Tip/Thoughts for 1st Timers and their Worries about Crowds

Hey new liners! I went on my first trip last Feb/March and closely looked at crowd predictions and worried, a bit, of course, over what the reality would be. As I look back at what the crowds turned out to be and think about my feelings in those parks on those days, what I come away with are these thoughts:

  1. It is super true that the crowd predictions are about line wait times and have nothing really to do with pure numbers in the park. So, trust the line predictions and prepare yourself to be surrounded by people.

  2. I had days where the prediction was off–both positively in my favor (lower crowds) and not in my favor (higher crowds) but ALL my days were totally fine. In fact, on a 9 level in AK, my kids road EE 6 times and other major rides twice because a) we hit the park early and b) they used single rider lines. So, don’t worry. I was surprised the crowd ended up being a 9.

  3. The “feeling” in the park between a 5 and a 9 didn’t really feel very different for me. The parks seemed fairly crowded, all in all. But, we weren’t swimming in people so that was a relief. Also, if the crowd level is 3 and under, yes, it feels far more relaxed. My point being, don’t worry about choosing a park based on a 5, 6, 7, 8 as it will “feel” similar. And, this,of course, is already in the literature on this site about using the crowd calendar.

Hope this helps a few people! OH-and one last thing…do mentally prepare yourself for food lines. I really didn’t think about how much I would have to stand in lines for food/snacks.


Thanks, I appreciate your comments, especially number 3.

I suppose the reality of it is I can’t do anything about the crowds anyway, so I shouldn’t worry about it. Having the mobile app in the park will help so we can re-optimize if we get way off course.

I am just starting to worry that I am billing myself to my family as some sort of expert and I am going to look like an idiot if things go sideways on us. We will have a good time regardless, I may just have to eat a little crow, but I suppose I can chase it with a churro or something, so still not a bad day :slight_smile:


You will be a hero to your family if you just get them to the parks at Rope Drop and follow a plan @tbarnes06! Don’t worry about that, you already have enough to worry about! Enjoy your trip!!!


great tips @KatySugar!!! thank you!!! Really puts things in perspective!

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Definitely don’t worry. You’ve done the hard work and you’ll reap the benefits, regardless of whether you follow your plans. The things you know about what to appreciate and the fact that you know about RD/ADRs, etc. means you’ll have terrific time and your family will appreciate it. We rarely followed our TP plans because we allowed for flexibility once there and that was part of the key to our wonderful time. And, your attitude will be infectious…so just keep it positive.

This is an important thing that is often forgotten. I find that many people operate on a fixed “feeding schedule” with lunch occurring at noon, so having lunch at 11:30 allows you to beat the rush and then hit up attractions when many people are tryng to eat - win/win!


What @brklinck said! Never been more thankful that we Mexicans have our main meal at 2pm than when I’m at WDW. No long lines whatsoever, most ADRs with availability and the lunch menu is always cheaper than dinner!!!



Back in my single days when I would go with a friend (specifically in EP) we would have 2 TS lunches; one right at 11:00 when they started serving and another at 3:45 (typically the last lunch seating). Prices were cheaper, and portions were smaller. Neither of us were big breakfast eaters so a quick snack was all we needed, and if we got hungry later in the evening, we’d grab a snack from one of the QSs. Worked great for us.


Thank you for posting this. I’m in the planning stage now, and avoiding crowds is a high priority. For us it’s not about the long ride wait times, but being stuck in the middle of 1000’s of people. So any advice much appreciated.

One thing to bear in mind here is that even on a CL1 day there still are a lot of people in the parks, so it is very difficult to avoid crowds. That is one of the reasons that the TP tools focus on avoiding lines, which can be done.

Thanks for tips. Just got back from WDW. CL 10, walking parks didn’t feel like 10, crowded but manageable. The ride waits were the 10, as expected. Food lines are definite time suck.

