It's not my fault they're all redheads.
- Aug 21, 2012
Really great tips here. This is pretty much what we have learned to do as we're very crowd-averse.We have been there on level 10 days (Spring Break) and have learned from our mistakes. We also have those in our group with anxiety who hates crowds. Strategies we have found helpful:
-Get to the gates 45 minutes before advertised opening time and line up for rides that are likely to have longer waits later.
-Do our 3 fps at 10, 11 and 12.
-Have an ADR around 1:00 and spend that next hour or two relaxed in AC around a dining table together
-Do shows in the afternoons. They are cool, relaxing, and never have long lines. For example, MK: Carousal of Progress, Hall of Presidents, Laugh Floor, PeopleMover. EP: France Film, American Adventure, Canada Film. AK: Nemo, Lion King. HS: Indiana Jones, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast
-Avoid crowded pathways and bottlenecks by getting around the parks in a different way. For example, the railroad at MK, the friendship boats at Epcot (if they're open), less crowded side streets at HS.
-Bring in a picnic for Supper to avoid long lines at Quick Service. Research ahead of time a quiet place to sit and eat (Covered Tables near Pete's Silly Side in MK, the gardens/benches behind the UK pavilion in Epcot, Tables by the water near FlameTree BBQ in AK).
-After the evening fireworks, walk around or stay put for an hour or so before trying to leave. Avoids the crush of humanity at the gates.
Hopefully the tips you get on Disboards will help to make the trip special for you!! Honestly our friends who have a terrible time and complain about the crowds are usually the ones who go in with no plan or strategies whatsoever. If you have a flexible plan, you will have a great time
This year we're going all-out to avoid crowds by staying Club Level so we can use the lounge for relaxation and many of our meals (we are not big eaters so that works for us). We are also buying the extra Club Level Fastpasses, and plan on using Minnie Vans or Uber for transportation. Also the Fireworks Terrace Dessert Party for MK. I know there are VIP tours as well, though we aren't going to be taking advantage of those. Depending on how much you can or want to spend, there are many different ways to reduce the crowded feeling.
It's a bit ironic, cynical and clever on Disney's part that they upsell experiences so visitors can get out of the crowded atmosphere that Disney created in the first place, but what can I say, it worked on me! We don't go very often, and also live far away (though not as far as the OP!) so the trip is already costing a bundle. You may find that spending a a small fraction of the already-high costs to improve the experience makes sense for you.