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by Military Diva

If I only had one day at Disney World…I would hope someone would pinch me and wake me from my nightmare.

If I only had one day at Disney World…I would hope I had won a contest allowing unlimited Fast Passes and the ability to dine at any restaurant of my choosing.

If I only had one day at Disney World…well, in all actuality, I would probably still be smiling from ear to ear!

There are so many people who dream of making it to a Disney Park just once in their lifetime.  And many people have visited, fallen in love, and dreamed of having just one more day.  Have you ever stopped to think of how you would spend that one day?  Could you visit one park or would you feel the need to spend a few moments in each Disney Park? Would you make time for table service meals or fly by grabbing from the counters?  Most importantly, when would you choose to visit?

For our family the simple choice would be to choose a day in the off-season.  Unless your visit is planned around a special event such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or Epcot’s Wine & Dine Festival, the lower crowds of the September, early December and late January will maximize your “one day” experience.

For simplicity, let’s begin by exploring one day in just one park.  That is a day with a one day, single park ticket; no park hoppers, no water park add-ons included.

Now pick a favorite park and plan on spending the entire day here-rope drop to park close of course! The most ideal situation would include an onsite stay allowing for Extra Magic Hours (EMH-special park hours exclusive to Disney World Resort guests).   A quick look at Disney World’s Park Hours & Calendars will tell you if your favorite park will participate in Extra Magic Hours that day, and if the EMH is for early morning entry or extended evening hours.

Early morning dining reservations and an empty park!

Early morning dining reservations and an empty park!

Next step, try to reserve an early morning dining reservation –before the park opens!!  Several in park table service restaurants begin seating guests an hour prior to park opening. This means that you are allowed to enter the park, an almost empty park, well in advance of the official opening.  Guests that provide confirmation of their dining reservation (printed or via myDisneyExperience) are allowed entry into a “closed” park 30 minutes to an hour prior to their reservation. Benefits?  Exclusive crowd free photos and experiences in the accessible areas, little to no waiting at your restaurant. And the best part, if timed properly you can enjoy your meal and exit the restaurant just as the park opens.  You have already beaten the majority of the crowds into the deeper sections of the park.  You can then head over to your favorite attraction or another popular ride before the line begins to back up. You might even be able to ride twice!

Magic Kingdom cast members entertaining dining guests before park opening.

Magic Kingdom cast members entertaining dining guests before park opening.

Now comes the bigger questions:  Are you a diehard ride enthusiast or a more casual stroller?

If you’re in it for the rides, I suggest you book your FastPass preferences as soon as you are able.  (60 days out for on-site guests, 30 days for off-site) Scheduling your favorites early in the day allows for guaranteed ride time and room for magical extras the rest of the day.  Once your first three passes are used, you can visit an on-site Fast Pass Kiosk to check for additional available Fast Passes later in the day.

If you prefer to walk through the park enjoying the shows, parades and scenery I would still suggest use of the FP+ system.  However I would plan the passes based on the best touring plan through the park.  For example, an early morning Fast Pass near the entrance, an afternoon Fast Pass near your lunch destination and an evening Fast Pass near your chosen location for fireworks or parade viewing.

Finally, a single day in the park would leave our family with a HUGE question.  Would we prefer our favorite Table Service restaurants or choose Quick Service options.  Personally, we would go with Quick Service.  While we would certainly miss some of our favorite meals, our time would be better spent watching a parade or visiting an attraction.  And of course it’s Disney, Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars and Dole Whips count as dinner, right?

So, do you think your family could be happy with just one day in a Disney World Park?  Of course a few days, or weeks, would be preferred to just one day…but I think deep down we always wish for just one more day! And with proper planning and lowered expectations, that one day might be your most Magical Day yet.

Follow along and watch for upcoming articles with tips on how to tour each specific Disney World Park in “just one day” as well as tips for “just one day” with a Park Hopper.