How Long to Stay at Disney World

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Features, Park Wise

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Published on November 14, 2013 at 3:00 am with 37 Comments

After “Where to stay?”, “How long to stay at Disney World?” is one of the most popular questions I receive from guests and friends planning a trip to Orlando.  While there is no magical answer, there are a few things to consider when deciding how long you want to bunk with the Mouse.


Depending on where and when you choose to stay, the difference in a long weekend and week can be a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand.  Look at your budget and decide whether you’d prefer a longer trip at a moderate resort or a shorter trip in a grand villa.  You also have to take into account the cost of additional nights on the dining plan, should you choose to purchase it, or the cost of paying out of pocket for meals for x amount of days.  Once you pass four days, additional days on your park tickets are a drop in the bucket at about $10 a day, so it’s not too big of a factor.


Vacation Time

Time off of school and/or work also plays a pretty important role in deciding how long you’re going to live in the magic.  Are you working with a holiday weekend?  Or are you a teacher whose family has the entire summer to vacation?  Is it worth it to you to take unpaid leave if you don’t have the time accrued?  Maybe you have “use it or lose it” hours?  Figure out what works for you, and that will help determine the length of your stay.


Now that we’ve gotten past the two big factors that apply to most vacations, let’s take a look at some Disney World-specific scenarios.

One Week

When asked, I always suggest travelers plan to spend a week at the World.  Seven days allows two travel days, four full park days and one day of down time.  This is my perfect trip (though we regularly do an eight day trip as well).  I suggest Disney-goers, especially first time visitors, spend a day at each of the four major theme parks.  If they choose to visit the parks at any time during the other three days, they can revisit favorites or attractions they didn’t have time for on the initial visit.  I also really like the down day so guests can recharge their batteries, rest their feet, enjoy the resort offerings, etc.


Additionally, some promotions and discounts require a minimum stay, and shorter itineraries wouldn’t be able to take advantage of these deals.

Get Park Wise: If you’ve only purchased four days of tickets for your week-long stay but decide you really want to hit the parks daily, you can easily add days to your ticket by visiting any ticket desk on property.  Additionally, you can also add the park hopping option once you’ve arrived.  This helps avoid wasted money if you decide park hopping isn’t for you and wasted park entries if you were too tired to go to the parks again.

A Long Weekend

Sometimes those elusive four-day weekends seem like the perfect time to add a little magic to your life.  This is a great option if you’re already familiar with the parks and know your way around Walt Disney World.  It’s also a nice weekend choice for those who live within driving distance.  Depending on where you’re coming from, sometimes the airfare is exorbitant and would almost seem wasteful for a short trip.

Having a park hopper is a great idea for a shorter trip, especially if you know you’ll want to hit all four parks during the weekend.  For first timers, if a long weekend is your only option, it can be done, but it will be a crammed, tiring trip if you’re looking to get the most out of your vacation.


Get Park Wise: If you visit Walt Disney World often, consider coinciding your long weekend stay with special events.  I recently had guests visit during Food and Wine Fest during a holiday weekend, and they had a great time eating and drinking their way around the World Showcase.  All other parks were just a bonus.

Double Digits

This seems to be a trend among international visitors for a few reasons.  Again, just getting to Florida can be so costly that travelers want to get the most bang for their buck and stretch their vacation time.  While Disney is often “home base,” guests also often visit other area attractions which requires longer stays.  A 10+ day stay is also perfect for leisurely travelers who don’t necessarily want to be at the parks all day but want to experience a lot of what they have to offer.  Staying longer also gives you the opportunity to try out other activities such as the water parks, Disney Quest, resort recreation, etc.


We’ve done double digits trips, and while the days are nice and relaxed, it is a lot of time living in close quarters and out of your suitcase.  We’ll definitely do it again, but it’s something to think about, especially if you’re traveling with extended family or friends you’re not used to being so close with 24/7.


How long do you stay at Walt Disney World and why?


