Advice when crowds are 10 out of 10?

Longtime WDW traveler here, but I’ll be guiding a newbie family of 6 (a couple with four boys, ages 8-12) over the extremely crowded Presidents Days weekend. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for them. Touring Plans is estimating a wait time of 94 minutes for Slinky Dog if we go there first thing which is 30 minutes before park opening.

If you’ve been to the parks when they’re 10 out of 10, has this been your experience? Staying on property, we plan to get to the parks an hour before opening time. I’ll be using Genie +/Lightning Lanes and we’ve got a nice table service meal every day at 1:00pm. Any other tips/advice for me? We’ll spend two days at MK, one day at DHS, and 2-3 hours at Epcot before flying home. Thanks.

Are they staying on property, and so have access to Early Theme Park Entry?

If so, they should arrive at least 30 minutes before that early entry time (arrive 8am for a 9am open with 8:30 ETPE). If they do this and head directly to Slinky, they will not likely wait more than 30 minutes, and much of that time they will be shuffling along through the queue vs standing still (which does actually matter in terms of how the wait feels).

My sister and I arrived at the HS gate at 8:03 on an 8:30 ETPE. We went directly to Slinky and landed right across from TSM entrance to begin our wait. We stood there through ride testing and until they started operating the ride; while waiting we enjoyed our breakfast that we brought along. We were on board by 8:48, which is 18 minutes after the ride started running.

Crowd level on this day was predicted 10/10 and turned out to be 5/10. It was the Saturday of Marathon Weekend (1/8/22)

Hope this information is helpful to you.

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That’s what I was hoping to hear - and yes, we’re staying on property and plan to arrive at DHS at least 30 minutes prior to our early admission time. But since your park ended up being 5 out of 10, hmm. I really think it will be 10 out of 10 for us. Thanks.

Right but doubtful that it will add 70 minutes to the wait time. Look at the info for baseline waits for Slinky on 5/10 vs 10/10 and adjust my estimate accordingly.

Arrive even earlier to be front of ETPE pack and shorten that wait up even more.

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I looked for a CL10 at HS, the closest I could find was a CL9 from December. Here was the earliest submitted wait time for SDD:

8:37…38 minutes

I would imagine this time (8:37) was from someone at the front of the pack.

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Especially for HS we’ve arrived an hour before park opening. Just in case folks are going in early.

We’re those morons at the bus stop in the dark.

Newbies don’t know what to miss. We forget what we were thrilled, enthralled about first trip. Disney is a bubble so on a 10/10 day I’d try to get maybe 3 must do things out of the way quick and then focus on ambiance and low wait times on MDE - near you. Mobile order food at odd times. Watch fireworks from Poly beach.

(I can’t recall anything I liked from my first trip - only whiny kids, hot weather and an incomprehensible park map.)

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LOL, thanks for your response. The newbie family members are all excited and know their minds will be blown by what they see at WDW — I’ve encouraged them to remember we’re VISITING the parks rather than we’ll get on a a lot of rides. As you can probably tell, I’m a Type A so planning is part of the fun for me. I’ve known the mother of the four boys since she was 3 (and I was in my 30s as a friend of her parents). So this is a labor of love for me.

And I’ve been one of those “morons waiting in the dark,” lol, especially if I’m solo for a day. Thank you so much!

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Thanks for the graph! I think we’ll head to Slinky Dog right away — the boys are definitely going to want to ride that.

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Excellent! I like it. :+1:

I don’t have genie / LL advice b/c our last trip was in Nov 2019, but all of my 3 trips have been over Thanksgiving week when we saw some days as 10s. We definitely benefitted from being early and staying out late. If I had had my way (we had a friend with us) I would have left for the mid day nap or pool time, to escape the crowds. We still had a lot of fun and I would do it again, but a lot of pre planning was key. At the time, that meant ADRs 180 days out and FPP 90 days out. I don’t know what it means now. We didn’t try to do everything, and we split up our group at times so that different age kids could do different things. That meant that we weren’t trying to get a party of 6 into everything all the time, and stuff opened up for us when I was only asking for 2 or 3. Good luck! I found my trips to be very fun even though we did have to pack our patience. One of the main things I did (but we had more time, as we were always there a full week) was to plan specific days to not enter any parks and just tour resorts and go to the pool. Those were some of the best days.


*This might be TMI, feel free to ignore if it’s too confusing.

For me, crowded early entry rope drops are the most stressful part of HS mornings.

We went with newbie friends for Christmas in 2019 and HS was 11/10 at 6am opening because of the RotR virtual queue.

It’s easy to get separated in heavy rope drop crowds.

It was a lot easier for each of us to keep a hand latched on the back of the shirt of the person in front of us so we didn’t get separated, it also kept other folks from splitting our kids from the adults. It helps if the lead person in your family chain (and tail end Charlie) know where they’re going - the “middlers” can just follow the leader and “Charlie” can herd any “middlers” if they get cut off.

Once past the scanners, have each kiddo stay latched to an adult and keep moving (slowly) past the “Crossroads of the World” souvenir/info booth and get to a less crowded space on Hollywood Boulevard to regroup. It’s just a few steps more but so many people stop right after the scanners that it can still be crowded and chaotic around the Crossroads booth.

