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After 45 minutes of being stuck in standstill traffic, frustration began to run high. Frustrated at the ridiculous amount of traffic, the ridiculous amount of teenagers running rampant throughout the streets, but more-over, frustrated at ourselves for deciding to travel through Orlando on the first day of school holidays. Idiots.

Disney World is said to be the happiest place on earth, however during peak season the crowds can be overpowering, and you’re constantly fighting for space. Those not strategic in their planning will experience first-hand what the “busiest theme park in the world” truly means, and trust me, traveling through Orlando during peak season is a horrific experience.

You're fighting for space!

You’re fighting for space!

Not keen on navigating through a sea of tourists and wasting precious hours in long lines? Consider these tips for avoiding the crowds in Orlando, Florida. The same tips can be applied for travel to Universal Studios, or any other Orlando theme park.

Travel During Off Season

Orlando is a popular tourist destination all year round, however there are still a few periods during the year which see the crowds die down. Choosing the best time to visit is key to avoiding crowds.

Travel during September and late January/February for lighter crowds, as well as the first week in November or the first two weeks in December. Early May is also a great option for travel to the theme parks.

Crowds increase during holidays and school breaks like Christmas, Easter and Spring break. Summer travel between June and August is a popular time of year for foreign visitors and tour groups. AVOID mid March – mid April as well as the two weeks around Christmas and New Years. If you can’t stand crazy crowds, avoid the week of 4th of July like the plague.

Additionally, traveling during off season means finding lower accommodation rates, cheaper flights to Orlando, and the ease of quick transfers between the parks and your hotel (minimal traffic).

Epcot during November was fairly dead.

Epcot during early December was fairly dead.

Book a Disney Resort

While not the cheapest option for accommodation, if you would rather spend a bit extra for easy transport to and from the parks, you don’t even need to bother renting a car. Each Disney Resort offers a range of free public transportation which picks you up from the hotel front entrance and takes you directly to the park of your choice.

Guests at any of the Disney World resorts are also offered Extra Magic Hours, a program which allows guests the opportunity to arrive an hour early to any of the Disney theme parks on specific days of the week, or stay up to three hours after everyone leaves.

Fan

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was fantastic!

Use Fast Pass

Go directly to the front of each line with Disney’s Fast Pass. This program allows you to reserve a time for a specific ride or attraction and return at the scheduled time without having to queue.

It’s simple and easy and saves hours of waiting in line – hold onto your park admission ticket and stick it into a designated Fast Pass machine to reserve a time.

Start Early

Beat the crowds by starting your day early. All theme parks generally see an influx of visitors later in the morning – Orlando visitors tend to enjoy their Florida vacation by sleeping in. Take advantage of this and get to the parks 20 minutes before opening time.

Hit the most popular attractions in the morning while the park is relatively quiet, and save the less important attractions for the end of the day. Don’t wait until midday to venture over to a ride or attraction you have your heart set on.

Disney attractions with long lines include:

Space Mountain, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Jungle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom; Soarin’, Test Track and Mission Space in Epcot; Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Hollywood Tower of Terror and Toy Story Mania in Disney’s Hollywood Studios; and Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safari in Animal Kingdom.

Another great tip is to hit the most popular rides during the daily parades or fireworks. Run to the front of the queue as everyone else lines up for the parade. It means you’ll miss the parade, but it’s an option.

Getting an early start to the day.

Getting an early start to the day before the influx of park visitors.

Eat During Less Crowded Times

Plan to eat before or after the rest of the park to avoid the meal time rush. Eating can be incredibly time consuming, the lines for food often doubling the lines for rides. Consider eating an easy breakfast in your hotel room and combining a late lunch with an early dinner. Or eat breakfast around 10am or later, and lunch around 2.30pm.

Orlando has a range of delicious dining options – it’s recommended to make a reservation, especially during peak times.

The fireworks

The fireworks displays are amazing – but they’re also incredibly crowded.

 About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

 

    16 Comments

  1. Hi Megan, Great tips. We recently enjoyed Disney in Orlando and had a blast. With two young kids in tow we found getting there early and doing the popular rides first was the only way to go. There is also a website that rates which park is busy, including universal on which day. We were there in February so missed the crazy March crowds although did get the Presidents long weekend. We even managed to do all four Disney parks in one day, a long day of 14 hours but it was worth it. Cheers James
    James Long recently posted…Why Write a Travel BlogMy Profile

    • Hi James, glad to hear you had a great time at Disney! I’ll have to check into the website which rates the busy parks and periods – that sounds incredibly useful – thanks!

      Impressed that you did all 4 Disney parks in one day! That’s commitment!!
      Megan Claire recently posted…Traveling On Assignment. Interviewing DTourist Jen LowthropMy Profile

  2. Good tips Megan. I went to Disney and Epcot in Orlando around about a year ago. It was my first ever visit.

    We actually went on a Saturday and I believe it was just after the school holidays. Whilst busy I must admit it was less crowded than I thought it would be.

    We also used the Fast Track pass which was a good way to save time. We did discover though that you can only have one valid Fast Track pass at a time. We thought this was a little bit of a shame since we could have planned our day if we had set times for each ride.

    We did get to meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie and Goofy so it was worth it in the end.
    The Guy recently posted…Steve Irwin Zoo aka Australia Zoo North Of BrisbaneMy Profile

    • Glad to hear you managed to miss the majority of the crowds – lucky being a Saturday after school break! Although I do think that if we go with the expectation of it being crazy busy, when it’s not so it’s an added bonus!

      We went last year as well – I do remember there was a limit on the amount of Fast Passes you could have at any one time; definitely required strategic planning as to what and when we were going to hit attractions.

      But as you said, was all worth it in the end!
      Megan Claire recently posted…Seven Amazing Destinations For Campervan TripsMy Profile

  3. Great tips Megan! We visiting in May and found it very quiet probably one because of the time of year and two because we visited the parks on weekdays and went shopping and relaxed on the weekend. Awesome fun!
    Jen Seligmann recently posted…Long Weekend Travel: 5 Easy Trips from SydneyMy Profile

  4. Good tips! Disney can definitely get crazy, especially in the heat of the summer with never ending lines! I still always love it though for some reason 🙂 There are also apps such as My Disney Experience, that show you current ride wait times and give tips for planning your day. It’s nice to know the wait time for your ride before walking halfway across the park!
    Jenna recently posted…Alligator City: Airboat Tours in the Florida EvergladesMy Profile

  5. Great tips! Going to Disneyland in two two weeks – hopefully CA is a little different than FL with the crowds. Since we went last year, we knew about the Magic morning but not sure CA has the three hours after closing. I’ll have to check on that . Thanks foe the heads up.
    Audra recently posted…Best man speechMy Profile

  6. I must admit the thought of Disney does not appeal to me. Screaming kids are not included in my idea of a relaxing escape!! Having said that you outline some great advice for minimizing the risk of getting mixed up with the crowds! Thanks Meg.
    Charli | Wanderlusters recently posted…An Alpine Escape From QueenstownMy Profile

  7. they all sound like great ideas! i’d love to visit the park before/ after everyone has left it. sounds cool 8D

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