The Ultimate Disney Itinerary Plus PRO TIPS By Guest Wanderer | Amber Panozzo

We took our three children, ages 5, 3 and 1 on the ultimate Disney adventure for our oldest son’s 5th birthday. We lived and learned a lot. And after countless hours poured into creating our itinerary, I’m thrilled to be able to share it with other wanderers to hopefully save you a little time and trouble.

We’ve not yet flown with our kids, because, well, there’s three of them. Our family has the family road trip down. We always leave home at bedtime and drive through the night. I know this doesn’t work well for all families, but our kids do so much better when they can sleep in the car and bonus, we avoid traffic.

We started our trip with two days in St Augustine, FL. We don’t live near a beach so adding a few beach days onto our Florida trip for our Midwest kiddos was a no brainer. We also stopped on the way home for a couple nights in Chattanooga. We explored the city a bit and did some hiking. You’ll notice these stops on our itinerary and I left them there simply to inspire you to plan some downtime on either end of your trip because Disney is A LOT!

Whenever we travel, I research things to do in the area indoors. You’ll notice a change of plans in our itinerary due to weather, and that’s exactly why I make sure we have a backup plan or two. There’s nothing worse than a rainy day in a hotel room with bored kiddos.

I spent a lot of time researching MyDisney, Genie+ (G+), Lightning Lanes (LL), etc, etc, etc. You’ll see I’ve included a lot of pro tips and lessons learned now that we’ve experienced (and survived) it. A trip to Disney with the whole fam is not an easy adventure to partake in, but holy cow was it worth it!

5th Birthday Disney Extravaganza Itinerary


Leave at 7:00pm and drive overnight.

Notes – We drove overnight 15.5 hours straight through to the beach. The kids slept the majority of the way and it was a pretty peaceful drive other than mom and dad being tired.


Arrive in St Augustine

Embassy Suites by Hilton – St Augustine, FL

Pool/Beach Day

Dinner: Forgotten Tonic 

Notes- Our kids loved the sand and waves. We watched the sunrise and explored the streets of St Augustine. 


Plan A: Pool/beach day – The splash pad at the pier is amazing, but it stormed this day so went with Plan B.

Plan B

St Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum – Our kids really enjoyed the pirate museum and finding the treasures throughout. 

Dinner: Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grill – one of the best meals we had on this trip. Our whole family gave it five stars. It was kid friendly and the food and drinks were fantastic. Our son had steak and lobster for his 5th birthday meal and devoured his plate.


Pool/beach in the morning

Drive to Orlando hotel at nap time

Doubletree Suites by Hilton Orlando – Lake Buena Vista, FL (Disney Springs)

Dinner: 5:00pm reservation City Works – Disney Springs

Saturday – 5th Birthday!

Hotel pool

Lunch at hotel restaurant

Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course – 3:00pm

Dinner: 8:00pm T-Rex Cafe – This was way too late for our family and it was my fault as I didn’t realize the 60-day advance reservations also applied to Disney Springs. Book reservations asap because it was a really cool experience!

Notes – Our oldest son turned five. He loved telling everyone we met that he is five now, and he tells us he now knows everything. Grandma made him a Bigfoot Birthday cake and we swam at the hotel pool and went to Disney mini golf course.


Disney’s Animal Kingdom 8:00am – 7:00pm

7:00am purchase Genie+ & LL for Avatar, Book 1st G+

Early Entry 7:30am

Leave Hotel at 6:30am

  • Na’vi River Journey – rope drop 7:30
  • Avatar – LL 8:30
  • Discovery Island
  • Kilimanjaro Safari G+ 9:30
    • Book 2nd G+
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug G+ 10:30
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Lunch: 11:00am Yak & Yeti Restaurant
  • Kali River Rapids – G+ 12:00 (rider swap)
    • Book 4th G+ 
  • Dinosaur – G+ 1:30 (rider swap)
  • Maharaja Jungle Trek
  • Triceratops Spin

Dinner: 5PM Columbia Restaurant – Celebration, FL

Notes – 16,664 steps walked. Best ride: Avatar (also longest wait – over an hour – and one of our kids had to pee right before getting on. We were lucky enough to find a nice Disney worker to hand us a lightning lane to get back on after bathroom break).


