Beat The Crowds At Walt Disney World

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Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing summer travel tips.


Summer | Travel | Disney | How To Beat The Crowds At Walt Disney World

Summer is a wonderful time of year to visit Walt Disney World; however, it can also be one of the most crowded times to visit. By learning when to visit popular attractions, how to make the most of your FastPass+ selections, and which apps to utilize, you’ll become a pro at navigating the summer crowds of the Disney parks!

Popular Attractions

It’s the first day of your Walt Disney World vacation and your children desperately want to ride Peter Pan’s Flight. You head over to Fantasyland only to find a 90 minute wait for this wonderful, but fairly short, attraction. The sun is hot, it’s approaching nap time, and no one wants to wait an hour and a half for an attraction which lasts only 2 minutes and 45 seconds, even if it is a classic Disney attraction.

Despite the lengthy wait times experienced at certain attractions, it is entirely possible to ride the popular attractions with little wait – if you know when to go. Early mornings are the best time to ride your favorite attractions. Arrive in time for park opening and head straight to the attraction of your choice. More than likely, you’ll be one of the first guests in line and won’t have to wait very long.

If you’re not an early bird, you can still take advantage of reduced wait times. Visit attractions during events such as the parade or fireworks. Most guests will take a break from the attractions at this time, leaving shorter wait times for those who choose to skip the parades or fireworks. If you’re at Magic Kingdom, take a ride on Splash Mountain during either of these events. As your log rounds a curve near the top of the mountain, look out to the left to see my favorite view in all of Walt Disney World. If you time it just right, you’ll catch a glimpse of the fireworks over Cinderella Castle or see the Main Street Electrical Parade as it travels through Frontierland. I’ve also heard Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has spectacular views of Wishes.

FastPass+

In addition to knowing when to  visit the popular attractions, it’s also important to know how to optimize your FastPass+ reservations. For each day of your vacation, you’ll be able to select three FastPasses ahead of time via the My Disney Experience website or app. While it may be tempting to select a FastPass for the evening’s fireworks show, I recommend against it. If you know the best spots for fireworks viewing, you really don’t need a FastPass. You also don’t necessarily need a FastPass for certain shows in the parks which run all day. Shows such as Hollywood Studios’ Voyage of The Little Mermaid run continuously throughout the day. With this particular show, you’re looking at a standby wait time of roughly 20 minutes at most.

Guests staying on-property will be able to select FastPasses 60 days prior, while guests staying off-property can select FastPasses 30 days ahead of time. A few days before you will be able to make your FastPass+ selections, take a look at the wait times in the My Disney Experience app. Notice which attractions have long waits continuously throughout the day. Those are the ones for which you’ll want to reserve a FastPass.

If I haven’t convinced you not to get a FastPass for the nighttime spectaculars yet, let me give you just one more compelling reason. You see, after you use those first three FastPasses, you’ll be able to reserve additional FastPasses! This means you’ll want to make your FastPass+ reservations for as early in the day as possible. After you’ve enjoyed your first three FastPass+ attractions, pull out your phone or visit a kiosk in the park to reserve another. You’ll be able to continue reserving additional FastPasses throughout the day each time you use the one you already have. If you plan it right, you could end up using quite a few FastPasses throughout the day!

Summer | Travel | Disney | How To Beat The Crowds At Walt Disney World

Photo credit: Theme Park Tourist via Foter.com / CC BY

Smartphone Apps

To make the most of your Walt Disney World vacation, you’ll want to download two essential apps. The first of which is the My Disney Experience app which I’ve previously mentioned. This app will allow you to store all of the important information for your vacation. If you’re staying on-property, you can link your resort reservation to your profile. You’ll also be able to link your park tickets and dining reservations to your account. The app is filled with useful information including restaurant menus, park hours, wait times, and more. It’s a great resource for learning about each attraction, show, and restaurant at Disney.

Once your park tickets are linked, provided it’s 60 or less days prior to your vacation (30 for off-prorerty guests), you’ll be able to make your FastPass+ selections. Once you’ve made your selections, you’ll be able to quickly see each reservation and make modifications, if necessary, in the app.

The My Disney Experience app is great; however, there are a few features it doesn’t have. If you want additional resources for planning your vacation, I recommend a Touring Plans subscription (affiliate link). At $12.95 per year, it’s really a great value. Touring Plans’ WDW Lines app is packed with an abundance of Disney information. My favorite feature of the app is the ability to easily see all of the remaining FastPasses for a particular day. You’ll want to pay attention to the time the information was most recently updated, but I’ve found the information is updated fairly regularly, especially if you’re looking at information for the current day. This feature is an extremely valuable resource when deciding whether or not you want to modify any of your FastPass+ selections. For me, the FastPass+ feature alone is worth the yearly subscription cost, but there’s so much more to Touring Plans than just FastPasses!

Other great features of Touring Plans are the crowd calendar and touring plans. Use the crowd calendar (affiliate link) to help select which park you will visit each day. Once you’ve selected your park, you’ll want to put together a touring plan for each day of your vacation. There are numerous pre-built plans you can select, including plans for families with young children, tweens, and even adults only. There are also plans for special occasions such as holidays. If you don’t see a plan you want, the app also gives you the ability to create your own plan. You can select which attractions you want to visit and let the app optimize your plan. If you’re an experienced Disney guest, you may want to create your own plan and just let Touring Plans evaluate your plan rather than optimize it. This is what I did for my vacation and I was pleased to see the app approved of my custom touring plan.

Your Thoughts

Now it’s your turn! How do you beat the crowds at Walt Disney World? Have any of the tips mentioned above worked well for you? Or perhaps you have some additional tips to beat the crowds? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

For more summer travel tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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Kimberly's love of Disney began at an early age and grew even more when her family won a Walt Disney World vacation from a local radio station. She grew up visiting the parks every one to two years and is fascinated by Disney history and trivia. Whether at the parks or at home, Kimberly is constantly looking for hidden Mickeys. She enjoys sharing tips and helping others plan their Disney vacations. In addition to Frontierland Station, she can also be found writing for Park World Travel and selecting music for Park World Radio.

Latest posts by Kimberly (see all)

  • Rosanne Mottola

    Great tips. I’m definitely a fan of touring plans – I would be lost without them!

    • I love their app! So helpful!

  • Such important advice to start early when summer crowds are crazy. Plus, it’s hot and you can beat the heat then too!

    • It certainly is! I usually visit Disney in the summer, so I never travel without a mister fan. This year, I got a mister bottle that you pump with air to make it spray. That thing is awesome! I can’t wait to use it in the parks!

  • I had no idea that the touring plans app shows what FP+ are still available. That sounds like it is worth the subscription right there.

  • Patricia Mickus

    These tips are great. I use Touring Plans all the time. This past Spring Break I took a pic at 9am and 11am at the same location in Frontierland. It amazes me that people want to sleep in at Disney

    • I believe in being in the parks as much as possible. I’m not at all a morning person, but I will get up early for Disney!

    • We are the same way. In the park by opening and out by noon. Crowds around 11 are insane!!

  • Jojams

    Love these ideas! Thank you very much! 🙂

  • I always subscribe to Touring Plans, but haven’t used their app. I may have to check that out a bit more closely. When we were down for a day this past February, the Magic Kingdom was insanely busy – like nothing I’ve ever seen at that time of year. I don’t have the patience for the crowds!

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