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Disney World is huge and is jammed packed with things to do. You can’t possibly do it all in one trip. And with the crowds and the cost of a Disney World trip, it is important to make the most of your time. So, here are my favorite tips to save time at Disney World. These tips will help you spend less time waiting and more time having fun with your family.
1. Get Up Early
I know it seems counterintuitive to get up early while on vacation. But, at Disney World, this is a huge time saver. It can literally save you hours of waiting! The earlier you get up, the more things you can do on your trip. We typically get up around 5:00 am on our Disney trips. Getting up early will give you a jump on most people by putting you at the front of the crowds instead of the back. The early bird gets the worm, as they say!
2. Get to the Parks Before They Open
To maximize your time in the parks, plan to be at the gate at least 30 minutes before park opening each day. Getting there early allows you to be one of the first people through the gate. Sometimes, on busy days, Disney will actually open early, which will give you an even bigger head start on the crowds. We ride more rides in the first hour or two after park opening than the rest of the day combined. Most rides, even the most popular ones, have super short waits during the first hour of the day.
3. Eat Early or Late
No matter where you eat at Disney World, you can save time by eating outside of peak dining hours. Eating either early or late helps you avoid the crowds. This can be the difference between taking 30-45 minutes to eat versus an hour and a half during peak times. At quick-service locations, this allows you to order without a wait and get your choice of tables. You will also have better luck getting a reservation at the more popular table service restaurants during less common dining times.
4. Go Left
People are creatures of habit. They typically go to the right and follow the crowd in front of them without thinking. To save time at Disney World, go left when the crowd goes right. For example, at quick-service restaurants, each cashier has two lines, one on the left of the podium and one on the right. You can use either line to order your meal. Most people, however, just get in the right lane. I can’t tell you how many times we have bypassed a line of people simply by going to the left where no one was waiting. Similarly, at security lines and park gates, you will usually see shorter lines on the far left side.
5. Use Fastpass+ to Your Advantage
While planning your trip to Disney World, take the time to learn and understand how to use the Fastpass+ system. Basically, a fastpass is a reservation to experience a ride or attraction at a particular time without having to wait in the standby line. Using fastpasses wisely will save quite a bit of time in the parks. For instance, as soon as you scan your Magicband to use your last fastpass, book a new one on the My Disney Experience app while walking to the load platform of the current ride.
6. Ride Popular Rides Early
As you might expect, the most popular rides have the longest lines. Therefore, save yourself some time by riding these rides as early in the day as possible. Then, later in the day when these lines are long, you can experience some of the less popular attractions or take a much-needed break.
7. Walk a Little Faster
While there is no reason to run in the parks, it is amazing how much time you can save just by walking a little bit faster than you normally would. By picking up your pace just slightly, you will not only get yourself to your next attraction a few minutes earlier, but you will also pass a few slower-walking people along the way. Every person you pass along the way is one less person you have to wait behind in line.
8. Do Some Extra Walking
At Disney World, it pays to be familiar with the layout of the land and think outside the box. If you have the choice of waiting on transportation or walking, try walking. Many times, you can get to your destination before the tram or boat arrives to pick you up. For instance, it is only about a 10 minute walk from Epcot to Hollywood Studios, but it may take 20 minutes if you wait on the boat.
A few years ago, we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside. It didn’t take long to realize the lines for the Port Orleans French Quarter buses were much shorter than those for the Riverside buses. We knew it was a short walk between the two resorts. So, we took the bus to the French Quarter and then walked to Riverside. The shorter lines allowed us to get on a bus faster and be back in our room sooner.
9. Stay After the Fireworks
Every night, when the fireworks end, there is a mass exodus of people leaving the park. This means long lines at the bus stops. To maximize your time in the parks and shorten your wait for the bus, don’t leave immediately after the fireworks. This is a great time to buy some souvenirs, take photos, or just enjoy the atmosphere of the park. If the park is still open, go on a ride or two. If the park is closing, do some shopping. The stores stay open for about an hour after park closing each night. Letting the crowds die out before heading to the bus will make for a shorter wait and a much more pleasant ride back to your hotel.
10. Fold Your Stroller While Waiting
Disney requires you to fold up your stroller each time you board the bus. So, while waiting for the bus to arrive, go ahead and fold up your stroller. Don’t wait until it’s time to board. This will save you time and get you to the park or hotel a few minutes faster. It will also be greatly appreciated by other guests waiting behind you.
11. Don’t Get Photos First Thing in the Morning
To maximize your time, don’t waste the first hour or two after park opening taking photos. Use this time to ride popular rides. There will be time later in the day to get your photos. The only exception to this is if you have scheduled a breakfast in the park prior to park opening. In this case, you should absolutely take those photos first thing when you can get time in front of the icons without other people in your pictures!
There are so many things to see and do at Disney World. So, it is vital to make the most of your time so you can experience as much as possible during your trip. To do this effectively, save time where you can. These are some of my favorite ways to save time at Disney World. I hope they help you to save time on your next trip. For more ways to save at Disney World, see my tips for saving on food and souvenirs. To book your trip, visit Disney’s website. Happy travels!