Sometimes you just want to get your Disney on, but you can’t get an extra day off work, there are no holiday’s coming up, and you’d rather be there on a low-key weekend anyway. We’ve been there before: fly out after work Friday, fly back Sunday night (cause hey, it’s worth being tired on Monday for a magical pick-me-up), and when time is of the essence, so is planning.
Below is our perfect weekend schedule to maximize a short time at all four parks.
Animal Kingdom closes the earliest out of all the parks, so knocking it off first thing is essential. Get there as early as you can to help you beat the lines.
Our Park Route: Start off by heading to the right in the park into Dinoland and hit Dinosaur. From there make your way toward Asia for Expedition Everest (our park fave). From Asia, make your way to Africa to hit Kilimanjaro Safari. If you’re in the mood to be wet you can also take a spin on Kali River Rapids, but we don’t recommend it as it’s usually a very long wait for a very short ride. After Africa make your way to Pandora for Avatar’s Flight of Passage. If the wait time for Na’Vi River Journey is short (or you’re dying to see it) jump on, but this is another ride that can be a major time-suck.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is generally open later, has great dinner options, and great shows.
Our Park Route: Start off by heading toward Tower of Terror (our park fave) and afterward Rockn’ Roller Coaster. From there, head toward Pixar Place for Toy Story Mania. After that make your way to Echo Lake for the Backlot Studio Experience and Star Tours.
Dining: We recommend dinner at Disney’s 50s Prime Time Cafe. It’s modeled after a home kitchen in the 50s with great home cooking to match – and did we mention the home attitude? Yup – if you don’t eat your veggies you won’t get dessert!
Epcot generally closes earlier than the Magic Kingdom, so we recommend starting here.
Our Park Route: Start in Future World East with Test Track and Mission Space. NOTE: If you don’t like confined spaces, or get dizzy easily do not ride Mission Space. Even the “easy” route is very jarring and uncomfortable (neither of us can do this ride). From there make your way through World Showcase and enjoy food from any (and even every) country you’d like! Finish off in Future World West with Soarin’ and Living With the Land (our park fave and a secret gem!). We also highly recommend the cafeteria next to Living With the Land – they have amazing healthy and fresh options!
We always save the best for the last, and while all of the parks are great for their own reasons, there’s nothing like the Magic Kingdom.
Our Park Route: We like to start out in Tomorrowland with Space Mountain and Tomorrow Land Speedway, from there we usually head toward the Mad Tea Party Teacups. From there, we make our way to Snow White’s Mine Train Roller Coaster, and then Ariel’s Under the Sea. After that we generally head toward The Haunted Mansion, then Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain (if it’s chilly we often skip Splash Mountain since the sun is usually setting at this time and we’ll be frozen for the rest of the night. After that we make our way back to Fantasyland to do our fave fantasy lines (usually they’re easy to get on while the kids are watching the parade at night) and finally, the fireworks show.
Is there a lot skipped here, of course, but this itinerary got us the best out of a short time in all four parks!