Ways to Save Time at Disney

The “happiest place on Earth” is fun, but also crowded. On the busiest days 80,000 people are jammed into Disney’s Magic Kingdom, meaning you will not only wait for rides but even food and transport between the parking lot and park. Regular prices adult tickets cost over $100 a day. So visitors get frustrated waiting in long lines. Growing up in Orlando, and being a former Disney employee, I know my way around Magic Kingdom. Here are 5 ways to save time at Disney and get the most from your cash!

Don’t Visit in Summer 

The kids are out of school in summer, so this is when Disney is especially crowded. Even with extended summer hours you probably can’t ride as many rides compared to spring or fall, when the crowds are sparser, especially on weekdays. You probably won’t want to spend 15 hours at Magic Kingdom anyway, and we’re guessing the kids will want some sleep at some point too (maybe!). If your children are young, consider pulling them out of school for a week.

If you don’t have kids, take your Disney trip at another time if you can. Summer temperatures are scorching and it’s also the rainy season, which can really damper a Disney day as they don’t give rain checks. Read our tips for visiting Disney during the holidays if you’re planning a trip then.

Don’t eat During the Lunch Rush 

When I was a teenager I worked at a restaurant called Peco’s Bill in Adventureland. Between the hours of 12pm-3pm lines to order lunch were upwards of 25 minutes in summer or at Christmas break, to overpay for mediocre food. When I was on a cash register our target goal was 90 transactions per hour during peak lunch time. People had plenty of time to think about their orders so it was even possible to sometimes achieve over 100 transactions per hour. This is a consistent theme throughout Magic Kingdom when there are 70,000-80,000 people in the park. Try and plan your eating schedule to avoid the lunch rush (perhaps pack a sandwich or snacks even). You will be waiting in enough lines, don’t over wait for food.

Ride Popular Rides during the Parade 

Many people enjoy watching the parades, especially since they don’t have to wait. Unless you want a front row seat, in which case you’ll have to line up early. If you don’t wait, hopefully you are taller than the person in front of you. But the period leading up to the parade starts to see the wait times at most other attractions shorten. So this is a great time to get a few Magic Kingdom rides in!

Go on the most popular rides early or late 

Try and arrive at the park at opening, or be sure to stick around until closing at 11pm or midnight, depending on the night if you go in summer or at Christmas break (the park shuts significantly earlier during off peak months). These are the times to ride Magic Kingdom’s most popular rides, including Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain. Wait times during all other times of the day can shockingly reach 2 and 1/2 hours, especially for Space Mountain. Don’t do it, you’ve paid too much to wait that long!

Disney’s official closing times are the time you must be in line, not when the rides actually close, so use this to your advantage. You can arrive at the line of Space Mountain at 11:55 pm if the park closes at midnight and it’s no problem, you’ll still probably wait 25 minutes but you shouldn’t be in a rush to get to your car at midnight as you won’t get to your car quickly at that time anyway!

Main Street USA Stays Open 30 Minutes Past Magic Kingdom’s Closing Time. Don’t Leave the Park at Closing to Save Time

Because many people are still riding rides after 11pm or midnight in summer, and Disney wants another chance to sell you stuff on your way out, many of the shops on Main Street USA are open until 12:30 am. You should be in line for a popular ride at this time, if possible. If you try to get to your car with the throngs of people leaving at the official closing time you will have to wait quite awhile for the monorail or ferry to get to Magic Kingdom’s massive parking lot. You’ll then have to wait a significant amount of additional time to catch the train to your parking spot. It can easily take over an hour to reach your car during this time. Again don’t do it, you paid too much!

Save Time at Disney Recap

You’ll notice a consistent theme here…waiting! But if you utilize the above tips you can ride more rides and have a better experience at Disney. If want to check out some great spots away from the tourist attractions, read our local tips for visiting Orlando. These are some great Orlando restaurants to eat and drink. If you have additional tips or something to add, please let us know in the comments!


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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2 thoughts on “Ways to Save Time at Disney

  1. I went at the beginning of Sept a couple years ago and there literally NO lines, NO wait and Not many kids! It was amazing, I can’t imagine going in summer where there is 80,000 people O_o

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing mytanfeet! Yeah, September is most definitely better than summer! I read attendance a few years ago was down because of the height of the recession. For awhile there Disney was offering free admission on a person’s birthday but unfortunately that promotion is no more. And yes, 80,000 people is many thousands more than there should be in Magic Kingdom at one time!

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