Beat the crowds at Walt Disney World this summer

by: Laurel Stewart\/TouringPlans.com Updated:

Every person in this photo is getting in line for Toy Story Mania. Where do you want to be in that line?

Outside of Christmas and Spring Break, summertime is generally the busiest time of year at Walt Disney World. But on days when waits for your favorite attractions can surpass 2 hours, guests can be at the front of the crowds and avoid the longest lines even as tourists melt in the heat and FASTPASSes evaporate faster than the mists at the cooling stations all over the resort.

Rule One: Get There Early

The first rule to avoid crowds is to beat them to the parks. Sure, you might want that extra hour of sleep, but do you want those extra hours in line? At TouringPlans.com, we show you in 15 minute increments how crowds grow during the day. Even 30 minutes can make a huge difference. Case in point – guests who want to experience Epcot’s Soarin’, the most popular attraction in Walt Disney World, will walk (well jog, if they’re smart) onto the attraction in about 5 minutes if they head for it as soon as the park opens. Arrive an hour later, and the wait is up to 45 minutes. Get to the park at lunchtime, and it’s over an hour and you’re lucky if there are still FASTPASSes available. You may say “45 minutes? Who cares?” But add up 45 minutes here, 30 minutes at Test Track, another 20 minutes at The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and you’ve added extra hours in line to your day.

Rule Two: Know When to Say No

Be willing to walk a little more to knock the most popular attractions out of the way first. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the two most popular draws are Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris. And it’s no mistake that they are on opposite ends of the park. It may be tempting to do Rafiki’s Planet Watch after the Safari, but if your primary goal is avoid lines, you’re advised to remember that the lines at Expedition Everest are growing while you’re on the train.

Rule Three: Use FASTPASS if you don’t arrive early

Surprisingly enough, we have found at TouringPlans.com that even on the busiest days, you really don’t need to use FASTPASS for the first few hours the park is open. The time spent getting them for your party and returning to use them (now only within the hour printed on the pass, not anytime later in the day as was once the case), doesn’t add up to as much time saved as you would think when the lines are already at their shortest. That said, if you arrive later, and waits have built up, by all means, go ahead and use this free service that is available to all guests visiting the parks to schedule a time to come back later and wait in an expedited queue.

Rule Four: Eat at Off Hours

Attractions aren’t the only lines you’ll experience in a day at Walt Disney World. Chances are, if you’re hungry at noon, most of the other guests at the parks are too. Most counter service restaurants begin serving lunch at 11 AM and are open until the park closes. Eat as early as you can or bring in a snack so you can wait until after 2:00 to get your meal. Bonus tip: know where you want to eat and what you’d like to order before you get hungry. TouringPlans.com has menus from every quick service, kiosk, food cart, and full service restaurant in the entire resort for you to check out either before you leave or on your phone. And knowing what you want will make food lines quicker for everyone.

Rule Five: Have a Plan

This is so important that we named our company for it – TouringPlans.com. Walt Disney World thinks that if a guest experiences more than 9 attractions in a day that his trip to the park was a success. People who use our touring plans can do that before lunch time. If you use a touring plan, not only to will you have the science of a team of software developers and statisticians behind you, but you’ll save more time than you would believe by simply avoiding the question “Well, what should we do next?”

So get out there and enjoy your summer vacation. It’s a great time to visit Walt Disney World.

TouringPlans.com is the official home on the Web of the best-selling Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. The site offers subscribers premium tools, including a Crowd Calendar, custom touring plans, and a mobile app, to help guests make the most of their trips to Walt Disney World and other destinations.