Visiting Walt Disney World During The Busy Season: Tips and Tricks for Survival -
Award-winning travel guidebooks
Home Florida - Walt Disney World Caribbean - Disney Cruise Line California - Disneyland Resort Anywhere and Everywhere! Travelers Store Message Boards PassPorter's Club Help!
  About Us  |  Customs Office   |   Register Your Book   |   Book Updates   |  Newsletter  |  Articles  |  Photos  |   Follow Us on
WDW Planning Articles

WDW Traveling Articles
Being the Ideal Guest
Disney From the Driver's Seat
Flying to Walt Disney World from the West Coast
Four Lessons, One World
Memories & Milestones
On the Road to Walt Disney World
The Auto Train
The Walt Disney World Grand Slam
To Rent or Not To Rent
Traveling Carry-On to Walt Disney World
Traveling to Walt Disney World with a Friend
Visiting Walt Disney World During The Busy Season
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World Transportation
When Does Your Walt Disney Vacation Really Begin?
When to Visit Walt Disney World

WDW Lodging Articles

WDW Touring Articles

WDW Dining Articles

WDW Making Magic Articles

WDW General Travel Articles

View all PassPorter articles
Article Tools
Print Article
Download PDF
Read Comments on This Article

Visiting Walt Disney World During The Busy Season: Tips and Tricks for Survival

Photo illustrating Walt Disney World - Traveling
by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 03/11/2010

Cool Tip: Click here to get a FREE PDF version of this article, fully formatted to print and put into your PassPorter Deluxe Binder!

Filed in Articles > Walt Disney World > Traveling  

When you plan a vacation, one of the first things to consider is the time of year you're going to visit.

When it comes to visiting Walt Disney World, many people choose to visit at times when the parks are quieter, but for many, that's not always an option. If you have children in school, as many visitors to Disney do, then you may have no choice but to visit during the busier seasons. So when is Walt Disney World at its most crowded? Around Easter and the 4th of July, along with the week between Christmas and New Years we traditionally see crowds at their very worst, but if you visit around Thanksgiving or Presidents' Week, you can also expect to see higher crowd levels. Essentially, any time when there are major national holidays, you can expect the park to be busier.

Of course, there are some positives to visiting at these times. Firstly, you'll probably need to use less of your precious vacation, especially important for those with very few vacation dates during the course of a year. It may also mean that you don't have to take your children out of school, which can save a real dilemma.

Although there will be more people to contend with in the parks, there are some benefits to visiting at a busy time of year. Disney needs to regularly carry out refurbishment work to the park attractions, known as rehabs, and they tend to do that during quieter times of the year. If you're at the parks during major holidays, you're more likely to find everything up and running for you.

Photo illustrating Walt Disney World - Traveling
Photo taken from the Main Street Train Station looking up Main Street at Cinderella's Castle. Photo was taken after lunch at about 1:00 pm which gives an idea of the crowd levels down Main Street.

You may also find additional shows or fireworks taking place during your stay. In particular, the holiday versions of Wishes are truly spectacular around Christmas or the 4th of July. Equally, for parades or shows that are not performed every night during slower seasons, such as Fantasmic! or Wishes, you'll invariably find there are more performances when the parks are crowded (sometimes more than once nightly), which can make planning your days easier, as you'll have more choice of when you want to see those things.

Larger crowds usually bring longer operating hours for the parks as well. If you're a night owl, this can really work in your favor, with the Magic Kingdom sometimes open into the early hours, even on days without evening Extra Magic Hours. If this suits you, it gives you an opportunity to enjoy the parks after a lot of the crowds have emptied out. And if you prefer to be up and at 'em early, that can also work for you, with the Magic Kingdom opening for Extra Magic Hours as early as 7:00 am at the very busiest times.

If you haven't visited Disney at a busy time of the year before, there are a few things you need to know. The first, and most important, thing is that you really do need to plan. While you can be a lot more relaxed when there are fewer people around, if you want to get on the most popular attractions in busy seasons, you really need a game plan. Using Extra Magic Hours if you're staying on property is one way of dealing with that, but another way to combat the crowds is by using Fastpasses. Unfortunately, a lot of people have now wised up to what used to be one of the best kept Disney secrets. To witness that, you only have to be at Disney's Hollywood Studios first thing in the morning to see the line for Fastpasses for Toy Story Midway Mania.

There are various tricks to using Fastpasses and one of the most important things is to first check that the return time fits into your plans for the rest of the day. If you're not planning on staying in that park all day and the attraction is showing a Fastpass return time late in the afternoon or the early evening, you may either need to stand in line or change your plans around a bit.

