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Whether you are heading to Disney World for your first or your hundredth visit, one thing is certain: you do not want to spend your whole vacation waiting in lines! But, is it even possible to avoid the masses while there these days? Unfortunately, there is no longer a “slow season” at the House of Mouse, but that doesn’t mean you are doomed to stand in endless lines. In order to help you make the most of your time in the parks, here are some tips to beat the crowds at Disney World. (Please note that these tips are geared towards a trip without all the coronavirus protocols in place. Most of these tips will not work and are not needed during the pandemic.)
Tip #1: Have a plan.
The best way to beat the crowds at Disney World is to have a plan before you get to the parks. A lot of people waste time once they arrive standing around trying to decide what to do next. And while they are deciding, people are passing them by in droves. So, take some time before getting to the park each day and make a list of the first 10-15 things you are going to do. Then, when you get there, you’ll know what you’re doing. Having a plan will help you make the most of your time in the parks, which goes a long way to staying in front of the flood.
Now, having a plan doesn’t mean that you must follow it at all costs. You absolutely should adjust it if needed. Think of your plan as a guideline to your day. We usually follow a plan in the morning and then get a little more spontaneous after lunch and a nap.
Tip #2: Get there early or stay late.
Another great way to beat the crowds at Disney World is to get to the parks early. Most people do not want to get up early on vacation. So, if you are willing to sacrifice some sleep and get to the parks before they open, you can avoid the hordes. The first hour or two after park opening tends to have the lowest crowds. This means you will have little to no wait at the most popular attractions. My family arrives at the park about a half hour before they open each day, so we are some of the first people through the gate. We ride as much as we can before lunch with short waits. Then, we go back to the hotel and take a nap during the afternoon when crowds are at their highest.
Alternatively, if you are just not a morning person, stay in the parks late. Most people leave as soon as the fireworks are over. But, many times, one or more parks will be open later than that. Staying in the parks until midnight or later will usually reward you with much lower crowds. Plus, the atmosphere in the parks is a lot of fun at night.
Tip #3: Take advantage of EMH.
Our third tip is to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (EMH). One of the perks of staying at a Disney resort is that you get access to EMH’s. This is where one park will open an hour early or stay open two hours later for onsite guests. If you are staying on property, definitely take advantage of these extra hours in the park to avoid the throng of people. The morning EMH’s are especially beneficial for experiencing the attractions with short lines. It’s basically getting a head start on riding the rides.
However, if you are staying offsite, you can take advantage of EMH’s by simply by going to a park that does not have EMH’s that day. This way, you can avoid all the people staying on property by being at a different park than they are. Generally speaking, the parks without EMH’s have lower crowds than the park with them.
Tip #4: Make smart use of Fastpass+.
The next tip for avoiding the crowds at Disney World is to make smart use of the Fastpass+ system. Fastpass+ allows you to reserve a time to experience a ride or show without waiting in the standby line. This means you can zoom past many of the people waiting. You are allowed to make 3 Fastpass+ reservations per person per day in advance of your trip. Once you have used those 3, you can get additional Fastpasses one at a time.
There are a lot of options for Fastpasses in each of the parks. Some are more useful than others. Honestly, for some rides and shows, you don’t need a Fastpass. So, before your trip, do a little research to find out which rides you should use your Fastpasses on.
Tip #5: Do things in the right order.
The last tip to beat the crowds at Disney World is to do things in the right order. To truly save time, you don’t want to walk through the gates of the Disney World parks and just do things as you come to them. Some attractions have long wait times, while others don’t. So, to maximize your time, do the more popular things first and save the attractions that always have short waits for later in the day. This mean walking back and forth across the park, but it will save you a ton of time waiting in lines. Having a good strategy for how you will approach your day, in conjunction with a smart use of Fastpasses, will allow you to avoid the flock of people for a large portion of your trip. I recommend using Touring Plans to come up with a good plan. They spend a lot of time researching crowd flow at the parks, so their plans will save you a ton of time! I use them for all of my trips.
Even though there is no longer a slow season, it is possible to beat the crowds at Disney World. And with the help of these tips, you can improve your family vacation by spending less time waiting in line and more time having fun. For more Disney World tips, see how to save time, tips for extra magic, secret to a great Disney World trip, how to stop meltdowns in their tracks, rookie mistakes to avoid, and tips for a rainy day at Disney World. Happy travels!