How to avoid the crowds at Walt Disney World is such a popular question that I get a lot of times. People will send my agency Jolly Holiday Travel a quote request and say “anytime in the fall” or “anytime in the New Year when it’s not crowded”. Here’s the first thing that I want to cover: there truly is no longer a point in the year that Walt Disney World is not crowded. Disney pin points when the parks are going to be the slowest and that is when they’ll add in their own event that drives traffic during those dates. Examples are the Run Disney event in January, free dining during Thanksgiving and a whole month of Christmas in December. There is always a point at Walt Disney World where it is crowded.
TIP #1: Check a crowd calendar
I always recommend people to check a crowd calendar. There are several of them out there. I like to compare multiple of them at a time. You can go to WDW Prep School, Undercover Tourist, Touring Plans, and more. There are a lot of really cool features on that website that allow you to look at the crowd calendar, plan out your trip, figure out what room you want to stay in. As an agent, I love using those to help my client.
Look at the crowd calendar and check for dates that you can realistically go to. It’s important for you to go ahead and see what weeks are important to you, what events are happening, what crowd levels are anticipated. Another thing that affects crowd levels is the release of new things happening. Walt Disney World’s Star Wars Galaxy Edge is opening at the end of August and that’s really going to affect the crowds and hotel availability.
TIP #2: Figure out what works for your lifestyle
Also look at your personal life: is it worth it for your kids to miss school? If you don’t mind missing, I would say a Sunday to Thursday is super awesome for you to head to the park. That’s going to be the cheapest times in the week. On Thursday, it’s also going slower because obviously people are going to be there more on Friday-Saturday-Sunday. You want to avoid those two most expensive days as well, so check your calendar and figure out what works for you.
TIP #3: Check local events like cheer and dance competitions
You need to think about cheer and dance groups. Those happen throughout the whole year – multiple stages of cheer and dance groups that are happening there. They go to the ESPN Center for competitions and they typically take over the value resorts and breaks so it’s really important for you to be aware when those are happening because they’re going to be a little rowdy. If you were planning on staying during that time, that may bother you.
Other groups like Brazilian tour groups are big, typically about 75 people or more. They are loud – they chant and sing and they typically always wear matching clothes with flags. They also take over the value resorts and fill all the rooms. It’s important for you to know this because of the loudness factor and if, for example, you’re going to be taking the bus, they’ll all be getting on the bus at the same time. If that stresses you out, it’s important to be able to research when they are going to be there and navigate what is happening. Again, great way to use crowd calendar. They typically come after the Spring Break Crew. Just something to be aware of. It’s not terrible, it’s just an inconvenience sometimes if you’re really trying to avoid big crowded places, which again is really not a thing at Walt Disney World. You’re always going to have a crowd happening.
TIP #4: Research on alternative holiday activities
“We really want to go for Christmas but also want to avoid the crowd, what would you recommend?” That’s like an oxymoron. Christmas is the most crowded time to go to Walt Disney World. There are stages in which Disney shuts down the park, meaning that they won’t allow people in. The first stage is whenever they start slowing up how many employees they let in. The second stage is where they start slowing up how many annual passholders they let in. and then it trickles down to outside guests like people who don’t have an annual pass and are just buying a ticket to come in and they’re not staying at the resort property. The last people are people who are staying on property and they have a ticket. There have been times where Magic Kingdom completely closes its doors and doesn’t let anyone into capacity. This is when there are people watching the fireworks and people standing on trash cans to watch the parade. I’m not saying this to deter you from going on Christmas because I think it’s truly beautiful during Christmas. I’ve had clients go during the week of Christmas and they thoroughly enjoyed it but I also made sure to they understood and had the right mindset, to anticipate that most parts were going to be full on certain days.