Tip: Revive Tired Feet
After a long day of walking through Disney World (or anywhere), your feet can really be put to the test. If you're not careful, tender soles or sore heels can even impede your touring the next day! My husband and I found the perfect solution! We bought some Green Tea Energizing/Cooling lotion from Wal-Mart, made especially for legs/feet. It has the Green Tea to soothe and caffeine to reduce swelling. Every night, we'd slather this lotion on our feet and calves. (one night we toured from 8am to 3am and our feet were SORE that night -- couldn't stand even!) We could feel the cool sensation immediately and our tootsies felt 100% in the morning! Great smelling lotion too! - tip contributed by Sandy

Save This Tip

Also think about which rides you're desperate to get on and which ones you're best served using Fastpass for, as once you get a Fastpass, it'll usually be a couple of hours before you can get another one (that time is marked on the Fastpass). However, if your return time is within the next hour, as soon as that time opens up, then you can grab another Fastpass.

Something else well worth doing before you even get near to Disney at a busy time of the year is to sit down as a group and decide what your priorities are. Narrowing down which attractions are the most important allows you to focus on just getting onto those. Then, if you have additional time in the park and can get on to any other rides, it's a bonus. At busy times, set your expectations perhaps lower than you otherwise would, then if you do run into a few hours' wait and all the Fastpasses are gone (it can happen!), at least you'll get on the rides you really want to do.

Busy times of the year are like any other time of the year, in that the park will be relatively quite straight after opening. So if you can, get there in time for park opening and crowds will then build throughout the day. If a park has morning Extra Magic Hours, you can also expect that park to be more crowded than the other three throughout the rest of the day - that may be a factor in your park-hopping plans. Another good rule is that attraction queues will die down when the big parades or firework shows take place. Just think about how many head off to watch the afternoon parade or Wishes at the Magic Kingdom. If you can live without seeing them, it's a great time to go and ride, but do be careful with parades to ensure that the route doesn't cut off the area of the park that you're heading for. We've fallen into that trap a couple of times before.

Finally, if there are table service restaurants that you're keen to either try for the first time or return to, booking in advance is critical at busy times. Be sure to make those ADRs at 180 days out and don't forget that you can book the first ten days of your stay all at one time, if you'll be staying at a Disney resort. It's well worth either going online or getting on the phone as soon as you can at the 180 day mark for big holidays, such as Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, or 4th of July, especially if you have a big party. Don't forget to be flexible with the times that you're prepared to eat, as that can help to snag some of the prized places to eat.

Going at a busy time of the year to Walt Disney World can be a real challenge, but with a little bit of forward planning, it can also be a great deal of fun and not as much of a problem as you might first think.

About the Author:
Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

Related Links:
Traveling Carry-On to Walt Disney World - Avoid Those Baggage Fees last updated 3/2/2011
New York City - Something Old, Something New last updated 01/02/2009
On the Road to Walt Disney World - Doing "The Drive" last updated 01/20/2009
Airline Security - 10 Important Tips and Reminders last updated 1/21/2009
Sick at Sea - (But Not Sea Sick!) last updated 5/14/2009

Reader Comments:

great ideas, cheryl!

     skateycat on March 12, 2010 @ 8:18 am
View all 1 comments in forum thread

So what do you think? Click here to share your comments, feedback, and experiences on this article and topic!

(Note: You must be a member of our PassPorter Message Board Community to leave comments. Join today for free!)

Updated 03/11/2010 - Article #441 

Read additional articles from

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!

E-mail Address:

First Name:

E-mail Format:
-Text/Don't Know  



We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result in more spam! We guarantee it.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Copyright 1999-2014
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks


RSS General PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel - 13,14,15,16,17,18
PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disn...
Discussion forums about Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel provided by PassPorter Travel Press, the ultimate Disney travel guide and book series.

SS bridge to Downtown Disney??
by Ugabaracuda
15 Dec 2014 at 4:03pm
Is there a new bridge from Saratoga Springs to Downtown Disney that cuts down on the walk around?
(click title above to view replies)

Post-Trip Disney Gift Card Magic For Us
by Her Dotness
13 Dec 2014 at 5:30pm
Was sorting through our gift card collection from the trip, all of which had been used, I thought. Stuck in a wad of receipts was one with a...
(click title above to view replies)

Club Disney changed to Lilo's Clubhouse
by Jennifer Marx
8 Dec 2014 at 10:13am
So we're updating PassPorter's Walt Disney World and we discovered that Disney seems to have made a stealth name change to the updated childcare...
(click title above to view replies)

Total Visits: 13568

PassPorter ~ 1998-2014 ~ 16 Years of Making Dreams Come True!
Publishers of bestselling travel guidebooks and proud recipients of 13 national book awards
About PassPorter
About Us
Site Map
Privacy Policy
Images & Artwork
News & Updates
Message Boards
Concierge Desk
Books & E-Books
Customs Office
Register Books
Book Updates
Help & Info
Finding Answers to Questions
Help Desk
Using Your PassPorter Forum
Store Customer Service
E-Mail Us
Follow Us Front Page (Updated Daily!)
PassPorter Newsletter (weekly and free)
Latest Posts
YouTube Channel
Questions? Check our Site Map and visit our Help Desk to learn how to contact us online, by e-mail, and by phone.
Please feel free to link to this page so that other vacationers can find it.