It’s a question that most Disney vacation discussions start with: How many days should we spend in each park? Of course, some vacations don’t lend themselves to the luxury of getting to pick exactly how many days you can spend where. Budgets, time and other various aspects come into play when planning a vacation. Still, guests would like to give themselves an adequate amount of time to see most attractions along with the finer details.
Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney Resort all offer very different experiences. None of these opinions are an exact science since it’s easy to jump from park-to-park at every resort and there are other factors throughout the year that can alter plans. But we’ll give a rough estimate on how much time it takes to see each park’s essentials. For a more thorough look on what we recommend doing at each park, check out our 1-Day Itineraries.
Like most any post on Wandering in Disney, this is opinion-based. Some people value different aspects of a theme park more than others. Obviously, that means everyone will have different favorites. With that being said, I’ll try not to base this too much off of my opinions (although I promise you, I’ve never been wrong about anything in my whole life.)
If you do have a limited amount of time, I really recommend using our itineraries as well as a number of other great sites park itineraries. I do not recommend using the Disney Genie itinerary in the app. That’s not to be confused with Genie+, just the app service that tries to make your day for you. Our plans will maximize the amount guests can see and do in a Disney Park in just a day (or two, depending on the plan you follow) and I know most people don’t have unending vacations.
Without further ado, here are my recommendations on how much time to spend in each Disney Park (within reason, if I had no responsibilities and endless money I’d spend most of my time there, obviously). We’ll start on the west coast first, then to Walt Disney World before finishing with Tokyo Disney Resort.
Disneyland – 2 Days
The only U.S. park on this list that I seriously considered giving more than 2 days. There is an incredible amount to see here. You could probably hit all of Disneyland’s E-Ticket attractions in one day (again, probably) but that would be all you would have time for. If you do that, and skip a second day, you will definitely be missing out on Disneyland’s charm. There are strolls around New Orleans Square, rides on riverboats, dozens of foods to try, and history to explore. I spend multiple days per week in this park usually and I still don’t think I’ve seen it all. Do the big attractions because they are great but don’t forget to slow down and enjoy the parts of Disneyland that make it so unique. As an aside, I recommend spending two evenings in this park, as well. Do Fantasmic! one night and the firework show the other night.
Disney California Adventure – 1 Day
When this park first opened, spending half of a day here would do but since the renovation of basically the entire park, the quality has gone up. There’s a decent number of E-Ticket attractions here including Radiator Springs Racers, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! and IncrediCoaster. In California Adventure’s first go-around, it seemed that they didn’t quite understand the value of having beautiful areas to explore. The park still isn’t quite there but Cars Land, Buena Vista Street, and Grizzly Peak are all pretty lands. Pixar Pier and Avengers Campus are interesting, although somewhat weak thematically. World of Color is a unique nighttime show and Cars Land at dusk is a must do. You can typically do both in one day. Even with improvements and an abundance of quality dining, one day will be plenty here.
Magic Kingdom – 1.5 Days
Magic Kingdom is like Disneyland in that there is a ton to see. There are several shows and parades that you shouldn’t miss. The sheer number of attractions is what drives this park, although they aren’t quite as interesting as Disneyland’s. There are a few beautifully themed areas that could be explored in great depth. This is also the most crowded park at Disney World so it’s likely that you’ll be running into more crowds. For now, I’m giving the park a day and a half but I do think it’s closer to 2 days than it is to 1, especially if you’re trying to see the entertainment (which you should be). Give yourself time to explore Liberty Square and other parts of the park as well as ride all of the famed attractions. On the other hand, if you go at a slow time of year then accomplishing all of this in a day is possible.
