There are Books, Apps and VIP Tours designed to keep you out of lines. What actually works?
Let’s start at the beginning. Walt Disney World is a busy place! There are thousands of guests from all around the globe coming together for one magical day at the resort which is larger than double the size of Manhattan. It’s crazy to think about the sheer volume of folks, so how do you avoid being just another lamb in the herd?
Here’s how to NEVER wait in line at Walt Disney World
Ok, so right off the top…that heading is deceiving because even with the best strategies and impeccable luck, you’ll still be forced to stand in a line. It’s unavoidable, so let’s re-write the title a little bit in order to make it more factual.
Here are the Tools to use if you want to wait in a line at Disney World the least amount of time possible
By far and away the easiest way to get ahead of the crowds is to use (and abuse) the FastPass+ system, which allows you to reserve your spot in line as much as 60 days out from your vacation.
I’ve got articles on Magic Kingdom and EPCOT already, with Animal Kingdom coming soon and Hollywood Studios has to wait because they don’t have enough attractions to really have a strategy (until Star Wars Land opens of course).
Basically, you want to have your FastPass+ reservations mirror your Dining Reservations as you book ADRs 180 days out vs 60 days for FP. If you’ve got a lunch Be Our guest, try to get a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for 1pm…etc.
Morning Extra Magic Hours
Ok, so this is the most controversial within the community. Here are the facts:
Magic Kingdom: You’ll be able to bang out Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear and Journey Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid before the park opens to the regular guests. It’s definitely worth it!
EPCOT: If you can’t get a FastPass reservation for Frozen Ever After, it’s worth it to wake up early. We’ve had hit-or-miss mornings at EPCOT EMH, but as every vacation is unique, that’s not shocking at all.
DAK : We usually skip morning EMH at the Animal Kingdom because we’re able to get a Flight of Passage FP before hand. Plus, it’s usually the day after a Magic Kingdom or EPCOT Evening Extra Magic Hour…so priorities.
DHS: If you want to get a ride on Slinky Dog Coaster or Toy Story Mania without really worrying, then go ahead. Just remember that because the park only has a handful of attractions right now, it’s difficult to predict the crowd levels.
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I’ve been a fan of creating a touring plan for my Disney World vacations for years, but here’s the problem…so have others;) The best way to set up a plan with today’s crowd levels is to have a checklist and don’t be afraid to walk away if the lines are crazy long.
The number of times that I’ve actually walked out of a line to meet a character or a standby line would dwarf any estimate, and that’s because things happen that are out of your control and it’s not worth wasting time. Why be frustrated when you can just go and get a dole whip?
Against the grain
I LOVE this strategy! Imagine walking up to a quick service restaurant and seeing just a crowd of people without a set line. Well, if you know that each cash register has a left & right side, then you’re able to go ‘against the grain’ and get your order quicker. It’s amazing how many people will just stand in a line without actually knowing what it’s there for.
I use this strategy for everything from getting into the turnstiles in the morning, attractions that have an open pre-show room (like Dinosaur) and definitely quick service locations like Cosmic Rays!
Playing the odds
If you go to the Magic Kingdom on a day that’s scheduled to have a Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party, there’s a strategy that may involve you going to the park between 12-4pm and then going to another park for the evening. This is called “playing the odds”, because with party guests not wanting to burn through a regular day ticket when they have already purchased an extra-ticketed event pass…they won’t be showing up until at least 4pm.
This is also a plan for going to a park that ISN’T hosting an Extra Magic Hour morning, because most of the resort guests will be at another park for their perk…so you’ll be seeing less crowds at the other three parks to start with. I’ve been known to go to an EMH at the Magic Kingdom and then leaving on a bus at like 945am for FastPass+ reservations at another park, but I’m weird lol!
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Evening Extra Magic Hours
Congratulations…you’ve discovered the STEPS TO MAGIC star tip!
The best way to never wait in line is to go to Evening Extra Magic Hours! Why? Well it actually is a psychological thing, because families have already put their kids to bed and people haven’t experienced the joy of an empty Magic Kingdom…so they don’t know what they’re missing.
I actually book my days around which parks have evening Extra Magic Hours, especially the Magic Kingdom AND EPCOT.
Oh, another great tip to avoid the crowds who are leaving after the fireworks at EPCOT and you’re staying for EMH….go and ride the Seas with Nemo. It’s just long enough that you’ll miss the mass exodus of folks heading to the buses, but not long enough that you’re investing time in an attraction that will take away your time around the World Showcase.
Remember that Walt Disney World is a huge piece of property and when folks have planned their once-in-a-lifetime vacation, you have to be flexible in order to stay sane!
This article was designed to show you that there are ways to avoid waiting in lines for your entire trip, but it also has examples of things that may not work forever. As Disney starts to monetize operating hours, you’ll be given the opportunity to purchase time in a park with fewer and fewer folks. Always check out the official Disney World calendar to see if there are special events that you can take advantage of.
Thanks for visiting, and I really hope that this was a help in your vacation planning!