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Walt Disney World Crowd Tips For School Vacations

With school vacations coming up, Walt Disney World is going to be crowded with lots of families visiting the parks.  Last year, we visited Walt Disney World during Thanksgiving, which is one of the busiest weeks, and still had the chance to experience all of the parks and rides – it just took a little more strategic planning.  If you are headed on a Walt Disney World family vacation over the next few months, do some planning in advance and you’ll still have the chance to enjoy everything.

Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links may result in a small commission paid to us at no additional cost to you. I am a former member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel, and some of my trips to Walt Disney World were complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Save money on your Walt Disney World theme park tickets by booking through Get Away Today. They offer vacation packages as well as individual ticket sales. Disney travel agents don’t charge guests an extra commission and can help you find deals.

Epcot at night with Spaceship Earth lit up in purple and pink

Walt Disney World Crowd Tips

Start your days early

Before going on vacation, it’s a good idea to make a list of everything that you want to see. When on vacation, head out to the parks at rope drop (i.e., when they open). You’ll typically be able to get through the turnstiles before the official opening, so arrive well in advance.

Utilize Genie+ extensively

Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes are an added expense when it comes to your Walt Disney World vacation. You’ll have to purchase them as a separate add-on to your theme park ticket, which is already expensive. However, It can be a great way to save time at the parks.

Our guide to Genie+ includes all of the information you’ll need to know. Genie+ allows you to go through the lightning lane for a shorter wait time. When the parks are crowded, it can be essential.

Get the park hopper option

I know that base tickets to Walt Disney World are already expensive, but I do recommend the park hopper option for your tickets.  It’ll allow you much more flexibility in your days, and if one park is too busy, you can just head to another one that may not be as busy. Keep in mind that at this time, you’ll need to wait until 2pm before you can move to the next park.

The park hopper option is also great for families that may want to dine in one park while visiting another.

Be Our Guest dining room

Make your dining reservations early

It can be very difficult to get into popular Walt Disney World restaurants any time of year, but during school vacations, it’s nearly impossible.  Make your dining reservations early to be more likely to get your choice of dining locations and times. During busy times, you can’t just walk up to the table-service restaurants hoping to be seated.

Take breaks in the afternoon

We’ve found that the afternoon is generally when the parks are busiest (and often the hottest).  Taking a break in the middle of the day – either by napping in your room or checking out your resort pool, is a great way to avoid the crowds and the heat.

Use the My Disney Experience App

The My Disney Experience app is essential in keeping you organized during your Disney vacation. The free Genie (different from the paid Genie+), can provide you with some tips and a basic schedule for experiencing the things you want to do.

In addition, if you plan to go to any quick service restaurants, mobile ordering can be extremely helpful and time-saving. During my summer trip, I used mobile ordering for every quick service meal and saved a lot of time. You can link your payment method and make the purchase quickly.

Here are some Walt Disney World hotels that I recommend – check out prices and reviews at these links. Please note that I experienced some of these resorts as part of press trips, but all opinions are my own.

Have you traveled during school vacations to Disney World?  What are your Disney World Crowd Tips?

If you're visiting Walt Disney World during a peek week, you should consider some strategic planning to make sure you get to do everything you want to on your family vacation. Check out this post with tips and tricks on how to deal with and make the most of Disney crowds.

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Disney Dork Tom

Thursday 30th of October 2014

I agree with these tips 100%. The afternoon break, I think, is literally a crucial part of making it through a longer visit (like 4+ days).

Sierra Hoinski

Saturday 8th of February 2014

I went to Disney March 25 for a week and a half and it was my first time so I didn't really know what was and wasn't busy, because it's Disney! But I also went months after...I left September 30th and we were there until October 7th, it was also Mickeys Not-So-Scary Halloween party in the Magic Kingdom, which you had to pay extra for. We did that twice and it was so much fun! I recommend paying extra to stay for the Halloween party...It starts at 7 and people that didn't pay to stay have to leave the it's soooo much less busy and we were able to ride whatever ride we wanted without any wait. It was also Epcot Food and Wine Fest...which was also so much fun! As for extending your time, and fitting in as much as you can, I would highly suggest the park hopper. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom tend to close earlier..when that happened we would go back to Magic kingdom for the fireworks, parades and just to ride our favorite rides...I would say September and October is worth pulling your kids out of school to go. You can experience the Magic on a whole other level during theses times due to it not being as crowded. Also make as many reservations as you can for and afford...we had a least 1 character dinner/breakfast/lunch a absolute favorite was Chef Mickey's which was in the contemporary. Other character dining that I loved was The Tusker House, Askershus Royal Banquet Hall, The Crystal Palace, a Nick Jr lunch in Hollywood studios, The Garden Grill, and so many others that I really can't remember the names...We also went to some that I don't really remember that weren't character...last thing...if you EVER have problems with your wristband or ticket or anything and have to go to costumer service, ask for fastpasses!! They will give you as many as you want and if you don't use them at one park you can renew the fastpasses at all the parks, and use them all throughout the Walt Disney World Parks!:) hope this helps in any way...can't wait to go back.

Kelly Queijo

Sunday 24th of February 2013

Great tips! Agree 100% about taking an afternoon break. Makes the entire experience more fun. Good to know about the line app -- will check it out!

wandering educators

Saturday 16th of February 2013

Fantastic tips - esp the siesta. I'm all for that!

Jodi Grundig

Tuesday 19th of February 2013

Thanks! I'm all for a mid-afternoon siesta too!


Saturday 16th of February 2013

We may go to DisneyWorld later this year and crowds are a concern. Thanks for the tips!

Jodi Grundig

Tuesday 19th of February 2013

Thanks for your comment - I hope this helps!

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