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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.