About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • gboiler1

    We’ve done a variety of stays. Since we live in Illinois travel is a big consideration but now it seems my airline miles help make the decision easier.
    We’ve done anywhere from 10 days to 4 days. Recently we’ve included two or three days with a Disney Cruise and just had a weekend stay to include MNSSHP. Those shorter trips are great because we are so familiar with the parks.
    I agree though a 7 day (or week long) trip is ideal, especially if you’ve been before. That allows you to pace yourself. On that trip we did half the week hitting parks at open, then calling it a day around 5 or 6pm, then the second half we’d go to the parks around lunch and fnish the day with the nighttime entertainment. That way we enjoyed the pools, sleeping in, etc and didn’t have the issues with open to close and tiring ourselves out. We also got to ride all our favorites multiple times.
    As always planning ahead will make the stay more enjoyable.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      Sounds like you guys have found some great options for all different lengths of stays!

  • Dusty Sage

    Put me in the one week catagory. Any more than that and I start feeling guilty for being away from work. There’s enough to see in Orlando for a two week vacation for those who are adventurous enough to set forth beyond the realm of WDW. I generally save on or two days on every trip for universal and/or SeaWorld.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      I never feel guilty about a vacation! ;) I guess work tends to follow me, though. Even my “day job” is calling and emailing. C’est la vie. Hahaha!

  • Gozer the Traveler

    My wife and I went for our honeymoon and we did a week (five days in the parks plus a travel day at each end), but that was prior to Animal Kingdom’s opening so there were really only 3 parks to contend with. This last Christmas we went back for our 15th anniversary and took our 7-year-old. We did 10 days total: two travel days, two days each at Magic Kingdom and Epcot, a day at Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Universal Islands of Adventure (NEEDED to see Harry Potter!), plus an “extra” day to do what we felt we missed. This was great for us as the time of year (mid-December) allowed us to vacation leisurely because the crowds hadn’t shown up yet (yes, we took the kid out of school). Additionally, I’m an Anaheim Cast Member so my hotels and meal plan were at a significant discount and my theme park tickets were free; cost and time of year are huge factors for how long you stay!

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      I’d love a double digit December trip. With so many things happening at home, we can usually only get away for our typical 8-dayer. There are so many extras during the holidays, that we could easily fill up ten days. Sounds great!

  • TheBig2na

    We are heading down for 12 days. We do 10 days minimum each trip as we like to take it slow, hit up the Universal parks and have a good unwind. Close quarters can be a pain though if you spend alot of time in your room which we tend not to. HAving said that we make sure we get a suite o this time we are renting DVC points and got a Villa for less than staying at Port Orleans. My mom comes with us so 5 people need the space. You need somewhere where you can be alone, even for a few minutes. We have international family that come with us as well from overseas so we like to spend a bit more time as we dont get to see them often and the long flight and cost is worth the extra days for them. And who doesn’t want a bit more mouse anyway right????

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      We tend to travel with at least a party of six, so I hear you on wanting the space. The last couple trips we’ve done two rooms, but the villas are a great option, and we make good use of the washer/dryer and kitchens.

  • Gregg Condon

    Our average visit is probably around 9 or 10 days. This gives us enough time at the Disney parks but also gives us time to visit some of the other local parks like Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens, etc.

    We did do one trip where we just did Disney for 10 days and that was a bit much.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      I haven’t gotten the kids to agree to non-Disney parks yet. Haha! We do spend a day out shopping in Orlando or at the water parks. I kind of like the Disney overload, though. ;)

  • cornjob

    last time i went, it was for 10 days, by myself. it was one of the best vacations i’ve ever had and i could have stayed another 10. there was so much to do, and, with nobody else’s agenda to worry about, i did way more than i could have with a group. i still felt like i had only scratched the surface, and i never even left disney property.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      Sounds like you had a fabulous trip! Hope you get to do it again soon!

