How to do all 4 Disney World theme parks in 1 day, according to an expert
The most magical place in the world, Walt Disney World covers over 25,000 acres in central Florida. Mickey Mouse’s house is not only home to the adorable characters from our childhood, but also four different theme parks: Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For the true Disney connoisseur, the happiest visit can be accomplished by visiting each park. However, given that current restrictions mean you can’t park until the afternoon, you might be wondering how to do all four Disney World theme parks in one day – and if that’s even possible.
Known as the “Four Park Challenge,” this popular feat for Disney fans requires the ambitious guest to ride at least one attraction and eat a snack at each park. Although the current regulations, which prevent you from jumping into the parks until 2 p.m., make it a little more difficult to accomplish, I am a theme park writer who visits Walt Disney World once a month with my family. , and I’ve found some Disney Insider Tips and Tricks — as well as an itinerary — that help me get to all four parks on my visits.
Are you up to the challenge? Armed with a little faith, truth, pixie dust (and comfy shoes), you can visit all four Disney theme parks in one day. But first, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with some key Disney lingo to help you navigate your magical day.
The Disney Dictionary
- Park reservations: Walt Disney World requires advance park reservations for your visit. After purchasing your park tickets, you will need to reserve a starter park for each day of your vacation.
- Park jump: This is Disney talking about starting at one theme park and then visiting another on the same day. At Walt Disney World, guests can park until the next park starting at 2 p.m. After that, they are free to visit the other parks.
- Disney Genius+: This paid service replaced the old FastPass system. Disney Genie+ allows guests to reserve time slots for expedited access to select attractions beginning at 7 a.m. on the day of visit for resort guests and every 2 hours or after checking current selection.
- Lightning Way: This is the accelerated line used to enter the attraction. You can access Lightning Lane for most attractions through Disney Genie+, but some popular attractions are extra and available a la carte.
- Virtual Queue: Disney World’s newest attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, can be accessed for free through a virtual queue or by purchasing a la carte Lighting Lane. In the Disney mobile app, guests can enter the virtual queue at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Disney Deluxe Resort guests will have a third opportunity to access the virtual queue at 6 p.m.
- Advance reservations: Customers can make advance reservations up to 60 days in advance. Last-minute available tables can be reserved through a walk-in feature in the Disney app.
Now that we’ve got the basics figured out, let’s see how you and your unwavering enthusiasm can successfully complete the four park challenge. Along with a list of must-sees at each park, I’ll share a few attractions and dining offerings that you can skip if you’re pressed for time. After all, Walt Disney World is literally a world and while you won’t cover everything in a day, this program offers a good taste of the best it has to offer.
How to Do All Four Disney Theme Parks in 1 Day
12 p.m.: Yes, you are on vacation, but the preparations for your magical day begin as soon as the clock strikes midnight. And no, you won’t turn into a pumpkin. This is when customers can purchase the Disney Genie+ service. It is subject to availability, so it is highly recommended to purchase it as soon as it becomes available.
7am: It’s time to go, and those without the fastest fingers will be left behind. This is when Disney Resort guests can begin booking attractions through Disney Genie+ as well as individual Lightning Corridors. Keep in mind that the first virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is only available to guests from EPCOT.
Morning: Start your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. After munching on a Ronto breakfast wrap from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, it’s time to knock out some of the Disney parks’ most sought-after attractions. Here, you can use the Disney Genie+ service to experience on-demand attractions, like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, while using traditional attraction queues with ride times shorter.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Must-See Attractions:
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Disney’s Hollywood Studios must-sees:
- Ronto Wraps from Ronto Roasters
- BaseLine Tap House Charcuterie and Pretzel Board
- Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake
Things to avoid at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
- Hollywood and dinner
- Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
Lunch: Florida sunshine is no joke, and since you have a long day ahead of you, it’s wise to take a moment to recharge with a sit-down lunch. Most of the table service options at Disney’s Hollywood Studios leave a lot to be desired, but there are some delicious options for the connoisseur. Use the app’s walk-in feature to reserve a table at Brown Derby Lounge or enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and great food and drink offerings at BaseLine Tap House (take the beer flight). When making your Disney Genie+ reservations, start considering late afternoon and evening attractions at the other theme parks.
1 p.m.: Join the virtual queue for EPCOT’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
1:30 p.m.: With the parks opening soon, use Disney Parks Bus Transportation to visit your second park of the day, Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
2 p.m.: Start with Jambo from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here you can explore the bright world of Pandora – The World of Avatar, ride the Expedition Everest steel roller coaster using the single-driver lane, and munch on globally-inspired bites. After experiencing Avatar Flight on Passage using Lightning Lane, a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris offers breathtaking views of Disney’s largest theme park and the thousands of living animals that call it home.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom must-see attractions:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Avatar Passing Flight
- Everest Expedition
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Must Eat:
- Nomad Lounge gluten-free churros
- Fire-grilled meat bowls and cheeseburger pods from Satu’li Canteen
- Eight Spoon Café Pulled Pork Macaroni
Things to avoid at Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
- Rapids of the Kali River
- It’s hard to be an insect!
4 p.m.: Use the Disney Parks bus transportation to visit your third park of the day, EPCOT. Experience Disney World’s newest attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and classic attractions like Spaceship Earth and Living with the Land. Instead of booking a sit-down meal, snack (and drink!) around the World Showcase pavilions or take part in one of the park’s food and wine festivals.
EPCOT Must-See Attractions:
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Return
- frozen forever
- Spaceship Earth
EPCOT must eat:
- Avocado Margarita from La Cava Del Tequila
- Spice Road Table Hummus Fries
- The pastries of the Halle Boulangerie-Pâtisserie
Things to avoid at EPCOT:
- Rémy’s Ratatouille adventure
- Mission: SPACE
- Space 220
7 p.m.: At EPCOT’s main entrance, board the Highway of Sky, the iconic monorail, to venture to your fourth and final park of the day, Disney’s Magic Kingdom park. Hop aboard classic attractions, like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean, before enjoying their new nighttime show, Disney Enchantment. Snack on DOLE Whip or enjoy small plates from Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen by snagging a last-minute table through the mobile app’s walk-in feature.
Disney Magic Kingdom Must-See Attractions:
- space mountain
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- The haunted mansion
Disney’s Magic Kingdom Must Eat:
- DOLE Whip Aloha Isle Coconut Pineapple Swirl
- Secret Menu of Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)
- Sleepy Hollow Nutella Waffle and Fresh Fruit Sandwich
Things to avoid at Disney’s Magic Kingdom:
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Tomorrowland circuit
- Casey’s Corner
- be our guest
Late: After the fireworks, take the monorail to one of Magic Kingdom’s surrounding resorts along the Lagoon of the Seven Seas. Feast on a tiki concoction at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Toddy Cave or sip a glass of wine from the The beauty and the Beastthemed Enchanted Rose Lounge. You deserved it.
Four Park Challenge Tips:
- Stay hydrated by bringing a reusable water bottle with you. There are free water refill stations at all theme parks.
- A cell phone charger will be your new best friend. A successful Disney day relies heavily on using the mobile app, which unfortunately drains the battery.
- Don’t get caught up trying to ride every attraction possible. Disney is more than just rides – expand your palate with a new-to-you snack or catch a show in an air-conditioned theater.