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Credit: Paula K

Ways to Beat the Crowds at Walt Disney World

With the holidays arriving at Walt Disney World, we are anticipating the crowds to also be arriving right along with them.  If you have a vacation planned for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day we have suggestions on ways that you can beat the crowds. We hope these will help while you are in the middle of planning for your upcoming Disney vacation.

Plan Ahead

Our first step when it comes to beating the crowds at Walt Disney World is to plan ahead.  The days of showing up at Magic Kingdom, grabbing a map, and deciding where you want to head first are long gone.

Take some time before your Disney vacation is upon you to look over what rides, attractions, and food you want to get to during your Disney trip.  Knowing this ahead of time will give you a head start over the crowds.

Purchase Disney Genie+

There is a lot of information out there about the new Disney Genie+ system.  This is a paid option ($15/person/day) that Guests can choose to add onto their package.

By purchasing this feature, Guests are given access to the Lightning Lanes that allow them to bypass the Standby Lanes and therefore cut Wait Times.  This is a fantastic way to beat the crowds during these busier times of year in the Walt Disney World Resort.

Consider Individual Attraction Lightning Lanes

In each of the four Theme Parks, there are two rides that are not included in the Disney Genie+ feature.

These include:

Magic Kingdom:  Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain

Disney’s Hollywood Studios:  Rise of the Resistance and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Disney’s Animal Kingdom:  Expedition Everest and Avatar Flight of Passage

EPCOT:  Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

In order to use the Lightning Lane option for these rides, Guests need to purchase them individually.  Prices range from $7 to $15 per person per ride.

If you are headed down for a Disney vacation during a busy time of year, we would recommend looking into using this feature for a few of these headliners.  If it is extremely important for your group to experience one of these rides, consider purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane so you won’t have to spend an hour plus in line.

Learn About Disney Genie and All It Offers

Disney Genie is the new free planning assistant that is located in the My Disney Experience app.  This system provides a variety of features including Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes, but there are plenty of free features.

Before leaving for your Disney World vacation, take some time to figure these systems out.  By being educated in how they work and how to best use them, you will be able to beat some of the crowd that doesn’t know.

Arrive Early

One of the best ways to beat crowds in Disney World is to arrive early at a Disney Park.  Getting to the Parks 45 minutes to 60 minutes ahead of the Park opening time can make a huge difference.

Arriving prior to the Theme Park opening can put you ahead of the crowd and allow you to get onto some of the headliners before the rest of the crowds show up.  This will give your day a jumpstart.

Credit: Paula K

Use Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours

Another way to beat the crowds during busier times is to use the extending hours that are offered at the Disney Parks.

In the morning, those staying at a Disney Resort are able to get into all four Theme Parks 30-minutes early.  This is a fantastic option that can make a huge impact on beating the crowds.

If staying at a Deluxe Resort or Deluxe Villa Resort, Guests can take advantage of the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at either EPCOT or Magic Kingdom.

One specific evening, EPCOT or Magic Kingdom stays open later for just those Guests at these specific Resorts.  This is an outstanding way to experience low wait times.

Credit: Disney

Take Breaks

If you take advantage of those early mornings at the Theme Parks, we recommend beating the crowds by taking an afternoon break.

The Parks get extremely busy from 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., so avoid those times by heading back to the Resort to rest or to enjoy the pool.  If you aren’t staying nearby, consider visiting a Disney Resort as a way to remove yourself from the busy crowds.

Credit: Disney

Plan Out Eating

When the Parks are busy it can be hard to find food quickly or tables to sit at.  To help fight this frustration we have a few tips.

First, if you aren’t doing sit down meals, make sure you know how to Mobile Order through the My Disney Experience app.  This will be important to get quick service food throughout your trip.

Next, consider ordering your food for meals ahead of time.  By placing a Mobile Order for lunch early in the morning, you can ensure a spot for pick up.  This doesn’t mean your food is being prepared for you, it just means you are holding a pick up time.

Finally, if you want to avoid crowds while eating, consider eating at off times or at less popular locations.  Eat an early lunch or supper so you don’t fight the crowds or consider leaving the Parks and having a meal at a nearby Disney Resort.

These are all ways to beat those meal time crowds during your Walt Disney World vacation.

Credit: Disney

Have A Touring Plan

When crowds are heaving in Walt Disney World, you don’t want to be walking back and forth across the Park.  It can get frustrating and lose the magic of the moment.

To avoid this, head into the Park with an overall plan on what you want to accomplish and the order you might do so.

The new Disney Genie does offer a touring plan feature so consider using this if you aren’t sure what your plan should be.

There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a crowd and not knowing which way to head.  Avoid this by having that overall plan ready to go and using Disney Genie to make adjustments as needed.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the truly magical time on your Walt Disney World vacation with these tips for beating 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.