- I grew up in Miami, Florida, so I’ve perfected the one-night, 24-hour trip to Disney World.
- I love getting Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom, eating dinner at Epcot, and lunching at the Boathouse.
- I always try to make time to hang by the pool, watch a fireworks show, and peruse souvenirs.
Growing up in Miami, Florida, just three hours away from Orlando, I’ve been going to Disney World since I was 1. Now I’m 29 and a proud owner of an annual pass.
When I was younger, it was much easier for my family to take time off work and school for a three- or four-day vacation in the parks. But we eventually transitioned to overnight trips from Saturday to Sunday to save time and money.
I’ve learned how to make the most out of these short, 24-hour trips to Disney World. Read on for the things I always make sure to do, see, and eat.
Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom is nonnegotiable
There’s nothing like enjoying a delicious cup of Dole Whip on a hot day at Magic Kingdom. I highly recommend ordering the vanilla-and-pineapple swirl.
I always place a mobile order to pick up in Adventureland because no one wants to be waiting in line in the sun.
I like to leave the park early to hit the resort pool
Do all Disney park-goers choose their resort based on the pool, or is that just me?
Since I’ve been to the parks so many times, I usually hit a few rides before heading to the pool.
The budget-friendly All-Star Resorts have fun pools in different shapes. But don’t sleep on the Disney World partner hotels surrounding Disney Springs. The Hilton Buena Vista Palace has a great lazy river.
Riding the Skyliner can help you beat traffic with stunning views
Avoid Disney traffic on the roads by riding the Skyliner to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, or Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The aerial views are incredible, especially during sunset.
I try to make a dinner reservation at an Epcot restaurant
To maximize the number of parks I visit during short trips, I like to book a dinner reservation at Epcot.
Despite going to Disney my entire life, there are still so many restaurants I haven’t checked out, so it adds a fun new experience to my trip.
Jelly Rolls at the Boardwalk has the best late-night fun
If you’re looking for adult, late-night fun, Jelly Rolls is a must.
The dueling-piano bar is located on Disney’s BoardWalk, and the audience can request songs for the pianists to play.
There’s an entrance fee of $20 to $25, and it’s a 21+ establishment, but it’s the most fun I’ve had in Disney World after hours.
The Wilderness Lodge is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts
Want to feel like you’re in the Appalachian Mountains without actually leaving Florida? The Wilderness Lodge is your place.
Sometimes it’s nice just to take a stroll through the resort grounds and enjoy a cup of coffee before the chaos of the parks.
Sprinkles in Disney Springs has a 24-hour cupcake ATM
If you’re in need of a sugary treat, head to Sprinkles cupcake ATM at Disney Springs.
The cupcakes or cookies are dispensed in neat pink boxes any time of day or night.
I don’t know how they do it, but it’s pretty magical.
I make time to resort-hop at the Grand Floridian
The Grand Floridian is probably the fanciest resort at Disney World, and I’ve had some serious luck resort-hopping there.
I’m not sure if this is a regular occurrence, but sometimes you can find free activities, food, or beverages around the grounds.
On two recent occasions, I was able to enjoy a nice glass of champagne and s’mores.
World of Disney at Disney Springs is the best place to grab souvenirs
Don’t shop inside the theme parks unless you’re looking for something specific to that park.
I usually wait until the end of my trip to do my shopping at the gigantic World of Disney store at Disney Springs. But be careful because I always go home with more than I expected.
I always try to catch the annual holiday decor, but I only visit during off-weeks
Instead of visiting the week of Halloween or Christmas though, I try the weekends in between when there are usually fewer crowds.
I do my best to catch at least one of the fireworks shows
You don’t have to be in the park to watch a fireworks show.
I’ve been able to see the ones at Magic Kingdom while leaving the park on the Monorail. You can usually get a great view and avoid the exit crowds.
I end my trips with a late lunch at the Boathouse
Before heading back to Miami, I love to enjoy a relaxing lunch at the Boathouse in Disney Springs.
There’s something so soothing about sitting on the outdoor deck enjoying seafood — I recommend the lobster roll. It brings a quick, 24-hour trip to a nice close.