Q: My family and I are planning a trip to Walt Disney World over Christmas, is there any way to avoid the long lines for rides? Randy McMichael, Winnipeg, MB
A: Christmas is one of the peak seasons at Walt Disney World and long lines are usually inevitable, but a savvy scheduling strategy can ensure you and your family don’t spend half your vacation queuing up for the attractions.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
Arriving at the park as soon as the gates open can cut wait times markedly. The first hour is the least busy time of the day. Once inside, make a beeline for the most popular rides, the Tower of Terror, Space Ship Earth, etc., to get them out of the way early, leaving time to explore the rest of the park.
Extra Magic Hours
If you are staying at the Disney Resort, inquire about Extra Magic Hours, which is a free service reserved for resort guests exclusively. Extra Magic Hours allows guests to enter the park an hour before the gates open to the public and up to three hours after the gates close. If you’re especially keen, park staff often let guests inside a half hour before the scheduled opening times. As an example, if the park opens to the public at 10 am, and resort guests at 9 am, arriving at 8:30 am would guarantee having the place nearly to yourself.
Skip the Afternoon
If you’re planning on tackling Disney World in one day, give yourself a break midday, when the park is its most hectic. Arrive early and ride till lunch, then leave the park and return to your hotel, sit by the pool and relax, and go back to the park for dinner. By this time, the midday crowds will have dispersed. You will not have missed much, besides the long lines in the excessive heat.
Another trick is to simply skip the parades. Parade time is an ample opportunity to visit the attractions that tend to have long wait times, as the lines tend to thin out while everyone is standing out on the streets watching the floats.
If none of these strategies work, take advantage of the Disney World Fastpass system, which is offered free to all guests. This essentially is a special ticket to wait in an alternative, albeit shorter, line for attractions.
Depending on the day, and how busy the park is, there are a certain number of Fastpass tickets allocated each hour for the more popular rides. Machines are located all over the park; all you have to do is insert your park pass to receive the ticket, which will tell you when to go back to that attraction to wait in the Fastpass line.
The system isn’t perfect, and there’s no guarantee that the Fastpass line will actually save you time, but as it’s free, it is worth a shot.
For more information on Walt Disney World, click here.