[Updated June 2016]
Several things are synonymous with Walt Disney World: iconic characters, turkey legs, Space Mountain, and long lines. Attractions without long lines are the anomaly, and not the rule, at the “Most Magical Place on Earth,” but that doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole vacation waiting.
Read on for nine tips to reduce your ride wait times.
1. Get to the parks early.
Plan to get to the parks at least a half hour early so that you’ll be among the first to pass through the gates. You’ll have an edge over those who are just pulling into the parking lot and have to trek all the way to the park entrances. Disney resort guests also have access to Extra Magic Hours, when one park each day opens an hour early, so be sure to take advantage if you’re staying on property. During that hour, there are fewer people in the park compared to when it’s open to the general public. Once the general public is admitted, you’ll notice that lines become significantly longer, and the park becomes more and more crowded, as the day wears on.
2. Head for the big name attractions first thing in the morning.
Once you get into the parks, make a mad dash for the big name attractions. Examples of those are Space Mountain, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Test Track, Soarin’, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur.
3. Make a list of what you want to see.
You’re losing precious time if you stand around looking at the park map, trying to decide what you’d like to do next. Before leaving home, visit the Disney World website and make a list of must-see attractions. During your visit, you can check things off as you complete them. Remember, you may not always get to see and do everything; accept this beforehand and you’ll enjoy more of your trip.
4. Use single rider lines.
If you’re not riding with anyone, some attractions offer a single rider line that’s significantly shorter than the general line. Rides with single rider lines include Test Track, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Expedition Everest. If your group is willing to split up and ride separately, single rider lines are a great alternative to the longer group lines.
5. Use FastPass+.
Guests can schedule the times they’d like to see or go on an attraction thanks to FastPass+. This can be done online, via the My Disney Experience app, with your lobby concierge, or at kiosks in the park. Resort guests can start making their FastPass+ arrangements up to 60 days before their trip; day guests can do it 30 days ahead of their visit. You’ll receive three entitlements at first but once those are used up, you can reserve more attractions one by one.
6. Use the Rider Switch Service.
Parents with children too small to experience an attraction don’t have to miss out since some rides offer a Rider Switch Service, allowing one adult to wait with the non-rider while the rest of the party experiences the attraction. The waiting adult can board once another adult in the party returns to watch the non-rider. Waiting is still involved but the second adult won’t have to get back into the regular line. Check first to make sure the desired attraction has the service.
7. Go on rides during shows and parades.
You’ll find that lines will be shorter during some parts of the day because many visitors will be lining up for certain shows and parades. While those guests are scoping out viewing areas, this presents an opportune time to queue up for rides.
8. Try to visit during non-peak times of the year.
During certain times of the year, like the holidays and summer months, crowds are downright inescapable. Visiting during those times pretty much guarantee that you’ll be waiting in long lines. If you’d like to reduce your chances of having to wait in long queues, try to visit during non-peak times of the year such as Labor Day through the beginning of October, and the week after Thanksgiving Weekend until a week or so before Christmas.
9. Download the My Disney Experience app for wait times.
Don’t want to run from Tomorrowland, through Fantasyland and Liberty Square to see the wait times for Frontierland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad? Download the My Disney Experience app to check the wait times for attractions in real-time. You’ll get an overview of how long the lines are without having to schlep all the way to it to take a look at the posted wait times.