Crazy Crowds! Didn't Expect That!

Family and I went to WDW May 15-19 to celebrate oldest son’s 21 birthday. Stayed at the Polynesian for access to the Monorail and ability to reserve FP 60 days out.
We picked mid-May thinking crowds would be low with most kids still in school and of course because it would allow our son to turn 21 in the parks!
First surprise, although we logged on at 6AM 60 days out if not a few minutes before, FP’s for FOP and SDD were all gone for ALL days of our trip, except for limited availability very late in the day on one or two of our days. I thought logging on right when the app opened on the 60 day mark would be the key. Boy was I wrong!
Next big surprise, the parks were ALL mobbed. (Having been to WDW 7 or 8 times in the last 10 or so years and having visited at various times from March-October, we have an idea what crowd levels have been in the past.)
There were kids everywhere of all ages from perhaps toddlers up to late teens. Do schools in the south let out that early now? We saw many school tours judging from kids wearing matching shirts. Crowds were crazy! Lines said our days rated variously from 3 to 4 or so, but I would estimate more like an 8. As well, Lines estimated wait times were often very low as compared to actual wait times, corresponding to the lower crowd level estimates I guess. We ran timers as often as we could to communicate what actual wait times we were experiencing.
It was as crowded on Wed and Thursday as I have seen it mid-July! So crowded in fact that we found ourselves in cattle car lines to get into It’s Tough To Be A Bug, which is almost always a walk on.
To complicate things further, there were numerous ride closures during the days we were there. Na’Vi River, Test Track, Splash, Everest, and others all were down for anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Na’Vi was down most of the day Sat.
We also found that no longer does getting to the parks an hour before rope drop guarantee you will be at the front of the pack with short lines. It seems that the word is finally getting around and there were a bunch of people out there at the crack of dawn along with us. In the past we were usually among the first 10 people on Big Thunder, for instance at 9AM and could ride three times with virtually no wait. Now, we found ourselves maybe around 100 people back from the front since so many others came out early as we did. And second Thunder ride had a 15 minute wait. Thrid ride was maybe 15-20 minutes.
Also, when the rope dropped, although we were among the very first in line, many others behind us ran/walked right by resulting in us dropping far behind. Being 67, I can no longer keep up with the teens in a race walk, although I still move pretty quickly in WDW! We found it frustrating many mornings
On the bright side, using Lines along with what we have learned from the Unofficial Guide and past trips, we were able to maneuver around closures and crowds to accomplish everything we wanted, if not necessarily in the order we wanted, and with significantly more walking from attraction to attraction than in the past. We got multiple rides on Flight, River, Everest, Soarin’, Test Track, Splash, Big Thunder, etc etc! We were thrilled to get it all in and more, so thanks to Lines and Unofficial for all the help and tips! Also thanks to our 21 y/o, who is the Jedi Master at finding 4th, 5th, and 6th FP’s, even for four riders for FOP! Refresh, refresh, refresh, and learn to book FP’s with overlapping windows. We sometimes had FP’s for 4 with only an 5 or 10 minute overlap, but that was all we needed to get us all on FOP a second time! And don’t forget that overlap can include the 5 minute early and late grace period, which ours often of necessity did!
So, is anyone else seeing much higher crowds than in past visits? And does anyone know why what we thought would be an off-time visit seemed more like prime time?


HS Seniors are done the end of April / first week of May. There are also a lot of school teams / clubs that take their end of the year trips to WDW during this time - as it is after Easter break and before exams.

Ahhh, I see. So what does that leave for potential lower crowds off peak visits? Before Easter break and right after Easter?

I was there April 26 - 30, 2019. There were similar CL 3 - 4 days, but it still felt like a CL 5 most days. Small attractions had 20 minute waits and “E-Tickets” 1 hour +

Space Mt. never went to less than 60+ minutes all day and 7DMT was the same at it’s lowest queue - sometimes 2+ hours.

When was your last visit? Crowds have increased year round now. There really isn’t a quiet time, there’s just “less busy” times.

