and walked with delicious drinks right in the middle of the day which was the perfect time to eat something and relax.

  1. Magic Kingdom and Epcot always have a firework show.

This means you could end your day in either park and still see fireworks. However, I will say if you are only there for a day, the parade, fireworks, and castle are not to be missed in Magic Kingdom! They are gorgeous in the evening and there are a ton of good restaurants there as well. We also happened to be there when Magic Kingdom was open late.

  1. Each night, Disney keeps one park open “after hours.” Stay late and enjoy the park a few extra hours!

You can use your My Disney Experience to check which park will be open late the day you are visiting. We got lucky and the day we were there it was Magic Kingdom that was open late and got to see things there late after the parade. Although, we were so tired we didn’t stay much longer! Still worth knowing and maximizing your time there.

So, there you have it! Disney is such a blast and still worth visiting, even if you can only make it for a day. I know you can have one perfect day at Disney and hopefully these tips will help.

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  • Oh it has been so long, I would love to go back to the Disney universe! I’ve only been to disneyland and not world though, so I can only imagine how awesome it is. Thanks for sharing!

  • So good that you had all the tips from your friend, Ashley. I’ve never been to Disneyland, but plan to visit one in Tokyo. All the theme parks seems super busy all the time, right?

  • miieloise

    Tons of great advice there! I had no idea there was an app. Fast entry for the ride is a must to save time. Thanks for sharing your experience. It looks like you had the most amazing fairy time!

  • Those mickey mouse ice creams look so good!! I’ve been to the Tokyo Disneyland but would love to visit in the US 🙂

  • Leigh

    These are great tips if you have a lot to see in a short amount of time. I also went for college spring break with my BFF – unfortunately, we tried to drink our way around the world at Epcot and spent the next day nursing hangovers at one of the water parks, lol!

  • Kris M.

    Great tips! I haven’t gotten the parkhopper option the last few times I’ve gone and I miss being able to switch parks during the day. There’s so much to see and do at WDW that you could spend a week there and not cover it all, but it’s still possible to have an amazing time in just one day.

  • Felicia

    Disney is my favorite!! I want to go to all of them one day!