by JollyFrogger Diva
When planning a visit to Walt Disney World, whether it’s your first or your twentieth, one of the hardest decisions seems to be deciding how long to stay. There is simply more to do than you could possibly fit into one vacation, and so deciding how long your stay should be may be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few of the factors I use to determine how long we’re able to stay at WDW each visit.
The first, and probably most important factor we look at when planning any vacation is our budget. Unless you’re lucky enough to have won the Powerball lately, you’re probably on some type of budget. It’s important to factor in the cost of lodging, travel, tickets, food, gratuity, and spending money when you’re looking at planning your WDW trip. My family tends to alternate Disney vacations with other vacations and so it generally takes us a bit longer to save for our next WDW trip. Therefore, when we do visit The Happiest Place on Earth, we like to stay long enough to accomplish a lot, since we know it will most likely be a couple of years before we’re back. Military Diva recently wrote a fantastic article explaining how you can Maximize Your Budget by Comparing Dates of Travel that you should definitely check out when you’re ready to plan your next trip.
I know my family prefers to stay on property at one of the Moderate Resorts (one of the items on my Disney Bucket List is to stay at a Deluxe Resort for the entire trip, but for now we stick with Moderate).
I also know that our family prefers to fly to Walt Disney World rather than travel in a car since we have 2 young kids who don’t do well on long car rides. Both of those mean that a good chunk of our budget is spent on lodging and travel. We also prefer the Standard Disney Dining Plan, so that our meals and snacks are mostly paid for in advance (gratuity isn’t included on the Dining Plan, so be sure and budget additional money for tips), making it a little easier for us to determine our food budget than it might be if we paid out of pocket for everything. As for souvenirs, we know that flying means we are limited on the size and weight of our luggage, so we know that our spending will be a bit more restrained in that category. That leaves park tickets, which I’ll touch on next.
Your Touring Style
I once took a group of friends on a trip to Disney World and earned the nickname Drill Sargent because of my constant desire to keep everyone moving. If I’m going to spend the type of money it takes for a Walt Disney World vacation I want to get every penny worth. For my family, that means creating a schedule and trying to stick to it. We’re not exactly morning people, but I know that it’s often easier to accomplish a lot if you’re at a park for rope drop, so that means getting up earlier than we might normally. It also means staying until park closing- I love being in the parks at night and we’ll often seek out the park with Evening Extra Magic Hours in order to soak up a little more of the nighttime atmosphere. The early mornings and late evenings do take their toll on you, so my family also likes to plan a day or two to sleep in, swim at our resort, and visit Disney Springs. Those days save on park admission, but they also extend our stay a little more since we don’t want to miss out on anything inside or outside the park.
I’ve found that our family usually needs 2 days per park in order to really feel like we did everything we wanted to (although the fact that Galaxy’s Edge opens 2 months before our next trip may end up messing our normal rhythm up and mean we need more time due to the crowds). If you factor in travel days and a non-park day, we’re looking at a minimum of 11 days for our family to tour the way we like to. If your touring style is more relaxed than ours, you may need more than 2 days in each park. If you’re a frequent visitor, it may take you less than 2 days per park because there may be more things you’re willing to skip. It’s absolutely possible to have a great vacation regardless of the length of your stay, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t afford to stay as long as you’d like to.
It seems like there’s always something exciting going on at Walt Disney World. runDisney has 4 different race events each year (you can read Disney Magic Diva’s tips for cheering on someone who is running here and Tiki Diva’s tips for those who are participating here). Epcot has several amazing festivals, Magic Kingdom hosts a couple of different holiday parties, and most of the parks offer special hard-ticket events that allow you into the park before or after general business hours to experience the parks in a less crowded setting (for more information on these, check out Soarin Diva’s reviews of Early Morning Magic and After Hours at Magic Kingdom). Before you settle on a specific length of stay, make sure you check out Disney World’s Events Calendar to see if there’s something special happening that you might like to stay for (or avoid, if you’re looking for lower crowd levels).
My family loves both Halloween and Christmas and we also enjoy delicious food. Therefore, when we plan a trip to Walt Disney World, we like to aim for the end of October into early November. With a little luck and a lot of budgeting, we’re able to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (you can read Pixie Dusted Diva’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party Dates and Diva Tips) and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (Pink Diva has a great list of Do’s and Don’ts for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) at Magic Kingdom as well as sample delicious food from around the world at Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival (you can read Disney Magic Diva’s review of the 2018 Food & Wine Festival here). Sometimes accomplishing all three of those means adding a day or two on to to the front or end of our trip, but who doesn’t love an extra day or two at Disney.
So there you have it- this is the general formula that I use to determine our length of stay each trip. I know everyone vacations differently and that budgets vary widely, so what works for my family may not work for yours but hopefully this gives you an idea of where to start. Whether you can only afford to stay a day or two or you’re able to stay for several weeks, there is fun waiting around every corner at Walt Disney World. If you need help planning your next trip, or just want a free quote to get you started, contact Patricia at All for Dream Travel.