Don’t Wing It. Book FastPass+ BEFORE You Arrive
Winging it is a great way to set yourself up and your family for failure.
Your FastPass+ reservation window opens 60 days in advance of check-in for Disney resort hotel guests and 30 days in advance for non-resort guests. It’s a smart idea to try and book the minute that windows opens. The most popular rides like Slinky Dog Dash at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Avatar – Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom book up quickly! Remember, thousands of people will be flooding the parks when you arrive and many, like you, will have done their homework in order to guarantee they experience those most popular rides.
Even if you’re coming last minute, it’s worth spending a little time before you go to book some rides so you’re not waiting in line all weekend long. Even if you’re choices are for some of the less popular attractions, it’s important to remember you’re going to Disney and ALL the rides are fun. Besides, there are some tricks to get on those more popular rides without waiting in line. More on that below.
Plan Wisely and Be Flexible!
Busy days at Disney can quickly become a bust if you don’t manage your family’s expectations. When crowds are at their peak you won’t see everything but you can still bring home a lot of great memories. Talk to your family and have everyone pick that ONE thing they absolutely must experience. Work together and make it everyone’s mission to make each other’s goals the priority.
Split up! If it fits your family’s dynamic don’t be afraid to split up into teams in order to get those coveted rides on everybody’s must do list covered. In this modern age of technology things like FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and Google Duo are great tools to keep everyone connected and share everyone’s fun.
Lastly, relax! There are lots of places to unwind and wonderful opportunities for your family to enjoy some great bonding time. You’re going to see lots of angry and frustrated families on busy days… don’t be one of them.
Arrive Early and Stay Late
Rope Drop. That means arrive at the Disney World parks about an hour before opening and ride your favorites in the first hour or two before the lines get really long.
The exception to this is if a park has morning Extra Magic Hours and you are staying off-site. Pick another park if you can.
At Magic Kingdom the best way to to do this is to NOT follow the crowds into Fantasy Land. Everyone will be headed to Seven Dwarves Mine Train. Dont fall for that trap! The ride is fun but it’s only a few minutes long and not worth the wait. And it’s a good bet the line will quickly fill up and be an hour plus long before you get yourself into the queue.
Instead shoot through Adventure Land and ride Splash Mountain and the other great rides in that section of the park.
Stay as late as you can. During the very busiest times, park hours are extended. Consider sleeping in and arriving at the park after the fireworks. Typically that’s when the parks empty out and will give your family a chance to ride a lot of the more popular rides. And nothing beats the glow of a Disney park at night.
Avoid Hopping on the Very Busiest Days
Park hopping is not recommended during busy times. If a park reaches capacity, you will not be allowed re-entry.
Know the Parade & Show Schedules
If your goal is to see the parades or fireworks plan to stake out your spot an hour (or more) before it starts. Also, the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom can be viewed from many locations throughout the park. They pipe the music through to every land. You’ll miss the cool effects at the castle but one of the coolest experiences our family had was gazing at the fireworks in Adventure Land. We had the whole land to our selves!
If the parades and fireworks aren’t a must do then these times are ripe with opportunity to experience those more popular rides!
Eat Breakfast Before You Arrive at the Parks
Time is precious during busy times at the parks. Plan breakfast at your hotel before arriving. Eat early and arrive early.
Dine During Off-Peak Hours
Consider bringing snacks and grab a late lunch. Restaurants, especially at Magic Kingdom, can be crazy busy and there AREN’T enough seats or tables to go around. My family spent a good 40 minutes one afternoon stalking lunch goers in order to snatch up an available table. Not fun!
Restaurants inside the parks get busy around traditional dining times — 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch and 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for dinner.
Lunch starts at 11 a.m. and dinner starts at 4 p.m.
Take a Break from the Parks
Talk to a cast member to get a feel for whether the park is likely to fill to capacity that day. If not then consider leaving the parks by lunch time and spend some down time back at the pool, or exploring the Disney resorts. It’s a great way to unwind and reenergize yourself!
Watch the Fireworks Outside of the Parks
Consider watching the fireworks from outside the park. By doing this, you can have a less stressful time fighting the Disney World holiday crowds and getting back to your hotel. Magic Kingdom fireworks shows are viewable from the beaches at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and on the boat ride between Magic Kingdom and Fort Wilderness.
You’ve dedicated months of planning the perfect day but remember, it’s OK to alter that plan and change course for the good of you and your family’s sanity.
Be mindful of how everyone is doing. If your family looks tired then it’s time to become their lifeline and do something different. Sometimes that means taking a break or calling it a day. Don’t put your plans over anyone’s happiness, it’s just not worth it. You’re there to spend time with your family. If you give them a break the next day will be more enjoyable for everyone.