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Walt Disney World Crowd Tips For School Vacations

Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post helps support Family Travel Magazine®. 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.

With February vacation coming up next week (and spring breaks in March and April), 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 most busy 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.

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.

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).  If you are staying on property and have the opportunity to take advantage of Early Magic Hours, definitely do it, especially if visiting the park with the Magic Hours for the day.

Utilize FastPass extensively

Please note that the FastPass program has changed since this post was first published. To learn more, read 9 Things About the New FastPass+ and MagicBands.

I think all families should use the FastPass option, but it’s especially important during crowded times.  Remember that you can generally only have one FastPass at a time (although there are some exceptions), so pick wisely.  While you are waiting for your FastPass time, check out other attractions that don’t require a FastPass, or wait in the standby line for one that does. For instance – you arrive at Epcot and want to see both TestTrack and Soarin’.  Send one family member with your tickets to Soarin’ to get tickets, and then everyone wait in the standby line at TestTrack.  Lines can be shorter in the morning, and FastPasses DO run out, so that’s another reason to start your days early.  Disney is now strictly enforcing FastPass return windows, so make sure you keep track of time.

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.

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

Be Our Guest

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. Learn 9 things you need to know about Disney dining here. 

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.

Download the Lines and My Disney Experience App

I used the Lines App extensively during our trip over Thanksgiving.  Although you have to pay for the service, it’s worth it 100%.  With the app, you can see crowd projections, and it also gives you recommendations of which parks to visit and which to skip based upon crowds.  You’ll also see wait times – both FastPass return time projections and standby projections.  That way, you’ll know whether it’s worth running to the opposite end of the park for a FastPass.  You can also access Touring Plans, based upon which attractions are must-dos for your family. I definitely recommend downloading the My Disney Experience app as well.

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 traveling during school vacations to Disney World?  What are your Disney World Crowd Tips?

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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 park...so 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 day...my 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!

Allison

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!