Are you looking forward to your next Walt Disney World vacation, but not looking forward to the long attraction lines? Trust me, we’ve all been there. But, there ARE ways to avoid the lengthy queues – if you know the secrets and tips. How? By asking my Disney-loving experts and friends for their top tips. From when to visit to how to order food, here’s how to avoid long lines at Walt Disney World and Disneyland: top tips from Disney experts and lovers.
Here’s the scoop on me and attraction queues at Walt Disney World (WDW): I completely forget about them as soon as I leave the parks. It’s almost like baby brain, but the Disney version. And then I arrive back in parks and it all comes back to me.
Having literally just gotten back from a two-week trip last week, I made it a point to remember this time and ask my Disney expert friends and fans how they avoid long lines when visiting both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. And they had plenty of tips and tricks to share.
Avoiding Long Lines at Walt Disney World: Tips & Tricks
Rock Rope Drop – or Later in the Day
Do you know Caitlin Patoka from Real Mom Recs? While she calls herself a slacker mom, there’s no slacking when it comes to arriving early to Walt Disney World: “Arrive at the parks before opening time. Enjoy the lowest crowds of the day for the first two hours. I work this into my Fastpass strategy by booking the rides with the longest waits (Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and the like) for 11, 12, and 1. Do the next highest priority rides from 9-11 am. After 1pm, you can book more Fastpasses or enjoy the attractions without long waits since you’ve already covered many if not all of the rides with the longest wait times.”
Agreed. We adore rope drop at all four WDW theme parks, especially rope drop at Magic Kingdom.
Lissy Gresco from Lissy Through the looking Glass has a different spin on when to visit: “My tip, if you’re not traveling with kids, is to go to the parks after lunch. All the kids start getting tired and heading back to the hotels for naps and the lines start to thin out a bit! Also head to the rides during parades – people will be heading to those instead of standing in line, so you can find shorter waits for the big ticket attractions!”
Two Words: Mobile Ordering
Having rolled out in the past year or so, Sherry Boswell had this to say about saving time: “I’m a believer after it saved me a TON of time waiting in line for a Dole Whip at Aloha Isle.”
And I couldn’t agree more. My family and I use mobile ordering at every quick service restaurant on WDW property whenever we can and it’s saved us so much time. Even more recently, WDW has added the Disney Dining Plan to Mobile Ordering for folks that are staying on-property and have purchased one, making it even more efficient.
If you’re not sure how to use Mobile Ordering for Quick Service meals and snacks, you’ll need to download the My Disney Experience app on your phone or tablet. you’ll find the clickable link on the home page and the next steps are easy to follow. Tip: You will need to link a credit card to your account as your default payment for Mobile Ordering.
Sadly, sometimes long queues at WDW are unavoidable, but Krystyn Hall from really, Are You Serious? has a great ways to pass the time while waiting in line. Check out her seven easy ways to pass the time while waiting in line at Walt Disney World.
FastPass+ Is a Must
Tessa Smith from Mama’s Geeky us all about making the most of Fastpass+. Schedule all three of yours one right after the other in the morning, and then keep going. She’s gotten 13 over 3 parks before meaning we barely waited in line for all her favorite rides!
I agree. If I can add another tip, it’s this: make sure to lock down FastPass+ reservations as soon as you’re able as the popular rides and attractions go fast. Here are the top FastPass+ selections for each park at Walt Disney World.
Yes, staying on-property may cost more money, but the benefit of Extra Magic Hours makes the cost a little easier to swallow.
Kimberly Stroh from Savvy Mama Lifestyle loves the idea: “Stay on property: One of the perks of staying on site at a Walt Disney World resort is the ability to stay in a park up to three hours later each day, or arrive one hour early. Each day the park and times change, so be sure to check park hours in the My Disney Experience app/website.”
Run for the Queues During Parades & Shows
Sarah Gilliland from Sarah in the Suburbs’s favorite tip is to ride rides & attractions during a parade or fireworks show! Everyone else is watching the parade/fireworks, and you can hop right on almost anything!
