How to Escape the Crowds at Walt Disney World

It’s almost unavoidable — some of the days during your Walt Disney World vacation are bound to have seriously high crowd levels. It seems like there is no real “quiet” season at the parks any more, and you’re often faced with horrendously long lines for everything from your favorite attractions to simply buying a Mickey bar at a snack cart. What do you do if you find yourself standing in long line after long line and realize you just can’t take it any more?

Why not put yourself in “time out”?

Epcot Crowds during Food and Wine Festival

OK, not really. But we do have some ideas that will get you away from the crowds, at least for a short time, so that you can rest up, then get back to enjoying your time at the Most Magical Place on Earth!

Getting Away in Animal Kingdom

I’m not gonna lie. When Animal Kingdom is crowded it can make you feel almost claustrophobic. There are very few places where you can get away from the crush of the crowds. But there are one or two.

Trails at Animal Kingdom

Animal Viewing – There are countless places to view different species of animals throughout this park and some of them are quite literally off the beaten path. Take that little passage that looks like it goes nowhere — you’ll be surprised at what you might find and often you’ll be alone because no one else thought to explore. You can find secluded areas throughout the park, along the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail or Maharajah Jungle Trek, or just along the way to your next attraction.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is a great place to get away from crowds when Animal Kingdom feels like it’s filled to bursting. You just hop aboard the Wildlife Express Train that takes you through some backstage areas on your way to Conservation Station. You can meet some characters, brush goats and sheep, and learn about what it takes to care for wild animals as well as care for our environment. There’s only one catch. Rafiki’s Planet Watch is closing on Oct. 20 for a few months, so if you’re heading to Walt Disney World soon, you’ll miss it. But don’t worry! It will be back in Spring 2019.

Epcot’s Rest Stops

Epcot is so spread out that you might wonder how it could ever feel busy, but trust me, it does. Especially during festival times, and especially in certain areas of World Showcase, where the crowds are at times impassable. Still there are a few places where you can escape for a few minutes.

Scene from Piper

Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival – The Magic Eye Theater in the Imagination pavilion showcases three short films in air-conditioned comfort. The wait for this attraction is usually brief, which in a way is a shame. More people should be queuing up for these charming shorts! But their loss can be your gain, as you get to slip away from the masses for a bit. The current offerings are Oscar winners Piper and Feast and the exceptionally funny Oscar-nominated Get a Horse, but they have periodically alternated films.

SeaBase, located in The Seas with Nemo and Friends, is another spot to stop and chill for a while. There may be a lot of people around, but it’s easy to feel rather small and on your own as you contemplate the marine life swimming in the gigantic aquarium.

There are a number of hands-on experiences at Epcot, which work really well when  you’re trying to avoid the crowds. You can keep little ones busy while you take a break from the heat and masses of humanity when you visit any of the following:

  • Innoventions – Colortopia and the SpectacuLAB are pretty much all that’s left of the once thriving Innoventions area, and as a result these attractions are often overlooked and sparsely attended.
Spectaculab at Innoventions

Downtime at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is feeling a bit cramped these days with so much construction going on (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is coming in the fall of 2019!). With a little luck, though, you’ll find a few places to get away from it all for a few minutes to chill.

Muppet Vision 3D

Muppet*Vision 3D – This attraction, the last project Jim Henson brought to life before his passing, is housed in a large theater that seems to swallow crowds. So while you still may be surrounded by people, you’ll be able to relax for 20-some minutes in comfy seats while watching Kermit and company get up to their usual hijinks.

Walt Disney Presents – Sadly, many of today’s park-goers aren’t as interested in learning about the man behind the Mouse, so this attraction is often passed by. If you’re looking to slip out of the mainstream, duck in here, where you can see not only Walt Disney’s origins, but also what’s coming to Disney Parks and movies next.

Magic Kingdom Moments

Even though the Magic Kingdom is probably the park that gets the most crowded the most often, it also offers the most alternatives for those who want to remove themselves from the throngs.

Carousel of Progress – What’s not to love at an animatronics show? This one seats you in a revolving theater, where you will witness the four different time periods of American history.  Lines are usually short and crowds low at this attraction.