Magic Kingdom Park 9:00am – 10:00pm

7:00am purchase Genie+, Book 1st G+

Early Entry 8:30am

Leave Hotel at 7:00am

  • Peter Pan rope drop 8:30 
  • It’s a Small World 
  • Pirates of Caribbean G+ 
  • Haunted Mansion G+ 
  • Swiss Family Treehouse
  • Big Thunder Mountain G+ 
  • Little Mermaid G+ 
  • Lunch: 12:05PM Be Our Guest 
  • Mickeys PhilarMagic G+ (not enough time)
  • Winnie the Pooh G+ (not enough time)
  • Buzz G+ 1:00
  • Monsters Laugh Factory G+ (not enough time)
  • Space Mountain G+ (not enough time)
  • Jungle Cruise G+ 
  • TRON (no kids met height requirements)
  • Splash Mountain (closed for renovations)

Notes – 15,620 steps walked (carrying at least one toddler at all times in 90+ degree heat!)  We dined at the Beauty and the Beast castle. Best ride: Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean.


Epcot 9:00am – 9:00pm

7:00am purchase Genie+ 

Early Entry 8:30am

9:00am purchase LL for Guardians

**Important Note** if you are not staying at an actual Disney resort, you cannot purchase LL until park opens at 9:00am. Our hotel was eligible for rope drop and G+ reservations starting at 7:00am but individual LL is different.

Leave Hotel at 7:15am

  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends rope drop 8:30 
  • Soarin’ Around the World G+
  • Living with the Land G+ 
  • Journey into Imagination G+ 
  • Canada Far & Wide
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure G+ (1st G+LL) 
  • Lunch: 12:15pm Biergarten Restaurant 
  • Frozen Ever After G+ (2nd G+LL) 
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros 
  • Test Track G+(not enough time)
  • Mission Space G+ (3rd G+LL) 
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (LL)
  • Spaceship Earth G+ (not enough time)

Dinner: The Polite Pig BBQ

Notes – We have mastered Genie+ and Lightning Lanes by this day. Mom and dad sampled beer from around the world. 16,375 steps walked (again carrying at least one tiny human in what felt like even hotter humidity than the day before.) Best ride: Soarin’ Around the World and Guardians. Ratatouille was also fantastic. Epcot was our favorite park! 


Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park 10:00am – 5:00pm

Dinner: Food Trucks (4 Rivers Cantina)

Notes – We rented a cabana here and while it was pricey it was well worth it to have shade, a server, a spot to sit and eat, unlimited cold water and simply a space reserved for us when we needed a break. We needed this water park day to cool off from the heat. The water slides and lazy river were a great way to spend our last day in Orlando. 


Overnight in Chattanooga AirBnB

Dinner: Naked River Brewing Company


Overnight in Chattanooga

Rock City Garden This place is magical for kids and parents, highly recommend!

Notes – We stayed two nights in the mountains on the drive home. We did our favorite hike in Chattanooga through Rock City Gardens. It was incredibly beautiful and a great reset from the overstimulation of Disney. 

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Download the MyDisney Experience App. Link everything you have here. Hotel reservation, dining reservations, park passes.
  2. Purchase G+ and book your first G+ LL at 7am. You do not get to pick what time you want; you pick what time is next available. You can only book one at a time or after two hours pass from time of booking and park opens. You can cancel/modify your bookings too. Pro tip: we stacked our G+LL as much as possible in the afternoon and waited in a few lines in the morning so we could literally walk on rides in the afternoon. Our kids lose patience when they are hot and tired so not standing in a line at the end of our day was huge. You can tap into Lightning Lanes up to 5 minutes early and up to 15 minutes late. These are automatic grace periods, and you do not have to ask a Cast Member for them–tapping in will simply work.
  3. Be aware of ride height requirements and how many people can fit in one seat. Also, be prepared for a little extra time for Rider swap situations. This applies when you have children under the height requirement and obviously both parents cannot go on the ride while the youngest sits it out. I’ve noted our rider swap situations in our itinerary for you. In my original itinerary (not noted here) I even laid out the height requirements and which family members would be riding which rides based on that. It’s a little extra work but the organization makes for a smoother experience and sets the expectations for who gets to ride what ahead of time.
  4. Be prepared for bad weather and ride closures. If you have a LL purchased and a ride shuts down, your LL is locked in as soon as it opens back up and you can proceed with booking other LL while you save that one for later. 
  5. Disney Lightning Lanes are the new Fast Pass Before you visit a park or purchase Disney Genie+ service, you must have valid admission and may need a theme park reservation depending on type of admission and the date of your visit.
  6. Take a break from Disney and do something else! 

Disney is a true dream, and not just for the kids but for parents too! For months I read blogs and articles and watched videos and poured my heart into this itinerary to give our babies the absolute BEST DISNEY VACATION EVER! I hope you’re able to take what we learned from our trip and make magical memories for your family, too! Happy travels!


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