Dealing with Magic Kingdom Crowds
The Magic Kingdom is the busiest theme park in the world. Duh. It's the best theme park in the world. Over 55 MILLION people visited the Magic Kingdom last year.
So how do you avoid the crowds at the Magic Kingdom? Let's see...
The Best Time to Visit
The first way to deal with Magic Kingdom Crowds and to have a truly Magical visit to Walt Disney World is to go when there are no crowds. Duh!
So when is that Dad?
There are only a couple of times during the year when crowds are really small, (parts of January and February, early to mid September and a few other weeks) but there are a lot of times when crowds are very managable. There are only a few weeks when crowds at the Magic Kingdom are totally outrageous (Christmas to New Years and the 4th of July Week.)
Basically, if you avoid the major holidays, you'll miss most of the crowds.
Dad's Crowd Calendars will help.
Dad's 2016 WDW Crowd Calendars
Need more? OK. Check out Dad's Best Time to Visit WDW page. It's got all of Dad's best information about when to go to miss the crowds.
Choose the Best Day of the Week
Next comes choosing a day of the week to visit.
What is the best day of the week to visit the Magic Kingdom? Now there's a good question. As Tom Hanks says in "You've Got Mail" quoting the "Godfather" ...
Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday ...
There is no real answer to the best day to avoid Magic Kingdom crowds, but one rule of thumb is to go the day after an Extra Magic Hours day. Those days tend to be lighter crowds for the most part.
Through the year's we've also found Sunday mornings can be quiet, but the afternoons can get busy.
What it boils down to for me, the best day to visit the Magic Kingdom is ... Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday...
Get to the Magic Kingdom early
Wake up sleepyheads. Ya think you're on vacation or sumpthin'?
The second BEST way to avoid Magic Kingdom crowds is to get to the park when it opens. Come on. You need to get up and get going. Grab some coffee and have some Fun!
Mrs. Mom and I got a big lesson about that on our trip a couple of years ago. We planned to be at the Magic Kingdom when the park opened, but got delayed. We got there around 10:00 and by noon, the park was just about crazy.
The first two to three hours of every day are the time of the lowest crowds of the day. It's almost Magical. The wait time for Space Mountain at 10:00 am is usually around 20-30 minutes. At noon, it's 60-90 minutes. That's true of almost every ride in the park.
The Magic Kingdom crowd patterns are pretty Simple. The park is empty when it opens. Duh. Crowds grow until mid to late afternoon when they stabilize until after the evening parade. After that, crowds shrink the rest of the evening.
I can't stress this enough. Get to the park early and lines will be shorter!
Early park visits should be a hallmark of everyone's PLAN. Trust me on this one!
OK, Dad, if crowds decline during the evening, does that mean staying late is a good idea?
Let me answer that will a strong and sincere...
Let me explain.
It seems like the Magic Kingdom closes at a different time every night. If closing time is more than 2 hours after Wishes then yes, you will find smaller crowds late.
Dad and the family was there at 1am one morning (that's a little redundant Dad). It was great. We rode Space Mountain without waiting in line and Buzz Lightyear 5 times in a row with no wait. It was fun running around and getting right back in line.
If the park closes within an hour of Wishes, it doesn't help a lot to stay late. Not that many guests leave, especially if there is a late evening parade.
I will say that it seems like there is more Fun after dark. Things seem to be more Magical.
Extra Magic Hours
Extra Magic Hours may be the best tool for beating Magic Kingdom Crowds. Yep, I said the best tool.
Hey Dad, what is Extra Magic Hours?
Extra Magic Hours (EMH) is pretty Simple. It's a perk for Disney Hotel guests (and yes, you should stay in a Disney Hotel.) It allows you to enter a select park an hour before opening or to stay in a park up to 2 hours after closing. Not every park has Extra Magic Hours every day, but there is a fairly regular rotation and there is at least one EMH park per day.
EMH actually magnifies the get to the parks early or stay late tips we just talked about. If the smallest crowds are right when the park opens, the crowds are even smaller when you can get in a hour earlier.
During Extra Magic Hours only the busiest rides are open, but that's the best part. You can ride all the mountain rides in just a few minutes. Believe me, this is a great way to avoid Magic Kingdom crowds.
One of the best ways to avoid the lines at the Magic Kingdom is to use FastPass+.
