When planning Disney World trips, I have always found it useful to divide the days into morning, afternoon, and evening plans. In multiple plans for trips spanning anywhere from 2 to 8 days, the foundation for each plan has been that basic division, a concept that I have often thought of as “Touring Blocks.”
Planning a full day at Disney World can be stressful and confusing, but breaking it down into Touring Blocks can help take the pressure off. To quote Henry Ford, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” Lately, this strategy has come to be more valuable than ever—Disney is stepping up its game with new attractions, shows, restaurants & lounges, and technology for its guests, with more to come. In turn, we can step up our game with Touring Block strategies.
Using Touring Blocks to Enhance Your Planning
Days at Disney World can be thought of as involving three fluid blocks of time, or “Touring Blocks,” with overlap between the times for these blocks based on the plan for each day. My morning block generally spans from park opening (“rope drop”) up to 2 PM, the afternoon block from 12 PM to 5 PM, and the evening block from 3 PM to park close. Meals can fit within or around these blocks. Again, as you can see here, Touring Block times can overlap, and the timing for each day will depend on specific plans.
Typically, a good first step in planning a Disney World vacation is to decide which days you will visit Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom over the course of your vacation (you may wish to visit all or just some of these depending on your length of stay or other considerations, discussed later). Using the TouringPlans.com crowd calendar is an excellent way to establish a day-by-day plan.
Once you have a “big picture” plan with at least one park or other main activity each day, you can start breaking your days into blocks, adding in blocks for other fun such as visiting one of Disney World’s water parks or Disney Springs.
Using a Touring Block strategy has another advantage: it will usually leave some time to relax during your otherwise on-the-go Disney vacation, with one block or part of it acting as a break each day. For example, on one day, use the entire afternoon block for resort pool time. On another day take an hour or two for a quiet lunch or dinner plus a tour of a resort near the park you’re visiting.
Touring Blocks can also allow for some spontaneity; use a Touring Block for half the day and then wing it the other half. Another Touring Block strategy is to break up your touring by seeing a park’s attractions in one block and its shows and characters in another.
The table below shows a four-day vacation with some Touring Block scenarios. It features some of the new attractions/entertainment that Disney World has introduced this spring and summer as well as FastPass+ reservations and dining. Other attractions and entertainment can fit around and among these highlights. In fact, using Touring Blocks is a great way to fit a mix of old favorites and new offerings into your plans.
Park Hoppers, Extra Magic Hours, and Other Considerations
Several major factors will help define your Touring Blocks, including the length of your trip and whether your park ticket includes the park hopper option. A shorter trip may mean visiting only two or three parks. On a longer trip, you may visit the same park multiple times and include a water park.
A park hopper ticket allows you to visit two or more parks on the same day. For example, your morning Touring Block could be at one park, your afternoon block could be a break, and your evening block could be at a second park. Even without a park hopper ticket, you could spend the morning and evening at the same park, with a block for a break in between.
Extra Magic Hours can help define your Touring Blocks. For example, visit the park with morning Extra Magic Hours (for resort guests only) to take advantage of the low crowds and shorter lines. When off-site guests begin to mix in with the resort guests and wait times increase, hop to another park for your afternoon or evening Touring Block. Or use a Touring Block for a late-night visit to the park with evening Extra Magic Hours. Even when a park doesn’t have Extra Magic Hours, arriving at a park at rope drop or later at night can take advantage of lower morning and late-night crowds.
The time of year you visit is another determinant of Touring Block strategy. In the hotter months, take that afternoon block to swim, have a meal at an air-conditioned restaurant, or take a nap. Then visit a park when it’s cooler at night during the typically later summer park hours. In cooler weather, when the parks close earlier, you might skip a break to enjoy the afternoon block inside the park during daylight hours and set a more relaxed pace for the evening. Or if it’s a busy time of year at the parks, you may need to dial back the number of attractions you can see during a Touring Block.
Strategic scheduling of FastPass+ reservations can also complement your Touring Block strategy. You can schedule up to three FastPass+ choices in advance in the same park; once these are used, you can schedule subsequent (or rolling) FastPass+ reservations one at a time for your current park or another park. For example, after using your one to three prescheduled FastPass+ reservations for you morning Touring Block, you can book your first rolling FastPass+ in your current park/block or a park you plan to hop to in a later block. Another strategy is to schedule your in-advance FastPass+ reservations for the afternoon or evening block and take advantage of shorter lines in the same or another park in the morning. See here for more details and tips on using FastPass+.
Touring Blocks and Touring Plans
TouringPlans.com’s Personalized Touring Plans allow you to choose attractions, parades, shows, and other entertainment; input FastPass+ reservations; and specify your plan’s start and end times. These features make them a great way to put your Touring Blocks into action before your vacation to see if they are workable. If the initial start and end times of a block don’t work, you can use your Touring Plan to adjust them or know that you need to save some attractions for another day.
And if your Touring Blocks include some of the new entertainment introduced at Disney World this spring and summer (of course they will!), many of the shows are at set times. A Touring Plan can help ensure that your plans take this timing into account.