Regularly visiting Walt Disney World during a slow time of year is one of my bucket list dreams. But realistically, between work and school schedules, my family most often has a Disney experience during peak season. A Disney vacation during the busy season is more hectic for sure, but it can be just as fun.
Facing large vacation crowds at Walt Disney World Resort does not mean you cannot enjoy your vacation to the fullest. By planning ahead and knowing what to expect, you will have no problem navigating Disney World during the peak travel season. Follow these tips to avoid feeling like you are crowd surfing during your next peak season Disney vacation. Here is how to kmanage the crazy crowds at Walt Disney World Resort.
Purchase Disney Genie in Advance
Purchasing Disney Genie may or may not be the best choice for your family, depending on your must-see rides and your budget. Regardless, researching Disney Genie to decide on its value and purchasing it (if you choose to take the plunge) before your vacation is essential to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
Check the Disney website to decide which Disney Park Disney Genie or lightning lane access might be most helpful for, so you can pace your purchase and save your budget for the Park days the service will prove most beneficial.
Plan Park Days by Extra Magic Hours
Start your Park plan by ensuring you visit the Parks with extra magic hours on the correct days. Extra magic hours are a few hours before Park opening or after Park closure when only Disney Resort Guests are free to enjoy the attractions. This means shorter wait times.
I love riding popular rides exclusively during extra magic hours to ensure I can skip the sweltering hours in the sun waiting in long ride queues. Spending an extended evening enjoying more time exploring Pandora- The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite Disney Park experiences.
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Prepare for Transportation Crowds
The line to get a drink in World Showcase won’t be the only long line during peak season. Busy times of the year mean Disney Resorts are packed with Guests, all using Disney transportation. Disney transportation lines will be longer. Plan by allowing plenty of spare time for transportation to and from the Parks.
My family allows an additional half hour for Resort to Park transportation if we are visiting during peak season. While we’ve never waited on so many buses that we missed a rope drop or dining reservation, it is just not worth the stress. Planning extra time for transportation means we don’t get surprised by delays or crowded buses.
Disney does a great job of bringing in additional buses for larger crowds. Still, planning will save you stress and ensure you can still arrive at the Parks in time to enjoy the breakfast reservation or to start your day of ride hopping in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, or Hollywood Studios.
Make Advanced Dining Reservations
Advanced dining reservations are always crucial if you want to ensure you can dine at your first choice table service spots on vacation. During busy times of the year, having dining reservations is even more critical. Book your chosen meals as soon as your booking window opens, knowing that other Guests flocking to Disney World Resort will also be booking as early as possible.
If Available, Plan on Seeing the Second Parade/Evening Show
If you want to see an evening show (fireworks, projection, parade) in the Parks with a bit smaller crowd, take the time to research second showings. Depending on the night of the week and crowd patterns, there are sometimes later show options.
Catching the later firework or projection show means that families with younger children and groups pooped from a long day in the Park have left after the first show. Bonus Points: Watching the second show also means you may enjoy shorter attraction wait times during the first showing when most Guests are enjoying the show.
Arrive at Rope Drop
I am not an early riser, but during crazy crowded times of the year at Walt Disney World, I hit the Parks at rope drop. Rope drop is Walt Disney World slang for arriving at Park opening when Cast Members drop the velvet rope and allow Guests to enter the Park. Arriving early means enjoying a few attractions soon after the Park opens with little to no wait time. If you can walk on particularly popular rides, you may save several hours of wait time simply by arriving early.
Use Mobile Order
Mobile order through the Disney app is a lifesaver on a family vacation because it’s a huge time saver. You can load a quick service restaurant menu on your cell phone while you stroll the Park or wait in a ride queue.
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After you’ve had ample time to discuss the menu with your crew, place your mobile order and head toward your restaurant of choice for a short wait time and no need to order at the order kiosk. You can send your family to a table and one or two family members to pick up the order when your app alerts you that the order is ready.
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Know You May Not See it All
This is an excellent tip for any traveler hitting Walt Disney World Parks, especially those visiting during peak seasons. As the spouse of a teacher that can only travel to WDW during peak crowd times, I learned long ago not to stress about seeing it all. It may not be possible.
Prioritize attractions to ensure you experience your family’s must-do attractions and choose to take the rest of the trip as it comes. Give yourself permission to stop stressing and enjoy the attractions you see. If you miss a ride or have to save a show until your next visit, that is totally ok.
Bring Your Snacks to Save Time In Line
A longer line during peak crowd seasons means every line is more prolonged, even dining lines. Save time and money by bringing your meals and snacks into the Park if you would rather skip the lines at quick service snack carts.
Mark Your Stroller Prep. for Bag Check
Don’t let your stroller get lost among the sea of strollers at Walt Disney World during peak season. Mark your stroller with colorful fabric signs or even light up fairy lights for evening visibility. Park bag check can really slow down during days when crowd levels are highest.
Prep. for your turn in line by ensuring everything in your day pack is allowed in the Park and unzipping your bag and pouches before walking up to the bag check stand. This will save time in line, and the Guests behind you will thank you.
Your Disney World vacation can be great regardless of crowd level. We hope you learned a few things about managing the crazy crowds at Walt Disney World Resort.