5 Ways to Overcome The Ever Increasing Crowds of Walt Disney World
To me it feels like there’s 100 different variations of this article out there on the internet shared by any number of excellent sites (and some not so excellent sites), but inevitably no two lists are the same. We all have our different “escapes” from the crowds and to me that’s the ultimate testament to a well designed vacation destination. Half the battle isn’t finding a place to go but rather knowing what opportunities exist that you may have overlooked.
I share this list not because we have some secret tunnel or tucked away secret back room to escape to in the middle afternoon in Magic Kingdom, but rather to share the inevitable reality that if you try to overcome the crowds simply by trying to “wait it out” you’re typically doing yourself more harm that good. If that philosophy works for you then by all means use it and make the most of it but you’re likely the exception rather that the rule.
After years of touring the parks I’ve started to pick up on a few select things that really tend to stick out in my mind. I know this is going to sound kind of blunt, but bear with me. The first thing I tend to pick up on is that 3:00-5:00pm exhaustion tantrum that you see each and every day in the parks. Kids (and sometimes adults) get to a certain point and they’re just DONE. They’re done with the heat, they’re done with the walking, and they’re done with Disney in many cases as a result. I’m the last person in the world that should be giving parenting advice as a 22 year old college student, but this one isn’t all that hard to figure out in a majority of cases. The key to overcoming these afternoon meltdowns and conversely the insanely exhausted feeling many adults get later in the day is simply crowd management.
Find Your Literal Escape From It All
Make The Most of Select Hours and Days
Don’t Be Afraid to Book Dining
I completely understand that this seems like an off the wall suggestion to overcome the crowds of the parks, but it’s one of our go-to options time and time again. The fact of the matter backing this one up is that you can only fill a restaurant so full. If you run out of tables, you run out of tables. At peak times I can’t tell you how many times a table service lunch reservation has saved us in so many ways.
Not only is it a good meal and a good nourishment boost mid day, but it’s also a guaranteed hour out of the heat, away from the majority of the crowds, and perhaps most importantly a needed time of rest after what has likely been a busy morning and what will be a busy night.
There’s no hiding the fact that table service meals in the parks can be expensive and I know that is an instant factor for so many guests, but when you’re sitting in a packed counter service location, you’ll be wishing you would have spent that extra money to book the table service meal instead. I don’t say that to be judgmental or anything of the sort but rather because I’ve been in that situation one too many times myself. If you find yourself in a similar situation, jump back to the first tip and head to a near by resort. The Magic Kingdom area resorts in particular have excellent counter service dining offerings that are perfect for a last minute meal and they’re typically far less crowded that the in-parks dining offerings. If you happen to be at Epcot or Hollywood Studios, board a boat to the Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin, or even the Yacht and Beach Club for a quick way to remove yourself from the crowds and find a good dining option.
Get Creative With Fireworks Viewing
At the end of the night you’ll likely want to return to the parks to catch a fireworks show if you you’re not already in the parks. Sometimes fighting that urge to be on Main Street USA or in that “perfect spot” for Illuminations can work out incredibly well. For Magic Kingdom in particular, when crowds are high I highly recommend viewing the show from the Contemporary or the Polynesian. The music is piped in, the crowds are typically quite low, and the experience is almost as magical as being there in the sea of people on Main Street USA. It’s a different fireworks viewing experience to say the least, but the benefits of the alternative experience often outweigh the tradeoffs.
I can vividly remember one particular night where we left Magic Kingdom and went over to the beaches of the Polynesian to view the show. We grabbed a Dole Whip, walked down to the beach, and it truly develops one of the most incredible views you’ll ever experience. From the casual crowds, to the sounds of flowing water at the pool near by, to the reflections off of the Seven Seas Lagoon as the fireworks burst high in the distance, it’s an experience to remember that is truly indescribable. The observation deck of the Contemporary, while a different view, offers up a similarly unique experience. If you’re up for it, climb up the external staircase a few floors to really get the perfect view and escape the crowds completely.
Over at Epcot, avoid the temptation to be right up on the fence in preparation for Illuminations. The show is shockingly viewable from all kinds of odd angles but perhaps the best options to overcome the crowds are to find higher vantage points. Two near perfect go to spots of mine at the time being are at the top of the staircase entering the Canada Pavilion and at the top of the staircase in the Japan pavilion leading up to Teppan Edo. Both vantage points can be seen in the images below and more often that not you’ll be one of the very few guests standing in these areas even on extremely crowded nights.
Fully Utilize Your Resort
Last but certainly not least, I highly highly recommend taking the time to leave the parks and enjoy your resort. Even if you’re leaving the parks for a very short amount of time, exploring your resort is something I recommend to every single guest headed to Walt Disney World. The resorts that Disney runs are so incredibly immersive and tied to story that there’s more to explore that you’ll ever have time to fully grasp. It’s a part of the Disney experience that nobody really expects, but quickly becomes a favorite aspect of the overall experience for retuning guests.
It’s a weird phenomenon in a number of ways, but the resorts, no matter which one you choose, truly feel like home after you really take the time to explore and get to know the backstories and amenities available to you as a guest.
If you don’t know where to start exploring, stop by the concierges desk and ask about the activities planned for the day. You may be shocked at what the resort has planned for guests of all ages on that particular day! I cant stress this one enough. If the crowds are starting to get to you, enjoy your resort and explore every single aspect of it that you can.
I know I say it time and time again, but I truly believe it’s those little moments that stick with you more that anything else. When I think back on memories with family, very few memories are tied to an attraction but so many memories are tied to seemingly simple things that occur in the moment that you remember years later.
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
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Ready to Plan?
Last but certainly not least, if you’re starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You’ll probably even save money along the way!