Let’s face it — sometimes Disney World can get crowded — busy days happen.
But how you navigate those days could determine how your day goes. And yes, although it can be frustrating when Disney World is busy, there are ways you can keep from letting a busy day ruin your magical vacation. So here are our tips — or life hacks, if you will — to help you get through the busiest day at Disney World!
1. Plan as much as you can in advance
The best thing you can do to avoid a LOT of frustration during a busy day at Disney World is to plan ahead. Get that hotel booked as soon as you can. Get those must-have dining reservations as early as you can (preferably at the 60-day mark before the start of your trip). Make those park pass reservations.
Doing all of this as early as possible will make sure that you get to stay where you want to stay, eat where you want to eat, and get to each park when you want to get to it.
2. Understand you might not be able to do everything
Even if the crowds are light during your trip, you’ll need to understand that there is no way it’s humanly possible to do everything at Disney World in a normal trip. There’s just TOO much. So keep a small list of priorities (especially with rides, experiences, and dining) and focus on those. Be sure to break it down PER PERSON in your group. While one might want to drink around the World in EPCOT, another might be all about tackling thrill rides. Gotta make sure you carve out time for EVERYONE in your crew. That means anything else you get to do beyond your list is extra bonus icing on the cake (and you know how much we love icing, here!).
You’ll also want to learn to use the My Disney Experience app and Disney Genie to help you plan your days. (And, take it from us, you’re gonna want a crash course in Genie BEFORE it’s 7AM the day of, and you’re staring at your phone confused and mad!)And if there are rides or experiences you HAVE to do, you can always pay an upcharge of $15 per day for Disney Genie+ to book Lighting Lane passes to skip the long lines. AND you can do that with certain premium individual attractions, too, for an additional cost.
3. Plan extra time to do everything
When Disney World is busy, EVERYTHING is going to take longer to do — that includes rides, taking Disney transportation, and even walking from one part of a park to another. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get to your planned destinations, whether that’s Lightning Lane pass rides, dining reservations, or something else.
This also falls under the rule to not over plan your day — under plan and assume that everything on your list will take more time than normal on a busy day. This will also help you have some buffer time built into your schedule to enjoy some of those magical Disney “extras” like if you happen to stumble across some Streetmosphere (AKA characters or performers out and about) or a Character Cavalcade. That way you can pause and enjoy it, instead of having to rush past it in an anxiety-driven dash to meet your next scheduled attraction or reservation.
4. Keep your expectations low
Hey, we get it — you’re spending a lot of money and time planning the perfect Disney World vacation, and well, your expectations are likely to be VERY high. This is YOUR vacation, after all! It should be PERFECT, right? Weeeeell…it should, but that’s not how life typically plays out. We recommend dialing those expectations down a notch so that you’re not disappointed if your trip doesn’t meet every single one of those lofty expecations.
A busy day means you’ll get to do less, but it doesn’t mean that your Disney World trip will be any less magical. Magic is everywhere at Disney World, especially when you’re not looking for it, and yes, it’s even there on a busy day. It might rain, or an attraction might go down for maintenance, but just because your Disney trip isn’t exactly how you envisioned it doesn’t make it any less memorable. Control what you actually can control and just go with the rest. Just keep a positive outlook and remember that even vacation snags can turn into lifelong memories!
5. Rope drop
Okay, we know that some of you are NOT morning people, but at Disney World, the early bird really is the one to catch the worm…or in this case, the one that gets to do more stuff at Disney World. Be at the parks as early as you can (and depending on what hotel you’re staying at, that could be an extra 30 minutes before the park opens). And as soon as that rope drops (figuratively speaking!), start knocking off the to-do stuff on your priorities list.
You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done if you get to the parks early. And then that leaves you with the rest of the day to do stuff you hadn’t even planned for or revisit some of those favorite attractions or shows for a second (or even third!) time. Plus, if you’re looking for hard-to-score individual attraction selections or Genie+ Lightning Lanes, you’ll want to be up and at’em!
6. Use Disney Genie+
We know, we know — the whole idea of Disney Genie+ is controversial for many of you, but on a busy day, the $15 price tag could very well be worth it. Crowded days mean long lines, and if paying $15 per person, per day can help you skip spending your day standing in line, well, Disney Genie+ could be worth the upcharge.
