9 Tips For The Best Way to Spend One Day At Disney World

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Off Season at Walt Disney World: Does it Really Exist?
Cinderella Castle. Photo Credit: Pixabay

One day at Disney World? It’s not for everyone but if you want to do a whirlwind tour of Walt Disney World we’re here to help. With a solid plan you can definitely take advantage of single rider lanes, Genie+, down times, park hopping, and Minnie Vans to have maximum fun while doing Disney in a day! Once you have your 1 day Disney World ticket check out these nine tips for making the most of your speedy, magical vacation.

When your kids tell their friends they went to Disney World, they won’t say how many days they spent at the Orlando theme park. They won’t care about the things they didn’t do. They will just be happy they got a chance to go to the Happiest Place on Earth and to see Mickey Mouse! There is honestly nothing more magical than seeing the Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom in person.

Many people wonder if they can really do all they want to do and see all they want to see in a single day at Walt Disney World. They also may not be sure if it is worth the cost of the 1 day Disney World ticket to do Disney in a day.  While those are decisions every person has to make on their own, I strongly encourage families to try it out. One day at Disney World is way better than no days at Walt Disney World in my book!

But if you do decide to do Disney in a day (and, yes, you should!), then follow these nine tips to make the most of your magical visit.

SheBuysTravel Tip: You can now book a Disney World vacation up to 500 days in advance! That means you can book now for visits in 2023. All it takes is a $200 deposit if your trip is more than 31 days away. The remaining balance is due 30 days prior to arrival. You can get details on this, as well as help booking, from our partners at Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it.

Learn the best tips for planning your next Disney vacation from SheBuysTravel experts.
You’ll have to prioritize your must-do list if you’re grabbing a 1 day Disney World ticket to do Disney in a day. Photo credit: Maria Smith

1. Disney in a Day: Make a Plan.

Before you head out for your one day at Disney World, be sure to make plan! Start with a list of the things you must do at Walt Disney World. Is it experiencing the Pirates of the Caribbean? Giving yourself a scare at the Haunted Mansion? Seeing a parade on Main Street U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom? Or maybe you want to marvel at some of your favorite childhood memorabilia found atToy Story Land in Hollywood Studios?

The main decision is going to be do you plan to limit yourself to one park or are you going to attempt to park hop? When you only have one day at Disney World you can either fully immerse yourself in one park or attempt to hit a few highlights across several parks. You have to decide the top picks for your family. Once you have a list of what everyone wants to do, have a discussion to see if you reasonably can get to them all before moving to the next tip.

2. Stay at a Disney Resort to maximize Disney in a day.

I always like staying at a Walt Disney World Resort if at all possible. It eliminates the complications of driving and parking and you can take advantage of the Walt Disney World transportation. You can stay at a Disney Resort Hotel and only go into the parks for one day. The other days you can spend by the pool or taking advantage of what the hotels have to offer (which is a lot).

Also by staying on property, you can take advantage of Extra Hours offered only to resort guests. Disney resort guests can get into theme parks 30 minutes early everyday. Extended Evening Hours are also available to guests staying in Deluxe level resorts. These hours are on specific days and for specific parks. Currently most hours are Mondays and Wednesdays and are available at EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. Be sure to check out the schedule for the day you plan to go.

3. Don’t Make Dining Reservations. (Except for breakfast.)

1 day at Disney World
Be wary of the time character meals will “eat” up if you’re doing Disney in a day. Photo: Maria Smith

Unless dining at a signature restaurant is imperative to you, avoid having a sit-down meal during your one day at Disney World. On average, a table service meal can take up to two hours from the time you check in until you walk back out the door. That’s valuable ride time you’d be spending! The only exception is breakfast. If you can get a breakfast reservation before the park opens to the public, that means you get to go in even earlier than the “Rope Drop” people! (Check our Disney glossary to find out what rope drop means!)

SheBuysTravel Tip: Avoid eating at peak dining times and you won’t have to wait in long lines for food. Ideally, we like to eat breakfast at the hotel or on the way to the park. We wait to have a big lunch around 2 or 3 p.m. I usually bring a small soft-sided cooler into the parks with snacks, items for lunch, and bottled water. It is faster and cheaper. Here’s how to save up to $50/day on snacks at Disney. We then splurge on a yummy quick service dining meal later in the evening.

Need help planning your Disney trip? Get all your questions answered from our Disney Planning & Fun Facebook Group!

4. Pick Your Disney Theme Parks.

You will have to decide how much of the Disney Parks you can logically experience with your family. Currently, 1 day Disney World tickets are the priciest. You save the more the more days you buy. Adding the park hopper option onto a single day ticket can bring the cost per day up to over $200 on weekends! Looking to save? Spend a leisurely day experiencing all that one park has to offer. To help decide how many parks to visit, be aware of the predicted crowds on the dates you have chosen to visit. Wait times should be taken into account.

