Avoid crowds at Walt Disney World: 3 great tips

See recent posts by Carl Trent

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kindgom, Disney World

Walt Disney World has the most visited theme parks in the world. Every year over 15 million guests visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom. And that’s just the Magic Kingdom. This means that every single day there are an average of over 41,000 guests in the Magic Kingdom alone. Crowds are a way of life at the Disney World Parks.

Here are 3 great tips to help you avoid crowds at Walt Disney World.

Crowd Avoidance Tip #1: Visit during the slower times of the year.

Disney World has big crowds when schools have long breaks. That’s natural. The best way to miss the Disney World crowds is to visit when school is in session. From the middle of January to the first week or so of March and from late August until the week of Thanksgiving, crowds at Walt Disney World are normally very manageable. Some days, you can walk on the busiest of rides without standing in line at all.

Another good thing about these periods is Disney tends to run specials to attract customers. These specials have included free park tickets or free dining or greatly reduced room prices.

Crowd Avoidance Tip #2: Use Disney Extra Magic Hours

If you are staying in one of the Disney hotels such as the Polynesian Resort in Orlando or Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter in Orlando, you will have access to a program called Extra Magic Hours. Disney allows guests staying in their hotels to enter a park one hour early or stay up to three hours after the park has closed. This is a great way to tour the parks with small crowds.

Extra Magic Hours is available on select days at select parks. For example, in March 2011, the Magic Kingdom has morning Extra Magic Hours on Thursdays and evening Extra Magic Hours on Sundays. On Sundays, the park closes at 11:00 p.m. but stays open until 2:00 a.m. for Disney hotel guests. Even Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon participate.

Crowd Avoidance Tip #3: Get to the parks early

Tip number 3 works for everyone. It works virtually all year around and isn’t limited to guests staying in Disney hotels.

Get to the parks early, before it even opens. Yes, I know, you are on vacation and you want to relax. If you want to stand in line all day for rides, go ahead and sleep. But this is the easiest and best way to avoid crowds at Walt Disney World.

Crowd arrival patterns at Disney World are predictable. Almost every day, from opening until late afternoon, crowds grow and stay until around closing time. For the most part, the smallest crowds at the Disney World parks are during the first two hours of the day. You will be able to ride more rides with shorter lines in the first two hours than any other time of the day.

Some guests leave Walt Disney World upset because of the long lines, which is a shame because they are usually easy to avoid. If you go early in the morning, or use Extra Magic Hours or visit during the slow times of the year, you will have more time to enjoy the best family vacation destination in the world.

–- Carl Trent of Dad’s Guide to Walt Disney World and Dad’s Guide to WDW the blog

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