Walt Disney World has an average annual attendance of 58 million visitors, making it the most popular theme park in the world. Even in the midst of the pandemic in 2021, the five parks within the resort saw an average of 160,000 people per day.
While it no longer feels like Walt Disney World or Disneyland has an off-season, some periods of time are still known to draw bigger crowds than others. March and April are among the highest-ranked weeks when it comes to crowds all year at both Disney World and Disneyland.
According to theme park data service Thrill Data, the week after Easter 2022 had the highest average attraction wait times for the entire year at Disneyland.
With the busy spring break season upon us, many families choose the Disney theme parks as their vacation destination when the kids are out of school. This can lead to shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, long wait times, and a general sense of dread that you will not accomplish anything on a vacation you saved so much money to book.
Families can name plenty of reasons why a visit to the Disney parks during spring break is ideal, including the ideal weather and the convenience of having time off from work or school.
But when the throngs of crowds along Main Street, U.S.A., makes it seem like every family has the same idea as you, it can feel discouraging. Fortunately, there are several tried-and-true tricks to navigating the busier travel season at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
Keeping a few of these tips in mind from Disney experts will help to work around the crowds and have an enjoyable vacation, even with those long wait times.
Start Your Day Early
Starting your day off on the right foot during busier seasons means setting your alarms extra early and being among the first to enter the theme parks. They say the early bird gets the worm, and in the case of spring break, the early guests get shorter wait times.
With less buildup in the queues, wait times are generally shorter first thing in the morning, meaning you can easily cross a couple of big headliner attractions off your to-do list before breakfast.
Earlier guests also get to do more in the park before the warm temperatures and high humidity make things more challenging.
Megan du Bois, a travel journalist specializing in The Walt Disney Company, has unique approaches to beating the crowds depending on if you visit Walt Disney World in Florida or the Disneyland Resort in California.
On the west coast, du Bois recommends guests “consider staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel. The three options are typically more expensive than Good Neighbor hotels, but they offer the perk of getting into the parks 30 minutes before non-resort guests. In that 30 minutes, your family can get onto multiple attractions that don’t have Genie+.”
At Disney World, du Bois’ strategy involves finding opportunities to recharge. She explains, “Spring break is one of the busiest times of the year at Walt Disney World, and the parks are often packed to the brim. If you’ve entered the park early, consider taking a break back at your hotel, whether to take a nap or enjoy the pool.” du Bois points out that “not only will this keep you out of the parks during the busiest and hottest part of the day, but it will also give your family time to relax and get ready for a fun-filled evening.”
Stay Up as Late as Possible
On the flip side, powering through the late-night hours can help squeeze in those final few rides after the crowds start to thin out. Not only that, but you can often find ways to extend your time in the theme parks beyond the posted hours if you fall into the right guest category.
Chris Provost, host of the YouTube channel Provost Park Pass, points out that “late night is a perfect time to catch rides. Lots of families leave early because their little ones are tired.” You might be able to squeeze in a couple of popular rides in the evening hours if you do not mind missing the fireworks.
Provost shares that “lots of people enjoy watching the Disney fireworks show. That is a perfect time to ride rides, as the lines are generally much shorter.” His recommendation? “Skip the fireworks and ride rides.”
Gavin Doyle, founder of MickeyVisit.com, highlights the value of staying at a Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort hotel to make the most of your evening hours in the parks.
He shares, “When guests stay at a Deluxe Resort hotel, Disney Vacation Club resort, or other select hotels, at Walt Disney World, they get access to Extended Evening Hours on select nights. These evening hours are typically two hours long and have very low crowds.”
These hours often go from 9 pm – 11 pm, but it is not unheard of for the extended evening Hours to go as late as 1 am on some nights. Doyle suggests, “If you are already considering booking a hotel in this category, this might push you over the edge.”
‘Hack’ Your Way to Smaller Crowds
No matter what time of day you visit the parks, you will surely run into crowds during busy seasons like spring break, summer, or the holidays. One trick to dodge the high volume of guests is to seek out less crowded walkways or queues simply by paying attention to where other guests seem to travel.
Provost recommends that when in doubt, “choose the left. Most people, while walking, will choose the right-hand side. If a line ever splits, it’s almost always correct to choose the left side as the line will be shorter.”
Aside from avoiding the main thoroughfare, Disney launched Genie+ at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland to assist guests in cutting down their wait time in line for rides and attractions. Genie+ replaced FastPass+ as a similar yet entirely new paid system that averages anywhere from $15 to $30 per guest per day.
Purchasing Genie+ enables you to reserve return times at a ride’s expedited Lightning Lane entrance. “Genie+ can be a very helpful tool if guests utilize the system correctly, which at Walt Disney World requires being ready to make the first selection at 7 am and at Disneyland to arrive at park opening,” Doyle explains.
Taking other steps throughout the day can alleviate the stress that might come from encountering massive crowds in theme parks. These include taking frequent breaks, staying hydrated, and tempering your expectations that you can get it all done in one day.
Doyle also recommends adding on additional days to your Disneyland tickets to decrease the urgency required with each day. “I always recommend getting a three-day or longer ticket to ensure you see everything at Disneyland and aren’t worried about the crowds.”
Disney packs a lot into its theme parks, and during the busier times of the year, it can feel near impossible to see and do everything. But taking into account the tips mentioned above, you can find ways to work around the crowds and still have a great vacation, no matter what time of year you choose to visit.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.