How to Manage Disney Crowds Like a Pro in 2023

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Hey howdy hey! It’s blog post day! I’m absolutely thrilled to be sharing my latest post with you: How to Manage Disney Crowds Like a Pro in 2023. Being a guest at Disney since I was 7 years old, gaining experience working for Disney, and now living minutes away from the magic and visiting weekly, I’ve learned so much when it comes to crowds at Disney World.

I don’t want to burst your bubble, but I do want to help you set accurate expectations for your visit. Truly, there no longer is a great time to visit for low crowds. No matter time of year, you will experience crowds and wait times. A visit to Disney World truly must be packed with patience.

Since Disney has changed their tickets to now charge date-based pricing, meaning, ticket prices can be cheaper during traditional “low seasons” and higher during traditional “busy seasons”, there is no best time to visit anymore, and anyone who advises you otherwise has outdated information. As a local with an Annual Pass, I visit the parks multiple times a week and experience a lot of crowds, no matter the season. However, there are some tips you can use to manage Disney World crowds, and I’m excited to share these with you today!

Take Advantage of Early Magic Hours

If you are staying on property at a Disney Resort, take advantage of early magic hours to handle Disney crowds. Each Disney theme park opens 30-minutes early to Disney Resort guests (and a few good neighbor hotel guests as well). To maximize time, arrive to the park 45 minutes prior to the park’s opening time to ensure you are near the front of the pack. Then, once the park opens, use this exclusive time to knock out some of the most popular attractions. Mid-day, when the parks are the most crowded and overheated, head back to the resort to refresh in the pool, take a nap in the room, and rest. In the evenings, you can return to the parks for nighttime entertainment and additional attractions.

Particularly, if you are staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort or Disney Deluxe Villa Resort, which are the highest categories of resorts at Disney, select parks on select nights will stay open late exclusively for you! This is such a glorious time to take advantage of extended evening hours, as the park will remain open for a much smaller number of guests. Attraction wait times will be much lower during these nights, and you will have the opportunity to obtain additional virtual queues for participating attractions, so be sure to utilize this!

Maximize Time in the Evening

Visiting the parks in the evenings is another great way to manage the crowds at Disney World. In the evenings, many guests will visit dining locations, so you can take advantage of the cooler weather and lowered crowds to enjoy attractions. Additionally, many of the theme parks stay open late into the evening, and during this time the families with young children will likely exit the parks, leaving less guests as a result! Furthermore, if your priority is riding the attractions and you’re willing to skip the nighttime entertainment (fireworks), the attraction wait times will drop significantly during the nighttime entertainment. This way, you can experience many of the popular attractions!

Even if you plan to enjoy the nighttime entertainment, some parks stay open past the conclusion of nighttime entertainment. Instead of waiting in incredibly long transportation lines after fireworks, use this time to ride attractions instead! While everyone else heads out of the parks after fireworks, you will be heading back into the park to take advantage of such low wait times!

Picture of the Chinese Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the evening.

Plan Park Days for the Weekday

This isn’t feasible for everyone, but it can sometimes make a difference if you’re trying to manage crowds at Disney! Many locals and families with children will be busy at work and school during the workday, so the weekdays can be a bit less packed if you can swing it!

Weekends tend to be busier, as children are out of school and locals are off work and able to visit. Particularly if you are visiting EPCOT during the Food & Wine Festival, the park will be much more noticeably busy during the weekends, as many locals will visit the festival these days. Instead of making your trip more complicated, try visiting the theme parks on weekdays, and schedule your rest days at the resort for the weekend!

For Meals

Eat During Non-Traditional Mealtimes

Don’t be surprised to find hour+ long wait times for food at 12 pm and 6 pm! These are traditional mealtimes, so everyone will be crowding the dining locations at these times. Instead, eat at 11 am and 4 pm or 5 pm, then simply grab snacks if you find yourself hungry later in the day. Trust me, your wait for food will be much shorter.

Use Mobile Order

Many of the quick service locations throughout property offer mobile ordering, meaning, you can use your My Disney Experience mobile application to preselect and pay for your meal. The app even offers customization and special dietary options if needed. You can order your food in advance, select a time that you want to pick up your food, head to the quick service location at the appropriate time and select “I’m Here” through the app. The dining location will prepare your order, and bam! Within a few minutes, your food will be ready. This is so much more efficient and faster than ordering at a kiosk with a Cast Member, and one of my favorite ways to navigate Disney World crowds since it’s so easy to use!

Picture of two noodle bowls from Satuli Canteen at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Consider Purchasing Genie+

Disney Genie+ is controversial as it is a bit complicated to use. However, it’s worth it to familiarize yourself with it if you’re looking to handle Disney World crowds and maximize your limited time!

