Before you set out booking your hotel or buying your tickets, you probably want to know how long a vacation you're going to take. Everyone has different priorities, pacing, and time allowance.
I will be listing two numbers for each park:
- Minimum time you should spend.
- Ideal amount to experience the whole park.
Magic Kingdom: Minimum 1 day, ideally 2 days
Magic Kingdom is the park everyone pictures when you mention Disney World. Beyond being constantly filled with people, it's also the largest park at Disney World in terms of amount of attractions.
Trying to stuff everything at the Magic Kingdom into one day is incredibly difficult and requires heavy advance planning and a low crowd level. You can get to all the big things in one day (the mountains, Haunted Mansion, Pirates, etc) but you will probably have to skip out on smaller attractions or shows. Spreading the Magic Kingdom out over two days lets you not only enjoy all it has to offer, but you're not running in circles trying to check off everything. Two days also lets you make FastPass+ reservations at more rides and gives you more chance of getting one of those hard-to-get reservations like at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. In extreme circumstances, like busy times around Christmas or if your family has to travel at a slower pace, 3 days may be necessary.
Epcot: Minimum 1 day, ideally 2 days
Families with small children will probably be able to get through Epcot in a single day, as many of the rides have height requirements. But for everyone else, I really do think you want to spend 2 days at Epcot. The park is insanely large and there's a lot of walking between attractions. Combine the park's size with the "tiering" of FastPass+ (where you can only choose one of x attractions), it's best to spread touring out over 2 days.
You'll really want to visit Epcot more than one day if you're visiting during one of the many festivals the park hosts throughout the year. With tons of booths throughout the World Showcase serving all kinds of food and drinks, there's no way you can try everything on the menus in one day. Combine the booths with the expansive collection of permanent stands and restaurants, it's a foodie's paradise. I wouldn't say it's "trip ruined" if you can't visit multiple days, but I think Epcot is by far the best park you can 'relax' at.
Disney's Hollywood Studios: Minimum & ideally 1 day
After years of waiting, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is finally ready to welcome us onto the planet of Batuu. We've been predicting for a long time that both Disneyland & Walt Disney World would suddenly become Christmas level crowds every single day of the year. The land's opening in Disneyland has been a collective thud so far. New record high single day prices, large amount of passholder blockouts, and lack of the marquee Rise of the Resistance attraction have kept interest to moderate at most. Rise of the Resistance will surprisingly open first at Walt Disney World on December 5, 2019. It remains to be seen if the opening of the ride will finally open the floodgates, but until then it's safe to bet you won't have to fight many crowds throughout the new land. It will certainly be the busiest part of the parks, but the predicted human parking lot is unlikely to happen.
Even with Star Wars, Hollywood Studios still lacks a large amount of things to do. Toy Story Land has added some new rides, but they are insanely popular and have very low capacity. Families with small children will be hard pressed to find many things to do, as the larger rides have height requirements or are simply too intense for small kids. Thrill seekers will find two of the biggest marquee attractions in all of WDW: Rock 'n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. The park offers two nighttime shows: Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular (replaced by Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM in the Christmas season) and Fantasmic, with the latter being one of the best nighttime shows on property. It's not as good as the Disneyland version in my personal opinion, but if you don't have any plans to head to California soon, don't miss it.
Disney's Animal Kingdom: Minimum & ideally 1 day
With Avatar finally opened, Animal Kingdom becomes a full day park. It is the most intricately themed of the four parks, but simply just doesn't have much to do. It feels like there's a lot to do, but only because everything is a mile apart.
Disney has made great efforts to make the park become a different beast at night. For instance, Kilimanjaro Safaris has a completely different storyline and they even mimic a sunset on the plains once the sun goes down. They've also introduced "Rivers of Light" a nighttime show which is the biggest debacle Disney has had in recent years. I personally wouldn't bend over backwards to see it, but it's still nifty if you can fit it in.
I think an extra half day could prove useful to take in all the little details of the park, but I don't think it's necessary to see everything attraction wise.