Disney World crowds can be overwhelming.
On a slow day the top rides at all the Disney World parks can have lines of 45 minutes or more. That's on a slow day. On busy days lines can reach 3-4 hours. It's incredible. So what can you do to avoid the crowds and not let them mess up your hard earned vacation? Mmmm...
Dad knows Disney World Crowds and wants to help you avoid them. Here are some of Dad's top tips for avoiding the throngs that invade our favorite vacation destination.
Just once I'd like to see Disney World crowds like this
Is it possible to avoid crowds at Disney World? Why yes it is. Dad can help you, if you'll let him. Here are Dad's top 10 ways to avoid the pack. Here they are.
Chose the Best Time to Visit Disney World
The number one Disney World Crowd Tip Dad can give yo u for avoiding the crowds at all the parks is plan your trip when the crowds will be light. It can be tricky, but Dad's here to help. Dad talks about the best times to visit Disney World including when the lightest crowds will be. This is a bood place to start if you want to have the parks to yourselves.
Come on lazy bones (I mean that in the nicest possible way), get out of bed and get moving, it's Disney World. You don't get to sleep at Disney World. What do you think this is a vacation?
Most "normal" people will try to get some rest on their vacations. That's why the first two or three hours the parks are open are the slowest times (crowd wise) of the day.
Take advantage of it. Try to get to the park at least 20 minutes before the scheduled opening time. You'll have the park all to yourself. OK, maybe not all to yourself, but it will be the least busy the first hour of the morning.
Ride the busiest rides first
When the park opens walk quickly (Disney frowns on running) to the attraction that will have the longest line during the day (see below). Try to finish the long line rides as soon as possible. Then you can enjoy a nice leisurely pace the rest of the day.
Using Disney's Extra Magic Hours is another of Dad's amazing Disney World Crowd tips. Extra Magic Hours are available to Disney Resort guests (guests staying in Disney hotels). EMH is a program that allows guests to enter the park one hour prior to the official park opening, or stay up to 3 hours after everyone leaves.
For example, on July 17, 2009 the Magic Kingdom closes at 11:00 pm. However if you are a guest at one of the great Disney World hotels, you can stay in the park until 2:00 am. There won't be a very big Disney World crowd long from 1:00 am until 2:00 am. I can guarantee you that.
You must be a Disney Resort guest
It's only available on selected days, at selected parks
Sometimes at the Magic Kingdom it starts as early as 6:00 am (Eastern Time) and sometimes the Magic Kingdom closes as late as 3:00 am.
If you are going on a Walt Disney World vacation during any of the busier times of year, and want to avoid Disney World crowds, you should (read absolutely must) have a game plan.
How many times have you seen this?
A family walks into the Magic Kingdom, walks 10 feet down Main Street and stops dead right in the middle of the street. Dad pulls out the map, which mom quickly grabs out of his hands, (because we all know that Dad's can't read maps) and the family proceeds to spend the next 10 minutes "discussing" what ride they are going to ride.
Most of the time they are trying to find that new roller coaster ride they've heard about called "something about Mount Everest?" These people need my help.
Your plan doesn't have to be real detailed or involved, but you should have a general idea of:
When you are planning to arrive at the park
Where you are going to eat
If you are planning a table service meal you need to have Advanced Dining Reservations made. See Dad's Disney Dining pages for more information
A rough idea of when you are going to eat
The rides and shows you must see each day
Where to meet in case of someone getting misplaced
Just saying to meet at the Castle is not good enough. The Castle is a big place with thousands of people milling about. You should specify something like the Walt and Mickey statue in front of the Castle.
Can you go to Disney World without a plan? Sure, thousands of people do it every day. But if you are serious about avoiding Disney World crowds and you want to get the most out of your Disney World vacation, you need a plan. (Check out Dad's Nine by Noon Challenge for more information about planning for the Magic Kingdom.)
Yeah, but it rains all the time in Central Florida. The next big Disney World Crowd tip is to keep going when it rains.
Rain can be really annoying when you are on vacation. It can ruin the best of plans. But it can also be a way to help avoid Disney World crowds.
When it starts raining at Walt Disney World, guests stream out of the parks in droves. It's a good time to keep plugging along.
Most of the rides are covered and stay open during rainstorms. (You can also buy a really cool poncho) Florida rain usually doesn't stick around long, so if you get caught in a sudden rain shower, grab some soap ... sorry, take a break, grab a Coke or see an inside show, then get right back to touring. You never know, the park might just empty and you'll be all alone (dream on).
FASTPASS is one of the biggest helps when it comes to avoiding the lines in the parks. It's important to know how to use FastPass. Dad has a whole page on FASTPASS and how to use. You might want to spend some time getting to know how to use this great tool.
One of the most time consuming activities you'll have is eating in the parks. During busy times of the day, you can encounter lines that take up to 30 minutes or more. A good Disney World Crowd tip for dealing with mealtime crowds is to eat at odd times. Try eating a late lunch/early dinner at 2:30 in the afternoon. Eat breakfast at 10:00 or later or before you arrive at the park.
So Dad, what do we do when everyone in the whole world (or a large tour group from a South American country that shall remain nameless) shows up right in front of you? You yell and scream and demand they go somewhere else. But that rarely works so...
You become flexible. Skip a couple of rides. You can always come back to them later. Grab a snack and relax and people watch for a while. Relax, enjoy...
Get some professional help
Need some help planning your trip. Turn to the experts at Touringplans.com. Len Testa and his gang have the best information available anywhere for park planning, which days to go to each park and even an app for your phone that will tell you how long the lines are. It's the site Dad uses to plan his trips.
Walt Disney World is a great place for relaxing family vacation. It's also a great place to get so caught up in THE PLAN or in crowd avoidance that you miss the wonderful extras that make Disney World special.
From the Jammitors in Epcot, to DeVine in Animal Kingdom, to the actors on Hollywood Boulevard in Disney's Hollywood Studios, or the Talking Trash Can in the Magic Kingdom, everyday there are things you should take time to see. Check out the park maps for the daily schedules. And sing along with Mac...
"Hey mister where you goin' in such a hurry? Don't you think it's time you realize. There's a whole lot more to live than work and worry. Oh, the sweetest things in life are free and there right before your eyes."
Dad gets questions all the time over on the Ask Dad page about crowds at Walt Disney World. There are questions about what Disney World crowds will be like at certain events or about certain parks on certain days. Dad knows the answer. Trust me. Here is a small sample of the questions and answers Dad's given through the years.
Dad could write a whole book of Disney World Crowd Tips. It all comes down to common sense. Plan your park time for times when other guests are not in the park, or learn to zig when they zag. When all else fails, take a nap.
It's hard work, but someone has to do it.
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