Monday, April 6, 2015

Skip the Lines! Well... Minimize Them

     You and I both know that the hardest part of a vacation at Walt Disney World is waiting in line. While I love making arguments that some time waiting in line is a good thing, and that waiting in line can actually be an educational and magical experience, it is no fun to spend a portion of your day smelling the sweaty guy in front of you. With the introduction of MyMagic+, it has become even harder to find times when you can just walk on to rides without Fastpasses. While Fastpass has really changed the game, it is still possible to use strategy to your advantage.

There is no better example of a long line than that of Soarin' in Epcot

Here are some of my favorite ways to do so:
  1. Go early! Or late! You could employ this tactic a few different ways. First of all, getting to your park of choice for rope drop is a great way to get on to your favorite headliner without waiting in line. At Animal Kingdom, you can walk through the front gate and onto Expedition Everest a couple of times without waiting in much of a line. Additionally, you will want to take advantage of parks that are open later. I'm not talking about Extra Magic Hours (yet). The Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are often open later than the other parks, and this makes for a great time to ride some attractions. If the Magic Kingdom closes at 11 pm, and you go to the Park at 9:30, you very well may find yourself in a fairly empty park. 
  2. Extra Magic Lines! When I go to the World, I seldom if ever go to the park that opens early for Extra Magic Hours. The reason for this is, said park, nearly as soon as that opening hour ends, will be significantly more crowded than any of the other parks for the remainder of the day. Unless you want to just spend one hour at that park in the early morn', skip the early magic hours. Hit the other park for rope drop.
  3. Front of Park Syndrome! This is how it works: When Epcot opens at 9, a good portion of the crowd running through the gate sees that big shiny ball in front of them, and MUST ride it at that moment. While Spaceship Earth is a great ride, it is by no means a headliner. Consequently, after a couple of hours of long lines, Spaceship Earth will become very rideable by 11:30 am, when World Showcase opens and people filter to the rest of the park. The same happens on Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom, Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios, and all sorts of other attractions. At rope drop, head for the back of the park!
  4. Use Crowd Forecasts! There are a few different groups that work to forecast crowds for every day that Walt Disney World is open. There are slow and heavy times of year, as well as best and worst parks to visit on each day of that year. A few I use are undercover tourist and touring plans
  5. Skip the Middle! Each day, there is a several hour period when you don't want to be at the park. For me, it's between 1 pm and 4 pm. At this time, the crowds are the worst, the sun is beating down, and times are not good. You know what you can do during this time? Leave! This is the key reason I always suggest saving up extra money and staying on property. The ability to skip this time of the day at the park and relax at your hotel will change the way you see Disney vacations. I promise. Do it.
  6. When it Rains, It's Your Time! Here is the thing about Florida: most of the year is rainy season. For the majority of the warm months, it will pour down rain from the heavens for 30 minutes at 1 pm to 1:30 pm, and then it will be warm again. When the rains come down, the parks tend to empty out. If you are lucky enough to find a rain storm that lasts an hour, you will have a really intimate time! So when it rains, stick around!
None of these tips are hard and fast, but they all help! Use strategy and don't just assume that you'll be able to enjoy the parks whenever you want. There is subtle and quiet magic to discover for those who plan correctly.

Thanks for reading!