Conquering all four Walt Disney World parks in the same day seems to be a pretty popular goal for people who visit. Having lived here for a few years now, I’ve accomplished it a few times and it is NOT as hard as one may think!! Doing all 4 parks in one day is practically old hat for us now, but there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to do it, imo…and I’m about to tell you the RIGHT way!! 🙂
The most recent time I did all 4 parks in 1 day was when our friend Brandon came to visit in June (the same trip where Chris and I got engaged)! We took these photos in the span of less than 8 hours, in the middle of June…proof that the 4 parks challenge isn’t as scary or difficult as it seems.
I think the easiest way to do this is to tell you how we did it and give you all my tips along the way. So first of all – my biggest tip by FAR is…
PLAN Your Day!!!
Since this is somewhat of an undertaking for the average parkgoer, it’s important that you do your research and make some preparations for the day!!
I had a spreadsheet for the entire trip – this column to the right was just for our 4 parks day. It sounds silly to plan out exactly when you have to enter and leave each park, but it helped us so much to stay on track and not get distracted. As you can see, we planned to spend 1.5-2 hours in each of the first 3 parks – AK 10-11:30, DHS 12-1:30, Epcot 2-4, MK for the rest of the night – plus 30 minutes in between for travel time.
While I’m here I want to touch on something pretty big: the order in which to do the four parks. This is much debated, but I am convinced that the CORRECT order to do them in (or, the order that is easiest) is as you see our photos above – Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom. It just flows really nicely and I think works really well every time, especially when planning out transportation.
Speaking of – it’s also important to know what transportation you’ll be using to get from park to park. For example, you don’t want to count on taking a bus from Hollywood Studios to Epcot – because those parks are only connected by boat! Brandon and I also chose to challenge ourselves to utilize all forms of Disney transportation – bus, boat, and monorail!
Chris was nice enough to drop us off at our first park before he went to work, but you can also always take a bus (or uber or something) from your resort. Like I said, I’ve attempted this challenge many times, and I find it’s actually much easier without a car. You don’t have to worry about parking, taking the tram, or finding your car every time – if you can, rely on Disney’s transportation!
Do this on one of the last days of your trip: This is likely going to be a tiring day, so I recommend to plan this endeavor for the end of your vacation. We did it on Brandon’s last day in Florida so we could go home and collapse at the end of the day and not worry about being too tired for the next day’s plans.
Set your “rules”: You can make your own guidelines for what you want to do in each park, but most people like to meet one character at each park or maybe go on one ride at each, or even get Starbucks at each park. Brandon and I decided we were going to go on at least one attraction and have a snack in each park. We also of course had to take a pic in front of the icon of each park!
Have your ticket situation sorted out before you go: If you’re using cast member tickets or annual passes, make sure you check blockout dates before you attempt – it would stink to get stopped before you finish because you’re blocked out of a certain park that day! If you’re using other tickets, make sure you have the Park Hopper option added in advance so you don’t have to waste time at a ticket booth during the day.
Pack light and dress comfortably: This should be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning! You’re going to have to go through bag check at each park, so save yourself the hassle of packing a gigantic bag full of everything you need. If you need ideas of what to bring, check out my post on what I put in my park bag! Additionally, wear a comfy outfit and shoes on this day. Most people probably do this every day they go to the parks, but it’s especially important when you have a tight schedule to stick to!
Park #1: Animal Kingdom – 10:08 am
We started off our day in Animal Kingdom, arriving right around 10 am. We like Animal Kingdom as the first park because it doesn’t “feel” as busy as the others can in the morning. Our attraction of choice was Expedition Everest. As you can see on the spreadsheet, we originally planned to do single rider, but it was so empty in the park that we were able to walk right on in the regular line. We also had some extra time so we decided to meet Mickey & Minnie as well. Our snack of choice at Animal Kingdom was an elephant ear. We also got cups of water at every snack stop to make sure we stayed hydrated!
Before long it was time to hop on the bus and head to our next park. We were lucky in that our travel time almost never took the full 30 minutes we had allotted, but it’s not a bad idea to expect delays – it’s always better with something like this to allow yourself some leeway in case something unexpected happens.
Park #2: Hollywood Studios – 12:02pm
We chose to do Studios next. You’ll notice on the spreadsheet that we only used one FastPass on our 4 park day, and it was for Studios. Since you can only make FastPass+ for one park at a time, I suggest using FP+ at your second or third park of the day. You won’t really need it at the first park since the lines are so short, and the last park you’ll have the most time in so you won’t need it there either.
BUT you also don’t HAVE to use FastPass+ at all – if you want, you can just do standby lines. We chose to use FP+ at Studios because it has some rides that pull HUGE wait times, and we didn’t want to waste any time waiting in line for Tower of Terror or Rock n Roller Coaster. There was some nostalgia involved as well – Brandon worked at Toy Story Midway Mania on our college program and we KNEW that was going to be our attraction of choice for the day. Chances of us getting in and out in a decent amount of time, in the middle of day, on a weekend in June…seemed unlikely. So we chose to use our FP+ there and were in and out in under 20 minutes!
Our snack at Studios was a Mickey cookie from Sweet Spells. It was huge and more than enough to split between the two of us. Once we were finished we headed out to the watercraft dock to catch the boat to Epcot.
Park #3: Epcot – 2:12pm
We’re over halfway done!! We penciled in a little more time for Epcot (2 hours instead of 1.5) because we were getting into the heart of long wait times at the park, and we didn’t have a fastpass for anything. Our plan was to do Test Track single rider, and if the line was too long we could just do Spaceship Earth or something. Once you’re in the home stretch, it’s okay to allow yourself some more time in park #3 to have some real food or move a bit slower.
Fortunately Test Track’s single rider line was shorter than expected, and we ended up with plenty of time to spare! We decided to head back to World Showcase to get some actual food since we had just been eating sweets at the other parks. We decided on a grapefruit beer and pretzel from Germany, and a ham and cheese croissant from France…the same one I wrote about in my Friday Favorites once 🙂
Once we finished eating, we snapped our Epcot photo on the way out of the park and moseyed over to the monorail to head to our last park!
Park #4: Magic Kingdom – 4:16pm
We were so excited to enter Magic Kingdom and complete the four parks challenge! Obviously we still had to do an attraction and get a snack, but it was still early evening by the time we arrived and we had plenty of time. We got ourselves some food (I don’t remember but I’m pretty sure it was corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner) and settled in to watch the castle show and bask in our glory.
We spent the rest of the evening riding our favorites and taking our time to enjoy the park, since we had been rushing through the rest of the day! I was actually very surprised at how quick and easy it felt to complete the challenge, and Brandon said he felt the same. It’s hard to believe that we did it in less than 8 hours!
Like I’ve said, completing the challenge of 4 parks in 1 day is not as daunting as it seems! This is just how I’ve done it successfully in the past – I’m sure many other people out there have gone in a different order, or made different rules, or found success another way. My final tip is to stay flexible and remember to have fun!! We were very lucky on this day that the weather was nice and we didn’t face any delays with transportation or ride downtimes. Don’t be afraid to re-think your plan on the fly and do something else if something is taking too long. And remember that this is supposed to be a FUN activity, not an extra day of stress! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this post! I think I’m going to try to write more Disney-related things in the future because these seem to be my most popular posts, so let me know if you have anything you’d like to see specifically! Have you ever attempted the 4 parks in 1 day challenge?
Thanks for reading!