Think you’ve got your Disney World trip all planned out? Here’s something you NEED to factor into your plans!
Okay, so you’ve booked your hotelmade your Disney Park Pass reservationsand made a list of your must-eat snacks. But there’s something sneaky that can totally throw off your Disney World plans that you might not even be thinking about!
What could possibly come between you and all those plans you spent months (or years!) Making? We’re talking about poor time managementfriends!
It can be tough to gauge just how long things take in Disney World. This is especially true for first-timers, but even the most seasoned Disney-goers can get foiled by this sneaky struggle. Let’s dive into some of the most lengthy, unexpected time commitments that pop up in Disney World so you can plan your itinerary accordingly!
Getting Your Day Started
That’s right, our first scenario happens before you even leave your hotel room for the day. If you’re traveling with a large party, young children, or non-morning peopleit might end up taking longer than you expect to get everyone up and at ’em for the day’s activities.
Be sure to set your alarm plenty early in the morning to build in some extra time to get everyone ready to head out. Especially if you have something specific scheduled, like an Advance Dining Reservation.
Also, don’t forget that if you are planning to rope drop a park, you should aim to get there about 30 minutes before the park’s scheduled opening time since they often let people in early. You don’t want to go through the effort of getting everyone out of bed bright and early just to find out that the rest of the crowd already beat you there!
Don’t underestimate how long it will take your family to head out in the morning. And if you do have some late sleepers, try to build in at least a few days with later starts to avoid getting burned out!
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Travel Time Between Parks
While park hopping can be a fun way to add some spontaneity and variety to your trip, it does come with a (sometimes significant) time commitment. Unlike Disneyland Resort, where guests can walk between the two theme parks, it can take a LONG TIME to get from park to park in Disney World.
Bus transportation can take a while to arrive, and it’s not uncommon to wait upwards of 20 or 30 minutes for a bus, not counting the actual travel time itself. Plus you might find yourself waiting for a few buses if you’re trying to park hop at a busy time, like around 2PM when park hopping starts for the day.
Here’s the good news – Transportation between certain parks can be relatively quick and easy under normal circumstances. The Skyliner can usually take guests between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in a fairly quick trip. Just keep in mind, it does close down in cases of severe weather and lines can get long at the beginning of the day and at the end of the night!
And the Monorail can offer guests a relatively speedy trip between Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.
But even then, you’ll still need to account for the possibilities of long lines or unexpected delays with any form of transportation. If you’re trying to hop between parks for something like a dining reservation or specific showtime, build in plenty of buffer time to account for both the travel time and potential delays.
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Travel Time Within the Park
Yep, it can take some serious time to get from place to place even once you’re inside a park! Since the parks are so large, the destinations within them can be pretty spread out.
For example, let’s say you just hopped off a ride on Spaceship Earth in EPCOT (gotta thank those Phoenicians!) And now you’re heading to Teppan Edo Restaurant in the Japan Pavilion for a dining reservation. It could easily take you 15-20 minutes to walk there if you’re moving at a solid pace. And it might take even longer depending on the size and speed of your party.
If you have something specific planned during your day in the park, like a reservation or must-do show, take a look at the park map ahead of time to see where it’s located and get an idea of how far you’ll need to walk.
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Lengthy Attraction Times
Just because you see a 20-minute wait for a particular attraction doesn’t mean you’ll be on and off in that amount of time! Some attractions – especially shows – can be pretty long. For example, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom has a runtime of over 20 minutes…
… And The American Adventure in EPCOT and Frozen Sing-Along Celebration in Disney’s Hollywood Studios are both about 30 minutes, just to name a few lengthy options!
Even some rides can involve a longer time commitment than you might expect. Take Splash Mountain, for example, which is about 10 minutes long. Great for making your time in line worth the wait, maybe not so great if you realize your reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant is just 5 minutes away as you’re hopping on the ride!
Plus, on attractions that take longer to load and unload, like Splash Mountain and “it’s a small world,” you may also end up waiting for a few extra minutes after the ride is over just for your turn to exit.
Before you hop on a specific attraction, it’s important to figure out exactly what you’re getting into. Especially if you have somewhere else to be in the near future!
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How Long a Line Really Is
Attraction queues and the My Disney Experience app do post wait times that should give you a relatively good idea of how long you’ll be waiting in line for a particular ride. But keep in mind, these aren’t 100% accurate. If a ride goes downyou may be in for an unexpected delay.
Plus, there are some lines throughout the parks that don’t have posted wait times. We’ve frequently seen lines pop up at popular stores like the Emporium, and counter service spots like Main Street Bakery.
Some of these lines may move more quickly than others depending on the location. Before you commit to a particular line, you may want to find a Cast Member to see if they can provide an estimated wait time.
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Table Service Meal Time Commitments
For the most part, restaurants in Disney World tend to be aware of the fact that they’re in a theme park, and they try to provide relatively quick service to get their guests in and out so they can get on with their day.
But all Table Service meals will come with somewhat of a time commitment, and some of them can be longer than others. Places like Be Our Guest Restaurant that offers a three-course prix fixe meal or Teppan Edo that includes tableside prep can result in a longer dining experience than restaurants where guests can order a single course and wrap up quickly.
And restaurants that are super high-end, like Victoria and Alberts and Takumi-Tei (when they both reopen), will take MUCH longer than your standard meal since they’re truly about the dining experience. While these places can make for a great special occasion dinner, make sure you’re ready to carve HOURS out of your day to enjoy them!
Do some research into the restaurants you’re considering before your trip so you can get a feel for what type – and length – of experience you may be in for. Our 2022 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining can help with that!
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We know that you’ve probably spent a ton of time planning your dream Disney World vacation, so don’t let these lengthy time commitments catch you off guard and derail your itinerary! When it comes to time management, be sure to prepare for the things you can and build in some cushion for the unexpected. We’ll see ya in the parks!
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What are your best tips for time management in Disney World? Share them with us in the comments!