This past weekend and throughout this week, we started to see quite a few more guests in the parks as Thanksgiving draws near. According to Disney World’s Park Reservation Calendar, all four Disney Parks are sold out of park passes from November 24th through the 26th, with limited park availability after those dates.
And in terms of crowds, here’s what we’ve seen and what you should keep in mind if you’re planning to visit the parks during the busy holiday season.
You might see some big crowds near the entrance to the parks, particularly just as the parks are opening for the day. We spotted some substantial crowds in Hollywood Studios near the entrance.
This can vary depending on when you enter the park and what park you visit.
If you’re hoping to enter the parks without a big line, consider using the Early Theme Park Entry benefit if you’re staying at a Disney World resort hotel. Or, consider getting there very early or waiting a little bit past the opening time, so you can potentially beat or miss the early morning rush.
Some of the places where you’ll spot the biggest evidence of crowds will be at lines for spots to grab some food or the attraction queues. We spotted some particularly long lines for popular rides like Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios…
…Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios…
…and other rides. You may even find that lines for Lightning Lanes may be longer than you might have expected. Be sure to look for those “Enter Here” or “End of Line” signs that Cast Members near the end of the lines will typically hold up, so you know where to enter.
You may see backstage areas utilized for the lines of select spots also, like the backstage area that was being used for the Kilimanjaro Safaris line in Animal Kingdom.
And there have also been some unusually long waits for attractions that tend to have shorter waits, like the line for Big Thunder Mountain in Magic Kingdom that backed up all the way down the bridge.
Or at Expedition Everest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where the line stretched all the way down to the Finding Nemo: The Musical building.
And in EPCOT, the line to greet Anna and Elsa extended far through the Norway Pavilion.
In terms of wait times, when we checked at around 2:45PM ET on Monday the 22nd, there was a mixed bag. Some attractions and experiences had low waits.
Others had waits of 15-20 minutes — not too bad.
Some rides were closer to the middle, with 30-35 minute waits.
But, if you’re hoping to go on some of Disney World’s most popular rides during the holiday season, be prepared to wait in more substantial lines. When we checked, several rides had waits of an hour…
Really popular rides like Test Track and Frozen Ever After were closer to 90 or 100 minutes.
And Flight of Passage had a 160 minute wait, and Rise of the Resistance led the pack with a 195 minute wait.
If you’ll be heading to the parks during this busy season, consider whether purchasing a Lightning Lane or Genie+ is something your family wants to do, or if you can take advantage of things like Early Theme Park Entry or Extended Evening Hours to get some extra time in the parks to do what you want.
As we’ve seen on other busy days though, there were pockets of spaces where the crowds weren’t as bad.
If you’re heading to the parks now, you may find pockets of emptier spots, which can give you some more space to spread out.
There seemed to be some areas in Magic Kingdom that didn’t feel quite as packed.
Another big thing to keep in mind when it comes to crowds is the weather.
When it rains in Disney World, you may find many guests flock to nearby stores, rides, or restaurants with some kind of cover to escape the weather.
You may encounter large crowds near those areas, so keep that in mind.
Even if the weather doesn’t necessarily call for a lot of rain during your visit, you’ll want to come prepared as Florida weather can be a bit unpredictable!
And be prepared to face some larger crowds and lines in indoor spots during the bad weather.
During the rain, you may notice crowds thinning out in some outdoor spots.
In fact, over at EPCOT, we noticed that the crowds were significantly reduced in some spots due to the rain.
If you come prepared to brave the rain (a.k.a. bring those ponchos and umbrellas!) then you could take advantage of some shorter lines.
Overall, our reporters shared that the parks do feel much more crowded now than they did last week.
And as Thanksgiving neared, the crowds have increased even more, as you can see here in Animal Kingdom.
Again, the level of crowding you’ll face will depend on what park you visit, when you visit, where you spend your time in the park, etc. But, overall, as Thanksgiving draws near, be prepared to wait more in some lines for food, merchandise, and rides; and be prepared to encounter more crowds throughout the parks.
A few things to keep in mind as you visit during the busy season:
- Make sure you’ve got your Park Passes set up well in advance.
- Be sure to check if Park Hopping is restricted at any point as it is based on availability (we haven’t really encountered an issue with hopping due to capacity, except on Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, but things can change).
- Be sure to place those mobile orders well before you’re hungry so you aren’t stuck waiting for a much later pick-up time.
- Take advantage of any extra time you might have in the park (early entry or extended evening hours).
- Pack your patience — it can get stressful with big crowds!
We’ll keep an eye out for more Disney news and updates throughout the holidays, so stay tuned for the latest updates!
Are you visiting Disney World soon? Tell us in the comments!