Walt Disney World is simply huge. Housing four theme parks as well as golf courses, water parks, and many other recreational activities, Walt Disney World is a place where one could vacation for a month and still not see everything. Nevertheless, with only two days to tour, it is entirely possible to see all of the highlights of all four gated theme parks. Careful planning is required, however.
If you have only two days in which to see the parks, begin by determining operating hours for the days of your visit. You will want to see two parks each day, ending your day in whichever of the two is open later. Do not plan afternoon breaks away from the parks, and prepare yourself for early mornings and late nights.
It is generally best to pair Animal Kingdom with Epcot and the Magic Kingdom with Disney-MGM Studios, due to the nature of crowd flow and normal operating hours. This will result in your missing either Wishes or Fantasmic, however.
Animal Kingdom and Epcot
Start your day at Animal Kingdom bright and early (at least an hour prior to scheduled park opening). Enjoy The Awakening (a show that takes place 15 minutes before the park opens). Then make your way over to Kilimanjaro Safaris, where the animals are most active early in the morning. Grab a Fast Pass for Expedition Everest and ride Kali River Rapids. See those attractions that are most important to you, and try to move in a circle rather than backtracking. Carry a small bag of snacks with you, to keep your energy up and avoid wasting time in junk food lines.
By using Fast Passes and moving purposefully rather than aimlessly, you should be able to finish the major attractions at Animal Kingdom by 1 or 2 pm. Make your way over to Epcot as quickly as possible. You will probably be hungry by this point, and Epcot is full of counter service restaurants with excellent food.
Once at Epcot, take your pick of the wide variety of quick counter service meals. An excellent option within Future World is the food court at The Land. The food is both good and plentiful, and service is generally fast. You may want to pick up a Fast Pass for Soarin’ before lunch, allowing you to eat while you wait for your return time.
After lunch, visit the Future World attractions that are most important to you. Future World normally closes at 7 pm, while World Showcase stays open until 9:00. Plan to see as much as you can in Future World until around 6:00, then make your way into the World Showcase.
The World Showcase makes a circle around the lagoon in which Illuminations is performed nightly at park closing. The show can be seen from any point around the lagoon, so simply start at one end and make your way around. Realize that you will not have time for all the attractions, but simply making your way through a pavilion’s shops and streets will give you a flavor of that country.
If you want a dinner stop, the fast food restaurants in China and Morocco are highly recommended. The food is the same as that served in the table service restaurants, but is both less expensive and much faster. Another option is to get snacks or even a meal just before Illuminations, and watch the show from the restaurant’s outdoor seating area.
Disney-MGM Studios and Magic Kingdom
Begin your day at Disney-MGM Studios, arriving an hour prior to park opening. Many of the major attractions at Disney-MGM are shows that take place at specific times throughout the day, so get a Times Guide and plan your show times while you wait for the gates to open. Whenever possible, try to make generally a circle of the park rather than backtracking. Again, carry snacks with you to keep you going through the morning. If you plan to ride Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster then it is generally best to make your way to that side of the park first. Grab a Fast Pass for one of the two and then ride the other.
How long you stay at Disney-MGM is partially dependent on what time the Magic Kingdom will close on the evening of your visit. If the Magic Kingdom is open until midnight, you can spend far more time at Disney-MGM than if the Magic Kingdom will close at 7 pm. Generally speaking, however, you should be able to finish the major attractions at Disney-MGM by around 2 pm.
After arriving at the Magic Kingdom, a great lunch stop is Casey’s Corner. Casey’s sells hot dogs and other traditional amusement park food in a highly themed fast food restaurant. Both the food and the theming are superb, and the service is generally quick. The umbrella tables outside are especially nice.
Do not stop to shop on Main Street. The shops there will be open for at least two hours after park closing, so keep moving. Turn either left to Adventureland or right towards Tomorrowland. Make a circle of the park, finishing the attractions in one land before moving on to the next. Use Fast Pass judiciously to avoid hanging around or backtracking in order to use an upcoming pass.
You will not have time to see everything at the Magic Kingdom, so be sure to determine in advance which attractions are most important to you. Skip the parades and take advantage of the diminished wait times at popular attractions. However, remember that the parades bisect the park, making it impossible to cross over to the other side. Make sure you understand how the parade route is laid out so that you can position yourself on the side of the park that you want before the parade starts.
Where to watch Wishes is a matter of personal preference. However, in order to get a spot in the most popular locations, it is necessary to arrive an hour or more prior to Wishes. With limited time in your schedule, it is best not to spend it waiting for the fireworks to begin. A better choice is to simply tour the park until the five minute warning announcement is issued, then find a spot close to where you are.
Two days will not allow you to even scratch the surface of all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World. Nonetheless, with careful planning there is no reason you cannot see the highlights and enjoy your visit. Just remember to keep moving, avoid extended breaks, and figure out in advance which things are most important to you.