RD+FP+good plan= great day😀. You’ll be fine and look like a Disney Wizard

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If you hate crowds, you have to be there for RD. Waiting for RD can feel crushing, but as soon as you’re in and have moved to where you want to go, the crowds feel a lot smaller. My best pictures of all the parks happen just after riding the first ride after RD. You can go where you want, because everyone who’s there is in line for or riding rides. That’s what they came early for.

Have an 11:30 lunch, if you’re staying in the park, not 12 and the crowds will be behind you. I like to have my FPP for the afternoon, because it’s a much busier time in the parks. Others go back to their resorts at that time. Whatever you choose to do, (here comes the very true TP mantra) have a good plan.


Thank you.When do we need to arrive at the Park to avoid standing in the middle of a very large crowd please?
HS CL5 EMH 8am Jedi sign up & TSMM by 9am.
AK CL8 8am not sure but probably Safari.
AK CL9 EMH 7am.
MK CL9 EMH 7am.
Hoping to get a pre rope drop ADR in MK & EP, use EMH’s 3 mornings, 2 lie in’s and 1RD. With scope for one more lie in if everyone is tired.

Yes, Adriadne has it correct about being there for RD. I, like you Tate, can’t stand crowded places.

I don’t think you can avoid the big group of people waiting for the park to open, but that doesn’t feel terrible because everyone is calmly just standing around. It’s not like one must be pushing through people and moving along. I recommend getting to the gates a half hour before the open. We were on property and took the first morning bus which meant we left our resort 1 hour before park opening.

For AK, we did not make it to opening because opening was 7am and we’d been up the night before on a long MK day. BUT, that was totally fine and the park wasn’t even crowded in the least at 7:30am when we arrived. We headed for Primeval Whirl and road it twice (without getting off) and then went to Expedition Everest (no line to speak of, maybe 5 minutes?) I would do your FFP for the safari ride at 9 or 9:30am if you are someone who also wants to do the roller coasters at AK. We FFP safari and dinosaur in the morning. Then we did another FFP for EE for the afternoon (to ensure another ride…but we hardly needed it.

AK turned out to be a 9 day for us and it was totally fine. The only time it felt super crowded was waiting in the lunch line at Flame Tree. So, I’d say if you can get to AK at 7:45am, you will be totally fine there on an 8 day as our day was empty in the morning (maybe everybody rushes the safari ride and since we didn’t go that way we were fine?) I guess I should say that my kids weren’t interested in the wildlife treks and therefore I can’t say whether those would be super crowded. I can just say that the rides weren’t that crowded and I was glad to have a FFP for the safari ride.

I see that you’re doing AK for two days? Am I reading your note correctly? If so, you will be totally fine in that park over a two day period. Arrive early, do some fun things and then go with the flow (or leave in the afternoon) and return toward the end of the day (if ROL has started). Or, do RD first day and then sleep in the next day for AK and do things you haven’t yet done.

As far as HS, that day was our low crowd day (but unexpected). We arrive a half hour before opening and got in a line toward the far right. We were like second in the line. Again, it’s calm in the line. But, when the park opens, it will be a sea of people walking down that main street corridor. As soon as you get off of that street, you will be fine. We headed first to ToT and there was no line at all. Again, if you’re into the thrill rides, do this one first and then go over to the Rockin Rollercoaster next as it’s right by it and there won’t be much of a line first thing in the morning.

Then, for your MK day with a 7 am opening. Whoa. If you can get there then, I feel strongly that the park will definitely be quiet and you’ll get a ton done before 10am. The fact is most people just can’t get up early. How old are your kids? If there not toddlers/little, then go for more of the coasters at RD since people with small children will hit fantasy land. We did SM then Buzz, then Dumbo (no line), then Haunted Mansion, Thunder Mtn…if I’m remembering correctly. This was on an EMH 8am opening. It was terrific. We FFP 7DMT and PP that day. Yes, save your FFP for late morning/afternoon/evening since you don’t need them for the early morning.

