Not only is it almost the Most Wonderful Time of the Year in Walt Disney World… it’s also still the BUSIEST Time of the Year!
Crowds are so thick it can be hard to walk in some areas of the park, and wait times get up to over 5 hours!
And if your plans for 2019 include a trip to Walt Disney World during peak crowd seasons such as Spring Break, the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, or even a long holiday weekend such as Memorial Day, then we’ve got some information that can help.
Welcome to The Ultimate Survival Guide to SUPER Crowded Days in Disney World!
And, as always when the parks are busy, there’s no time to waste, so let’s dive in!
Make the Most of Early Mornings And/Or Late Nights
You may be surprised by how much you can get done in any of Disney World’s four theme parks by being among the first to arrive.
Even on the busiest days for the Disney World parks, the early birds who are already at the park for “rope drop” (the park’s official opening time) stand the best chance of being among the first in line for their choice of attractions.
Conversely, consider staying at the park as late as you can in the evening! In a vacation spot that’s especially popular for families with young kids, many groups need to leave in the early evening due to the stamina of their younger group members.
And remember, if you’re staying in a Disney World Resort, be sure to check which park is hosting Morning or Evening Extra Magic Hours throughout the week, as these are a benefit only available to Resort guests.
Try a Mid-day Meal in a Resort
When lunchtime hunger strikes for your group… well, it’s pretty likely that it’s striking for just about everyone else in the park at the same time 😉 ! The typical lunch time rush goes through the noon hour; however, in peak crowd times it can extend well beyond. Consider eating your lunch at a nearby Resort Hotel, which are typically much less crowded than the parks.
You needn’t be a guest at a particular Resort to dine there (nor to use Disney Transportation to get there), and each park is located close to at least one or two Resorts with Counter Service restaurants (and, in most cases, with Table Service option, too).
This is especially handy advice for Magic Kingdom, where the Monorail can easily get you to the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian Resorts — and each of these have several restaurants to choose from.
Use Mobile Order
But let’s say you do find yourself at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café — or any of these select Counter Service restaurants — during a busy mealtime.
Mobile Order (available within the My Disney Experience app) allows guests to pre-order and pre-pay for their food at participating Counter Service Restaurants around Disney World.
Upon arrival to the restaurant, guests using Mobile Order can then bypass the ordering queue and go straight to a designated Pick Up Counter to get their food.
One DFB fan told us that she saw the counter service line wrapping around the building, but mobile order only had two guests waiting.
Advance Dining Reservations
If you’d prefer to eat any of your meals at a sit down Table Service restaurant (as opposed to Counter Service), keep in mind that many restaurants are not able to accommodate walk-ups during these busy seasons.
Avoid disappointment by making Advance Dining Reservations for Table Service restaurants throughout Disney World! The booking window for most Table Service locations opens 180 days in advance, so the further out you are able to make your reservations, the better your chances are for getting your top choice.
But don’t be discouraged if you’re taking a last minute trip. You should be able to find an ADR for SOMEWHERE last-minute just about any time.
FastPass+ is a service that allows guests to book up to three attractions for one day in one of the four theme parks in advance when tickets are linked to a My Disney Experience account (online or via the My Disney Experience app).
Guests in the parks this week are telling us that with up to five hour wait times for rides, fastpasses have been a lifesaver…and many of them have shared with us that they’re just doing their fastpasses and then leaving.
Guests booked at a Disney World Resort are able to schedule FastPasses for linked tickets up to 60 days in advance, while non-Resort guests are able to book attractions for linked tickets up to 30 days in advance.
Guests are able to choose a designated arrival window of time (in one hours slots) and bypass the Standby Lines for their chosen attraction. And these Standby lines are no joke during the holidays, my friends…
So even on the busiest of park days, you can have confidence that you’ll be able to enjoy at least 3 attractions. And remember, as long as you have a ticket that is linked to the My Disney Experience account, this service is free.
Wondering how to best use your FastPass+ allotments? Check out this video!
After Hours and Early Morning Magic Add-on Experiences
Over the past couple of years, several Extra Hours experiences have opened up for booking at three Disney World parks: Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Magic Kingdom.
These extra-ticket events — available for “Early Morning Magic” or “After Hours” — offer limited-to-no wait times at popular attractions in the parks due to capping the event at a low guest capacity.
And food is a definite bonus! Unlimited snacks and beverages are included for the After Hours events, while Early Morning Magic attendees enjoy a full breakfast!
While these events are enjoyable any time of year, they do come at a fairly high cost (especially for larger groups or families). But they also make a lot of sense when the parks are quite crowded. These super busy seasons are probably the most logical time to forego getting a regular park ticket and attending one of these events instead since you’re not managing fastpasses or insane crowds during the hard ticket events.
Find out more about Early Morning Magic in our DFB YouTube Video!
Designate a Meeting Spot
The parks are so packed with fun things to see and do… and they’re also packed with guests. All of these things contribute to making it easier than usual to lose track of your group due to distraction or even being accidentally separated by passersby.
Before your park adventures begin, pick a designated meeting spot that everyone in the group knows to go to in case your family gets separated, along with specific check-in times. If a check-in time comes around and you’re missing someone, head over to the designated meeting spot to find them.