Tackling Disney Parks Without FastPasses or Dining Reservations

Scifi Dine In Theater

Find a Dining Reservation or Use Mobile Ordering! 

No reservations? No problem!  Same-day reservations are often available in My Disney Experience and walk-ups are sometimes accommodated as well.  You can’t count on finding prime meal times at the most popular locations, but it’s fairly likely that some sit-down restaurants will have availability.  We recently tried to dine at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater at Hollywood Studios without a reservation on a busy day, and were seated within 10 minutes on the condition that we didn’t mind sitting at a picnic table instead of a car table.  The moral here is, it doesn’t hurt to ask! 

If you prefer quick service dining, be sure to take advantage of mobile ordering.  You can even use some of your travel time, perhaps on a Disney bus, to create your order with your family.  You can easily browse the menu, add everyone’s choices to your cart, and pay- all from your mobile phone.  Simply indicate in the app when you’ve arrived, and your food will be made fresh for you to pick up in a designated line- easy peasy.    

Choose the Lines You Wait in Wisely! 

Not all queues are created equal.  If the lines are all long and you’re willing to wait in one, choose one that’s a pleasant experience.  Look for cool, indoor queues if it’s a hot day- Pirates of the Caribbean is a great example, and the background music is nice to listen to, too! Frozen Ever After and Space Mountain are both entirely indoors (unless the line is REALLY long, in which case you’ll probably want to avoid them).  Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid is another great queue.  It’s full of details, is mostly indoor, and has an interactive crab game you can enjoy while you explore.  The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh also has a lot of interactive play features for children.  Contrast these queues with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is detailed and interesting to look at but bakes guests in the sun!  

Enjoy the Less Popular Attractions 

Expedition Everest

If the crowds are brutal and the lines all seem super long, try to enjoy the experiences that don’t have huge waits.  Shows like Mickey’s Philharmagic and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor are solid choices at the Magic Kingdom, and there are loads of show choices at Hollywood Studios.   At Epcot, explore the World Showcase.  If you’re in Animal Kingdom, try the single rider line for Expedition Everest, check out Dinoland USA, or enjoy the animal exhibits.  If you have kids in your group, consider one of the “extra” activities that many overlook, like the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card game, Wilderness Explorers at Animal Kingdom, or the KidCot spots in Epcot.  

Above All Else, Be Flexible!

Mickey Bar Castle

Lots of travelers are not into the idea of planning so far in advance for a vacation; if that’s you, just remember to be flexible!  You can have a great time visiting Walt Disney World even if you do not reserve meals and experiences in advance; but, you’ll have to temper your expectations.  Use some of our tips and see where the day takes you, and never be afraid to just take a break to people watch, grab a Mickey ice cream, or take a swim!

By Meredith Smisek

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