Want to save time on your Disney vacation, but don’t want to spend the extra cash on things like Genie+ and Minnie Vans? Look no further! Here are some guaranteed ways to save hours on a Disney vacation for FREE!
Eat at Non-Peak Times
The most “traditional” times to eat meals at a Disney park are when restaurants will be the busiest. Sometimes the ordering process takes 30-40 minutes during the peak meal hours. Try eating at quick-service restaurants earlier or later than normal. Noon through about 2 pm is the busiest for lunch, and 6:00-8:00 are the peak hours for dinner.
This tip will save your family 45 – 60 minutes of the day!
Mobile Ordering is one of the greatest tools Disney has brought to My Disney Experience. And the pandemic really helped force them to iron out this service. And thankfully, all of the major Walt Disney World quick service restaurants offer mobile ordering.
While standing in line for an attraction, save some time by look through surrounding restaurants on My Disney Experience. You can even do this as you park hop.
In My Disney Experience, pull up the map page.
On the top, change the selection to “Dining.” Anywhere you see the phone icon is a place that allows you to mobile order.
Click on the title to view the hours and the menus.
Click “Order Food” to place an order.
There will be windows of time to choose from. Select the estimated time you will be there. If you miss your window, it is easy to modify it!
The biggest tip of all – select “I’m Here – Prepare My Order” at least 5-10 minutes before you get to the restaurant! It still takes time to prepare the food (some locations longer than others). This limits the amount of time you wait for your food.
Arrive Before Park Open
The shortest lines found at Disney are right when the parks open. Pick a morning or two to be at a park when it opens to take advantage of shorter lines!
A little tip: Magic Kingdom most days opens Main Street USA for everyone around 7:45 am. This gives you extra time to grab a Starbucks coffee and a little breakfast at the Main Street Bakery before the rest of the park opens. Plus it is a great time to get some family photos in front of Cinderella Castle before all of the crowds show up!
If you are staying at any Disney Resort, Early Entry is a complimentary bonus for the theme parks. Most mornings, Disney resort Guests can enter 30 minutes before the park opens for other day Guests. These 30 minutes make a HUGE difference, so take advantage!
Know that not every attraction is open at this time. Find more details about what is included on Disney’s site here.
Extended Evening Hours
Guests staying at Disney Deluxe Resorts and Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts are invited to participate in extended hours in the evenings. The selected theme park stays open an extra two hours for these Guests, leaving plenty of time to get those final attractions in with minimal wait!
This occurs one or two times per week, and only at one park at a time. Be sure to check the schedule and participating resorts here. Each Disney park participates, except Disney’s
The morning and the evening hours are the times with the smallest crowds, so take advantage!
Turn Left in Magic Kingdom
In America we naturally turn right first. Magic Kingdom is actually designed to lean into that natural tendency. Most Guests go into Tomorrowland or Fantasyland right when they get into the park.
This is when it is beneficial to start on the left side of the park. Walk back to Frontierland and hit Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. Loop over to Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and the whole left side of the park will be done in an hour and a half without Lightning Lane!
Skip Parades and Fireworks
Any time there is a parade or a fireworks show, people are occupied and not getting in lines for rides. During the afternoon Magic Kingdom parade is when we see the shortest line at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Not a big fan of parades? Take advantage of this time for rides!
Extra tip: try riding Big Thunder Mountain during the fireworks. This corner of the park is usually slow at the time of night, and seeing the fireworks while on this rollercoaster is the most magical thing you will do all day.
Reserve Dining Ahead of Time
If your family wants to sit and eat, make reservations before your vacation. Most restaurants allow you to book 60 days in advance. We like to have a few reservations sprinkled into our trip in case we find ourselves wanting to sit down for a meal. These days it is difficult to find a table service reservation day-of.
Extra tip: Look through the menu before you get there so you have an idea of what you want. You will be able to order from the server right when they greet you.
Extra tip x2: If you decide day-of you don’t want to go, try changing the reservation for a day in the future. Day-of cancelations charge $10 per person, but if you move the reservation and THEN cancel it, you won’t be charged. (If you have a travel agent you can ask them to do this for you while you are enjoying the parks!)
Extra tip x3: Use an empty prepaid credit card as your saved card on My Disney Experience. It will be registered as a legitimate card and let you book your reservation under it, but if it charges you for not canceling, there are no funds to pull from.
Use a Travel Agent
One of the greatest things you can do for yourself while planning a Disney trip is to use a Disney Travel Agent. This service is COMPLETELY FREE. They will help you book everything from airfare to Disney resort to dining. Travel Agents are experts in anything Disney and will help you have a stress-free vacation.
They get a commission from booking your vacations, and none of that comes out of your pocket. Don’t do it alone! Enlist the help of an expert.
These tips are so helpful in how to save hours on a Walt Disney World vacation for FREE. Make sure you try a few out on your next Disney trip!