Disney Parks are universally amazing. It follows, then, they are also popular. Disneyland, Epcot, Magic Kingdom; they all attract crowds, and are often, by definition, crowded. It’s how it goes when you are dealing with something so well-conceived and delivered. There is not a resort-wide conspiracy that every time you visit, every ride you want to go on, every show you want to see, everywhere you would choose to eat, is so thoroughly bristling with congealing humanity you cannot enjoy or even approach it. It just feels like it sometimes.
Do not lament the unavoidable circumstance that millions of people share your love and appreciation for the world’s most dedicated entertainment company. Also, don’t be surprised if about a thousand of them got to Space Mountain ahead of you. You are not relegated to long lines and disappointment all day, however. Even on the busiest of days, during the least advisable time of year, you can conquer what would be the unavoidable crush of fellow visitors. Here’s how:
1. Arrive before the park opens
This is not a closely guarded secret, though it’s astounding how few guests manage to do it, relatively. Yes, rather a sizeable and dedicated mob is commonplace every morning, in every park, for the rope drop. The a.m. rush, though, has nothing on the masses that will be cluttering every attraction, churro cart and gift shop later in even an average day.
Sacrifice whatever sleep you have to. Enjoy shorter lines and far less jostling for sometimes an hour or more. Get on rides you won’t get anywhere near later. Collect a coveted Soarin’ or Radiator Springs FastPass (at Disneyland Resort, at least) before they run out. Then as the park fills up, sit back and reflect upon all the fun you’ve already had. Recharge then try to replay these tactics in reverse later in the day (see Trick #2, below).
2. Stay late
Another poorly kept secret, of which all too few take advantage. Everyone has a job, significant drive or impatient cat waiting for them back in the real world. But, if you are intentionally visiting a Disney Resort on a given day, do your best to take full advantage of it. As you make your way down Main Street, at the end of the night, if you are not completely worn out, even on the point of tears, you have done yourself a disservice.
Regardless of what is waiting for you back home, or at work, or school the next day, stay in the park until the lights come on and they’re ushering you out with brooms. Typically, you will get on as many rides in the final 90-minutes of operation as you would in the eight or nine preceding hours. Plus, pretty much nothing competes with the feeling of having the park to yourself. It’s rare, but if you are in the right part of the park when it’s closing, it’s like you own the place.
3. Dress appropriately
What does this have to do with making proper use of your time, you ask? Plenty. Especially if you’ve ever huddled ‘neath the Crystal Palace gables waiting out a rain flurry or rehabbed away precious hours on a Boardwalk bench because you wore the wrong type of shoes. Know the weather patterns of the resort you are attending for the time of year you will be there, and dress accordingly. The family wearing the rain slickers, walking proudly through Showcase Plaza, will ride the Test Track twice while you scramble for shelter in your silk tank top. Similarly, as you pour mocha latte on your feet, having misjudged how cold it gets at night in California, listen for the sounds of joy coming from the Matterhorn courtesy of the kids in closed toe shoes and sweatshirts.