Disney Parks:

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Ideally, go in September, November, January, and May, as they are the months with lower crowds. Check the crowd calendar for the date you are going and see if that changes your mind as to what parks to visit. Also take into account the ages of your children. Little ones may not be able to keep with an intense plan to see it all. In these cases consider a multigenerational Disney trip. Kiddos and grandparents can go chill at the resort for a break while the parents and teens have fun for a bit!

SheBuysTravel Tip: If you are staying off property at Disney World, check out our FAQs to make sure you’re up to speed on all things Disney!

Bringing little ones to Disney World? You need to check out these awesome tips for experiencing Disney with preschoolers and grandparents. 

5. Buy Your 1 Day Disney World Ticket in Advance AND Make Sure It’s Activated.

Disney tickets work differently now than they did just a few years ago. You will need to buy a ticket in advance AND have park reservations. Do not get turned away because you didn’t make reservations! Say it with us again- TICKET and RESERVATIONS. Super important.

With a one day Disney World ticket where you are trying to maximize every minute where purchase from matters! One of our SheBuysTravel writers got a great deal on Disney tickets at Sam’s Club, but the tickets had to be activated at Will Call upon arrival at the parks. Depending on the time of day this process can take a bit and presents one more line to wait in. If you’ve bought tickets online from a ticket outlet or warehouse store you may want to plan to swing by the parks the evening before visiting to activate them.

SheBuysTravel Tip: We recommend purchasing your Disney tickets through Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it

6. Decide if Genie+ is Worth It.

If you only have 1 day to spend at Disney World, be sure to maximize your time by using Fast Passes.
Schedule ride times and utilize Lightning Lanes with the purchase of Genie+. Photo: Maria Smith

Genie+ is Disney’s FastPass replacement. There are a few different parts to it and we recommend reading this breakdown to familiarize yourself with Disney’s Genie Service. Genie+ can cut down your wait times and even allows you to pay to skip some high-demand rides lines like Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and the terrific Slinky Dog coaster in Toy Story Land. There is also a free service part of it that lets you plan your day by listing off your priorities. You can access Genie+ via the My Disney Experience app on your mobile phone. This app will also allow you to look up parade times and see where Disney characters are for photos and meet and greets!

7. Disney in One Day: Open to Close baby.

You only have 1 day at Disney World, so make the most of it! Plan to arrive at the parks as early as you can. Always factor in at least one hour to get to the parks. This is especially important if you are driving to the parks. If you can get your family going early in the morning, try to arrive an hour prior to the park opening. You might get to see the Opening Show and experience a “Rope Drop.”

Even better, make breakfast reservations inside the park It’s the secret to early entry at Disney parks!

And if your family can keep going, stay as late as you can. The only way you will be able to get in a lot of rides in one day is to take advantage of how long the park is open. If you’re staying in a deluxe resort look for Extended Evening Hour days when the parks stay open late!

SheBuysTravel Tip: Want to save money on food while at Disney World? You can. Here is the best cheap food at Disney World for your family travel on a budget. 

8. Use Lyft at Disney World.

father and two boys on the monorail at Walt Disney World
Chilling on the monorail between parks. Photo by Maria Smith

This may sound crazy since Disney Parks transportation is generally so good (and free). However, if you have limited time, take Lyft between parks. It will cost you less than $10 and may save you an hour or more. If you have bought a pricey one-day Disney World ticket, then you want to make use of it the best you can!

Plus, Disney Parks now has Minnie Van Service! Your Lyft driver might turn up in a polka dot van (which seats up to 6). You can also use Uber (but no Minnie-anything will show up).

9. Take Advantage of Single Rider Lanes.

At Disney Parks, there are a few rides that have single rider lanes. These rides include Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, and Test Track at EPCOT. If you don’t absolutely have to ride with your family all together, take advantage of this option. Most of the time, your wait will be half as long as the regular line. Just make sure your children are tall enough to ride the ride alone. Cast members can help you when you have questions about the single rider lane.

Chances are that in 1 day at Disney World, you will not be able to do everything that was on your list. But look on the bright side.  You’re at Walt Disney World! Some people may think that a 1 day Disney World ticket is a waste. I disagree. If you have a lot of stamina and want to see the parks, I encourage you to try it! I have done it with my family several times and we have always enjoyed it.

