Tips for avoiding long lines at Disney World

I am going to state the most obvious way to avoid lines at Walt Disney World first thing just to get it out of the way. That would be to go to Disney World during the off-season. Generally the off-season is from mid January thru mid March and Late August thru September when schools are in session, and there are no major holidays when kids get more than a day off. However, there are two things that you need to watch out for during these time periods. The first is special promotions or festivals that Disney is running. Disney is a business, so it is in their interest to have many guest as possible. The second is international guest as Disney World attract guest from around the World. Many of countries have different Holidays than the United States. So on a week that you thought was going to be slow, you may find that you are surrounded by international guest.

So if you are like me and can not go to Disney during the slower months (I have two kids, and my wife is a teacher) what can you do to avoid crowds?

  • Fastpass plus – You need to be sure to reserve your fastpasses. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort, the Swan and Dolphin, Shades of Green or one of the eight Disney Springs area hotels partnered with Disney, you can reserve your fastpasses 60 days from your first day the park. Otherwise you will be able to reserve your fastpasses 30 days prior to each day you plan to spend in the parks. It seems like every Disney blogger has a fastpass strategy, though I think the most important thing is to reserve fastpasses for the attractions that are most important to you. Following someone’s fastpass strategy does nothing for you, if you end up with fastpasses for attractions that no one in your party cares about.
  • Table Service Dining Reservations  – You can make dining reservations up to 180 days prior to the reservation date.  For some of the most popular dining experiences (like Cinderella’s Royal Table) you must get the reservation 180 days out.  For less popular experiences you can wait till it is closer to the date of your trip, but I would recommend that you have all your dining plans finalized at least a month in advance.  I like to use my dining as a way to avoid crowds.  Typically the parks are most crowded between 11 am and 4 pm.  I usually like to do a table service dining experience during that time to get me out of the crowds (and during the summer out of the heat).  As a bonus most of the table service restaurants are cheaper at lunch then they are at dinner.
  • Avoid popular attractions during the middle of the day – Unless you have a fastpass you should avoid popular attractions during the middle of the day.  As I mentioned earlier the busiest time of the day is typically between 11 am and 4 pm.  You need to plan on getting those popular attractions in before 11 am or after 4 pm.  After 4 pm many of the popular attractions will start to have shorter wait, though the most popular attractions will have long waits most of the day.  So what should you do during that busiest time of the day?  You can go back to your resort for a swim and/or nap. As I stated earlier, you can reserve your table service meals during this time.  It is also a great time to visit less popular attractions, or attractions that have large capacities.  Usually older attractions are less popular, and the shows have the highest capacities.
  • Avoid the park that has Extra Magic Hours – Extra magic hours are available for guest that are staying at the Walt Disney World resorts.  It is a time in the morning or evening when the park is only open to Walt Disney World resort guest.  Sounds great if you are a resort guest doesn’t it?  The catch is that typically Disney schedules Extra Magic hours for the park that is traditionally busiest on that day of the week.   To avoid the largest crowds, you should go to the park that had Extra Magic hours the evening before.
  • Use the My Disney Experience App – There are several ways that this app can help you avoid the crowds at Disney.  You can use it to see the wait times of the attractions in all of the Disney World theme parks.  You can use it to try to  get additional fastpasses after you use your first three fastpasses.  I have never had much luck with getting additional fastpasses, but there are plenty of people out there that claim they do it all the time. Finally one of its newest features can save you a lot of time at quick service restaurants. You can now order your meal on the App and then when you arrive at the restaurant you click on the App that you have arrived and you get to skip the line of people that are ordering their meals.

Can you think of any other tips? Please share and leave your comments below.