Epcot – 1.5 Days
When you look at it from a strictly attraction based viewpoint, Epcot doesn’t have a whole lot to do. There aren’t many E-Tickets and Future World is in terrible shape right now. With that being said, there are a number of factors to look at when considering Epcot. There are the wonderful smaller rides like the films in World Showcase and Living with the Land. There’s an aquarium to visit in The Seas. There’s shopping and details to explore in World Showcase. And of course, there’s the food. Most of the other parks I didn’t factor a ton of time into getting food but it seems necessary in this one. That said, the front half of the park is in such poor shape that you could complete it in a few hours.
In past iterations of this post we’ve had this at two days. It will return to that once Epcot is put back together. For now, I think completing the park in a day and a half or even one day is more than doable. No matter what you choose, I highly encourage anyone to visit World Showcase around sunset and then stay until close. That’s one of my favorite ways to spend an evening whenever I go to Disney World and I’d honestly recommend doing that more than once so I settled on 1.5 here.
Animal Kingdom – 1 Day
I’ve changed my tune a bit here. I could spend 2 days in Animal Kingdom, no problem. But I think conventional wisdom points to most people only spending a day here. Even though I’m always right about everything, I’ll go with the better travel advice. It’s not going to take much time to get the big attractions done here. Go close to opening and ride Flight of Passage (and if not then Everest), get on Kilimanjaro Safaris, ride Everest, and then go over to Dinosaur and then you have most of the must-see rides done. But, there are several shows that shouldn’t be missed like Festival of the Lion King. There are animal-viewing trails to walk on and beautiful areas to explore (pretty much everywhere except for DinoLand). I like most of the restaurants in Animal Kingdom, as well! Sadly, the park is lacking in entertainment right now. If and when that returns I’ll probably add some time here but for now I’ll stick with 1 day.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 1 Day
Hollywood Studios has progressed a good amount over the last 5 years. The attraction lineup here is very top heavy and will take a good amount of time to complete. With the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the park has a couple of lands that are worth taking the time to explore. Hollywood Studios is still a thematic mess with some big crowd flow problems. Entertainment definitely needs an upgrade and once that happens the park could vie for an extra half day in this post but, for now, spending a full day here is the right way to go.
Tokyo Disneyland – 2 Days
Like the other castle parks on this list, Tokyo Disneyland has an astonishing amount of things to do. The attractions in the park are phenomenal and somewhat of a greatest hits from Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, along with a few excellent originals. Parades at Tokyo Disneyland are second to none, with Dreamlights being the best nighttime parade we’ve ever seen. Counter-service restaurants, as well as a few table-service, are very interesting and enjoyable in the park. There’s no shortage of things to do here from the attractions, food, parades and exploring Westernland, Adventureland and Fantasyland (among others). Tokyo Disney Resort can get quite busy but if you go during the week at a less crowded time of the year then seeing the essentials in two days will be no problem. While I’d recommend more time at DisneySea than Tokyo Disneyland if you have an odd number of days, TDL is definitely worth two days.
Tokyo DisneySea – 2 Days
I would live here if I could. On our last trip, we spent 3 days at DisneySea and immediately wanted to go back. Alas, the pilot on our airplane wouldn’t give in. While I only put 2 days above it should read “However many days you can afford to be here while still seeing other things in the remarkable country of Japan.” That’s just too long to put up there though. For all intents and purposes, you can do everything at DisneySea in 2 days if the crowds aren’t too high. There aren’t quite as many attractions here as there are at Tokyo Disneyland. There are some extraordinary shows, notably Big Band Beat, but there is still time to fit that in. The problem with fitting everything in is that the pace here should be savored instead of choked down. Going to multiple table-service restaurants in a day and spending a couple of hours in a walk-through attraction should be commonplace in DisneySea. Exploring back alleys and seeing how all of the details coincide perfectly are what make this the best park in the world. That makes putting an estimate on how many days guests should spend there hard. For theme park junkies, this is mecca.
How many days would you recommend spending at each park? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a Disney trip? Check out our Travel Guides to help get you there! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog via email or WordPress and like our social media pages. You can find all of those things on the right side of this page. Thank you very much for reading, we appreciate it!
Categories: Vacation Tips