Trying to strategize your days in the Parks of Walt Disney World? We have some pointers for the best times to hit up the most popular attractions!
If you’ve researched tips for making the most out of your Disney World vacation, you’re probably aware of strategies like heading to the parks early for “rope drop” and staying until park close when many other guests have already left for the day. And while those approaches can definitely help you ride some of the most popular attractions with a minimal wait, they aren’t equally as beneficial across the board. We’ve been keeping an eye on the wait times in Disney World every day, and we’ve noticed some trends that differ from attraction to attraction.
Here’s the best time of day to go on each of Walt Disney World’s most popular rides!
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is one of the most popular attractions in the park. And it also seems to be the most common ride for guests to rush to when the park opens. This morning rush usually means that Mine Train has the longest wait times right at the start of the day, so trying to rope drop it can actually be counterproductive. The line tends to drop slightly as the day goes on, so try to ride it at the end of the day just before the park closes. As long as you’re in line before the park officially closes, you’ll be allowed to ride! Just keep in mind that since Mine Train is an outdoor attraction, it will close for inclement weather. So if the forecast calls for rain at the end of the day, shuffle around your plans to ride this earlier!
If Seven Dwarfs Mine Train might not be the best ride in Magic Kingdom to rope drop, what is? Well, Splash Mountain is a great attraction to hit as soon as the park opens! It regularly has some of the longest waits throughout the day. But in our experience, it doesn’t seem to be many people’s choice for first ride of the day, as we’re often able to walk right on when we head there at rope drop. As long as you don’t mind starting out your day a little wet, we’d say head to Splash Mountain first!
Up next, let’s talk Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We’d suggest heading here in the morning right after Splash Mountain (if that is the ride you decide to take on first). The wait times at Big Thunder Mountain tend to be lowest in the morning. Plus, since it’s right next to Splash Mountain, you can hop to it relatively quickly before some of the crowds make it to Frontierland!
Now let’s round out the mountains with Space Mountain. Wait times for this attraction have generally been pretty steady throughout the day. If you’re planning on hitting all of the most popular attractions on the same day, this is a good one to ride in the late morning or early afternoon, since the mid-day wait times for Space Mountain don’t tend to inflate as much as other attractions.
If thrill rides aren’t your thing, Peter Pan’s Flight is a great attraction to head to first thing in the morning since there’s often little to no wait right at park open. But it doesn’t take too long for the lines to spike and they tend to peak in the afternoon. If you don’t want to make this your first ride of the day, we’d say wait it out until an hour or so before the park closes!
Similar to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom, Test Track seems to be one of the most popular choices for rope drop in EPCOT. It also tends to have the longest waits in the morning, which is why we’d suggest riding Test Track in the late afternoon or early evening once the crowds have started to thin out.
And we have similar advice about Frozen Ever After, the other popular rope drop choice. Since many guests head here first, try to wait until mid-afternoon or evening when the line has usually died down a bit.
But there is a popular EPCOT attraction that we do suggest heading to as soon as the park opens. Soarin’ usually has a fairly short wait in the morning, with wait times spiking in the afternoon. If you’re able to head here right at rope drop, that’s our suggestion!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Slinky Dog Dash has had some of the longest wait times in all of Disney World recently. And much like the other ultra-popular attractions, many guests tend to make a beeline for the ride as soon as the park opens. If you’re able to wait it out and ride Slinky Dog Dash in the late afternoon or early evening, you’ll likely experience a shorter line than you would in the morning.
We’ve recently seen the wait times for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway drop pretty significantly since plexiglass was installed on the ride vehicles. And thanks to that alteration, this is now a great option to ride in the early to mid-afternoon since the mid-day wait times don’t tend to spike as much as other attractions.
If you’re trying to accomplish all of the popular attractions in Hollywood Studios on the same day, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is the ride we would head to right when the park opens. Of all the major attractions, Smugglers Run usually has the shortest wait at rope drop, so we’d suggest taking advantage of the short line while it lasts!
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has generally posted pretty steady wait times throughout the day. If you have absolutely no interest in riding Smugglers Run, you could luck out with a short wait for Tower of Terror at rope drop. But if you don’t head here first, you may want to wait until late afternoon or early evening once the crowds have started to thin out a bit.
Now for Tower of Terror’s neighbor, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith. We’ve seen a pretty similar wait time pattern for this attraction as well, so while there’s rarely a “short” line for the ride, you might be able to shave a few minutes off the wait by heading here in the late afternoon or early evening.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
If you’re looking for a ride to hit first in Animal Kingdom, Dinosaur is a great choice! The ride typically has little to no wait first thing in the morning, but the wait times will quickly climb and can often top an hour by afternoon.
Expedition Everest is another attraction we like to head to in the morning. The wait times tend to hold pretty steady throughout the afternoon, but if you get there early, you might not have to wait quite so long to face off with the Yeti!
While the wait times for Kilimanjaro Safaris often spike in the early afternoon, the line typically dies down by mid to late-afternoon. If you have no interest in thrill rides like Dinosaur and Expedition Everest, this is a great choice for rope drop!
Pandora — The World of Avatar is home to two of the park’s most popular attractions. And since it’s the most common rope drop destination for guests, it’s difficult to beat the crowds to either ride first thing in the morning. If you plan on riding Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage, we’d suggest heading to Pandora in the late afternoon or early evening to make these your last rides of the day once the crowds have dispersed a bit.
As you can see, not all Disney World planning strategies are created equal when it comes to individual attractions! And of course, don’t forget to consider your own must-dos and priorities when planning out your time in the parks. We hope these tips help make your next vacation even more magical!
Which attractions do you head to first thing in the morning? Let us know in the comments!
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