Dealing With the Crowds at Disney World

Published: August 13, 2019

Crowds… If you’ve ever been to any of the Disney parks, you have had to deal with the huge crowds that are in the parks.

In the past, there were times of the year where the crowds were not as bad.  This was called the off-season.  The off-season was mainly mid-January through mid-February and late August into the first week of October.  During this time the parks were not as crazy as say Christmas week or Spring Break. You would be able to get on attractions fairly quick.

Unfortunately, the off-season does not exist anymore.  Whether April, December or January you are going to face an obscene amount of people in the parks at any given time.  Even more so now in this era of Disney unveiling a new land or attraction every year or so.

So how do you deal with crowds and still be able to enjoy a vacation at Disney World?  Below is a list that we have compiled through our experience and from other Disney Bloggers and Message Boards.

Our Tips

  1. Rope Drop – Get to the parks early.  Rope Drop is the official opening time of the park. Yes, in some areas of the parks, they actually drop a rope to let people in.  Once you have entered the park, head to the very furthest ride from the entrance as quickly as possible. (Magic Kingdom – Thunder Mountain. Epcot – Soarin or Test Track.  Animal Kingdom – Pandora. and Hollywood Studios – Rock n Rollercoaster or Tower of Terror). You will most-likely encounter a very short wait to get on that ride. Most people will try to ride the attractions closest to the entrance.
  2. Extra Magic Hours – If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, check to see if there are “Extra Magic Hours”.  Extra Magic Hours are usually rotated throughout the four parks. They are where guests staying at WDW hotels are allowed in the park before the general public.  EMH are usually 1-2 hours before or after normal park operation.
  3. FastPass+ – WDW parks offer free FastPasses which are basically a reservation for a certain time at a specific attraction.  Your FastPass will allow you to skip the “standby” line for that attraction saving having to wait in some cases over an hour.  You may select 3 FastPasses at the beginning of the day and once you have used those three, you may select additional attractions based on availability.  A benefit to staying at a WDW Resort is that you are able to select your FastPasses up to 60 days before your visit (30 days if you are staying off-site.). Fastpasses for the most popular attractions do run out quickly, so reserve them as soon as you can.
  4. Food – Ordering food anywhere in the parks can be time consuming.  Try to eat at off hours (lunch at 2PM, supper at 8PM, etc), crowds will be much later at those times.  WDW has recently introduced Mobile Ordering through the MyDisney app on your phone.  This program allows you to order and pay for your food ahead of time and, for the most part, it is ready for you to pick up when you enter the Quick Service Restaurant.

Dealing With the Crowds

Like we said, no matter when you visit a WDW park, there are going to be crowds.  Here some personal tips for you.

    1. Get Plenty of Sleep: Make sure that you get as much sleep as you can.  You will be walking miles and miles in the Florida heat and humidity.  That alone will take a toll on any unrested individual.  Now add in crowds and you could make yourself miserable very quickly.
    2. Comfortable Shoes: Believe it or not, your shoes could make or break your vacation.  Trust me, if your feet are not happy, you will not be happy and like we said earlier, you will be walking your entire visit to the Park.  I suggest that a light pair of broken in sneakers will make your vacation.  If you are buying new shoes for your trip, make sure to give plenty of time to break them in before you hit the parks.
    3. Take Breaks: The Florida heat and humidity can make you very sick if you do not take care of yourself during your visit.  Even during January and February the parks can get quite warm.  If you are coming from a climate that has 6 feet of snow on the ground and sub-zero temperatures, even a 70°day can knock you for a loop.  Make sure to every now and then duck into one of the air conditioned shops for a few minutes or find a table in one of the quick-serve restaurants and take 5 and get a cold drink and/or snack to recharge you batteries.  Your body will thank you later on in the evening.

Like we said, no matter when you go to Disney World, there are going to be crowds.  Hopefully the tips that we gave can help ward off some of the frustration that comes with them.  Let us know if you have any tips or tricks that you have for dealing with the crowds.

We hope that you have a fun and memorable visit to the parks.