We’re not telling you that you HAVE to pay for Disney Genie+ or even fork out more $$$ for individual attraction selections, but if your priority attractions have super long lines and you don’t want to wait in them, that’s probably your best bet. But again — we seriously recommend learning e-ver-y-thing you can about navigating and using the service beforehand to save yourself MASSIVE headaches later on.
7. Ride more underrated attractions
There are SO many attractions at Disney World that are underrated, and you know what? These are usually the attractions with the shortest lines. On a busy day, take advantage of these underrated attractions and enjoy something you might not normally experience at Disney World.
If you’ve never checked out Walt Disney Presents over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s time to do so. And what about the relaxing boat ride that is Living With the Land in EPCOT? Or maybe you want to enjoy some air conditioning and check out MuppetVision 3D in Hollywood Studios? And don’t forget you can get some amazing views of Magic Kingdom from the Liberty Square Riverboat. Hit up those attractions with the short lines — You might just discover a new favorite!
Did Your Pick Make the List? The Most Overrated and Underrated Attractions at Disney World According to YOU!
8. Use Mobile Order During Off Times
You might think that using Mobile Order to get your quick service meals at Disney World would save time, but on busy days, it could actually take up a LOT of time because everyone’s doing the same thing. So the best thing you can do is order your meals with Mobile Order at times that are between normal lunch and dinner hours.
This could make the difference between waiting an hour or longer for your food or waiting just a few minutes. You can still schedule your order for when you would normally eat lunch or dinner, but getting that order in early means your food gets prepared faster than those who waited until later to put their orders in.
9. Be flexible
There’s a good chance that a lot of things just might not go according to plan on a busy day at Disney World. And you know what? That’s okay! And you have to tell yourself that’s okay — prepare for that and be flexible to make alternate plans on the fly.
Who knows? By being flexible, you might just find a new activity or attraction that you’ve never experienced before and end up having even MORE fun than you would have had otherwise.
10. Ride attractions at select times
What if we told you that if you ride attractions at certain times at Disney World, you’ll have less of a line to stand in? One of the best times to hop on a ride is during fireworks! While everyone is packed in tight on Main Street, U.S.A., and in front of Cinderella Castle, you could be walking onto Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and enjoying the fireworks view ON the ride!
Key with this technique is considering when the masses will likely NOT be interested in riding. That means early morning and late evening, especially right before the parks close. A great time to hop in line for a ride is just before park close — as long as you’re in line at the time the park closes, you will be able to ride. This also gives you a little extra time to avoid the crowds exiting the park all at the same time.
11. Take a break
If the crowds just get to be unbearable, take a midday break and go back to your hotel. You could use this time to get in a quick power nap or hit the pool, and it gives you a chance to get away from all the noise and people. Or you could even take some quiet time to explore the resort while everyone else is at the parks. If you’re staying on property, you likely shelled out some $$$ to be at a Disney hotel so get some of your money’s worth of the experience with time at the resort!
A midday break will not only leave you feeling refreshed, but it will also get you relaxed again and ready to tackle the parks again later (after some of the crowds have dispersed!).
12. Be nice to Cast Members
One of the best things you can do on a busy day at Disney World is being nice to Cast Members. Well, OK you should be nice to Cast Members on any day that ends in “y” really!!! Crowded days stress everyone out, and Cast Members probably feel it more than others — so take the time to tell a Cast Member “thank you” when you can and offer them a smile, even if you yourself are feeling frustrated.
Cast Members go out of their way to make everyone’s trip to Disney World magical, and it’s just a simple thing to be nice to pay the magic right back to them. After all, it costs nothing to be kind.
Bonus Tip: Be on the lookout for multiple lines
Sometimes, at park entrances and quick service restaurants, there could be multiple lines. Look closely at the registers and tapstalls and you’ll see that there is usually an option to be served on the right and left side of the register or tapstall.
Feel free to move over to the side with the shorter (or sometimes NO line!), it’s not cutting! If you want to be super friendly to your fellow guests, you can point this out to them as well, and evenly distribute the lines to all open windows. This little observation can help you save some of that precious time in your day for more enjoyable things other than waiting in line!
So although you might end up at Disney World on a busy day, we hope these tips will help you navigate it and adjust your perspective in such a way that you still have a great trip! And we’ll continue to share all our best tips and tricks, so please stay tuned!
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What’s your best tip for dealing with Disney World on a busy day? Let us know in the comments!