Travel Tips

A Guide To Beating The Crowds At Orlando Theme Parks

Avoid the crowds with these simple strategies

The Vacationeer
A mother and her young son look towards a large roller coaster at a theme park in Orlando, Florida

When your Orlando vacation is all about theme parks, following a few simple strategies can help ensure your experience is the best it can be. Make the most of your time at Walt Disney World®, Universal Orlando® Resort and SeaWorld® Orlando with expert advice from the parks’ biggest fans.

The splash pad pool area on a sunny day at Las Palmeras, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, Orlando, Florida   

Where to Stay

Choose from family-friendly Hilton Grand Vacations resorts, all conveniently located close to the major theme parks so you spend less time commuting and more time cruising from one fun ride to the next.

Whether you pick Parc Soleil, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club; Las Palmeras, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club; SeaWorld® Orlando, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club or another of our many options in Central Florida, you’ll enjoy spacious accommodations with resort-style amenities at your home base.

Stay in a Suite with a fully equipped kitchen where making breakfast is a breeze. Then you can fuel up fast and get an early start each day to beat the crowds.  

When to Go

One of the best ways to enjoy smaller crowds at Orlando attractions is to go in the months before spring break and summer. If you can, plan your visit for February or May when the weather is usually wonderful, or go between September and Thanksgiving (not counting holiday weekends).

Even in the high season, you can miss some of the busiest times by going midweek. While the parks tend to fill up fast on Mondays and weekends, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays can be a bit slower.

For help selecting your travel dates, you might also check for free crowd calendars that predict when parks will have the fewest visitors.

Plan Ahead

A bright yellow rollercoaster at theme park has an coaster cart on the track going through a twist    

As of January 9, 2024, Walt Disney World® no longer requires a reservation for date-based tickets (note, annual passholders still require a reservation), and other major parks don’t require one. Even so, a good rule of thumb is, if you can buy tickets or reserve experiences before you go, it’s a good idea to do it.

For example, if you intend to eat at a table service restaurant while in the parks, you’ll likely need a reservation. In many cases, dining reservations can be made weeks or months in advance of your visit.

Let an Expert Plan Your Itinerary (It’s Free)

One strategy for getting the right plans in place is to ask for help from a travel agent. Authorized Disney Vacation Planners are experts who know all the ins and outs for an amazing experience. First, they assist you in selecting your vacation options, which you purchase through them (at no extra cost). Then, at your request, they can create an ideal itinerary that keeps you on pace to do everything you’re hoping to.

A beautiful view of the top of a ferris wheel as the sun sets   

Did you know there are shortcuts to get from one part of the park to the next while avoiding the biggest crowds? The travel pros do. It’s an inside scoop that can save you time and frustration, and just one example of the smart strategies you can employ.

What to Do First

Whichever park you visit, insiders advise getting there about 30 minutes before it opens, then heading straight to the back and working your way forward to enjoy the shortest lines early. Alternatively, getting there early and visiting the most popular rides right away can ensure you experience those must-do adventures without too much waiting.

Take the Express Lane

It’s also worth getting acquainted with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes (Disney), Express Passes (Universal) and Quick Queues (SeaWorld). Usually available for a limited number of rides, these come at an extra cost, but are a great way to save time at the busiest attractions.

Other express lanes you can use for free include Single Rider and Rider Switch/Child Swap lines.

If you don’t mind riding as a party of one, several attractions at Disney and Universal give you quicker access by letting you fill a single seat between groups.

A group of people on a swing ride at a theme park   

Meanwhile, Rider Switch service at Disney and Child Swap at Universal are options for those visiting with a child or other non-riding guest. This is an option that lets one adult wait with the non-riding person while others in your party board the ride. Upon the riders’ return, the waiting adult can skip the regular line to enjoy the attraction.

Download Your Park’s App

The My Disney Experience® App, Official Universal Orlando Resort™ App and SeaWorld® Orlando App are free mobile apps that give you access to helpful information ranging from ride wait times to upcoming events. They can also save you time by letting you order food at non-reservation restaurants, make contactless purchases at gift shops and more.

The more you know about what’s available, the more time you can save by selecting what’s important to you. Read this expert advice on how to plan a perfect Walt Disney World® trip.

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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