Every Disney passholder and first-timer alike has experienced the incredibly long lines and crowds that the most magical place on Earth, Walt Disney World, can bring on any given day. While going on rides is one of the best parts about visiting the Disney parks, sometimes waiting 2+ hours for a 3 minute ride can feel like a waste of your time. After sitting through many park days of long lines, I want to share with you my best tips and tricks for avoiding the long lines and helping you better enjoy the magic you can experience at Disney!
1. Get to the park before rope drop/Use Early Magic Hours if you can
The one thing you do not want to hear after a long day is that you have to get up early and do it all over again. Unfortunately the best time to get as many rides in as possible with the shortest wait times is right when the park opens. As soon as you enter the park, head to one of your big attractions you were wanting a Fastpass+ reservation for but could not get. For Magic Kingdom, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is always a great way to start the day, and then you can finish out the rides in Fantasyland or try to make it to Space Mountain before the lines get long. For Epcot, since you are limited to either Soarin’ or Test Track, I would definitely go with Soarin’ because of the longer wait times (and the fact that Test Track has a single rider line- more to come on that later on). For Hollywood Studios, I would definitely suggest heading straight to Slinky Dog Dash or Toy Story Mania. For Animal Kingdom, your best choices are between Flights of Passage and Expedition Everest. Make sure you arrive at least 45 minutes before the park opens to guarantee your spot when the park officially opens.
If you are staying on Disney property, you have access to Early Magic Hours. A park will open one hour early or stay open additional hours (up to 2) at the end of each day. This is included as a part of your stay at a Disney resort so take advantage of the additional hours!
2. Ride during parades, shows, and fireworks
If you are a first-timer to Disney World, I highly suggest you do not follow this tip and go see all the parades and fireworks shows at least once! The perfect time during the day to wait for an attraction is during a parade, show, or firework because guests will flock to these areas leaving ample opportunity for you to run to your favorite ride. Also some of the best and most magical views for the fireworks can be found on many of the rides (especially Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, and Thunder Mountain).
3. Check your My Disney Experience app for wait times
The My Disney Experience app is a must for every Disney trip. Disney updates wait times throughout the day on the app so that you can have the most accurate wait time possible before running over to an attraction.
4. Ask the cast members at the ride what the wait time is
Despite Disney tracking the lines and wait times for each ride, they are not always completely accurate on the timing, especially if there is a huge rush of people towards the ride (such as after a parade viewing). We have found it super helpful to ask the experts for each attraction for the most accurate estimate, the cast members running the attraction! Without fail, the cast members can tell you whether the listed time is under, over, or just right. Many times we have walked up to a ride to see a much longer line than just a 30 minute wait, and when we ask the cast member if this is correct, they will tell us it is closer to 60 minutes and that the time has not been updated yet. Cast members are your most helpful resource at Disney so make sure to take advantage and get all the information you can (and make sure to give them all your thanks too)!
5. Stay past closing
After arriving at the park before rope drop and having an exhausting park day, the last thing you want to do is stay even after the park is closed, but this is the best time to squeeze in one last big ride you have been wanting to go on. As long as you get in line before the park officially closes (if the park closes at midnight, you can get in line at 11:59), the cast members will not turn you away, and you will be able to actually ride the attraction. Many guests do not know this or they just call it quits after a long day, so this is a great time to get a big ride in that you did not have time for earlier in the day. We have been able to ride Space Mountain after waiting less than 10 minutes by utilizing this tip!
6. Think carefully about which day you will go to which park
It goes without saying that weekdays are always better than weekends in terms of crowds at any of the Disney parks. With careful planning though, you can best utilize each different park for every day you are at Disney. For example, if you do not have access to Early Magic Hours, do NOT go to the park that is having Early Magic Hours that day. You will be entering an already crowded park with long waits for by the time you make it in. If it is a weekend day and Epcot has a festival going on (especially near opening or closing weekend of the festival), avoid Epcot and head to a different park for the day. Think as strategically as possible, and it will help greatly with the crowds and wait times!
7. Use Single Rider when available
Some of the bigger attractions at the parks offer a Single Rider line. Your party will enter the line together, but will be split up while actually riding the attraction so that you can fill up any empty seats. We have used this for big rides such as Test Track and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and it saves so much time. Often times you will still end up near your party, while waiting for significantly less time. For example, during one of the festival weekends, we were able to get on Test Track and only wait about 10 minutes (and we even ended up in the same car together), while the wait time for the standby line was 90 minutes.
8. Fastpass +
This tip should be a given, but it is essential that you book your Fastpass+ reservations ahead of time to get the best opportunities for the rides you want. Disney World’s Fastpass+ service is completely free to all guests. You can book three Fastpass+ reservations for each day, but once you have used up all of your fastpasses, you can visit one of the Fastpass+ kiosks to see if you can add an additional fastpass before the day ends! The best tip for fastpasses is to plan them as early in the day as possible so you can try to get another fastpass for a big attraction before the day is over. For those staying on property, you can book Fastpass+ reservations 60 days in advance, and for those staying off property, you can book 30 days in advance.
9. Prioritize rides based on the time of the day
With this tip, I am especially talking about whether the attraction is an indoor or outdoor ride. For example, in the summer at the Magic Kingdom, Splash Mountain will always have crazy long lines during the afternoon because everyone is looking for a way to cool off so the best tip for this is to go on this ride very early in the morning or very late at night! Same goes with indoor rides, PhilharMagic is a 3D movie musical and the entire space is air-conditioned. The wait lasts about 10 minutes and the ride lasts about 10 minutes so this ride will fill up during the day as people look for ways to get out of the heat.
10. Reserve breakfast before the park opens
If you are able to, try to reserve breakfast at one of the restaurants that open up before the park does. All four Disney World Parks have at least one restaurant that opens up for breakfast one hour before the park opens, so use this to your advantage! You will be able to get perfect photos without the crowds, eat breakfast, and ride a couple rides before people even begin entering the park.
I hope these tips help you to have the most magical day at the most magical place on Earth,