There are a few questions that can spark an instant debate among Disney fans. One of them is whether or not to take the kids out of school to go to Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort. Some families do, some prefer to schedule their Disney trips around school breaks. On this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday, I’m Riding the Rails with Magical Blogorail and looking at strategies for handling Spring Break crowds at Disney Parks – without losing your mind.

Crowds at Disney Parks

Handling Crowds at Disney Parks

Any time school is out, the Disney parks are going to be more crowded. Our family tries to schedule our vacations to avoid crowds, but if that’s not an option for you, here are some ways you can deal with the crowds:

  • Get to the parks early: The Disney parks tend to be less crowded earlier in the day. If you enjoy character dining, try to get an early seating at a character breakfast located within the park you want to visit. You’ll be allowed into the park before it opens to get to your restaurant, and will avoid the mad dash at the gates when they open.
    Dawn at Epcot
  • Split up: When crowd levels are high, wait times are going to be longer. Consider splitting up to make sure that everyone in your family gets to experience their favorite attractions. We do this even when crowds are smaller, just so the younger kids don’t have to spend too much time waiting around while the older ones do the roller coasters, and the older kids aren’t bored while the younger kids ride Dumbo. Again.
  • Bring cell phones: If you think you might let an older child get in line for Expedition Everest while you take the younger ones over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, be sure the kid going solo has a cell phone. This will allow you to easily coordinate a meet up later, and to stay in contact should something unforeseen happen. You might get stuck waiting for a parade to pass, or your child might underestimate how long the solo rider line will take when she decides she has time to ride one more time.
  • Make dining reservations: When the parks are crowded, grabbing a quick lunch gets more complicated, especially for a larger family. Finding a table large enough for your entire group, or two fairly close together, can be a challenge. Consider budgeting for the Deluxe Dining Plan and making reservations for table-service meals for lunch and dinner. It will be more expensive than quick service, but you’ll be able to spend an hour having a relaxed family meal rather than hunting for a table while your food gets cold.
  • Know when to leave: If everyone in your family is getting stressed out, it may be time to head back to your resort for a swim, or just to take a break in your room. You can always go back later in the evening when you’re feeling refreshed.
  • Use FastPass+: When standby times for popular attractions reach into the hundreds of minutes, you might find yourself asking whether a two-minute ride is really worth it. Reserve FastPass+ for the attractions you most want to do, so that you know you won’t miss out on them due to long lines.
  • Find hidden spots: Every Disney park has them – little out of the way spots that are perfect for regrouping when the crowds are just too much.
    Side Street at Disney World
    I won’t tell you where they all are (because I’d hate to ruin the surprise!) but these are two of my favorite finds from our recent trip to Walt Disney World!

 Hidden Room

Do you know where these spots are located? Share – plus your favorite hidden spot! – in the comments below. (And don’t forget to sign up for the Return to Disney newsletter!)