Knowing the best time to visit a park is normally just getting up and heading wherever sounds good for the “typical” Walt Disney World visitor. You’ll have the leg up because you’ve put in a little bit of effort to make sure your family has the shortest lines possible and small crowds.
The first step is figuring out the park hours. Lots of sites online have this information but you should assume the Disney official site is the most accurate. I start out by listing the days we’ll be at Disney with the park hours for each day of the trip along with the times of any “must do” shows or attractions like Wishes. When you’re doing this, be sure to note if there are Extra Magic Hours while you’re noting the operating hours even if you’re not staying on Disney property. This information is important because you’ll know where others will likely be heading if you’re staying off site and can avoid that park if possible. Of course, if you’re staying on site, that’s more than likely where you’ll want to be!
After you know what hours the parks will be open, take a moment to subscribe to Touring Plans. While this site does have a subscription service to give you trip plans and a crowd calendar, for us it has been worth every penny spent. Some days are shown for free to give you an idea of the information you’ll receive when you purchase the subscription. Add the crowd number to your list of park operating hours.
Now comes a little bit of work. Here’s where I make a new little chart; it’s got a list of the days we’ll be at Disney split into a morning box and an afternoon box (we have always been lucky enough to have park hopper tickets and visit one park in the morning and another in the afternoon). Take a look at your list – both the park hours and anticipated crowd levels. For me it’s easiest to start with the Extra Magic Hour parks. If we’re staying on site, I pencil (yes pencil – things can still change!) those parks into the morning box if they open early and the afternoon box if they’re open late. If there’s a show you must see that’s only shown select days, be sure to pencil that time in so you can work around it. Keep playing with parks until you get a plan that looks good to you and your family. Once I’ve got an idea of parks we will visit on various days, I can start making Advance Dining Reservations and other plans.
Regardless of the operating hours, Extra Magic Hours and crowd levels, if there’s a park you must visit on a certain day or at a certain time, your research will help you to use your time as effectively as possible while you’re in the park. Try to Fastpass attractions if possible to minimize wait time and visit rides and attractions during a normal meal time or when the parade’s making its way through the park.
How do you plan your park visits?Share