Anyone who has been to Disney World before knows about the lines. It is not a little known fact that lines are large at any theme park, but especially so at Disney World. There are certain actions that you can take ahead of time though, to ensure that the lines you encounter are short. This enables you to see the attractions while you are there and minimizes meltdowns and frustration. A little pre-planning can go a long way to making or breaking your vacation.
1. Decide When to Go
If you have flexibility in when you can take your Disney vacation, you can choose a less crowded time of year to go. This is one of your best options for avoiding long lines, but unfortunately is not an option for those who can only go during holidays and the summer when attendance rates are high. DW Insider offers a list of the best times of the year to visit Disney for lower crowds.
2. Create a Park Touring Plan
There are many different websites that offer a service that helps you create a detailed itinerary designed to help you navigate the parks with minimal wait times, so that you can see everything you want to in a certain span of time. These services are usually available for a low fee, either monthly or one time and work best for those who do not mind being on a schedule. If you prefer to take things at your own pace, it is still a good idea to draft up a plan of what attraction you want to see and how you plan to do it. Touring Plans has a detailed crowd calender that recommends the best and worst parks to visit each day and they also offer touring plans for each park to help you avoid lines.
3. Utilize Fast Passes
One of the best tools that Disney World itself gives park guests for navigating long lines is the Fast Pass system. A Fast Pass is basically a ticket that allows you to come back to the chosen ride at a designated time and enter a secondary line that has a much shorter wait. In most cases, the Fast Pass lines are walk on.
To use this option, look for rides equipped with Fast Pass, insert your park ticket into an available machine and receive your Fast pass ticket. Note the time that is on the Fast Pass, it will be an hour long window (ie. 4:00pm – 5:00pm.) This is the time frame when you should return to the ride and enter the Fast Pass lane.
You are only allowed one Fast Pass at a time and cannot get another one until the window or your current one has started. So, if it were now 2pm and you had a Fast Pass for Thunder Mountain that stated 4pm-5pm, then you would not be able to get a Fast Pass for another ride until after 4pm. While waiting for your Fast Pass time, you can take advantage of other rides with shorter lines.
4. Use the Wait Time Boards or a Wait Time App
In each park, there is at least one board that lists the current wait times or the various rides throughout the park. These boards can help save you from walking all the way across the park to an attraction that has a very long wait. Utilize these boards to plan out what you want to do next with the shortest wait possible.
Similarly, there are many Apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch that allow you to have access to the wait times in any park instantly. My personal favorite is WDW Maps, which is available for free in the App Store. This app not only shows you a complete map of each park, but it also gives you the current wait times for each attraction so you can instantly have access of where to go for a short wait time.
5. Take Advantage of Extra Magic Hours
If you are staying on Disney World property, this is another great way to avoid long lines. Extra Magic Hours are available to all Disney World park guests who have a valid room key to a hotel on property. Every day, a different park is chosen and will have either early magic hours where the park opens to Disney resort guests one hour prior to its scheduled opening time or late magic hours in which it will stay open three hours later than its scheduled closing time.
Early magic hours seem to have the shortest waits, since not as many people will wake up early to go to the parks for them. It is very possible to get most of the rides you want to do out of the way in this one hour with a little bit of planning. The last hour or so of late magic hours are the best if you want to avoid lines. Since many people were already in the park before closing, the late hours are more crowded than the early ones, but can still save you some time.
6. Single Rider Lines
This is an option that will not work for all, but may help some people avoid gigantic lines. Many rides at Disney World have single rider lines. People are taken from these lines to fill single seats within a ride that are left by odd number parties. If you are going to Disney by yourself, don’t mind riding separate from your group or are going on a certain ride alone, then these rides can save you a great deal of time. Currently, there are three attractions that generally run with a single rider line and they are Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest and Test Track. Occasionally, other rides will open up a line for singles as well.