*Not sure if it’s still true but Pre-COVID, the far right lines moved much faster through the ticket scanners. Parking, busses, walkers and Skyliner crowds hit the entrance from the left side, only the boat traffic hits the entrance from the right side so the right side security check lines were shorter.

Then once tickets scanners opened, the right-side also move quicker because there were more ticket scanners on the right side than incoming guest lines than the left side.

KISS method for rope drop HS studios:

  • Form a chain to stay together in line.
  • Right side lines at HS entrance usually move faster.
  • Move past the Crossroads Info booth to get out of the crowds.

Caff-fiends should get a fix before going to any park for rope drop - the Starbucks/Joffrey’s in-park lines are the longest lines at rope drop. :joy: It’s much easier to get coffee in the late morning or afternoon.


We’ve been when parks were 15 out of 10 :wink:

NYE several years ago was more crowded than I’ve ever seen in MK.

Since then though, the parks haven’t closed to that “fire code capacity” type thing.

If you are staying at a deluxe resort, I’ve seen several on the ground reports on Touring Plan’s WDW Chat that the deluxe evening hours are glorious.

Folks are having success with Genie Plus/TP combo.


When we went the week after Thanksgiving 2021, HS rope drop was not crowded and stressful. If you get there at 8am and are a resort guest, they let you in right away. They have been opening the gates close to 7:30am and ROTR at around 7:45am. We arrived at before 7:30am at HS and waited in a line just beside the skyliner. They walked everyone to the turnstiles and we headed straight to SDD. We were the first group on at 8:30am. More people were heading to ROTR and everyone was spread out. It was the least stressful rope drop of the trip.


Thanks for your advice. Keeping fingers crossed that the parks will open early for us, especially DHS since we only have one day there.

We’re staying at Pop, so no evening magic for us — although the kids will do better getting back to the resort early evening anyway. I’m a morning person, and all the grownups going on this trip (which include my best friends, the grandparents) have promised that everyone will be dressed, fed (or munching on something) by 7:15am. We shall see, lol!

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I hit the wrong “reply” to reply to you, lol. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that DHS will open early for us — we’ll hopefully be taking the Skyliner from Pop and I told everyone to be ready at 7:15am. Thanks!


No such things as TMI, so thank you for your thorough response! We’ll have five adults with the four kids (Grandparents are my best friends, parents and me). When the 6-member family came to St. Louis during their Christmas break, I went to the grandparents’ house to hold a 1-hour meeting — this is after I had sent a big box full of books, coloring books, etc. about Disney World and Universal — we’re going to hit Universal for Harry Potter stuff, too!

I treated that one hour as an interview session, drawing each boy out to determine what they’d be curious to ride and what sounded too intense for them. I took notes. The boys have never been on a rollercoaster! Well, OK, our first day is at MK and we’ll try them on Barnstormer and Seven Dwarfs and Splash, and then we’ll get into a huddle to see who’d like to try Space — I’ll purchase Individual Lightning Lanes for whoever wants to try that (the parents for sure, one of their boys for sure except he sometimes has motion sickness, and I’m happy to ride or not) — whoever doesn’t do Space Mountain will do the Speedway or Buzz for a second time.

That’s why I’d like to hit Slinky Dog first thing the following morning. I’ve only ridden it once — got seated right behind Slinky’s head, and I found it a complete letdown. I’ll see if we can get the last few cars — but no matter what, Slinky LOOKS like such fun, I know everybody will want to try it.

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I’ve drilled into the boys’ heads that each day their parents will match them up with a grownup buddy for the day. (I’ll be in front of them with my colorful Mickey backpack, and I’ll turn around frequently to make sure they’re still with me.)

Whenever I bark, “Hold hands,” the boys have all promised they will hold their grownup’s hand. Any requests to stop for the restroom, a snack, etc. will be conveyed up the line to me. (LOL — I know it won’t work this well, but we’re starting with good intentions.)

Thanks for the caff advice — neither the grandparents nor I drink coffee, but their daughter and son-in-law probably do. I’ll pass that along to them.

And moving past the Crossroads — great advice! Thank you — I wouldn’t have thought of that.

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Thanks for your advice. We’ll definitely be doing early morning, and we’ve got one table service booked for 1:00 each day (tables of 5 and 4), and we’ll stop for snacks mid-morning and pre-order quick service for dinner. The parents and perhaps the older kids might stay for fireworks at MK the first night, and we’ll split up just once or twice during the day. (A few will ride Rock’n while the rest go to Lightning McQueen’s show, for example.) I offered the idea of a midday break, but am relieved the parents think the kids will do better by sticking it out — we’ll do things like Walt Disney Presents and Indiana Jones, Muppets, etc in the afternoon. And most of us will likely head back to Pop Century shortly after dinner. Thank you!


You’re welcome. Once I figured out that my party didn’t have to stick together 100% of the time my planning got a lot easier and I really do think people had a better time for it. I had 2 older boys and a much younger girl so interest levels in things were vastly different.

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