Scene from Carousel of Progress

Country Bear Jamboree – You might have to wait for this attraction, but it won’t be for long — just until the next show starts, which is every 20 or so minutes. This continuously running show doesn’t garner the crowds that others do, so you may well have a row of the theater to yourself. You’ll get a chance to relax as you’re entertained with corny country music performed by a cast of animatronic bears that come in all shapes and sizes. This is a great place for tired parents with sleeping infants to take a break from the hustle and bustle.

Swiss Family Treehouse – Climb high above the park in this “Home in the Sky” inspired by the 1960s film “Swiss Family Robinson.” This is an outdoor attraction that almost never has a line, but this comes with a price — if you decide get away from the crowds this way, you’ll have to ascend 116 stairs. The views of the Magic Kingdom below will be worth it, though.

Swiss Family Treehouse

Tom Sawyer Island – Ride across the Rivers of America on a log raft to really feel like you’ve gotten away from crush of people that can sometimes overrun the theme park. Here you’ll discover shady paths, caves, a fort, and a mill to explore. There’s even a mini-fort where smaller adventurers can play. This is a great place to take a picnic lunch while you teach the youngsters about yesteryear.

The moral? Don’t be afraid to head into Walt Disney World on a high crowd volume day. There are lots of places where you can just drop out of the craziness for a few minutes, which will be enough to recharge you for the rest of the day. Take one of these little breaks and you’ll be ready to face the World in no time!

Have you tried one of our ways to escape the crowds yourself? Or do you have your own ideas? Let us know below!

Escape the crowds at Disney World

13 Replies to “How to Escape the Crowds at Walt Disney World”

  1. I agree and disagree with some of the posts. First of all I am a DVC member who has vacationed over the Columbus Day weekend the last 5 years in a row, and like everyone else have watched the crowds grow every year. Before Columbus day we would go in January over Martin Luther King weekend where the crowds were better, but the tour groups were “interesting” to say the least. That being said what has changed? The economy. The past 5-7 years the economy has rebounded and no matter what people say about stagnating salaries people are still dishing it out, and willing to go into debt to do it. On top of that Disney is also dishing it out. New hotels, new lands, new transportation systems. With Universal stepping up their game and Disney showing it’s age they had to make some huge investments which are great, but come at a cost. I still think they are trying to find the balance between cost and crowd control. They still want crowds, but smaller more manageable crowd levels are their aim. The apple model. Less sales at more expensive prices are equal or better than more sales at lower prices. This trend will continue until the economy goes south again, and then they will realize that they have been pushing their base away for the masses and will see the error of their ways. That may be when we finally see the crowds and prices stop increasing.

  2. Notice how quickly they removed this topic from the front page after a few well written, but brutally honest beat downs of Disney by current and formal loyal patrons. I submitted comments that were similar to the others, but they have not been posted. Please Allears don’t go all GOOGLE on us.

    1. Hi Ken,

      Actually, we didn’t take the post down from the front page, it just naturally got bumped down as other, newer posts came online. As for not posting your comments, it seems a couple of yours have ended up in our spam folder for some reason. The only comments we won’t post are those that are abusive or insulting to others, or those that are clearly spam.

  3. I appreciate being able to take a breather, just bc it’s long days of running around and the heat can take a toll.

    However, I find myself agreeing more with Dan in NH and Robbie, it’s just gotten too busy at all times. We do not have DVC, but have been going for years, usually in October and it was nice bc it wasn’t crazy crowded. I feel like it’s more blatantly all about the money now. The meal plans used to be a good deal, but they are definitely not as much of a deal as they used to be either.

    A friend of mine has DVC and we have talked about it too. And, having to book fast passes so far in advance? I mean, I’m a planner, but that kind of planning, down to the minute, is ridiculous!

    I love Disney, but am becoming a bit disenchanted 🙁

    1. I agree. We’ve been coming to WDW since 1976. Our three children grew up withDisney World and now their children are doing the same. Over the years it has become more and more crowded, especially in the last 6 or7 years. Unfortunately, it feels like it has become a money grab. How disappointing

  4. I worry about this column’s premise. The crowds keep getting worse. More resorts, more events, etc. to create no down time at the parks, which are NOT getting any bigger..yet the crowds continue to swell.

    So after spending all the $$ to fly, get tickets or AP, resort costs, food, it is so crowded that we are talking about the thrill of be able to do nothing? Hunting for those spots where you can sit and do absolutely nothing? I can spend $0 and do that most anywhere else.

