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11 Tips, Tricks, and Hacks to Save INSANE Amounts of Time at Walt Disney World

4. Make reservations wisely and have a touring plan

Family at Pandora

Image: Disney

Flying by the seat of your pants might make for a fun thrill ride, but its not necessarily a great way to save time at Walt Disney World.

The days of paper Fastpasses and waiting in long phone queues to make dining reservations are gone. It is more convenient than ever to make reservations at Walt Disney World thanks to the My Disney Experience app and Disney’s website. The key is being smart about what reservations you choose and getting them as early as possible.

Before your trip, put together a “must do” list for your family. Research ahead of time and make sure you know the attractions, entertainment experiences, and dining locations that you don’t want to miss. Knowing your must-try dining options, for example, can impact your choice of which parks you want to visit when. It may help to arrange these in a loose grid or spreadsheet based on morning, afternoon, and evening plans. This will ensure that as you plan your trip, you prioritize the things you want to do most.

If you’re serious about saving time, consider using a touring plan. Well-researched planners can make one, but you can also subscribe to sites like TouringPlans.com to get access to pre-designed itineraries made by Disney parks experts to help you maximize your time. A good touring plan will help you avoid line traps or ending up in the busiest park each day. It will also help you prioritize attractions that need to be hit early in the day to avoid long lines.

If you’ll be staying at a Disney resort, you can make reservations for dining and Fastpass+ 60 days ahead of time. If you’ll be staying elsewhere, this window opens 30 days ahead. Make reservations for your must-do dining experiences first, then plan Fastpass+ reservations around this. If you have to modify things, you can, but make sure you do so early and have alternatives locked in.

BONUS TIP: Don’t waste your Fastpasses! There are some attractions in each Disney park that you just don’t need a Fastpass for. For example, at Epcot, you will never need a Fastpass for Living with the Land or Journey Into Imagination. At Magic Kingdom, you don’t need one to the Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor. Same with Muppet Vision 3D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or It’s Tough to Be a Bug at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Try to score Fastpasses for high and moderate-popularity attractions instead.

5. Be smart with Extra Magic Hours (and busy days)

Cinderella Castle under blue skies

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega (@mykingdomforamouse Instagram)

Extra Magic Hours are a strange factor in trip planning.

For those unfamiliar, Extra Magic Hours are a perk for Disney resort guests, an extra hour in either the morning or evening where they can enjoy the park without general admission and passholder crowds. In general, Extra Magic Hours are often a great way to catch extremely-popular attractions first thing in the morning without excessively long lines.

The problem is that they’re no longer a secret, and they have a bizarre effect on crowd trends.

While the actual hour provided by Extra Magic Hours is usually great for resort guests to get on rides fast, for unknown reasons, the rest of the day whatever park has Extra Magic Hours often ends up becoming the busiest park. No one has quite pinned down why this phenomenon happens, but it might have to do with concentrating resort guests in one particular park. These guests linger later into the day and it causes the park to seem busier than usual.

You have two options when it comes to saving time using Extra Magic Hours:

A) You can avoid whatever park has Extra Magic Hours that day and go to another park.

B) You can use Extra Magic Hours in the morning to get a head start on the day, but then hop to another park when crowds swell. We are already big fans of taking a mid-day break when visiting Disney parks, so this actually ends up saving energy as well as time in long lines.

It is also worth considering that certain Disney parks are busiest on certain days. This fluctuates, but the general trend is that all parks (especially Magic Kingdom) are busiest on weekends. Magic Kingdom tends to have lowest crowds Tuesday and Thursday. Epcot is quietest usually on Wednesday or Thursday. Animal Kingdom gets a slight lull in crowds on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and finally, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is usually quieter on Wednesdays and Fridays (though Galaxy’s Edge may change the latter).

6. Carry only what you need and don’t get stuck at security

Kid meets Chewbacca

Image: Disney

What you carry into the parks can definitely affect how much time you save. For one thing, make sure ahead of time that you’re not bringing banned items into the parks—leave the bottle of wine, the selfie stick, loose ice, your pocket knife, and the mega stroller at home. Having any of these items will unnecessarily slow you down at security.

Overall, it’s best to carry only what you need when visiting Disney parks. A giant backpack just isn’t necessary in most cases, and it will ultimately drain your energy and slow you down in crowds. While it’s smart to have a small Disney Day survival kit, it doesn’t need to be hefty. For one thing, most OTC medications or drugstore items you might need on the fly (besides sunscreen) can be procured at Disney First Aid for free!

When approaching the security table, already have all the zippers for your bag open and ready to inspect with the strap off your shoulder. This should keep your trip through security pretty painless.

BONUS TIP: Don’t approach a Fastpass line until your Fastpass is ready to go. If you have a MagicBand, you don’t need to do anything but scan it. Just make sure you arrive at the right time (in most cases, you can even arrive 5 minutes early). If you have a card or paper ticket, have this out before you approach. You’ll help avoid a Fastpass bottleneck by being ready!

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