Making The Most Of Your Disney Vacation When It’s Crowded

Cinderella Castle

The biggest question that everyone has when deciding to book a Disney vacation is typically this: When is the least crowded time to go? There is no simple answer to this question. There are several times throughout the year such as Christmas and summer break where Disney World sees large crowds. There are also times like late winter and early fall where, historically speaking, the crowds have lessened. However, in recent years the crowds at the Disney parks have become quite unpredictable. Nobody can say for sure if it will be crowded during your visit or not, and sometimes you simply don’t have much of a choice in when you are able to book your vacation. Luckily, there are ways to navigate the crowds and still make the most of your Disney vacation. Use these tips to still have a good time during your Disney trip, even when the crowds make it seem difficult to do so!

Purchase Genie+

If you want to ensure that you will be able to experience the attractions you desire during your trip then you should absolutely be taking advantage of Genie + and Lightning Lane reservations. Genie + pricing varies depending on the time of year and day of the week that you are purchasing for, but it is always available for purchase the morning of your visit to the parks. With Genie +, you can make reservations for the attractions that matter the most to you, so  you can spend less time waiting in lines and more time experiencing the rest of what the parks have to offer. Some attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train require individual Lightning Lane reservations outside of Genie +. If these attractions are of interest to you, be sure to book your Lightning Lane reservation as soon as you are able to in order to achieve a timely reservation.

Frozen Ever After
Popular Attractions Like Frozen Ever After Can Be Difficult To Ride During Crowded Days. Photo: Megan Woodard

Plan Ahead For Parades and Shows

The best thing that you can do for yourself during crowded days in the parks is to plan ahead. Check your My Disney Experience app at the beginning of the day and view the showtimes for any parade, show, or fireworks spectacular that interests you. Guests begin standing in place for parades and shows over an hour ahead of schedule. If you want to secure a good view for these events then find your spot early. Grab a coffee or a snack and use the waiting time as a break time, and enjoy the show that you wish to see!

Peter Pan in Festival of Fantasy Parade.
Peter Pan in Festival of Fantasy Parade. Photo: Emily Murray.

Make a Dinner Reservation for Late In The Evening

Dinner reservations are a great way to escape the crowds. After a long day in the heat and surrounded by so many people, it can be so relaxing to have a quiet meal in a not-so-busy dining room. My favorite tip is to book your dinner reservation for very late in the evening. Typically, the dinner reservations that begin at 8pm or later tend to not book up as quickly as those in the early evening. After your meal you will exit to a much emptier park, especially if your dinner reservation begins during the nightly fireworks spectacular. Once you exit the restaurant you can take your leisurely exit, stopping to take photos of places that were too crowded to stop at during the daytime.

Late night at the Magic Kingdom
Late Night’s Provide Excellent Photo Ops! Photo: Megan Woodard

Explore Where The Crowds Aren’t

It can be easy to get caught up in the crowds when you are trying to make your way through the parks. Try and resist the urge to follow the crowd and instead go against it and travel elsewhere. The Disney parks are full of quiet corners and less busy backstreets. The true magic of Disney lies outside of its attractions and in the environment of the parks themselves.  Take some time to explore the areas in which the crowd is not swarming, and you might be surprised at the details you find!

Quiet Areas At Epcot. Photo: Megan Woodard

Arrive at Rope Drop and Stay Until Close

The most efficient way to do Disney during crowded times is to arrive as early as you can and stay as late as you can. If you are staying at a Disney resort you can take advantage of early-entry which begins 30 minutes prior to the park opening. This is a great way to get a head-start on your day and be one of the first in line to certain attractions. When you stay at the parks from open to close, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to experience as much as you can.

Rope Dropping The Seas With Nemo and Friends. Photo: Megan Woodard

Book Character Dining Experiences

My favorite way to experience character interactions with no lines is through character dining. Restaurants like Crystal Palace, Garden Grill, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and more are wonderful restaurants in which you can enjoy a meal and have personal one-on-one interactions with your favorite characters without having to wait in an hours-long line. This is a great tip for families with children, because it makes certain that you are able to meet and greet with characters despite crowds. Character dining restaurants generally book very quickly, so be sure to make your advance reservation as soon as you are able to!

Garden Grill Pluto
Character Dining at Garden Grill. Photo: Megan Woodard

Do you typically visit Disney World during high-crowd seasons? What are your tips for enjoying the parks despite the crowds? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Photo: Emily Murray.

Written by

Megan Woodard

Contributing Writer

Megan was born into a Disney family. Her first trip to Disney World was when she was only 18 months old. Now as an adult, Megan loves to share the magic of Disney with her two toddlers. Keeping up with Disney news and Disney World knowledge is a fun hobby for Megan. Disney World is her favorite place to be and continuously brings back her childhood joy.

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