    The problem is – if it is so crowded we are looking for the one or two spots where we can take a breath – either we
    • shouldn’t be there donating hard earned money to ride a bench (when will we need a FP for that?) and should maybe look at other destinations,
    • or railing against Disney to get them to reduce/fix the insanity.

    I know, one is difficult to swallow for us, and the latter impossible for us to get Disney to do. Our love for all things Mouse has definitely lessened over the years.

    Disney is now about the almighty dollar – but if I were to buy a one day ticket (what are they now, up to $1000 a day yet?), with all the long lines and total inability to get a FP for anything of note, I wouldn’t want to waste my time & money, sitting somewhere quiet, to keep sane. I also wouldn’t be happy standing in lines for hours to only enjoy a handful of attractions.

    While we have been DVC members for 15+ years, we seem to be spending more time at the resorts than we ever did. I do not see it trending the other way any time soon.

    1. Dan, please don’t take this personally, it is just an analogy. But you (and many others including myself) sound like alcoholics at an AA meeting telling everyone all of the reasons why you must quit drinking. Then leaving the meeting and getting drunk.

      We all know, and have known for some time now, that the “trend” as you put it, is never changing. Disney is, and will forever be, too expensive, too crowded, and too different than the place that we once loved and once gave us great joy. Those days are NEVER coming back. The sooner all of us “old timers” accept it and put the bottle down for good, the better off we all will be. Nothing lasts forever and they can’t take away your good memories. The good news is that all that former Disney time frees us up to make new discoveries and new memories.

    2. Past time to cut the cord, Dan. Disney will, forever more, be crowded, expensive, and not the same magical place of your past. It was a good run while it lasted.

    3. I agree 100% with Dan in NH. We have been DVC members since 1993 and have seen the increase in crowds over the years, especially the past 5-7 years. We used to go twice a year, May & Dec but are now down to once a year. This is probably our last December trip and expecting to not enjoy it like we used to. With the constant promo’s especially in December during the holiday season, we fully expect to hit the FP attractions and sit on a bench (provided we can find one) and try and avoid the crowds as much as possible. My next planned trip will be for January or February 2020. It’s such a disappointment after all the great years we had without wall-to-wall people. Like everything else, all good things must come to an end.

  5. It’s also nice to sit in the little British square in the back of the United Kingdom Pavilion when there is no show or along the garden path in Canada.

  6. I love to sit in my wheelchair on the middle tier level of the koi pond in the Japan Pavilion in World Showcase. It’s so beautiful and peaceful there, and you have a great view across the lagoon.

  7. Our favorite escape at the Magic Kingdom was to grab one of the many benches throughout the park, relax and people watch. Sadly, the benches are all but gone now. Removed to widen the walkways for the daily stampede of guests.

    Fortunately, there is still one last way to escape the crowds. However, it is not available every day and not on any schedule. It is called RAIN! Nothing like an afternoon down pour to send the crowds fleeing to the shops and eateries. Even better if it is accompanied by a few large bolts of lightening and loud cracks of thunder to get the crowd scurrying even faster. And the later in the day the better, as more guests will just “call it a day” and head for the exits. And when the rain stops its a glorious sight to behold. For an ever so brief moment, the streets are empty, the lines are gone, and you can hear the sound of quiet. The park is yours, and yours alone. Enjoy!

  8. We are DVC members and go 3 times per year and usually always in May and either September or October and the crowds used to be great at those times but in the past few years they’ve just skyrocketed and even the “slower” seasons can seem overwhelming. We just got back yesterday from 8 days and the weekend days and Columbus day were INSANE! One reason, I think, for this is because the Halloween parties are running so many days now and so when the MK is having a party it backs up the other parks for people who aren’t attending the party and then when MK ISN’T having a party it backs up the MK for people who are trying to get a full day in there during their trip. One thing that really should be mentioned is the DVC Lounge at EPCOT as well. It’s an oasis for us and every DVC member should take advantage of that if they can. I’d kill for a lounge in every park. Fortunately, we are members at BLT and can just walk right over when MK starts to get backed up. We go early in the mornings and get in some rides. Then go rest when the crowds pick up. Then go back in the evenings and it makes things a little more manageable. The crowd levels are certainly frustrating for us that have been going for years and were spoiled by the “good old days” of 30 minutes being a long time to wait. I feel bad for those who don’t get to go as much as we do because I could see how all these crazy crowds could leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who only get to maybe go once in a lifetime.

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