How to Beat the Crowds at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the U.S., and busier times of year can bring intense crowds to the parks. Dodging these seasons when crowds peak requires some planning ahead, and some of the busiest times of year may surprise you!

We will cover the most crowded months to avoid at Disney World, and if planning a trip during Disney World’s crowded seasons is unavoidable, we will also give you some guidance on navigating higher crowds at the parks.

Avoid planning your trip near a holiday. As a general rule of thumb, holidays will always draw huge crowds to the parks. The most crowded times surrounding holidays at Disney World are typically:

  • The weeks surrounding Easter during Spring Break Season. The peak of Spring Break, the second half of March through April, often brings the biggest crowds.
  • The week before Christmas through the first couple weeks of January during Winter Break for schools, including New Year’s Eve and New Years Day. These weeks are the busiest period of the holiday season at Disney World.
  • The week of Thanksgiving, especially the day of Thanksgiving and the day after.

Summer also tends to be quite crowded at Disney World with kids off school. From the middle of June to the beginning of August, it will be the most crowded, with holidays like the 4th of July making crowds even more intense.

Avoid visiting during three-day weekends. While weekends will always typically be busier than weekdays at Disney World, three-day weekends never fail to draw in significant crowds. These are the three-day weekends surrounding holidays that are dates you will want to avoid at Disney World when planning your visit:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January
  • Presidents Day in February
  • Memorial Day in May
  • Labor Day in September
  • Indigenous Peoples’/Columbus Day in October
  • Veterans Day in November

Crowds tend to be bigger during the holidays because of the seasonal offerings, but this doesn’t mean that you need to miss out on the celebration. There are certain months when you can still experience the magic while dodging the worst of the crowds. When determining when the best time of year to visit Disney World is, it’s important to weigh crowds, seasonal offerings, and weather.

Consider also whether you want to visit during Halloween at Disney World or Christmas at Disney World.

Sometimes, it’s not feasible to plan your trip around the busiest times of year. If you do find yourself with a trip planned to Disney World during a time with high crowd levels, make sure to do the following:

1) Arrive early to get ahead of the crowds, and know which attractions are your priority. We recommend getting to the park about 1 hour before opening to be safe, and that way you can enjoy rides in the morning with shorter wait times than the rest of the day.

2) Utilize Genie+ Lightning Lanes offered through the paid Disney World Genie+ service, which will allow you to skip the long lines for popular attractions at the parks. Make sure to always be ready to secure your next Lightning Lane reservation, especially when the parks are more crowded. This is definitely one of the most effective ways to combat the crowds and still experience popular attractions without waiting in line all day. Pricing on this paid FastPass varies.

3) Find alternative entertainment when lines are too long. You can enjoy a live show, meet characters, or plan dining for when crowds peak. Several entertainment options accommodate large groups of people, so this is a great option to consider when ride wait times are highest during the day.

4) Take advantage of Single Rider for the select popular rides that offer it at Disney World. With Single Rider, you can split from your party to fill in spaces left by other parties who waited in the standby line, which can save you significant time waiting in line when the park is crowded. Attractions at Disney World that currently offer Single Rider are Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run at Hollywood Studios, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, and Test Track at EPCOT.

5) Take a midday break when crowds get too intense. You can go back to your hotel for a snack, nap, or a swim, or you can find a quiet place at the park to rest for a bit and enjoy a treat. This is a great way to recharge and avoid struggling with the crowds during the busiest time of the day.

While Disney World crowds are unavoidable to an extent due to the parks’ incredible popularity, they don’t need to be so intimidating if you utilize these tips. Read our full Disney World crowd calendar for all of our tips and an infographic of months at Disney World including crowd levels, park hours, and weather.

At Mickey Visit, we share the most important tips for planning your trips to Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Universal, and beyond. Each week, we’ll share some of our top tips here on Laughing Place.

Laughing Place recommends for all your Walt Disney World travel planning
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Gavin Doyle
Gavin Doyle is the founder of and the best-selling author of “Disneyland Secrets”. Mickey Visit has been featured by Travel+Leisure, ABC, the LA Times, OC Register, Forbes, and more and reaches millions of readers planning Disney vacations each month. Over 100K subscribers receive their free email planning newsletter.