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Was there last October for Food and Wine. Hit all the parks, but crowd levels were definitely lower, probably because schools were in session mid-week?

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What do you mean “learn to book FP’s with overlapping windows”? I’m of the understanding that they cannot, for example 10:00 - 11:00, then 11:00 - 12:00 is ok, but not 10:00 - 11:00 and 10:30 - 11:30.

I completely agree about rope drop. It seems much crazier to me than it once was.

Not FP for the same person, but for different people within the same party. So person A’s FP is from 10-11, person B’s FP is from 10:30-11:30, and person C’s FP is from 11:00-12:00. All 3 people can ride between 10:55 and 11:15 (is it still a 15 minute late window? It might be less, I can’t remember) when their FP ‘overlap’ during the same time period.

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You are correct.

What they meant was if you have a party of four people, instead of looking for an FP for a group of 4 together, you can look for an FP for 2 people from 3:15-4:15 and get an FP for another 2 people at 3:30-4:30. Then you all enter the line together at 3:35pm.

We found the crowds were worse than ever, too. For the first time, I had to leave stuff off my plan that had always been easy to do. Several things. The waits were longer, even though the crowds and CLs were smaller. I’ve been there on days when you couldn’t move, but you still got stuff done in the morning. This time, no. I let go of 4 or 5 rides that only 2 years ago would have easily fit into my MK plan. I was shocked, to be honest.

We did RD, including being there 1 hr or more earlier. Without that extra wait, I don’t think we could have done even as much as we did. While I’d love to see GE, I don’t see DH wanting to go back again. This one was just too much and we had smooth touring days.

I will say, our success is thanks to my work with TP and haunting the MDE for FPs several times a day. Several. On Several devices. Many, many times. Each day. And night. Wake up in the middle of the night to pee? Check for FPs. Waiting for toast to pop? Check for FPs. The only places I didn’t check were while driving and at church, but I was sorely tempted during a few sermons.

My point is that it was a lot of work to get it as smooth as we did. I’m glad we went, but yeah, probably our last time.


First time in 20 years so no frame of reference. Trip was 4/27-5/3. CL 2-3. I couldn’t believe the crowds were a 2. You could navigate but it was packed. Ride waits weren’t terrible but we weren’t doing some of the headliners on purpose. We did wait a bit longer for a few (25 minutes for Dumbo at 9:20 am) but we never waited more than 25 minutes. I think I’d still go back around the same tome of year because I know the relative crowds aren’t to bad. It’s just amazing how many people go for that price! Needless to say we have no desire to go back for a few years and I’m looking forward to my minimal planning week before 4th of July beach vacation.

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Not really such a thing as “low” anymore. Between tours at all times, homeschoolers who can go whenever, and people who don’t think twice about pulling kids out of school - plus Disney adding festivals and such - the former slow times are not so slow now.


I was also there at that time, we were at the magic kingdom on 4/30 and 5/2, CL 2-3, we actually got on space mountain with only a 20 min wait on 4/30 around 10 am, no wait for carousel, teacups or haunted mansion, we got a lot done first1.5 hours, rode but 7dMT with a fast pass one day and another day nearly first in line after 8:10 BOG reservation, good thing too because the line immediately jumped to 60-90 min wait at opening and by 1pm the park felt packed so we left for hotel. Also used FP for splash, big thunder, and Peter Pan, those ride all had long lines by late morning 60 min +

I was there during the same time and actually found that the crowds weren’t bad at all compared to my last two trips. I agree that there is never a slow time anymore.

We arrived right after those dates, in late may. It was pretty light in the middle of the week, our first full day was the 22nd and we were at DHS- we actually had a 25 minute wait for SDD around 8:30 pm, after using our FP around 8.

It got busier as we approached the holiday weekend, and on Sunday we never went to the parks as the CL was predicted to be a 10. We were at DS and I didn’t think it was too crowded over there.

We did have club FP on several of the days, I’m sure that helped with my perspective of the crowds. I thought we’d better get them given the dates we were going to be there, and I think that was a good call. I’d say there were only one or two the entire week that I felt were “wasted” or not necessary.