Are you headed to Walt Disney World in 2022? Chances are, it’s going to be a bit more crowded than you’re used to. With the 50th Anniversary Celebration in full swing and Disney fans filling the parks, Walt Disney World is packed more often than not.
The good news is that some planning (and willingness to shift your schedule) can go a long way. At Perfecting the Magic, we’re all about making your days at Disney the best they can be. To help you achieve that, we’ve gathered our top tips to help you navigate Walt Disney World’s busiest days so you can make the most out of your trip.
Let’s get into it!
Consider a Park Hopper at Walt Disney World
When booking your trip to Walt Disney World, consider adding the Park Hopper option to a day (or two!) of your tickets. This is especially true if you’re starting your day at Magic Kingdom. While the reservation system is in place and capacity is managed, crowds can still feel especially wild in the Orlando humidity after several hours in the blazing sun. Sure, they add an added expense, but there are times when the flexibility is well worth it.
Check-in with yourself while booking your tickets. Do crowds start to feel overwhelming for you? Do you ever wish you could switch over to EPCOT or Animal Kingdom for lunch? Love the Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios? The added expense may be worth it if you’re not into a mid-afternoon break back at your resort. If you’re looking to maximize park time and like to shift plans throughout the day, a Park Hopper ticket might be a perfect choice for you!
Plan a Rest Day
The best Walt Disney World park strategy involves planning in rest. While it’s tempting to maximize every moment in the parks, you’ll have a much better time if you schedule a bit of rest here and there. We recommend a full day outside of the parks midway through your trip.
When the parks are packed and you need to breathe, a day spent hanging out can provide much needed relief that recharges you for the rest of your visit. It doesn’t hurt that it saves room in your budget, either. Trust us, a rest day doesn’t need to be boring. If you head to Disney Springs, you’ll feel like you’re a part of it all. Swing by The Boathouse for fantastic filet mignon sliders and sit by the water until you feel yourself unwind. Grab a place in line at Gideon’s Bakehouse for one of their phenomenal cookies; you’ll be grateful you did.
With so much to do within the Disney bubble, you can continue to make memories while giving yourself a bit of a break and have a much better time.
Head to a Walt Disney World Resort for Lunch
Speaking of breaks, one of the best ways to beat a crowded Walt Disney World park is to head to a neighboring resort for a break. This is especially true at the less foodie-centric parks like Magic Kingdom. With the Monorail and ferries steps from MK, there’s no reason to fight sweat-soaked crowds while you put in your mobile order at the Pinocchio Village Haus if you can take a breezy ferry ride over to The Grand Floridian Café and eat chicken and waffles!
The best part? You can make reservations from inside the park via Genie and enjoy quick service options and lounges at the resorts. Head over to the Polynesian Village Resort for a Dole Whip or a cocktail at the Tambu Lounge, or back to the Grand Floridian for some of the best mac and cheese on property. If you need a break, but don’t want to stray far from the parks, strolling on manicured resort grounds and eating delicious food steps from the action is always a good idea!
Grab one of the Best Disney Snacks
If you’re determined to stay in the parks throughout the day, or your party doesn’t want to head out for a break, there are tons of great foodie options within the Disney parks that can provide a solid break opportunity. If you’re in EPCOT during a festival, snack options are abundant, and you can’t go wrong, but every park has winning snacks that shouldn’t be missed!
Here are some of our faves
If you’re in Animal Kingdom, check out the killer ice cream sandwich over at Dino-Bite Snacks, or grab one of the new Marinated Pork Flatbreads at Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery. Spending your day at Hollywood Studios and looking for a snack? Make a beeline for Woody’s Lunch Box and grab one of their Lunch Box Tarts—the limited-edition varieties shouldn’t be missed!
If you’re in Magic Kingdom for the day, get on over to Frontierland and check out Westward Ho Refreshments for one of their Wendell Bear Claws—they’re amazing! Essentially, any packed park day is better with a hydration and snack break. Find a little shade, grab a little nosh, and you’ll be ready to handle the densest crowds with much more ease.
Take in the Scenery, and Focus on Photos
When the ride queues are crazy, or you know you’re headed in at peak times, it can be helpful to schedule a Genie return time and shift your focus while you’re waiting. It’s easy to overlook the things that make Disney so special. Sit and listen to the ambient music, take in the details, and start snapping photos! Some of the best travel photos include vibey snaps that show off the tiny details.
When you’re missing your Disney trip, you’ll be happy you took them. Crowds tend to form in groups. You can often find little areas of the parks with virtually no one in them. These create perfect opportunities for selfie sessions and family photos. Trust us, taking a photo from the side of the castle is much better than taking one head-on where everyone is congregating together. We love Disney fans as much as the next person, but a stranger wearing a baby Yoda t-shirt could ruin your Christmas card. Keep your eyes open to the photo ops others miss. You’ll find aesthetically pleasing options almost everywhere you look!
Use Disney Crowd Calendars and Arrive Early, Stay Late
If you have flexibility in your booking dates, check out crowd calendars before you book. These tools are incredibly helpful in selecting dates and understanding peak times at Walt Disney World. While they rely on informed data and tend to be accurate, there are times when the calendars miss the mark, but for the most part, they will help you select dates that avoid crazy peak crowds.
No matter what the crowd calendars say, make sure you take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry offered by many participating hotels and dates with Extended Evening Theme Park Hours. You’d be surprised by what you can get done with an extra 30-minutes in the morning and late nights at Magic Kingdom offer a welcome relief from crowds and heat!
Go back to Your Hotel for a Rest, Shower, and Swim
We know, heading out of a Disney park when you’ve paid so much for tickets can feel like you’re wasting money. But, we promise you, it’s easy to get burnt out when you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with people in temperatures so balmy you’ll feel like you’ve just left a hot yoga class.
We highly recommend an afternoon break and believe that they allow for much better experiences in the long run. Taking time to head back to your hotel for a shower, a swim, a couple of bottles of water, and a breather will ensure you have a lovely time and don’t leave Disney with blisters and sunburnt skin.
We consider it an absolute bonus that midday crowds at Walt Disney World are at their peak. You’d be shocked by how little you can get done during this time of day, and taking a (much needed!) break will give you the energy boost you need to enjoy your vacation.
Consider Your Individual Needs
Most of all, consider your individual needs. If you’re not a morning person, don’t drag yourself out of bed to get there as soon as the parks open. Sure, you’ll get a lot done in this time, and we still recommend you try it at least once, but you know yourself better than any guide ever will.
If you’ll feel like a zombie in the morning no matter what, skip it and head over when you’re ready. Peak crowds often mean long operating hours at Walt Disney World. Pay attention to the park calendars and plan your time wisely, but remember that you’re on vacation, and you should be putting your enjoyment above everything else.
There is no one-size-fits-all ‘perfect Disney day.’ Perfecting the Magic is dedicated to providing tips to get the most out of your trip; make sure to use the tips that suit you to make the most of the magic!
Follow Us for More WDW Tips
With Walt Disney World so popular and crowds coming out in full force, it’s helpful to have strategies to keep your trip on track and spare you stress. We hope that our tips have prepared you with solutions that you can plan for your next trip to WDW and that you have the best time.
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