  • lionheartkc

    Minimum is 7 days, but I prefer 10+. My max, so far, has been 12. My family, that I travel with, has done 16. All have been great. The more days, the more relaxing. I’m never happy to leave.

    There is one couple who actually attends the ENTIRE Food and Wine Festival staying DVC. My aunt and uncle are considering trying that, after they retire.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      I could definitely see how that would be very enticing! I never feel like I get to do everything I want during Food and Wine. I’ve got a looong time until retirement…

  • Big D

    Having been there many times, I’ve done shorter stays, but I think 4 nights is really the minimum, and 7 nights is better. The problem I run into is that if I’m going to stay longer I’ll want a nicer hotel. I can live with a value resort for 4nts (probably going to be in the parks every day), but I’d probably want at least a moderate resort for 7nts because I probably would be spending some downtime at the hotel on that kind of a trip. If I ever tried something like 14 nights, then I’d want a villa so I had a kitchen and didn’t have to eat out every meal. So for my tastes, the cost gets exponentially higher the longer I stay.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      Haha! I’m with you! We just bite the bullet and pretty much stay deluxe exclusively. My goal is to stay everywhere for the sake of being able to adequately talk pros and cons with my guests, though. Lots of split stays for our family. Haha!!

  • Olivier Sanguy

    As we are living in France, our ideal stay for WDW (and central Florida) is two weeks because of the transatlantic flight cost! With 600 to 800 euros for a transatlantic flight (in coach) round trip, it is best optimized with 2 weeks rather than one.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      That seems to be the case for a lot of international visitors. Not only the cost, but I’d not be in a rush to get back on a plane for umpteen hours. ;)

  • DobbysCloset

    The cost of ten days to explore Orlando is equivalent to the cost of renting a U-Haul and retiring to Florida…

    But I seem to have left my heart in Anaheim. Unless I retire where I’m public transportation distance to a park it will be hard to visit when I really do need magic in my life.

    Two years to consider — DL or WDW. The Chihuahua is pushing for Florida because of the food choices. He knows nothing of feral boa constrictors and native gators.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      I think you’d be happy either way!

  • Malin

    Travelling from the UK I think 10-12 nights is enough. Especially if your planning activities outside of Disney or just want to take it easy. But in saying that I did 12 nights just recently and it still wasn’t enough time to check out any of the Water parks or SeaWorld. But I’m the kind of person that could easily spend a day in World Showcase.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      There will always be something we missed to keep us coming back, right? Haha!

  • billyjobobb

    We went for 10 days, plus a travel day last February.

    We stayed at a resort with a full kitchen and lots of amenities. All we did was Disney. It allowed us the ability to leave the park early or go in late. We didn’t feel rushed, and with the full kitchen we could get up and fix breakfast. At the end of the night rather than grabbing something we went back to the room and had a sandwich. I truly believe the kitchen paid for itself in lower food costs.

    It was able to feel like a vacation. We weren’t rushed, we weren’t trying to hold to a ridiculous schedule.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      Sounds great! We love having a full kitchen at the villas.

  • danyoung

    I’ve been liking the 4-day trips over the past few years. I do it over the weekend, so I only have to take 2 days off. I fly on Thursday, arriving late morning so I can check in and then hit Epcot for the rest of the day. Two full touring days, then I fly back late on Sunday afternoon, leaving Sunday morning for touring. I like to finish with a nice waterside lunch at the Rose & Crown before heading to the airport, just to cap off a fun, short trip!

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      Seems like a perfect weekend to me!

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Well I’m a local so I just do day trips usually (get up early in the morning, drive over for the day & the drive home that night). But sometimes I’ll make a long weekend out of it and drive up Friday and come home Saturday or Sunday (and stay at my usual off-property hotel if I can get a good rate or if I have enough rewards points for at least one free night).

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      One of my best friends is a local (a five minute drive to MK, and she can see fireworks from her bedroom window!!), and they occasionally do a weekend with their DVC points. Sometimes it’s nice to just get away (even if your house is within walking distance…haha!).