Sometimes your WDW vacation coincides with certain holidays which tend to draw heavier than usual crowds, like Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, Spring Break, etc. There are ways to maneuver around those crowds and still have a great experience at the “most magical place on earth”! My family and I have visited Disney World during Spring Break and Thanksgiving Week, and with some careful pre-planning, we were able to avoid many of the long lines for rides, attractions, and dining. I have listed some suggestions that we used on those busy, busy days at WDW.
Top 10 Ways To Survive Crowded Days At Walt Disney World
10. Choose Wisely — Whichever park you choose to visit first, try going to the less popular attractions when you arrive, have an early lunch, brunch, or late breakfast, then you’ll be ready to take on those rides or attractions with the longer than usual lines. When you know a long wait is inevitable, use the restroom before you get in line, and make sure your water bottle is full. Although not very popular, long lines give you an opportunity to visit with other guests you meet as you are waiting.
9. Downtown Disney — If crowds are becoming overwhelming, head over to Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs). There are 39 uniquely themed dining choices, from outdoor kiosks serving snacks to counter service and full service restaurants. You can satisfy your particular craving in so many different ways. After lunch or dinner, take a tour of the 40 specialty shops offering a huge variety of special gifts, souvenirs, apparel, toys, and Disney collectibles. For the children, there is a children’s area where they can ride an adorable mini Carousel, and a mini train. In the summer they can run through a magical water fountain. Visiting this extraordinary center of shops, dining, and entertainment, will be a wonderful experience for the whole family.
8. Splitsville Luxury Lanes/Downtown Disney — Another way to avoid long lines is to reserve a bowling lane at Splitsville. Not only are there 30 bowling lanes, there is delicious food, live music, outdoor patio dining, billiards tables, and even a special merchandise shop. This is a really fun way to get away from the large crowds and enjoy an afternoon or evening with family and friends.
7. AMC Fork & Screen Dine – In Theater/Downtown Disney—Take a break from the crowds and enjoy a movie at one of 24 theaters with rocker-style stadium seats. You can also enjoy delicious food and cocktails with reserved seating, a personal call button, and seat-side service. The special menu includes burgers, sandwiches, and pizzettas. If you’re not interested in the dine-in theater, the concessions stand offerings are fantastic: hot chicken tenders, specialty smoothies, coffee, gourmet popcorn, pizza, and other snacks that are made hot and fresh when you order. The Coca Cola “Freestyle” drink dispenser features 100+ drink choices in one sleek trouchscreen.
6. Catch the First Bus — Want to get a head start? Wake up early and catch the first bus to whichever park you are planning to visit. Skip breakfast for now; have a quick snack in your room before you head for the bus depot. You’ll be ahead of the crowd and have the opportunity to ride some of the more popular attractions before the long lines begin forming. If you’re not staying at a Disney Hotel Resort, be one of the first cars to enter the parking lot, and hit the ground running. I’m joking, but on those really busy days, be prepared for long lines, but if you plan ahead, you can avoid some of those long waits.
5. Non-Ride Attractions — Take a morning or afternoon to experience some of the exciting and innovative attractions Walt Disney World has to offer, which are usually not as crowded as the rides, for example: Mission Space Race/Epcot-Futureworld—This is a space age interactive theater where 56 guests have 4 minutes to use a joystick and jet-pack to explore the surface of Mars and find your 4 fellow astronauts—its cool, and its fun! Epcot-World Showcase—During those times when it seems when it seems there are more people than asphalt, catch a ride on a monorail to Epcot, then take a long stroll around World Showcase. Not only do you learn about other countries’ cultural traditions, but you also get to sample their culinary offerings.
It’s Tough To Be A Bug—Animal Kingdom — This extraordinary 3-D performance takes place under the Tree of Life in the 430-seat Tree of Life Repertory Theatre. You put on your 3-D glasses, then you are in for a real treat! Even when the lines are long, the walkway is shaded, and there are many detailed animal carvings nestled in the roots of the tree; see if you can find them. After you’re seated, your host, Flik, from “A Bug’s Life”, invites you to sit back and enjoy the show—a combination of a 3-D film and live action. The extraordinary 3-D special movie effects, audio animatronics, and in-theater 4-D surprises will have you dodging, laughing, and smelling stinky odors throughout the show. It’s a real treat for the whole family! There are many more non-ride attractions to visit where long lines are not a problem. They are scattered all around the four parks. When you don’t want to stand in a long line, find one of these unique attractions to visit.
4. Magic Hours(Morning) — For Disney Resort guests—One tactic we used on those very crowded days is to stay away from those Parks with the early morning magic hour. A majority of Resort guests will want to take advantage of this option, so even though the Park opens earlier, the lines can still form rather quickly, especially to the more popular rides or attractions. If you go to a different Park, and wait for it to open, you will be ahead of the crowds arriving after the magic hour is over. For those guests staying off property, I would suggest checking the “magic hours” schedule and avoid those Parks.
3. Magic Hours(Night) — For Disney Resort guests—You can actually get in a few extra rides using the nighttime magic hour perk, especially on those nights when the parks stay open later, sometimes as late as 2am. I would plan a day at your resort, swimming, biking, shopping, etc., and plan to arrive at the park of your choice as late at 11pm. You will be able to access more rides with shorter lines. The crowds tend to thin out after the last Fireworks show and Main Street Electrical Parade. For those guests not staying at a Disney Resort, I would suggest staying away from the “magic hours” parks.
2. Disney Quest/Downtown Disney — Another way to avoid those large seemingly endless lines, other than the use of your fast pass, is to visit Disney Quest at Downtown Disney. This 5-story, 100,000 square foot attraction houses a multitude of virtual reality games, fantasy adventure games, and classic arcade games. Although this popular “gaming haven” is rarely crowd-free, there are so many different game choices that you never have to wait long for your turn to play. If you get hungry, the 4th floor is the home of the Wonderland Café, serving scrumptious desserts and specialty coffees, while on the 5th floor you can visit Food Quest and enjoy a lunch of salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and other counter service items. Spend some time here, play some games, have a quick snack, then back to the Parks!
1. Fast Pass+/Magic Bands — The ultimate crowd control is using your ride and attraction reservations wisely. Schedule your riding and dining to coincide with the busiest hours of the day. Dine during busy times and watch the crowds go by, and schedule your ride and attraction reservations for those times also. If you are a Disney Resort guest, take advantage of those magic hours and save your ride reservations for after the morning magic hours, and right before the evening magic hours, when the crowds begin thinning out. With a little planning, you can bypass the longer lines and have more time for other attractions.
With patience and perseverance, you can manage those heavier than normal crowded days at Walt Disney World. Crowds are a part of any large amusement park, especially one as well-known and popular as Disney World. There are just not enough of those least crowded days, and those of us who have to plan our vacations around work or school schedules, it seems almost impossible to avoid large crowds. However, you can still have an extraordinary Disney vacation if you plan ahead and take advantage of ride and dining reservations, and just enjoy the “magic” of being at Walt Disney World!
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