Rainy Day Disney Fun
Think rainy days in the Disney parks are a bummer? They don’t have to be. Gen Roberts from Oh Sweet Disney takes full advantage of when it rains. “People flock into shops when it’s raining. My family has been able to practically walk on rides that 45 minutes previously had huge lines. You might get a little wet, but who cares. You are in Disney!”
I absolutely, positively, 100% agree. I LOVE rainy days in Magic Kingdom – here are five reasons why they’re my favorite.
Visit During Off-Season
Did you know there are online crowd calendars for the Disney parks? Yep! And, if you have vacationing flexibility, visiting during the off-season save more than just your time in line. It can save your sanity with lower crowd levels and low on-property resort room rates.
Shannon Zarzeski, self-proclaimed Disney addict (yeah, I’m guilty of that, too) from BRB Going to Disney, is all for off-season: ” Plan your visit for September or January! Both months typically experience lower crowd levels which results in shorter wait times!” If I can add a little more, visit the week before or after a major US holiday. You’ll find far less people in the parks.
Eat Earlier – or Later
I’m always hungry when I’m in the parks. Honestly, it’s probably a combination of getting off my butt and walking 10 miles a day and the delightful scents that are pumped into the air. There’s no way to not get a whiff of Disney popcorn or cookies and bypass them. Nope.
But, when it comes to enjoying Quick Service meals, deciding when to eat can be beneficial, especially when it comes to saving time in line. Sarah Frances from ‘Dis’ Happy Home has more to say about the idea: “Eat off hours: Most guests will eat lunch between 12-2pm and dinner between 5-7pm. During these times lines for rides are significantly shorter as most guests are trying to eat at this time.”
I completely agree. We eat at 11am and probably before 5pm everyday at home, so it makes sense to do the same at WDW and avoid those long queues.
Avoiding Long Lines at Disneyland: Top Tips & Tricks
MaxPass for the Win
My friend Patty Holliday from No Guilt Life has this to say about saving time in line at Disneyland: “MaxPass!!! Dooooo it. The cost is annoying, yes, but what you get in return is so worth it.” Want the scoop on holidays at Disneyland? She’s got plenty of great tips on spending the holidays at Disneyland.
Ashley Saunders from Ashley & Co couldn’t agree more and her Beginner’s Guide to Disneyland’s Maxpass is packed with great information: “Visiting Disneyland? Avoid lines and get all your photo pass and ride photos with MaxPass. It is definitely worth it.”
Set a Timer
If you want to make the most of MaxPass at Disneyland, Alyssa Coral from Aly & Co. thinks keeping an eye on the time is beneficial: “Get MaxPass and set a timer so you get a new pass as soon as you are eligible. Also, getting into the park first thing in the morning is ideal– you can ride lines with minimal wait
Not only will you make the most of your time in the parks, you’ll make the most of the added expense.
Disney Apps for the Win
Remember the days of paper Fastpasses at Walt Disney World? I’d be running (ok, there’s no running allowed in WDW unless it’s runDisney. I’d walk really fast.) from FP kiosk to FP kiosk, pulling those paper tickets. Remembering where I put them and trying not to lose them was a whole other ordeal.
Happily, there are apps that save me the trouble now. Colleen Lanin from TravelMamas agrees with the ease these days. “Use apps to monitor ride wait time and schedule accordingly. Disneyland and Walt Disney World both offer their own apps with wait times that are updated by users in real-time.” But, constant FP vigilance does take a toll on your phone’s battery life. Here are her tips on how to charge your smartphone battery at Disneyland.
Make A Plan
Have you ever hit a Disney park and were overwhelmed compliments of the massive amount of attractions and dining? I admit, when I visited WDW for the first time, I was clueless. I vowed to never be that way again, so I devoured all of the online information I could get my eyes on so I’d be prepared the next time we visited – and that included making park plans that my entire family would enjoy.
Rebecca Higinbotham from The Pixie Dusted Planner thinks the same way: “Make a plan! Doesn’t have to be down to the minute, and you don’t have to follow it to a T, but having some idea of what you want to accomplish is a HUGE help! Especially for your first visit, you can avoid the “what do you wanna do next?” Debate.”
Need Even More Disney Planning Tips in your Life?