Anyone brave enough to visit Walt Disney World this time of year typically understands one thing: you’re going to do some standing in line! Wait times soar between Christmas and New Year as large crowds bear down on Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios.
Walt Disney World is usually rather busy, no matter the time of year, but the holiday season sees a huge influx of people looking to add a little bit of magic to their winter vacation schedules.
Expected wait times for popular attractions at Disney World will certainly go up during this time of year, and it isn’t rare that Individual Lightning Lanes for attractions such as Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom and Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios will sell out rather early.
Although some guests, like those staying at one of Disney World Resort’s many hotels, have earlier access to the parks through extra magic hours, those not staying on the property may find themselves waiting unbelievably long to ride attractions like Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, or Peter Pan at Magic Kingdom.
How to Plan for Wait Times at Disney World
When planning a visit to Disney World, one of the key factors to consider is the wait times for attractions. Nobody enjoys spending their precious vacation time standing in long lines. To make the most of your visit and minimize wait times, here are some tips and strategies to consider:
1. Utilize Disney Genie: Disney Genie is an innovative planning tool that helps optimize your park experience. It provides personalized itineraries and real-time attraction recommendations, taking into account wait times and your individual preferences.
2. Make use of Lightning Lane: Disney Genie+ includes the option to purchase Lightning Lane access for certain attractions. This allows you to enjoy shorter wait times by reserving your spot in a virtual queue. Keep in mind that this service is subject to availability and requires an additional fee.
3. Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours or Extended Evening Hours: If you’re staying at one of Disney World’s resort hotels, you have the opportunity to participate in Extra Magic Hours. This allows you to enter the parks early or stay late, giving you access to select attractions with shorter wait times.
4. Plan your visit strategically: Research and create a touring plan to make the most of your time. Start with popular attractions that tend to have longer wait times earlier in the day when crowds are still minimal. Consider using tools like My Disney Experience app to help optimize your itinerary.
5. Check wait times regularly: Stay updated on wait times throughout the day by utilizing the My Disney Experience app or the wait time boards located in each park. This will help you prioritize which attractions to visit and when.
6. Take advantage of single rider lines: If you don’t mind riding separately from your group, single rider lines can significantly reduce wait times. These lines are available for select attractions and are often much shorter than the regular standby line.
By following these tips, you can maximize your time at Disney World and minimize the amount of time spent waiting in line. Remember to plan ahead, stay flexible, and make use of the available resources to make your visit to the happiest place on Earth a memorable one.
Stay Home for the Holidays
As we discussed, wait times during the holiday season, especially between Christmas and New Year, can reach unimaginable lengths. Long lines are to be expected no matter what it is you’re doing at Disney World. Despite your best touring plan, your wait for popular attractions like Expedition Everest or even Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at Magic Kingdom is going to be longer than normal, and Individual Lightning Lane may not be available to save you.
This was the case for Reddit user u/JMALT7 today, who noted the extremely popular Avatar: Flight of Passage ride, housed in the Pandora region of Animal Kingdom, clocking in at a 280-minute wait time. That’s almost a five-hour wait!
To make matters worse, it seems that Individual Lightning Lanes were sold out earlier that morning, according to comments on the post.
The poster went on to question why anyone who could afford it would choose to waste their valuable park time waiting in that long of a line. However, the responses quickly turned into advice regarding what to do if you don’t have the option of Lightning Lanes for popular attractions that currently have huge wait times.
One particular point of advice was to jump in line right at park close. Although we agree this is a great way to get in that fancy ride before you end your park day, it doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t going to wait for a very long time.
Attractions like Flight of Passage always have a lengthy line, so even if you jump in right before Animal Kingdom closes, you’re still going to wait, but it doesn’t free up the rest of your day to wait in long lines for other attractions.
This trick works at all parks, including Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios, assuming the ride is operational. Right before park close, jump in line a minute or two proir, and Cast Members typically will allow you to wait it out and get in one last ride. Often, as the parks have emptied by the time you’ve gotten finished, this allows for some amazing photo opportunities while making your way to the bus, boat, Skyliner, monorail, or parking lot.