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Tips to Beat the Holiday Crowds at Walt Disney World

We are thrilled to see the holidays at Walt Disney World, but with the holidays also comes the return of crowds.

The 2021 holiday crowds seem to have arrived already at Walt Disney World, and we want to make sure that you are ready with some tips on how you can avoid them during your vacation.

The holidays are a truly magical time to visit Walt Disney World, and we want you to enjoy it as much as possible.  Use these crowd beating tips so you can experience all the magic Disney has to offer this holiday season.

Credit: Paula K

Arrive Early

Although most of us want to sleep in during our vacations, Walt Disney World isn’t the place for that to happen.

If you want to beat the crowds, get to the Parks BEFORE the official Park opening.  We highly recommend getting there between 45 and 60 minutes early, so you are the first through the tap points and in line for your first ride before the Park even officially opens.

If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, we also recommend using the Early Theme Park Entry option.

Guests at a Disney hotel are allowed into the four Theme Parks 60 minutes before the listed Park opening time from December 19th to January 3rd, 2022.

Early Theme Park Entry is a huge advantage for Guests staying at these Disney Resorts, as it gives them a full hour to access the Parks with lower crowds and therefore the chance to complete more rides.

We get that sleeping in is what most of us think about when we dream of vacations, but when heading to Walt Disney World, we recommend taking a few mornings to get out of bed early to beat the crowds.

Galaxy’s Edge (Credit: Disney)

Stay Late

Another way to beat the holiday crowds is by staying out late.  If you have older kids or are traveling with adults, consider staying at the Parks later into the evening.

Most families with little ones will head out following the fireworks, and therefore lower Wait Times will be seen on a lot of the rides.

Again if you are staying at a Deluxe Resort, take advantage of the Extended Evening Theme Park hours at both EPCOT and Magic Kingdom.

On select evenings, only Guests staying at specific Deluxe Resorts are given additional time in either EPCOT or Magic Kingdom.

Typically this is around two additional hours after Park closing, which is a huge advantage.  Guests will be able to take advantage of select attractions with low Wait Times.

When traveling with older kids or on an adults only vacation, think about staying at the Parks following the evening shows to experience lower Wait Times and smaller crowds throughout the Parks.

Take a Break

The crowds in the Theme Parks are the highest typically between 11 and 3 each day.  Knowing this, consider scheduling some break time to allow yourself a way to get out of the busiest times.

One way to do this is by scheduling a nice, sit-down meal.  At each of the four Theme Parks, there are amazing dining options that Guests can experience as a way to remove themselves from the busy afternoon crowds.

Lounges are also a great way to take a break while remaining in the Theme Parks.  Nomad Lounge and Baseline Tap House are two excellent lounge options found in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

If you want to step outside of the Park, think about visiting a nearby Disney Resort.

While visiting the Magic Kingdom, consider a meal at the new Steakhouse 71 or a stop at Tambu Lounge in Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Boardwalk, and Yacht Club are great options when visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.

Finally, consider taking some pool time in the afternoon.  Most kids love to swim, and heading back to your Resort in the middle of the day for a swim and rest can be a game changer.

Even though it might seem like a lot of work to head out of the Parks during the day, taking a break can make a big difference in avoiding the crowds.

Plan Your Meals

Mealtime can get extremely busy during the holidays, so make sure you go in with a plan.

If you want to do sit-down meals, we hope you made your reservations made at the 60-day mark so you are ready to go.

Weren’t able to get a reservation? Check the walk-up list on the My Disney Experience App as soon as the restaurant opens.  This will let you know if they are going to have openings throughout the day.

Quick-service locations will also get busy, so plan ahead when it comes to Mobile Ordering.  Select your location and pick up window early in the day to ensure you have time.

Other tips for beating the crowds during mealtime are to eat at off times such as before 11 and after 2 for lunch and before 5 and after 7 for supper.

You can also consider eating at nearby Resorts as their quick-service locations typically don’t get as busy.

These are just a few of the ways you can avoid the holiday crowds this year at Walt Disney World.

We are thrilled that more families are able to travel this year and experience the magic of Walt Disney World, but know that means larger crowds than we have seen lately.

We hope these tips will help you have a magical time this holiday season as you navigate the crowds.

About Jennifer Retzlaff

My name is Jennifer Retzlaff and I became a lifelong Disney fan during my first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of my life. I live in Iowa with my husband and two kids who are growing up too quickly for my liking. I started introducing my love for Disney early to my family with a Disney honeymoon and then trips when our youngest of 18 months. Since then, our family has been to Walt Disney World over five times and we continue to plan and dream for the next trip. I love the magic that Disney brings to people through the theme parks, cruises, adventures and movies they create. As a teacher, I try to bring that magic into my classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” I recently reached a dream of mine as I joined Magic Vacation Planner as a personal travel advisor. With this team, I can now help others plan magical vacations. As a passionate writer, I also have my own blog at magicalvacationsbyjen which is also where you can follow me on instagram for trip reviews along with tips and tricks for your next magical vacation.