The mornings make ALL the difference. So, just hustle in the morning and then relax after lunch, checking your application to see where there are low level lines. Also, the theatre/sit down shows are great for the afternoons because you don’t have to wait in line long and then you get to sit down (after you’ve been running around). We did Philharmonic/Lion King/Nemo/Hall of Pres, etc in the afternoons. It worked very well.

Please share how old your kids are. I might have better advice then.

Oh-and one last thing. Even though RD are key, if you are going several days, give yourself a break. I planned all RD, but after a couple of days, we ditched an early morning breakfast and slept in and no one regretted it. The point it to have fun and if you’re too tired, you won’t have fun. So, plan plan plan and then let it go.



Thank you. I don’t like crowds but I can cope with them fine, it’s my husband I’m worrying about. Back when we started seeing each other a few plans had to be discarded because of the crowds. Worse incident was in Amsterdam during Gay Pride, while it was crowded it wasn’t packed and it was still moving. Not sure how my daughters (5&7) will cope, they’ve had limited exposure. Their holidays have all been in the UK, mainly self cattering with family & friends where we are rather secluded. I think they will be OK, hopefully they will take their que from me and not be bothered. Our current 8 morning plan is hopefully 2 pre rope drop ADR’s in EP & MK. 2/3 EMH, 2/3 after RD, and 1 RD. This Forum is brilliant, a wealth of information which will help our holiday go smoother. Am I right in thinking for pre RD breakfast you’re let in at 7:45am, so only need to arrive 15 mins earlier to allow for security? and that thousands of people would be at HS on a CL5 day for 8am EMH? Thank you.

While it may seem like your daughters are a bit big for strollers, I’m going to suggest getting one for them. (Either from Disney or bring your own.)

If they aren’t used to crowds and start to show anxiety, a stroller can be an escape for them. Also, you will know where your girls are and that they are safe if they are in a stroller in front of you. If they feel like walking, great. You’re pushing an empty stroller. But that haven for tired or anxious kids could prove valuable. That all said, it is harder to push a stroller in a crowd than not, as I’m sure you know.

I have the feeling your children will be fine. Just describe to them how things will be and paint it in a positive light (i.e. lots of happy people all over the place). Your attitude will be infectious. With regard to your husband, help him to notice what is interesting/different/amazing about this place. Focus his attention on how Disney has been able to play music, at just the right level of volume so that it we can hear it, but it’s not blasting anyone. And, they place hidden speakers all over the place. Also, focus his attention on all the little theatrical details of the building structures, the walkways, the hidden Mickeys. Maybe if he is focused on finding how they put this theatrical production together, the crowds will bother him less.

Also, consider letting your husband go back to your hotel while you stay in the park. Or, take the afternoons off from the park. Or, make sure to sit down and just have a drink/snack at a restaurant on Main Street to get out of the crowds and heat. Allow him to feel like he is free to leave when he wants/needs to as long as he gives it his best shot in the early morning with the family. Let him feel he’s not obligated to do everything with you and the girls/let him off the hook. The vacation is about everyone enjoying themselves, not about persuading him how to have fun your way:-)

Another idea is to look at videos on YouTube that show people inside the park.

I think with your pre-RD ADRs, you can leave the park in the early afternoon and still feel like you’ve done a ton. Don’t feel like you need to do it all. And, “doing it all” is not about making all the rides. It’s about appreciating the small things you notice and enjoying a snack together. Try to “go with the flow” when you are there. It sounds like you have plenty of days at WDW. So there won’t be a shortage of opportunities to have fun. You don’t need to be in each park, each day, for 14 hours:-) Just don’t be afraid to take breaks and hang out at your hotel. Are you staying on or off property?


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I’ve seen similiar recomendations for strollers even when your kids haven’t used them in years. We’ve long since given ours away, but we might consider it in WS, and it would be a way to watch the fireworks while the kids sleep. Can they only be hired from the entrance, or can you pick them up in other places too?

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