Disney World Trip Planning Strategies – Segmenting

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Make Your Own "Hidden" Mickey
Elyssa making her own “Hidden” Mickey – © John Kivus, 2015

Fellow TouringPlans writer Sarah Graffam recently wrote a post about Managing Your Disney Evening, a sister piece to her earlier post, Managing Your Disney Morning, that got me thinking about how I manage my Walt Disney World trips. Many Disney guests focus on “days” while they plan, but I normally think of my trip in terms of “segments.” These segments vary in duration, but each usually consists of a meal coupled with certain attractions. It isn’t until after I have decided on the particular segments for an upcoming trip that I start to fit the segments into particular days. This post shares a few examples of trip segments that my wife, Elyssa, and I really enjoy:

Late Breakfast at Trattoria Al Forno and a stroll around World Showcase

Even though we are huge fans of being at the parks for rope drop, we also like to have “rest” days. For some vacationers, a rest day might mean spending time at the pool, while others enjoy a round of golf in lieu of a full day at the parks. For my wife and I, a rest day usually still includes spending some time at the parks, but it also involves sleeping in a little later than our normal wake-up time, thereby making rope drop near impossible.

Though we may have shed a tear when Kouzzina closed last September, Trattoria Al Forno has put the kitchen to good use, becoming our new go-to “rest day” breakfast location. (On a tangent unrelated to the purpose of this post, I go with the waffle featuring espressso-mascarpone cream and choice of bacon or chicken sausage.) A 10 am breakfast reservation at Trattoria (or another restaurant in Disney’s BoardWalk district) allows you to enjoy a casual breakfast, and then stroll over to the International Gateway (i.e., the back entrance to Epcot) just about the time that World Showcase opens at 11 am.

A major perk of this segment is that by entering Epcot at the International Gateway you are rewarded with extremely low crowd touring for an hour or more, because the majority of visitors are starting in Future World and headed for Soarin’ or Test Track. We even used this strategy over Christmas one year and World Showcase was still nearly empty for almost an hour.

Dinner at Narcoossee’s or Whispering Canyon Cafe and an Evening in the Magic Kingdom

Celebrate Narcoossee's
Celebrate Narcoossee’s – © John Kivus, 2014

This next example typically follows a relaxing afternoon spent at the pool, on the golf course, at one of the Disney spas, or something else in that vein. The first component is dinner at either Narcoosse’s or Whispering Canyon Cafe, our favorite restaurants in the Magic Kingdom area (yes, the cuisine and ambiance at the two make for quite different experiences, but we love them both). After dinner we take a relaxing boat ride over to the Magic Kingdom for some nighttime touring.

What is especially enjoyable about this segment is that it involves visiting some of the most impressive resorts on Walt Disney World property, either the Grand Floridian Resort (Narcoose’s) or the Wilderness Lodge (Whispering Canyon). Both of these resorts are destinations in themselves, so make time in your segment to explore the resort, maybe even taking a stroll along the beach, before heading over to the Magic Kingdom.

NOTE: The beach at the Wilderness Lodge is currently scheduled to be closed for construction in October, so if you want to see what it’s like, you might want to do that soon.

Lunch at Beaches and Cream and a quick visit to Hollywood Studios

No Way Jose
No Way Jose – © John Kivus, 2014

When Elyssa and I drive to Walt Disney World, we frequently end up arriving right around lunch time.

That means we get to visit another of our favorite* Walt Disney World restaurants, Beaches and Cream, within minutes of setting foot on Disney property – before we even check in to our hotel. After all, my very scientific analysis has proven that nothing helps you recover from a long drive better than a No Way Jose. (*Yes, we have a lot of favorites, okay?)

Since Beaches and Cream is located just a short boat ride (or a leisurely walk) from Hollywood Studios, we take this opportunity to head over and get in the trip’s first round of Toy Story Midway Mania and a ride or two on Star Tours before we leave to check into our resort.

Be Our Guest Breakfast 8 am and Early Morning Touring at the Magic Kingdom

Before you come to the conclusion that all of my trip segments involve dining outside the parks, let me recommend a segment that involves early breakfast inside the Magic Kingdom. Ever since Be Our Guest started offering breakfast, people have been discussing what it offers for early morning touring. After reading about the benefits of an 8 am reservation in this easyWDW post, Elyssa and I had to give it a shot for ourselves. Well, I can now report: it is amazing.

Basically, eating breakfast at Be Our Guest at 8 am gets you fed and back into the Magic Kingdom by 8:30 or 8:45, providing the opportunity for simply magical experiences, like riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, alone, multiple times, before the Welcome Show has even completed. For some people, it might also be the chance to be first in line for meeting Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall. Accomplishing such high priority attractions early in the morning, without needing to use any Fastpass+ reservations, will obviously make the entire day run more smoothly.



Those are some of Elyssa’s and my favorite trip “segments” when visiting Walt Disney World. As I said at the beginning, the segments typically involve some combination of food and time in a park, and we’ll piece together several segments to plan well-rounded trips. (Now that I think about it, our planning typically revolves around meals. Maybe we are really tall hobbits?)

You’ve read our favorite trip segments, so why don’t you share yours? Let everyone know in the comments below!

Private Mine Train Ride
Private Mine Train Ride – © John Kivus, 2015

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John Kivus

John is on the long list of attorneys who are also huge Disney fans. He likes to think there's more to him to that, but the jury's still out. John's love and fandom for Disney is only rivaled by his love for his wife Elyssa and his fandom for the Boston Red Sox. Though they live in North Carolina, John and Elyssa try to visit Disney World whenever possible - especially for runDisney events, holidays, special occasions, vacations, and days that end in the letter "y". John can be found on Twitter at @kivus.

One thought on “Disney World Trip Planning Strategies – Segmenting

  • September 3, 2015 at 10:07 am

    My husband & I must be tall Hobbits too. Dining is picked first usually, then times of day, then the park activities around that.


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