My Favorite Disney World Touring Tips

Here are my favorite touring tips to help you "stay ahead of the crowds" when visiting Walt Disney World.

My personalized itineraries and daily touring plans contain TONS of tips for how to effectively tour the Walt Disney World theme parks.  Today, I'm sharing my favorite ones with you!

#5: Purchase Theme Park Tickets Ahead of Time: Do not waste time standing in line at the theme park ticket windows.  Purchase your tickets online before your trip or at any Disney resort hotel once you arrive in Orlando. 

#4: Eat Meals Early (or late) – Eat lunch in the theme parks by 11:45am (or after 2:00pm); have dinner by 5:30pm (or after 8:30pm).  You’ll enjoy a relaxing meal in a relatively uncrowded restaurant.  Then, when everyone else is eating, you’ll be enjoying attractions!

#3: Avoid Parks with Extra Magic Hours: "Extra Magic Hours" is a perk reserved solely for guests who are lodging at a Disney resort hotel; each day, a theme park opens early or stays open late for them. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, avoiding them will save you a mountain of frustration. Extra Magic Hours draw large crowds, often negating the benefit of getting into the theme parks early or staying late. Instead, enjoy lighter crowds at one of the other parks that day.

#2: Take a Mid-Afternoon Break: Disney’s theme parks are miserable in the afternoon.  Lines for attractions are long, the sun is blazing, and people are tired and grumpy.  Retreat to your hotel and go for a swim, take a nap, or enjoy a good book.  Return in the evening when the parks are cooler and the crowds are more manageable.  Keep in mind, however, that there are two exceptions to this rule.  First, in the off-season, the parks close earlier than normal (Animal Kingdom almost always closes early, regardless of the time of year).  When parks close early, it doesn’t make sense to take an afternoon break.  Second, if you are visiting Disney World during the holidays (specifically during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day), do NOT leave the parks.  The theme parks frequently close due to capacity; if you leave, you may be denied re-entry. 

#1: Get to the Theme Parks Early: This is my #1 most important touring tip.  You can experience more attractions in the first hour of the day than you can in an entire afternoon.  Arrive 30 minutes prior to park opening (45-60 minutes prior during peak and holiday seasons) so that you have ample time to get through security and line up at the gates. 


Above all else, the key to a successful vacation is to have a touring plan (see last week's post).  Design one yourself or hire a travel professional to create one for you.  A logical itinerary and daily touring plans will allow you to "stay ahead of the crowds".  This means you'll wait in line less, experience more attractions, and spend more time making memories! 


Meredith McCutcheon

Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways

Personalized Itineraries and Daily Touring Plans

Find me on Facebook or on Drinking the Kool:Aid

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

James Redd January 22, 2013 at 03:11 AM
Disney is far too excessive. Parents should save the money spent on Disney and put it towards their children's education. Think about it. This is consumerism gone wild.
Meredith McCutcheon January 22, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Hi James! Your opinion is certainly valid, but for many people, this is not an "either-or" situation (either provide your children with a good education OR go to Disney World). Furthermore, many people would disagree with your view that Disney is too excessive. It's a very popular vacation destination, and my goal is to help people (those people who DO want to visit Disney World) make the most of their trip. Thanks for your comment and for reading my blog!!
Nancy March 14, 2013 at 01:27 PM
We were there the week of Christmas to New Years (2012/13). We came and went from the parks without too much problem. The only questionable day was New Years Eve, but we had ADR's so we were able to get in for dinner and then because we were resort guests after the fireworks in one park, we were allowed access to another for their fireworks. Crowded in the evening on NYE is an understatement though!
Joshua Raymond June 20, 2013 at 04:48 PM
If you have a larger group, I recommend a meeting of the people going to discuss breaks, walking speed, shopping, etc. If everyone isn't on the same page, perhaps schedule activities so that the quicker people who want fewer breaks can go to attractions while the slower people who want more frequent breaks or time to shop and meander have time for that. Then write it into your touring plans and give each adult a copy.
Meredith McCutcheon June 20, 2013 at 07:07 PM
I cannot agree more, Joshua!


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