I’m not a fan of Disney World when it’s busy. Chris and I usually stay away during the summer months (umm…it’s hot!) and spring break because we just don’t want to deal with the people. We’re much happier when the crowds are moderate and the weather is perfect. So we tend to plan our trips around those times. But sometimes the high crowds and awful weather are unavoidable. Like during Star Wars Weekends (which aren’t happening this year…bummer!).
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I’m of the opinion that the more information you gather the easier your trips will be. And if you’re planning a Disney vacation during the summer, spring break, or even Christmas/New Years it will be busy and the wait times will be long. But they don’t have to be miserable if you have a game plan!
1. Stake out your spot for parades and fireworks shows early.
It may be a huge pain in the butt, but when Disney is busy people start to stake out spots for parades and fireworks two to three hours early. It may seem crazy but the reasoning is that if you want a primo spot it’s better to get there early than to be rude and try to cut in front of people at the last-minute. Plus, people who have been there for a few hours will pretty much hate your guts for trying to push in front of them just minutes before the parade starts (ask me how I know…). To pass the time, make sure you have a Portable Charger for your cell phone so you can play games or surf the internet. It can get pretty boring sitting there for a while!
2. Bring Snacks
When lunch or dinner time rolls around and your stomach starts rumbling, it’s never fun to stand in line at a quick-service counter and then spend ten minutes while your food gets cold trying to find a seat (okay, that timeframe may be a bit exaggerated!). If you bring a small snack for you and your littles, you can eat them while you wait for the crowds to let up and then get food. Eating before or after the mad lunch and dinner rush will be a much calmer experience for all involved!
3. Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours
Chris and I love using EMH at the parks during our trips! During the busy times you can bypass a lot of crowds and get on all the rides you want with minimal wait times. On certain days select parks are either open earlier or later for those of us who stay on-property. We love the night hours but I know plenty of people who love going in the early mornings as well (we’re really not morning people!).
If you want to take advantage of nighttime extra magic hours, I would suggest sleeping in so that you can stay all night (especially if DMK is open until 2am). If you love taking photographs at Disney, those nights are the perfect opportunity to get pictures of Cinderella’s Castle with little to no people in the picture!
4. Use Fastpasses!
I’m a huge planner and I love that we can book fastpasses for our favorite rides before leaving for vacation. There’s a lot of discussion as to whether or not planning out your vacation before you go is a good thing, and I definitely think it is! What I love about the passes are that you can reserve your place in line and not have to worry about long wait times and cranky kids. Instead, you can head to the ride and hop on quickly, and then go off and do whatever else you want until it’s time for your next pass. These are so helpful during the busy season when wait times are anywhere between 90-120 minutes (or more!).
Just remember that you can only book 3 passes a day online or on your My Disney Experience app. But don’t worry! After using your 3 fastpasses for the day you can find a kiosk at the parks (just check your map to see where they are located) and reserve another pass.
5. Don’t forget to stop and relax
During the summer it can get downright humid at Disney World. One of our favorite ways to stay cool is to take advantage of the free cup of ice water that some quick service locations provide. Chris and I also like to take a Brita Water Filter Bottle with us so that when we want to go back out into the parks we can pour ice water in it and take it with us.
Another thing you can do to stay cool is to find places to relax while out at the parks each day. Finding a quiet and shaded spot is not difficult if you know where to look. Sometimes all you need is a place that’s away from the crowds to drink a cool cup of ice water before heading back out into the crowds.
While special events and certain holiday’s tend to drive up the crowds that go to Disney World, it’s still worth it (to us) to plan trips during those times! We love Christmas, the Food & Wine Festival, and the former Star Wars Weekends the most and always try to go during those times of the year. To be honest, Disney is magical no matter how many people are there!