With the numerous changes at Walt Disney World this past year, things have changed in the theme parks. What used to be the standard has changed, many times quite drastically. And when it comes to lines and crowds, there’s a new way to navigate the parks. So, how to avoid lines at Disney World and skip the crowds? Here’s how.
Since the Disney World theme parks opened mid-July 2020, the way I navigate lines and crowds in the parks has definitely changed. And truthfully, I’ve never been a fan of waiting in long lines while in the parks and have avoided crowds whenever possible. But, with two, week-long visits under my belt since the parks reopened, I’ve noticed the ebb and flow of crowd levels are altered. But, I’ve discovered some easy ways to avoid long lines and crowds when touring the parks. Here are my best tips.
How to Avoid Lines at Disney World: Arrive to the Park BEFORE Rope Drop
Arrive BEFORE rope drop (park opening)? But rope drop is rope drop.
Not necessarily. Take, for example, Magic Kingdom since reopening. Since mid-July, the park has shown a steady opening time of 9am. But, we’ve been able to enter the park anywhere from 30 minutes earlier than the official time. During the 30 minute sweet spot, we’re able to walk around the park and queue up for, say, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and be one of the first in line to ride when it get going.
Previously, I’ve always been a proponent of getting into the parks as soon as you’re able in the morning for the most success of hopping on rides, staying through lunch, going back to the resort during peak times, and then heading back for dinner, but that’s changed.
So, my advice is to get to the park earlier than rope drop. Because, once the park officially opens, that’s when the crowds start flooding in. These days, crowds really don’t have that ebb and flow – they tend to remain steady throughout the day. So, get there when the gates open, get into your ride or die ride queue, and then work your way around the park.
Go During the Afternoon and Stay Through Park Closing
I touched on this a little above, but crowds do ease up toward the end of the park day. My opinion is that folks don’t want to be waiting in line for transportation, so they get out of the parks before that closing rush. Also, locals want to get off the I-4 and away from congested roads before the afternoon rush.
This year, with the absence of Fastpass+ reservations and park hopping, folks are eager to get in and get on the popular rides. As a lady that constantly checks crowd levels on My Disney Experience (even when I’m at home!), I’ve noticed that the first and last hours of a theme park day are the sweet spots.
Keep Your Eye on My Disney Experience During Your Visit
Walt Disney World’s policy is to halt rides and attractions for several thorough cleaning throughout the day. So, many times you’ll see on the My Disney Experience app “temporarily closed” below a ride’s wait time. Keep this in mind when queueing up as it will lengthen a ride’s wait time.
Also to note: After the park’s been opened for an hour or two, if you notice a low drop in a popular ride’s wait times, be warned: other guests have probably noticed it, too, and will hustle for the line. This happened to us recently for Space Mountain – we walked all the way across the park only to find everyone else did as well.
How to Avoid Lines at Disney World: Eat Early or Late
There’s a sweet spot for avoiding crowds when dining: eat before or after the rush. And by rush, I’m talking the maximum amount of guests allowed inside an indoor restaurant.
At this point, you really only need to worry about quick service restaurants for lunch and dinner. Peak dining times are roughly 12-2pm and 6-8pm. So, get your mobile order in place early and eat before the rush gets going. For my family, we like to order and eat when the restaurant opens as it’s probably as quiet and clean as it’s going to get for the day.
Castmembers have been urging guests to use mobile ordering, so make sure you have that all set up before you visit. If you have a glitch, however, they will allow guests to order at the restaurant. However, they will try everything to get your mobile order to go through first. It simply keeps the lines moving and less folks inside the restaurant. During a recent visit to Magic Kingdom and Cosmic Ray’s, we had a problem with mobile ordering and worked with a castmember for five minutes to get our order to go through. She was very kind and helpful and helped us to troubleshoot.
Shop in the Morning
My old rule of thumb was to shop before you leave the park so you don’t have to carry around your bags all day, but that’s changed for me. Folks like to shop before they leave the park, so you’ll find larger crowds then. These days, I’ll carry around bags to avoid crazy busy stores. Also, I’ve noticed that castmembers don’t stock the shelves as much throughout the day. So, the primo items are on the shelves at rope drop.
FYI: You’re no longer able to purchase items and have them sent to the front of the park to retrieve before you leave. Trust me, I tried it.