Tips and Tricks on How to Navigate through Walt Disney World Crowds

Walt Disney World’s magic draws massive crowds year round. Last year, 20 million guests visited the Magic Kingdom alone! If you plan your trip to avoid peak times (summer and holidays), you may be lucky enough to avoid large Walt Disney World crowds. But let’s be real, even in off-season the crowds are inevitable.

It goes without saying that the key to any successful vacation is planning, especially for a trip to Walt Disney World. Make sure you do your research, read our full guide to Walt Disney World to help you plan your vacation, download the official Disney app, and arrive early to WDW to get in ahead of the crowd.

UPDATE January 2021: With Walt Disney World running at restricted capacity due to COVID-19, be sure to read our touring strategies guide for Disney World during COVID-19 and our guide to what visiting Disney World is like right now.

But despite all these planning measures, it is likely you will still experience days with high crowds at Walt Disney World. The following tips will help you navigate your way through Walt Disney World when it is super crowded to ensure that you get the most magical experience for you and your family.

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Take Advantage of Fastpass+ Services

Toy Story Midway Mania attraction

Fastpass+ services come in handy when dealing with Walt Disney World crowds and are an excellent way for you to be able to experience your favorite rides, character meet and greets, and entertainment with minimal wait! Fastpass+ is free to use with admission.

Even better is the fact that for every guest in your party with a paid admission ticket, you can reserve up to three Fastpass+ passes up to 30 days in advance (60 days prior to check-in if you are staying at a Disney Resort Hotel)!

After those initial three have been used, Guests are able to make more selections throughout the day. Conquer more by avoiding long wait times by using this awesome perk- this is the number one way to handle Walt Disney World crowds.

Use the Entertainment Schedules to Your Advantage

Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland at night

You have seen it… a sea of Disney Guests tightly packed together along parade routes, in front of Cinderella’s Castle before a firework show, or staking their spots early for any entertainment show. Use these times to your advantage because this is when wait times tend to lessen on most attractions! The more Guests waiting to be entertained could mean less time for you and your family waiting in long attraction lines!

Utilize the Single Rider Line

Test Track at Epcot

Although there are only three single rider lines in Walt Disney World, they come in handy dealing with Walt Disney World crowds. Test Track in Epcot, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park are the three attractions that have single rider lines. Ask a Cast Member at the entrance of the attraction for assistance or follow the marked signs.

Watch A Live Show

Walt Disney World’s entertainment is worthy of high praise because of the over 128 spectacular character experiences, concerts, fireworks, live entertainment, parades, and stage shows throughout the entire Resort. Many live shows can accommodate large groups so if Walt Disney World crowds get large and the ride times are long then taking in a show can be a great way to relax.

There will be crowds at the shows too but the bigger the venue, the more Guests it can accommodate! Many live shows have more than one performance time, so this may (or may not, depending on how crowded it is) have an impact on actually getting a seat. From my experience, my family and I opt for Walt Disney World crowds in the queues for live shows because the wait is so worth it once settled inside the air-conditioned and comfy venue.

Take a Much-Needed Break Mid-Day

River by Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World crowds can be overbearing and heighten in the afternoon which can definitely affect your mood. Take a much needed mental break in the afternoon – away from the crowd.

If you are staying onsite, why not go back to your hotel for a nice refreshing swim or take a nap to recharge you for the Disney night life?

If going back to your hotel room is not practical, find a shady, unpopulated spot to kick your feet up and relax. A nice place to do just that is found right in the middle of Main Street U.S.A., right in front of Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. The Main Street Plaza Gardens area is a quaint walk-through path separated by open grassy areas where guests can sprawl out for a much-needed break! Grab a churro or a refreshing Dole Whip and give your body a break. Another fun idea if you find yourself at the Magic Kingdom and it is super busy is jump aboard the Walt Disney World Railroad train! My family and I use this 20-minute journey to rest our tired feet and get in an occasional snooze.

If you are exploring Epcot with crowds, there are tons of places to tuck yourself in and take a break with spectacular views. Any bench along World Showcase Lagoon offer stunning views and enough piece and quiet to re-charge your energy.

Disney Hollywood Studios doesn’t have that many places to hide from the crowd. But if you find yourself there and you are looking for an escape, a nice cool place to go to get away from the crowd is the Animation Courtyard where you will find Walt Disney Presents. This explore-at-your-own-pace venue features Walt Disney’s legendary legacy through multimedia. Also found in here are cool Disney artifacts!

Just about anywhere you roam through Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a quiet place to sneak away from the crowds. Take a tranquil walk around the mostly shaded Tree of Life on the Discovery Island Trails to escape high-volume areas.

Walt Disney World crowds do lessen a bit in the late evening so if you can get in a much-needed mid-afternoon break, chances are you will be able to make it into the night!

Spoil Yourself with a Delicious Meal

Family eating a meal at Walt Disney World

Sometimes fighting Walt Disney World crowds is just not worth it! Walt Disney World has tons of dining options that are in and of themselves an extraordinary experience! Escape the crowds by dining in style.

If your little ones (and you) can’t bear to stand in long lines to meet your favorite characters, why not reserve a character dining experience and have the characters come to you!

Want to pamper your palate? Well, Disney Dining can do that, too! It is important to remember to reserve your dining packages well in advance (you can start reserving up to 180 days in advance).

Take the annoyance and guessing out of dining by preparing ahead of time to literally get ahead of the crowd!

Be Realistic, Be Patient, Be Nice

Magic Kingdom's Cinderella Castle in front of a light blue sky

As long as you know before you go that Walt Disney World crowds are inevitable and take the necessary steps to prepare for your visit, your trip can be magical – regardless of the crowds.

Be realistic in your expectations and just how much you can accomplish when the Resort is crowded. Prioritize what is important to your family and tackle the must-experience attractions and entertainment!

Being patient and nice make for an enjoyable experience for not only you and your family, but the thousands of other Guests who visit this magical place on the same day!

Plan Your Walt Disney World Vacation Now!

Don’t let the Walt Disney World crowds chase you away! Start planning your Walt Disney World vacation now! Subscribe to our FREE Deals newsletter where you will receive lots of helpful planning information, exclusive Disney deals, and access to the lowest priced Disney tickets anywhere. You can find more information on planning your vacation here:

Disclosure: We have used all the products recommended on Mickey Visit. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products featured.

About Kim Schultz

Kim has her Bachelor's Degree in English Literature with a minor in Technical and Professional Writing from San Francisco State University. She received her editing certificate from University of Berkeley Extension and won numerous awards for fiction writing from the San Mateo County Fair Literary Stage.

One thing she loves most in life besides family and writing is Disneyland! Kim and her family are season pass holders and travel to Disneyland numerous times a year (between 10-15 times to be exact!).

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