Saturday, June 26, 2010

How to Clobber Crowds and Cut Lines at WDW

 Select attractions, like Expedition Everest, offer single-rider lines to minimize the wait.

A lot of us love Walt Disney World, but there are setbacks to it - there's less vacation time for that, it's too expensive, and of course, there are always long lines to attractions. For the latter, long waits waste your time and you won't get to experience much of the magic if you stand behind many people for hours on end! Well, there's help for those of you who are suffering from long-line-impatience, and if you take it to heart, you'll get more of the Disney magic than ever before!

Know When to Go
The secret of visiting any given Walt Disney World park is knowing when is the right time to go in terms of crowds. Obviously, the three major crowd-drawing holidays are Christmas, Easter, and Independence Day, mainly because a lot of families out-of-state flock to the park and because the kids are out of school. Summer not only draws the mentioned types of people, but it draws those legions of South American teens guided by adults holding flags known as turismos (Argentinean youth herds and Brazilian tour groups). Some of the best times to do Disney are in the fall after Labor Day and before Thanksgiving, Monday after Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas, and between Spring Break and Gay Days. (If you want details on how months affect crowds, read my guide, "The Many Months of Disney Crowds.")

Arrive at the Parks Before Opening
Whether you're going in the turismo-filled, hot summer or in the fall, head to the parks at least a half hour before opening. You'll save yourself a lot of grief than going to, say, Epcot, an hour after.

Head to the Less Crowded Areas First
Many people want to go the big rides, and they do it first. That's fine, but if you want shorter wait times, head to the less dense (in crowds) area first. I neither care if you really hate stage shows because your family member drags you to one because you have a daughter who loves the Disney Princesses nor if you don't like a ride that is considered "kiddie" because your wife forces you to ride with your little son, but that's how to kill time by avoiding the larger crowds on one side. It also works when the season is right for a huge turismo turnout, because the flags that stick out of the crowd make it easier for you to go the other way.

Use FASTPASS Effectively
The best way to cut wait times in half is to use the FASTPASS system, which is complementary with your ticket. Simply insert it in the slot (only once) in the kiosk, and claim it. Then, return to the designated line for that (Keep it on hand at all times!) between the hour noted - it's as simple as heck! Oh, and because there's always large families who come to the parks any time of year and turismos that do so likewise twice a year who take advantage of it, grab your FASTPASSES as early as you can.

Go During the Parades and Nighttime Shows
If you think that the parade is too cheesy or you think that the nighttime spectacles are not too spectacular enough, take the opportunity to catch them while lines are shorter! For example, you can ride Astro Orbiter in the Magic Kingdom during the fireworks and get a good view of them on-ride!

 Now who would want to wait that long for Soarin'?

Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines
With the exception of the Magic Kingdom, the parks offer at least one attraction that enables single riders to lessen the wait. Epcot has one on Test Track, Disney's Hollywood Studios has one on Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and Disney's Animal Kingdom has one on Expedition Everest. If you're doing Disney solo, do the single rider lines so that you won't have to face many a large family cutting you.

Take A Breather and Arrive at A Later Time
Crowds usually peak at midday or early afternoon, so it's a good idea to return to the nearby place you're staying at (the hotel or friend's condo) and do something there, like edit your theme park pictures, take a nap, or cozy up to a good Disney film - you can always do the parks at a later time. That's especially true if you're staying on the resort's hotels (even the campgrounds), because you'll take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (the evening ones) that will enable you to get back to the park as the general public crowds thin out.

A lot of you hate the long lines Walt Disney World is so famous for - large families and/or turismos cut lines for rides and other attractions to rejoin their parties, ruining your days. But by planning ahead and following my advice, you can let go of the crowd hassle and enjoy Walt Disney World without much grief.

Related: Don’t Mix Ride Long Lines and Amusement Parks!


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