Disney World is a magical oasis where you can have unlimited fun—but you can’t enjoy the fun if you’re stuck in long lines. So join me as we walkthrough how to avoid long lines at Disney World so that everyone in your family can experience all of the best rides and attractions the Disney Parks have to offer.
How to Avoid Long Lines at Disney World
Let’s begin with my first tip to avoid lengthy lines, which is utilizing the new Genie+ system.
1) Utilize Genie+
Genie+ is Disney World’s updated FastPass system. Years ago, guests could choose three FastPasses daily to ride their go-to attractions. Then, you could book more after your first three were used.
Genie+ is similar and different in this respect. Genie+ is a paid service to access Lightning Lane, equivalent to a FastPass. With Lightning Lane, you can jump ahead in the lines for nearly any Disney World ride. As of 2022, you can book Genie+ Lightning Lanes at 7:00 a.m. on your reserved park day.
However, Genie+ does more than let you book lightning lanes. This tool within the My Disney Experience app creates a personalized itinerary for your day. You can adjust your day based on your preferences, but Genie+ will let you know the best time to visit your highest-priority rides. It can also show you the estimated peak wait times for that ride, so you can know when to avoid long lines.
2) Operation: Rope Drop
We like to call this tactic Operation: Rope Drop because it is a bit of a mission. At Disney World, rope drop means being at the park when it opens. This is beneficial because you have a chance at riding the most popular attractions without the long wait. So, even if you are not a morning person, you can still have fun riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and then grabbing a coffee at Starbucks.
You will want to know the park hours, as they change. You will also want to know your transportation options and their schedule. According to Disney World, their buses start running 45-minutes before the park opens. So if Magic Kingdom opens at 9:00 a.m., you can expect buses to arrive around 8:15 a.m.
3) Plan Your Day Ahead
With so much to see and do, knowing your priorities at Disney parks is essential to having a good time. Know which rides you would like to go on the most (so you do not end up on Winnie the Pooh while wishing you were at Space Mountain). To plan, you can use Genie+, the My Disney Experience app, or the Disney World website. They list the available rides and locations, so you know where to beeline once you arrive at the parks.
4) Stay at a Disney Hotel
Did you know that you can get into the parks early by staying at a Disney World hotel? Exclusive to hotel guests, you can get into the parks 30 minutes before opening. But, just like visiting as a regular guest, you need to have a theme park ticket and reservation to go inside.
You might also notice that not every ride will be open early. But, Disney tries to make sure that there is enough available for everyone. For example, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is available for early entry but the Haunted Mansion is not. Many of the popular rides will be available though, so you can ride those first and then spend the rest of your day on the less busy ones.
5) Use the My Disney Experience App
You do not have to ask a Cast Member or look for a board to see the wait times. Instead, pull out your smartphone and use the My Disney Experience app. Generally speaking, this app is an essential tool for your trip. You can add your ticket and hotel info, shop, book dining, and more.
Your app should automatically locate you within the parks (if enabled) and let you know the wait times around that area. Better yet, you can use the ‘list’ function and see all of the open rides and their current wait times. You might be surprised to find that a nearby attraction only has a 15-minute wait!
6) Use Single Rider Lines
While not many parks have them, single-rider lines are great for groups who do not mind sitting separately from each other or for solo travelers. You should see a ‘Single Rider’ queue if it’s available. The line is not always open, so a Cast Member might direct you to the regular queue if the wait time is low.
The current attractions that offer single-rider queues are:
- Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom)
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (Hollywood Studios)
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Hollywood Studios)
- Test Track (Epcot)
7) Miss Major Shows (Including Fireworks)
Not everyone is a show or parade person while on vacation. Sometimes, you just want to ride roller coasters all day until your body gives up.
If you do not need to see the 3:00 p.m. parade or the fireworks, consider using that time to enter the queues of the most popular attractions. We cannot guarantee the line will be empty, but it will likely be considerably less crowded than normal. We have seen great success hopping on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during the fireworks. Plus, with many of the queues being outside, you can still see the show.
8) Head to the “Left” at Magic Kingdom
There is a science to crowd control at Disney World. We learned while on a tour that the pathways heading into Tomorrowland are wider than if you went into Liberty Square or Adventureland at Magic Kingdom. This is because most people have a natural tendency to go to the right instead of the left.
Ever since we learned this, we have been going to the left at rope drop towards Adventureland. Honestly, the walk is more casual than having to navigate through photo-taking crowds at the Castle Hub. And, you have first dibs on rides like Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Give this a try on your next visit – you might be surprised how much more you complete in a shorter amount of time!
9) Stay Late In The Parks
Similar to arriving early in the parks, staying later has its benefits too. In parks like Magic Kingdom, the rides are still open after the fireworks. But, everyone tends to start leaving the park. This is your chance to sneak in a few more rides before hopping on the bus or your car.
Note: This is not the case for EPCOT. Their queues typically close as soon as the fireworks start. So you cannot expect to watch their fireworks spectacular and then head on a ride.
Another late-night tactic is heading into your most desired ride *just* before the park closes, so you can ride it one more time. For example, if the park closes at 9:00 p.m., you hop in line at 8:58 p.m. Because the park is still open, you cannot be denied access to the queue. Honestly, we try to avoid this method because we know the Cast Members have had a long day and probably want some rest, but we have seen other people do this plenty of times.
10) Pay for Specialty Ticketed Event
Disney World has special events all year that let you stay in the parks later than other guests. These separately-ticketed events keep some of the most popular attractions open for visitors to enjoy, often being able to ride multiple times in one night.
At Magic Kingdom, there are two ticketed events: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These parties are priced differently every year, and they range during their duration. For example, you might see lower prices in November for a Christmas Party than on Christmas itself.
Disney does a good job of releasing party dates and ticket information in advance. It is a rarity that you can make a last-minute decision to go to a party. Some tickets can sell out quickly, so you may want to decide if attending this event is a must-do ahead of time.
EPCOT and Hollywood Studios offer dine-and-show packages, letting you enjoy a tasty meal and avoid the long wait for shows or fireworks. This is helpful during EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival and Hollywood Studios Fantasmic! show. The cost can vary, and we have seen prices from $50 a person to over $100 a person depending on the restaurant and show.
Here is a list of the current dining packages available:
- EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival – Eat to the Beat
- EPCOT International Festival of the Arts – DISNEY ON BROADWAY Concert Series Dining Package
- EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays – Candlelight Processional Dining Package
- EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival – Garden Rocks Dining Package
- Fantasmic! Dining Package
- Spice Road Table Fireworks Dining Package
- Rose & Crown Fireworks Dining Package
Eat During Off-Peak Times
If you do not have a specialty diet or need to maintain a schedule, heading to the ride queues during peak lunch or dinner times could help avoid lengthy wait times. If most people decide to head to a quick service spot around noon, perhaps eating at 11:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. might be better.
Did you know you can schedule your quick service meals in advance? The handy My Disney Experience app lets you mobile order. Choose your time, pick out your food, and head to your restaurant to pick up your food when it is ready. That way, you can focus on hopping in line and riding rides instead of wondering what to have for lunch.
There is no one size fits all method on how to avoid long lines at Disney World. First, understand that you likely will not be able to fit everything in one day, especially at large parks like Magic Kingdom or EPCOT. Then, understanding your priorities to help plan your day can go a long way. Finally, using tactics like eating at off-peak times or avoiding a popular show could help avoid those lengthy waits. Whatever your method, you can now head into the parks a little wiser with these helpful tips in your tool belt.
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