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Unpredictable Disney Crowds? Here’s Why It Won’t Matter to You

Since Walt Disney World has gotten back into “normal” operating, crowds have been hard to predict. We say huge groups throughout 2022 as Guests return on family vacations. We no longer are seeing predictable crowds as we have in the past.

Although we know that typically spring break, long weekends, and runDisney weekends will see slightly higher crowds, 2023 has been a year of strange crowds. If you are planning a trip for 2023 or 2024, these unpredictable crowds might be frustrating. How do you prepare if you aren’t sure what the crowds will be like?

We want to help you with this by providing some tips that can be helpful no matter what the crowd levels are during your trip. These tips and tricks in your back pocket will make running into larger crowds manageable because you will be ready.

Family planning for Disney

Make a Plan

Our first tip for managing unpredictable crowds starts before you even leave your house. Head into your trip with an overall plan of action. Know your must-do attractions for each Park day and then allow for flexibility within those plans.

Knowing where rides are in the Park ahead of time can prevent you from walking back and forth when you could be enjoying a ride, show, or relaxing. Spend some time on My Disney Experience, becoming familiar with the maps of the Parks you plan to visit. Doing this and knowing where your must-do attractions are in the Park will allow you to make a plan that won’t have to fight any crowds you might come across constantly.

Know When Wait Times Are Long

Once you have determined your top must-do attractions in each Park, take time to dig into when would be the best time to experience them. Getting to the Parks in the morning can allow you to experience top rides such as Peter Pan’s Flight or Slinky Dog Dash with lower wait times. This is especially true for those staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Take advantage of early entry, which allows you into the Parks thirty minutes before opening. Those thirty minutes can be a game changer regarding waiting times.

Another great time to experience popular rides is during the nighttime shows. If you don’t want to see Fantasmic in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, use that time to jump on popular rides such as Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Wait times tend to go down towards Park closing as more Guests begin to head out.

Finally, don’t forget that My Disney Experience has a free tool that provides predicted wait times. Disney Genie will give you a forecasted wait time for the day and provide recommended riding times to maximize your day.

Friends using Genie+ and riding remy's in epcot
Genie+ Tips I Wish I Knew Before My Trip

Use Genie+ Successfully

A big way to beat the crowds at Disney is to use Genie+. This paid, skip-the-line feature is a great way to avoid long standby lines throughout the Parks; however, knowing how to use Genie+ successfully is essential.

Make sure you take time to learn about all the rules and tips that go along with using Genie+. Doing this before your trip will allow you to get the most out of your investment. We have a lot of tips and tricks on Genie+ on How to Disney. Take time to navigate some of this so you know how to use Genie+ and what rides to prioritize once you have purchased it.

Related: Genie+ Tips and Tricks for EPCOT

mobile order
Credit: Disney

Don’t Let Mobile Ordering Frustrate You

When crowds are more extensive, mobile order slots go quickly. Don’t let this catch you off guard. Guests can make mobile orders when the Park they are in opens. This means you can place lunch and dinner orders early in the morning.

This might seem silly, but it is a great way to lock in your return time and location. Keep in mind that you can cancel and adjust throughout the day. This is a huge tip that can save you when everyone is hungry and you are ready to go!

Even with mobile ordering, eating during off hours can be a great way to avoid busy and loud eating areas. Consider early or late meals to find more tables and flexibility with your meals.

Shopping Emporium

Mobile Checkout is Awesome

All you want to do is run into the Emporium to grab those Minnie ears you have been wanting, and you discover a long checkout line. Don’t worry!  Use your My Disney Experience app and mobile checkout.

This option allows Guests to check out via the app and confirm payment and purchases with a Cast Member at the door before heading out. It is quick, easy, and super convenient. If you find yourself in one of the main shopping areas, such as the Creations Shop in EPCOT or World of Disney in Disney’s Springs, use this option to save time.

Territory Lounge
Photo Credit: Disney

Keep Checking for Dining Options

If you struggled to find a dining reservation, don’t give up hope. Keep checking for openings even the day of. Guests can cancel their dining reservations up to 2 hours before check-in without penalty. This means that you might be able to snag that last-minute reservation.

Disney has also added a walk-up wait list for Guests. If a restaurant has openings, you will find these on the app. You must be near the restaurant to join, but it is a nice feature.

Also, remember that some of the best restaurants, such as California Grill or Tiffins, have unique lounges right next door that often share the same menu. This can be a fantastic way to experience the food, even without a reservation.

With these tips and tricks, it won’t matter what the crowd level is when you arrive at Walt Disney World. Instead, you will be prepared to navigate your way around and have a magical time.

Related: Ten Tips for Overcoming Crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios


Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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