Homework Before You Go

You can the most of your one day at Disney by doing some homework prior to your visit. Here is a short list of things to do before your Disney Vacation:

  • Download the My Disney Experience app. Become familiar with the app and all that it has to offer. Look at the current wait times for rides, locate showtimes for the day of your visit and double check that you have all of your FastPasses booked.
  • Did you know that you can watch some the rides ahead of time? You might want to take advantage of these virtual rides to help you narrow down which rides you MUST ride while visiting.
  • Make your Disney snack wish list ahead of time. Research ahead of time where you can find these must-haves. The parks are big and you don’t want to waste time wandering around.
  • Watch the ‘One Day at Disney‘ feature-length documentary created by The Walt Disney Company and narrated by Sterling K. Brown. This documentary series is available on DisneyPlus and follows cast members and Walt Disney imagineers as they show you what it’s like working for Disney. Experience what it’s like to be Eric Goldberg (Disney animator), Mark Gonzales (Disneyland Railroad ), Grace Lee (publishing illustration manager), Ryan Meinerding (Marvel Studios), Jerome Ranft (Pixar artist) and Eric Baker (Imagineer). Not only will you get to see what it’s like working inside of Disney World and Disneyland but you’ll get to catch a glimpse of what Disney is doing around the world. For instance you can follow the South African actor Zamavus “Zama” Magudulela, who is starring as Rafiki in a production of The Lion King musical in Madrid. You’ll even see some familiar faces like Robin Roberts, co-anchor of Good Morning America. If you like this documentary you can buy the coffee table book based off the series written by Bruce Steele with a. foreword from Bob Iger from Amazon.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is it possible to do everything at Disney World in one day?

A: It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do everything at Disney World in just one day, but you can definitely hit the highlights and have a great time. If you plan ahead and prioritize the attractions you want to see, you can make the most of your time.

 

Q: What are the best rides to go on if you only have one day at Disney World?

A: This will depend on your personal preferences, but some classic attractions that are not to be missed include Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Pirates of the Caribbean. If you’re a fan of character meet-and-greets, be sure to schedule time for those as well.

 

Q: Is it worth it to buy a 1-day ticket to Disney World?

A: Again, this will depend on your individual circumstances. If you’re on a tight budget or don’t have much time in Orlando, a 1-day ticket can be a great option. However, keep in mind that the more days you spend at the parks, the better value you’ll get out of your ticket.

 

Q: What should I bring with me to Disney World for a day trip?

A: Some essential items to bring include comfortable shoes, sunscreen, a refillable water bottle, snacks, and a camera or smartphone to capture memories. You might also want to pack a small backpack or bag to carry your belongings.

 

Q: What’s the best way to avoid long lines at Disney World?

A: There are a few strategies you can use to minimize your wait times. First, arrive at the park early and head straight to the most popular attractions. You might also want to use FastPass+ to reserve ride times in advance. Finally, be strategic about when you take breaks and eat meals to avoid the busiest times of day.

What’s your best tip to spend one day at Disney World time-saving tip? We’re here to help you plan the best vacation to Disney World and Disneyland.

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12 responses


  1. The thought of doing Disney in one day has me stressed out ?? but I’m up for the challenge. ?? I’ve been studying these tips weekly. Wish me Luck! ??

    1. Please let us know how it went, and if you have any additional tips!

  2. I like how you mentioned that before you head out for your 1 day at Disney World, be sure to make a plan. My friends and I want to go on an adult trip. A few of us have never visited Disney so it might be a fun trip for just adults instead of taking our kids.

  3. I like how you stated that when going to Disney World, you should schedule fast passes as soon as possible. My family and I are going to Disney world for a day, and want to make the most of it. I will definitely keep all of your great tips and information in mind when my family and I go to Disney World.

  4. What fun! Why not do Disney in a day? Not for young children, but it could be a blast with a teenager as long as you know you can’t do it all. You might stay a week and not do it all. One warning about the new Fastpass Plus system……don’t have your heart set on getting more after your first 3 are used. We went in May of 2015 after most kinks were worked out, and we had booked most of ours earlier in the day hoping to do the same, but there was almost nothing worth choosing to add on later. During busier seasons, there might be exactly nothing. Next time we will book most of ours mid day and enjoy the already shorter morning lines unless we go during a busy season….which we won’t. Ha! Thanks for sharing about your fun day at Disney!!!!

  5. This sounds like a challenge! I think “Doing Disney in One Day” has just been added to my bucket list. 🙂

  6. I was wondering what the best game plan was for the new fast pass system. Love the idea of planning out the morning and then grabbing new fast passes once your done for later in the day ?? thanks for all the great tips

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  9. This is a great list with a lot of good advice. A lot of our readers at MouseTeens.com travel on cheer trips where there might not be a lot of time in the parks due to competition. This kind of advice will be helpful to them. Also your son seems like a park pro and should considering contributing at MouseTeens! 🙂

  10. I am breathless, and full of admiration for you and your 13-year-old. Appreciate the solid tips.

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