Disney's FastPass program was created mainly to deal with lines at the Magic Kingdom (more on that later.) It basically gives you a reservation time for an attraction.
The new FastPass+ program allows you to schedule your FastPasses in advance. How cool is that? It's a planners dream. It really simplifies the PLAN. Now I can have my whole day figured out and know that I'm probably not going to have to stand in line for 2 hours even at Splash Mountain.
FastPass+ should be a huge part of your PLAN. It's like Magic.
Parades and Fireworks
Dad absolutely loves Wishes and the parades at the Magic Kingdom. That makes this recommendation for avoiding Magic Kingdom Crowds really hard.
Around the time of the parades and fireworks shows, lines at most of the attractions will go down some as a general rule. Duh! People want to see the parades and fireworks. It makes sense, right?
This does have it's own problems. The Parade routes really jam up around parade time. It can be quite a chore to get from the Haunted Mansion to Splash Mountain around parade time. So plan accordingly.
Dad, are you saying we should miss the parades or fireworks to ride the rides? Frowny face. :(
Yes and no. If you are a regular visitor and you've seen the parades or fireworks or if you aren't interested (silly you) in the parades or fireworks, then it's an option. It's certainly not the first option, but it's an option.
Keep Going in the Rain
I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain,
What a gloriousfeelin', I'm happy again.
Hey, Mrs. Mom, Dad's singing again. Make him stop...
Now wait just a doggone minute. That song has a point. I don't just sing aimlessly (hush Mrs. Mom.) Check this out.
Breaking News: It rains in Florida. A lot. That's not a bad thing at all. Afternoon showers in the summer help keep the temps down to a somewhat manageable level.
AND, a lot of times, when it rains, the Magic Kingdom crowds shrink like a cotton shirt out of a hot dryer.
Dad's a big fan of "Poncho Up and Soldier On". Though, I did like it better when Disney sold those cool Yellow Ponchos. I think we've still got 4 or 5.
When it rains, grab a poncho, Disney sells them everywhere and keep going. Most of the lines at WDW are covered so you won't get that wet. And like I said, a lot of people will leave the parks so it's easier to get around and lines get shorter.
THe Carpenters sang, Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. I understand that Rainy Days can be difficult. We had a trip years ago, where it rained for 4 days straight. We were soaked to the bone. But it was pretty Magical. We had a ton of Fun. (Except for the shoes. Always take 2 pairs of shoes.) And the best part was the lines weren't bad at all.
The BEST WAY EVER
So, a long time ago, I said I was going to tell you the BEST WAY EVER to deal with WDW crowds. Here it is.
Have a plan.
OK, Dad that's pretty understated. Shouldn't you be shouting that from the rooftops if it's the BEST WAY EVER?
OK, let's shout a little bit.
THE BEST WAY EVER TO AVOID THE MAGIC KINGDOM CROWDS IS TO GET A PLAN!
Is that loud enough for you?
Yes, Dad talks about planning a lot. With good reason. A good plan can save you hours, yes, lots of hours standing in line. (Check out Nine by Noon below.)
Need some help coming up with a plan? Dad's a big fan of Touringplans. They not only can tell you what the crowds in the parks will be on the day you visit, but they have over 100 plans ready for you to check out. It's where to start when you work on your PLAN!
That brings us too...
Nine By Noon
A few years ago, the New York Times, ran a story that said Disney estimates that the average guest completes 9 in a day. NINE! That's just not right. There are around 40 attractions in the Magic Kingdom and the average guest sees less than one in four. That's a crime.
So, Dad doesn't want you to be average. He thinks we can do better. Duh!
When I read that the first thing I thought was, hey, don't we usually do a lot more than nine attractions in a day. I got to figuring and it seemed THE PLAN called for nine attractions by noon.
So, the Nine by Noon Challenge was born. Yep Nine by Noon. You can do it and we'll show you how.
The One Big Thing
There is one last thing I want to say about Magic Kingdom Crowds.
Yes, they are a fact of life. They are annoying. They can be downright painful at times, but there is One Big Thing to remember when you're thinking about them.
You are at DISNEY WORLD! Have Fun. Make some friends. Create a little Magic. It's Walt Disney World for goodness sake. What could be better?
Dad's Bottom Line
Now wasn't that just Fun? Who's ready to tackle the Magic Kingdom crowds now? You should be. Don't forget about the Nine By Noon Challenge. You can do it.