Expert Tips on How to Beat the Disney World Crowds
Welcome back, star travelers, to the Travel Like a Star blog. I hope you’ve been doing well and living your best, most magical life!
Let's talk about keeping the magic in Disney and minimizing the thing there’s nothing magical about: crowds.
We'll be discussing Disney’s notorious crowds and some invaluable tips on how to navigate them. On the average day, 250,000 guests travel between the various Disney properties. At Magic Kingdom alone, the average number of attendees is typically about 57,000. Though these numbers are pre-pandemic, restrictions are gradually relaxing and capacity will start to rise once more. As these changes develop, Disney’s crowds are only going to go back to normal and once again become one of their biggest obstacles to park goers. With numbers like that, there’s just no avoiding it!
From long wait times for food and attractions to being able to navigate the park itself, the Disney crowd is the biggest obstacle standing between you and your long-awaited Disney day. However, with a little bit of extra planning and these exclusive tips, you’ll be discovering a whole new world in no time!
1. Avoid “School Break” Visits
Naturally, when school breaks arrive, parents get planning, leaving Disney at its busiest. This is especially true for the major holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years. The combination of Disney hosting special holiday events (complete with park-altering decor) and days off school is a recipe for crowds to reach 11/10 levels of capacity.
If your next Disney trip includes the kids, this first tip may be unavoidable. However, do consider if it might be worth letting the little ones take a few days off in exchange for a less-stressed holiday. For the opportunity to see the parks all dressed up for the holidays while avoiding the worst of the crowds, try aiming for the very beginning of the seasons, like the beginning of November for Christmas or the beginning of September for Halloween. As an added bonus, this September--November timeframe gives you the opportunity to check out Disney’s Food and Wine Festival!
2. Use Crowd Calendars to Plan Your Days
Unfortunately, Disney no longer has as much of an “off-season” anymore as it did in the past. With growing attractions and more willingness for families to take time off, there seems to be two modes for the parks: busy and busier. Luckily, crowd calendars are a great way to plan your parks to fit the slowest day during your planned time. Check out this crowd calendar here to see the historic crowd level for each day of the year at every park. Before you and your agent get planning, see what kind of flexibility you can allow in order to visit your parks on the least busy day of your vacation month.
3. Arrive Right on Time
Though this is not the ideal tip for early risers, it’s an essential tip to getting the most mileage out of your time at the parks. Setting your alarm early and planning to arrive at “rope drop” (the exact time the park opens) will put you and your group as some of the first ones in the park! This means getting right on rides that typically fill up the quickest, such as:
Magic Kingdom: The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Peter Pan’s Flight
Epcot: Soarin’ Around the World, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Frozen Ever After
Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror, Slinky Dog Dash, and Galaxy’s Edge attractions like Rise of the Resistance
Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, and Na’vi River Journey
Plus, the morning is one of the coolest parts of the day, before the sun hits its peak. You’ll be able to enjoy fewer crowds in less heat and get the crowd-pleasing must-rides out of the way.
4. Stay Late
Not so much of a morning person? Consider staying late with Extra Magic Hours, a perk offered to parties staying on-site. However, do note that some extra hours are for morning and some for night. The extra night hours come the most recommended because many families will pack up the kids for the night after the fireworks, emptying out the park. This tip is well worth it if the park is open two or three hours after the fireworks. There will be fewer crowds, cooler weather, and shorter wait times. Make sure to plan your days accordingly, depending on how late each park is actually open.
5. Plan Your Meal Times Efficiently
At Disney World, every place that serves food (from counter service to restaurants) becomes a nightmare to navigate during lunch and dinner hours. To avoid this, plan your meal times for off-beat times, like 3:30 for a late lunch/early dinner. This also gives you the opportunity to get out of the heat during the hottest part of the day, especially if you opt for a reservation at an indoor restaurant. If you must stick to a traditional eating schedule (and with little ones, sometimes this is a must!), use the mobile ordering feature in the My Disney Experience app. There, you have the option to pre-order your food ahead of time and pick it up at a designated counter at the restaurant, bypassing ordering lines.
Let’s face it; there’s simply no avoiding crowds and wait times at Disney. However, using these pro tips and an expert agent that knows how to plan for the ultimate Disney experience, you’ll be able to navigate the crowds like a Florida native! To plan a time to chat with an expert like me, click here.
Consider these suggestions as just a few ways to make your experience your very own. Take what resonates and leave the rest. For more tips specific to you and your travel group, get in touch with me anytime and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an update! Before you know it, it’ll be time for you to make your own pro-tips during your adventure to the most magical place on Earth.
Until next time, toodles!