One thing that’s pretty much inevitable when traveling to Walt Disney World…you’re going to have to wait in line!
There are lines for rides, shows, shops, restaurants, and everything in-between in the popular theme parks. However, if you’re paying for a trip, it makes sense that you want to make the MOST of your time and not spend ALL of it waiting in line! Recently, we reached out to our readers to find out what they think about waiting in line, and it inspired us to share some of our tips on how to avoid the wait!
We Asked Our Readers: How Long is Too Long?
First, we reached out to our readers to ask the question “How long is too long to wait for a Disney World ride?” They had a wide variety of opinions, but there were a few answers that were by far the most popular.
A LOT of our readers said they wouldn’t wait more than an hour for any ride at Disney World. One person said, “If my child is in a good mood and it’s something that we can all ride, my top time is an hour (if it’s a big ride).” Another noted, “I won’t wait more than 1 hour but then I live in Florida and am an annual passholder so I can always try again another time.”
Some followers put their maximum wait time at an hour for most attractions but said that they would make exceptions for specific things. “Depends on the ride. I think an hour is fair for any ride, anything more than an hour, I’d consider what ride it is,” one reader told us. They noted that they’d be willing to wait longer for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Splash Mountain, Flight of Passage, and others like those.
Other comments we received brought the cost factor into the equation: “Depends on the ride but I personally wouldn’t wait more than an hour for any ride. It costs too much money to be there wasting your time in lines.” We have to agree — we certainly don’t want to be spending our entire day in lines (make sure to check out our tips for avoiding that at the end of this article).
We had some readers who were slightly more picky about the amount of time they were willing to wait. One said, “I usually don’t like waiting more than 45 minutes.” while another admitted that they’ve only waited more than 45 minutes for Slinky Dog Dash because their child loved it so much that they rode twice in a row.
Another follower shared, “45 min is about my max. I have been spoiled by FastPass and Universal ExpressPass.” We understand, it can definitely be hard to keep your patience while in line if you were used to mastering the FastPass+ system!
Many of our readers who visit the parks frequently were even less willing to wait for their favorite rides. One person commented, “If it was something I hadn’t ridden before, something new, I’d probably wait an hour. Generally, 30-40 is about my max.”
Another noted that they have a 20-30 minute rule. If they can’t get on the ride in that amount of time, then they save it until next time. A third person had similar things to say, telling us “Most attractions, 30 minutes is my top out point. Definitely a side effect of having an annual pass and deciding ‘eh, I’ll just hit it next time.'”
But even outside of these categories, we received several other answers that were more specific. One reader told us that it depended on the weather, “Like I’ve waited in lines for over an hour in the cooler months that I would never wait in during the middle of summer cause there’s no shade or even a breeze.”
Another shared that they had a tier system for how long they were willing to wait that varied based on the ride. “There’s not a single ride I’m waiting triple digits for. I’d say an hour for some of the big hitters, and then tiers going down 40, 20, and 10. If it’s not worth the 10 minutes I’m absolutely not interested in riding it.”
One reader brought up some very important questions, noting that it depends on a lot of different factors — “Do you have children waiting with you? What ride is it? Is it raining? Are you hungry?” These are all important things to consider before committing to a long wait time!
Different Opinions for New Rides
One thing that many people seemed to agree on is that newer rides were more worth the wait. From the answers we received, guests are typically willing to wait up to 2 hours (and sometimes a little more) for a ride that they’ve never done before.
Also, several people mentioned that they’d wait longer for “really good” rides. Generally, that category included thrill rides, rollercoasters, and popular rides that typically have long waits all the time.
How to Avoid the Wait
However, even if you’re willing to wait a while for a ride it doesn’t mean you have to! We have several tips for ways to avoid standing in lines all day.
If you want to knock out a bunch of rides with short wait times, then rope dropping is your best friend! Rope dropping means arriving at the park before it opens, we usually recommend getting to your park of choice 45-60 minutes ahead of time.
If you arrive at this time frame, sometimes you’ll be able to get in line for rides early and even ride a few before the park opens. This doesn’t always happen, but even then, you’ll likely be among the first to board the popular rides that day, so you can get it out of the way and move on to the next!
Okay, so maybe you’re not an early bird. If you can manage to stay late in the parks though, you still may able to accomplish many of the same things that you would in the morning. Since Walt Disney World reopened, we’ve noticed that more guests tend to leave before the day is done (no fireworks to wait around to see!).
It’s important to note that if the park closes at 9PM, you can get in line for a ride up until that minute (same as any other closing time). This is a great strategy for jumping on those really popular rides! Also, we’ve noticed the wait times decrease in the evenings in general, so you will likely be able to knock out things quicker at night.
Travel During Less Crowded Times
If you want to avoid higher wait times, do your best to avoid the crowds. We recommend traveling during times when kids are in school and skipping trips during holiday weekends, Christmas break, Spring Break, and the summer months if possible.
If you think that Walt Disney World is going to be busy during your trip, then try to plan your park days for weekdays instead of weekends. On the weekends, locals and passholders tend to drop by, so the crowds are often much higher. This trick may not be as effective during weeks like Christmas, Spring Break, and Thanksgiving, or summer, so keep that in mind.
Pay for a VIP Tour
This is the pricey option, but if you REALLY hate waiting in lines, it may be right for your family! Booking a VIP Tour through Disney means that a Disney Cast Member will guide you through the parks on your chosen day, and one of the perks of the tour is being able to use the FastPass lines to skip long waits for many rides and attractions.
Now, keep in mind that you may have to save up for this one. VIP Tours cost between $425 and $750 per HOUR depending on the season and must be booked for a minimum of 7 hours. On top of that, it doesn’t include park admission costs. But, if you’ve got the spare change, then the experience might be really cool!
Important Notes on FastPass+
You may be saying right now, “But DFB, what about FastPasses? Can’t you use those to skip the lines?” Well, unfortunately at this time, FastPasses have not returned to the Disney World parks.
For those who aren’t familiar, the FastPass+ system used to be a free way for guests to select return times for a few Disney rides or attractions each day. When you came back to the ride during your return window, you would get to experience a much shorter wait time than what was posted. This option has been temporarily suspended since Disney World reopened and we don’t yet have any details on when it will be back.
Without FastPasses, it has just become more important that you plan your day strategically. Avoid waiting for popular rides in the middle of the day when the lines are longest and make a list of what you’d like to accomplish, prioritizing the things that are most important to your family. It may also be helpful to have games or activities planned to occupy your time spent in ride queues.
Finally, it’s important to remember that at one point or another, waiting is going to be a part of your Disney World vacation. Thousands of other guests are visiting the parks, wanting to do the same things you’re doing. Be patient and enjoy yourself — remember that you’re here to relax, have fun, and make memories!
Stay tuned to DFB to get all the latest tips for your Disney World trip! We’ve got all the Disney news from the parks and online, so stick around for the updates!
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Have you been to Disney World since the parks reopened? Tell us in the comments!