If you’re determined to avoid crowds during a high traffic time, think about the fact that you can go to Walt Disney World and you don’t have to go to a park. You can get there first thing in the morning, maybe hit a few rides before the crowds really get there, and you can go Resort hopping or just enjoy the amenities at your Resort. You can go to the playground, the pools. Specially during the holiday seasons, because they know how crowded the parks are, they’re offering a lot of entertainment after such as movies and games for the kids and there is a horse and carriage rides at Portland. They have Arch Fort Wilderness and then there’s a ton of shopping at Disney Springs. You can go to the boardwalk. There is so much for you to do you. There are a lot of opportunities for you to escape the crowdedness of the park and still get to enjoy some Disney festivities. A lot of times they will have the princesses come down to the lobby of the Grand Floridian to hang out in the lobby and let your pretty girls meet all the princesses. Just do the right research, there are a lot of ways to map out your time to really make it as magical as possible while also avoiding stress of being in the most crowded areas at that time.
TIP #5: Avoid actual holidays
July 4th is going to be crowded – pretty much any holidays vacation time any holiday you can guarantee it’s going to be like that. Mickey’s not-so-scary Halloween Party are going to look up. If you’re going to enjoy the festivity and not have it as product, go to the ones from the end of September to the beginning of October and avoid the ones at the end of the month. Same thing for the Christmas party; avoid the ones closer to the Holiday and do the ones further out because typically they’re a little bit less expensive and is going to be a less crowded time to go. Everyone typically tries to do it closer to the actual holiday. There are ways for you to enjoy the times of the year but still stay in the least crowded time.
Manage your expectations and make it an enjoyable trip for the whole family!
I think it’s really important for everyone to understand that the outcome of your trip is affected by your expectations and your mindset. Set it in your mind that there are going to be some rides that have an hour wait; there are going to be some that have over an hour wait; there are going to be times where you have to walk up to a ride and decide “is this worth it for me to ride or do I want to go do something else? Am I going to be devastated that I didn’t get to ride this ride?” If the answer is yes, then get in line and find fun things to do. You can do scavenger hunt, there are so many games that you can download onto your phones, and family games with your phone is so much fun with the whole family while you’re waiting in line. Getting some strangers can be a strange be way to create memories with your family while you’re trying to kill time waiting in those long lines rather been complaining about how long the line is. It just affects the mood of the trip when you start complaining about the crowds. Crowds are not going to go away but there are ways to make it easier.
Sometimes you have to go whenever everyone’s out of school and that’s okay, that’s not a big deal. A lot of times, the events they have to entertain the crowds are a lot of fun and totally worth it, so don’t feel like you’re not going to enjoy it. That’s totally up to you and how you choose to plan your trip and your mindset about your trip. If you partner with the right planner and the right person who is experienced with the type of travel that you’re trying to plan, then you can truly have a great experience. It really is up to you. My son and I do “if you’re happy and you know it” and have activities. Space Mountain, Snow White Mine Train, and Winnie the Pooh have an interactive portion.
If you go to Pinterest, there are a ton of options on how to pass the time while you’re waiting in line, like road trip games, easy stuff that you can come up with. If you need to make a list and save it in your phone or make something to print it out and keep it in your backpack, there’s so many ways to pass the time. There comes a point where you come to a ride during the crowded times and it just doesn’t feel right for you to ride that ride right now, there are going to always be some form of entertainment happening throughout the parks that you can participate in.
Partner with a reputable agency for a hassle-free Disney tour
Most Disney agencies are totally free to use. You can also grab one my agency event planners to help you plan a vacation. Disney has partnered with travel agencies and travel planning with them is completely free. You spend the same amount without the hassle. So please save yourself some time and research a good planner to help you. Pick an agency partner on Jolly Holiday Travel or just click no agent and we will assign you one. They’re pretty nice and we love them.
To sum it all up, if you’re truly saying you have a whole year open and it doesn’t matter when you go, the best time for you to travel is January to the end of February. It starts to pick up with a few events happening like a princess spring break and Easter is when it usually picks up. My husband and I went on vacation in mid-February several years ago when we got engaged and we actually typically go during February. Same thing with early November after Halloween when they haven’t fully set up for Christmas. In November, after the Food and Wine Festival half-marathon time and thanksgiving has ended, that’s what I would recommend. It’s got the lowest crowds as possible so that’s when I would recommend that you go. Everything else is going to be average.
Remember that while we cannot always avoid the crowd, you can still have a great time. Feel free to share this post with your friends especially if you found this helpful and informative.
Here’s to making your vacation absolutely magical!
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Mouse and Moore