I’ve talked before about planning how long to make your Disney vacation. Once you’ve decided how long you can stay at Walt Disney World, a related question often arises … what can I actually accomplish during that amount of time? How much can I do in a day (or two, or three, or ten) at Disney? New guests, unfamiliar with the gigantic scope of Disney World, may be particularly confused by this topic.
To get a better handle on how much you can do/see in a trip to Walt Disney World, let’s think about Disney time in 4-6 hour units. That’s about the span most people can handle in vacation-related activities before needing a break or at least a change of scenery.
Because he’s my favorite chipmunk (and because I couldn’t think of a snappy acronym for DUCK), we’re going to call these 4-6 hour vacation units DALEs (Disney Activity Labor Elements). A family of WDW visitors with toddlers or an ECV-bound senior citizen might have a DALE close to the four hour mark. A Disney veteran 20-something unencumbered by children might have a 6-hour DALE.
I’ll assume that the average adult needs 8 hours of sleep and the average young child needs 10-12 hours of sleep. And I’ll give everyone 1-2 hours per day for personal care such as bathing yourself, bathing your kids, checking in with work, vegging out watching Stacey’s Top Seven, etc.
Doing the math, this means that, depending on your profile, you can fit 2 or 3 DALEs into a day.
So what can you do in a DALE? Here are just some of the MANY things available at Walt Disney World, broken into approximately 4-6 hour chunks:
- 8-12 attractions in the Magic Kingdom and a quick service meal
- A character meal and 6-10 attractions in the Magic Kingdom
- 12-16 attractions in the Magic Kingdom and a snack
- Meeting all the characters in the Magic Kingdom and a quick service meal
- The Family Magic Tour at the Magic Kingdom and a table service meal
- Most of the attractions in Epcot’s Future World
- A table service meal, all of Epcot’s Innoventions, and Agent P’s World Showcase Advenuture
- 2-3 attractions and moderate shopping at all of Epcot’s World Showcase countries
- A table service meal, Epcot’s Behind the Seeds tour, and 3-4 attractions
- A lap around Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Booths
- A table service meal, Illuminations, and a stroll around the World Showcase
- A table service meal and all the headliner attractions at the Animal Kingdom
- A table service meal and the minor attractions at the Animal Kingdom
- 8-12 attractions at the Animal Kingdom and a snack
- A quick service meal and all the shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- A table service meal, Fantasmic, and 2-3 other attractions at DHS
- 8-10 attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Table service dinner and shaking your stuff at the Boardwalk’s Atlantic Dance Hall
- The Wild Africa Trek backstage tour
- Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Very Merry Christmas Party
- A round of golf
- Lunch and all the big slides at Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach
- Disney Quest
- Dinner and Cirque du Soleil La Nouba
- Lunch, nap, swim at your resort
- Bowling/dinner at Splitsville and light shopping some of Downtown Disney
- Lunch and heavy shopping and most of Downtown Disney
- A movie at the AMC theater and light shopping some of Downtown Disney
- Three treatment pampering package at Senses Spa the Grand Floridian or Saratoga Springs
- A Richard Petty Driving Experience
- The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, the Chip & Dale Sing-Along and an outdoor movie at Fort Wilderness
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Pirates League, a table service meal, and 4-6 Magic Kingdom attractions
- Epcot’s Dolphins in Depth tour and a table service meal
- Watching a sporting event at ESPN WIde
- Grand Tea at the Grand Floridian and a self-guided walking tour of the monorail-area resorts
- Dinner at Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table
- A character meal and the Pirates & Pals fireworks cruise
- Participate in a runDisney half-marathon or marathon
- Go off property to Universal Studios and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Drive to Port Canaveral and take a tour of NASA
- See most of SeaWorld
- Hit the Orlando outlet malls
- Segway tour, canoeing, and a swim at Fort Wilderness
- Table service dinner, surrey bike ride around the Boardwalk, drinks at Jellyrolls
- Keys to the Kingdom tour
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover and My Disney Girl Perfectly Princess Tea Party
- Half the Backstage Magic tour
- Magic Behind Our Steam Trains tour and character lunch
- Parasailing, SeaRayer rental, and character lunch
- Mini-golf, quick service lunch, 4-6 attractions at Blizzard Beach
To put this in a bit more perspective, depending on what you count, there are approximately 18 attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, 20 attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, 20 attractions (plus LOTS of shopping and dining) at Epcot, and 40 attractions at the Magic Kingdom. A single attraction might take anywhere from about 2 minutes (Dumbo) to about 45 minutes (Ellen’s Energy Adventure) to complete, plus you have to build in time for waiting in queues, walking between attractions, bathroom breaks, etc.
Since not every attraction will appeal equally to every guest, something like (for example) an allotment of two times #3 in the above list would allow most guests to see nearly everything of interest at the Magic Kingdom, with no repeats. Many people, particularly small children, will want to repeat their favorite attractions several times, so something like #1 would likely appear several times in a plan for guests traveling with little kids.
Obviously Touring Plan use, crowd levels, park hours, weather, personal stamina, transportation issues, and numerous other factors will impact what you can actually get done in a day, but using the DALE system you can make a reasonable estimate of how much of Walt Disney World you’ll be able to experience during your vacation.
For example, during a single day a Toddler/Senior Family could reasonably expect to do DALE #1 and #2. During a single day, an Active Adult Family could probably do DALE #1 twice with #24 in the middle.
To figure out how much you can do over the course of vacation, start adding up the DALEs.
In a four-day WDW visit, a Toddler/Senior Family DALE estimate might look like:
- Day One: #1 and #2
- Day Two: #1, #24, and dinner
- Day Three: #16 and #30
- Day Four: #6 and #7
During a six-day WDW visit, an Active Adult Family DALE estimate might look like:
- Day One: #19, #1, and #20
- Day Two: #6, #24, and #11
- Day Three: #20, #24, and #35
- Day Four: #12, #13, and #27
- Day Five: #6, #8, and #25
- Day Six: #1, #21, and #3
By following this process, it should be possible to estimate how much of Disney World you can experience in any given vacation. You can use your estimate as a check/balance for your “How Long To Stay” plan, to see whether your intended vacation duration will be enough time to see your highlights, or will leave you with too much time to fill with activities of little interest or too much expense.
If you’re a Disney veteran, how would you explain to a new guest how much they can accomplish during a Disney vacation? Do you find the above DALE estimates reasonable? Let us know in the comments below.