Disney Genie+ is paid per person, per day, and it allows you to save time waiting in lines for select attractions throughout the park. It’s important to note that Genie+ does not allow you access to shorter lines for every single attraction. Rather, it allows you to make a reservation for an attraction return time, and on average guests can reserve 2-3 attractions per day (though this can be more or less, depending on availability). The price varies each day but ranges from $15 per person per day – $30 per person per day. Genie+ can be purchased at 7 am the day of your visit and it does sell out, so be sure to purchase right at 7 am if you would like this add-on!

It’s worth mentioning that the most popular attraction at each theme park is excluded from Genie+. Meaning, even if you paid for Genie+ you cannot skip the line on these attractions. Instead, you will need to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane (charged per person, per day) if you would like a minimal wait time for these attractions.

Can you see why Genie+ is so confusing now?! Even though it’s complex and has many rules, this can still save you so much time and headache if you use it correctly! I highly recommend watching Genie+ videos on YouTube prior to your trip for tips, strategies, and to familiarize yourself with the process!

Stay When it Rains

Florida is well-known for their afternoon showers, especially during the summer months! When the afternoon showers start up, guests will scatter like flies, heading back to their resorts to avoid the rain. However, many of these rain showers will only last a few minutes, so consider packing a rain jacket and staying in the parks. Once the rain clears up, the attractions will often have lower wait times since so many guests left. Do keep in mind, however, that some attractions will be forced to close when lightning is in the area for safety, so it’s possible not all attractions will be available to you. This is one of my favorite ways to manage Disney crowds, as all I have to do is wait a few minutes to avoid the packs of people!

Man and Woman wearing rainjackets, background of the picture shows rain.

Shop for Merchandise Before the Park Closes

Shopping for merchandise once the park closes is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when navigating crowds at Disney! You see, the merchandise locations will flood with guests after the nighttime entertainment until the park closes each night. To minimize your chances of experiencing Disney crowds and avoid long check-out times, shop for your merchandise anytime during the day before the nighttime entertainment. Additionally, many merchandise locations allow you to utilize the My Disney Experience mobile application to purchase your merchandise rather than waiting in long checkout lines, so be sure to utilize this feature too when shopping!

Consider Attending Disney After Hours

Disney After Hours is an exclusive, separately ticketed event that allows you access to the theme park after it closes on select nights. This guarantees lower crowds since Disney limits the number of tickets that can be purchased for this event. If you are looking for the absolute best way to navigate Disney World crowds and avoid peak capacity, this is the event for you! While certain attractions and shows might not be available during Disney After Hours, the event includes most attractions with much lower wait times than you’ll see when visiting during the day. To make the event even more exciting, ice cream novelties, popcorn and select beverages are included in the cost of your ticket!

Photo of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind icon, with Spaceship Earth and the Monorail in the background, advertising Disney After Hours
Photo Credit: @disneyparks

Summary

In conclusion, remember that no matter when you visit, you will experience crowds during your vacation. However, there are resources you can use during your trip to manage Disney crowds! Be sure to pack your patience and be kind to Cast Members, as everything they do is to help keep you safe and provide you with a magical experience! I hope these tips have been helpful and empower you to feel confident navigating crowds at Disney World during your visit. For even more Disney suggestions, head to this blog post next for my favorite Disney Date Ideas!

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39 thoughts on “How to Manage Disney Crowds Like a Pro in 2023”

  1. These are all great tips! I love Disney but the wait times can be sooo long! These tips give me some great strategies to deal with the crowds.

    1. Haha, I love that for you!! I always encourage Disney obsessions. 🙂 My sister is introverted and hates crowds as well, but has found relief with some of these options, so I hope it helps you too when you visit next!

  2. These are awesome tips! The ordering online has saved us so many times while in parks…it’s so nice to not have to stand in line for food. Thanks for the great ideas!!

  3. This is good information. And for children with disabilities, such as Autism and ADHD, the Disney Customer Service will issue a pass that prevents having to wait in line for long periods of time. We did this for my grandson with ADHD and it saved lots of meltdowns.

    1. Yes, Disability Access Service Pass has been a lifesaver for me as well with my autoimmune condition! I hope to do a detailed blog post on it soon 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great ideas! We went to Disney several years ago and it was crowded. We hope to go again in the future and will keep these tips in mind!

    1. Yes, I find I’m able to get so many extra attractions done when I eat at off peak times. Not to mention, I hate waiting in lines when I’m hungry haha!

  5. I am taking notes! We’re going to Japan’s Disneyland AND DisneySea in August, and I will need all the tips here!

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