Reader Question: One Park, One Day at Walt Disney World

I thought it would be cool to answer e-mail questions. Here’s the first e-mail I received from a reader named Cheryl. It was a two-part question, but I’ll answer the first part this week and address the second in another post. If you have any questions, comments or tips, I’d love to hear from you! E-mail me at!

Hey Pete,

If you had only one day at Walt Disney World and could only go to ONE park – no park hoppers or anything – where would you choose?You have to stay in that park all day. Once you leave, your day is over. Explain your choice and your perfect day at that park!




Wow, Cheryl, what a question! First of all, you just described my nightmare! One day at Walt Disney World?! Only one park?! Well, that requires some strategy.

First and foremost, it depends on when I’m going to Disney. The crowds are definitely a factor. For the sake of this question, let’s develop a perfect, yet realistic scenario: the crowd level is around a “5” or “6”, the weather is sunny and the temperature is in the mid-70s.

Okay, so every park is in play. One day, one park… 

I’m going to start by eliminating Animal Kingdom. I’m sure all of the Animal Kingdom lovers will stop reading. Before you do, hear me out. I enjoy Animal Kingdom, even if my family sees it as a “half day” park. I love architecture and design and really love the theming at Disney. As far as theming goes, I think Animal Kingdom is one of the best-themed parks on property and has stayed true to its roots (no pun intended.) But in a perfect scenario, I’m with my family at Disney World, and they view Animal Kingdom as a half-day park – so we certainly would not choose to spend our one day at Disney World there.

That leaves me with Hollywood Studios, EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. It’s going to kill me to do this, but I’m eliminating Hollywood Studios. I love Hollywood Studios. In fact, when all is said and done, it’s my favorite park. But right now Hollywood Studios is one gigantic construction zone. The backlot is closed, the hat is gone, and honestly, Hollywood Studios is in dire need of a few new rides. After riding Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Toy Story Midway Mania, there’s really not much left to do at the park. The shows are great, but if I have one day in Orlando, I’m spending it outdoors. 

So we’re left with EPCOT or Magic Kingdom. This argument comes down to rides vs. food. Would I rather eat my way around EPCOT or sacrifice great food for Magic Kingdom’s rides. Magic Kingdom has a few good Quick Service options, but lacks the Table Service options that EPCOT flexes. EPCOT has numerous great Table Service options to choose from, but lacks the rides.

Decision time: I’m choosing Magic Kingdom. I know, it’s such an easy and typical choice, but how could you have one day in Disney World and not go with the classic? EPCOT is great, and as a foodie, I love it; but Magic Kingdom presents the biggest bang for your buck – rides, food and entertainment. While EPCOT has more diverse restaurants, Be Our Guest can definitely hold its own!

Here’s how I see my day going:

I would get to Magic Kingdom early. After all, I have to make the most of my day! I’ll start the day with a breakfast at Crystal Palace. I need the energy, so I’ll get a few plates and a couple cups of coffee. This should fill me up for a while.

After eating, it’s time to hit the rides. We start with Buzz Lightyear. The wait is a little long, but it’s probably best not to go on any crazy rides just yet – I need to digest! After Buzz, we have some time before our first FastPass+, so we go on the People Mover. I love this ride. It’s so simple and a great way to relax. After People Mover, we’re fully digested and ready to go again. It’s time for our first FastPass+: Space Mountain. My parents will wait while my sister and I go on the ride. After Space Mountain it’s almost noon, so we head to the front of the castle to watch a show. Following the show, we head toward Adventureland. We ride the Jungle Cruise and then head over to Frontierland. It’s time for our next FP+: Thunder Mountain. Thunder Mountain is a favorite among my family. After Thunder Mountain, we’re starting to feel a bit hungry. We head to Sleepy Hollow for a waffle sandwich. I go with the chicken and waffle! While in Liberty Square, we ride the Haunted Mansion. 

Disney’s Festival of Fantasy parade rolls through around 3pm. We watch the parade and then head to Fantasyland. We hop on It’s a Small World, as the wait time is not too bad. After, it’s time for our last FP+, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I’m glad that we get to ride it while it’s still light out. My first experience was at night!

Around 6pm is another parade. We watch it from Main Street and then board the train. We take the train all the way around to the FantasyLand station. We disembark there and walk to Be Our Guest, where we have a 7:30pm reservation. 

We finish with dinner around 9pm. We start walking toward Main Street to grab a good spot for the Wishes fireworks show. After Wishes, we head back toward Frontierland. On the way, we stop and grab a Dole Whip. We secure a spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade back around Frontierland. We prefer grabbing a spot right by Liberty Tree Tavern – where Liberty Square becomes Frontierland. We enjoy our Dole Whips as the parade rolls through. 

It’s now around 12am. The park closes at 1am. In a perfect world, we are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, so we have Extra Magic Hours from 1am to 3am. Hey – this is my dream scenario! We walk over to Pirates of the Caribbean. I love Pirates at night – there’s something more exciting and spooky about the ride in the dark (even though it’s indoors!) By the time we finish, it’s 12:30am. We use the EMHs to our advantage. We start by riding the Goofy coaster about five times in a row. After, we ride the classics that usually see long wait times during the daytime – Peter Pan, Winnie and Dumbo. Dumbo is awesome at night – I love the lights! 

Around 2am, we go on our obligatory hunt for some good photo opportunities. The park is pretty empty, so we can catch some great shots of the Cinderella Castle, Main Street and Tomorrowland. Now it’s time to leave. We take a few steps backward as we approach the train station and soak it all in. “We’ll see ya real soon,” we exclaim!


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