Step 3: Make a daily plan
So now that you've got your dates and the place you'll stay, what will you do each day of your trip?
There are 4 major parks, 2 water parks plus many other activities that you could choose.
Let's start with how many days you should plan to spend in each park.
Here's an example of how it might work for many families.
Suggested Number of Days in Each Park
|Magic Kingdom||Epcot||Hollywood Studios||Animal Kingdom||1 of the water parks||Other things (Disney Springs, mini-golf, whatever-you-want)|
|3||1||1||<-- Pick 1 day in either Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom -->|
This is just a suggestion. All families vary. For instance, families with younger children and only 3 days in the parks might want to do 2 days in the Magic Kingdom.
It's also a great idea to have 1 day out of the parks for every 3 days in the park. Arrange it however it makes sense for your family.
Now, what days should you do each park and in what order?
The reason that Extra Magic Hours are generally not a good idea is that most people will plan to visit that park that day, making it the busiest park. Since most people sleep in, they often won't even arrive early enough to take advantage of the extra time but they'll go to that park anyway.
Another reason that parks might not be the best choice on a given day is that there is nighttime entertainment scheduled that many people will want to attend. If nighttime entertainment is scheduled nightly (as it often is during the busiest times), then it's not such a big impact. If nighttime entertainment is scheduled sporadically during your visit, those parks hosting the nighttime entertainment will be the busiest on those days.
The following links to operating schedule PDF files will tell you the operating hours, scheduled Extra Magic Hours and entertainment schedule FIRST (even before Disney's main site):
January travel dates
February travel dates
March travel dates
April travel dates
May travel dates
June travel dates
July travel dates
August travel dates
September travel dates
October travel dates
November travel dates
December travel dates
For each day of your trip, write down what parks or activities you'll be doing on that day. If you're planning to enjoy nighttime entertainment, don't plan on an early morning the next day. Feel free to plan a day off in the middle of your trip to give yourself a break from theme parks.