Perfect Park Pass Strategies for Each WDW Park!
Disney recently confirmed that Park Passes will be around for a while. Guests will book them throughout 2021, barring something unforeseen.
Thankfully, we’re all used to them at this point and have ideas about the best booking tactics.
So, let’s talk about Park Pass strategies and figure out the best way to win Disney right now!
Picking Park Passes Based on Crowds
The first tip to remember is that Disney crowds have evolved in 2020.
Until recently, Magic Kingdom claimed the largest crowds, with EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom next.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios had always finished fourth in attendance, even as recently as calendar 2019.
Yes, that was after the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Park officials decided to perform a phased introduction to the themed land.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run debuted on the first day, but Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance wouldn’t arrive until many months later.
Many guests chose to wait until the entirety of Star Wars Land became available. Well, it is now, and the tide has turned.
You will encounter the most foot traffic at Magic Kingdom, the world’s most popular theme park. That part will never change.
However, you’ll face the longest wait-times at Hollywood Studios, which is fine. The attractions all justify the effort. I just want you to be aware of it.
Oddly, the best bang for the buck comes from Animal Kingdom and EPCOT. You can do everything at either of these parks during an average visit.
You should understand the quirks of Disney park traffic, though. Don’t worry! They’re pretty obvious.
All Disney parks tick up in attendance on the weekends. On those days, Florida locals have more free time to visit.
Similarly, out-of-towners can make quick trips without missing much work or burning vacation days. As I said, it’s straightforward logic.
So, you’ll pick your Park Passes based on this knowledge. Each Disney gate comes with its own behavior, though. Let’s quickly take a look at each one.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
This park currently operates seven ride-based attractions along with all the animal entertainment.
None of the rides comes with an hour-long wait, which is terrific news. Two can approach that level on a given day, though.
I’m speaking of the rides at Pandora – The World of Avatar.
Last week, Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’Vi River Journey came with average wait-times of 54 and 51 minutes.
Literally everything else at the parks requires a line-time of 30 minutes or less.
So, you can get a ton done here and possibly even ride the Avatar stuff more than once.
However, you’ll face the most significant weekday crowds on Wednesday. As such, I’d recommend Park Passes here on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
I wouldn’t recommend Animal Kingdom as a weekend park due to the shortened operating hours unless you love to spend time at Disney Springs.
You’ll get done with the park by 7 p.m. (8 p.m. in a few weeks) and then have nothing else to do on a weekend night, which can be frustrating.
The one caveat is that the park sometimes opens at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. On those weekend days, you can get everything done before the crowd arrives.
I’m not joking here. On a recent visit, we’d ridden everything at Animal Kingdom by 11:30 a.m.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
First of all, I’m going to give you a weird pro tip. Don’t go to Hollywood Studios on Wednesdays right now.
I cannot explain why, but the park sometimes surges in traffic and wait-times on that weekday.
Otherwise, Hollywood Studios oddly behaves like a wild card. You can pick just about any other day, and it’ll be the same.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance appeals to guests so much that people show up every day hoping to book a Boarding Group.
Since Disney limits capacity, the skew here is lower than EPCOT and Animal Kingdom.
You’ll face roughly the same amount of Boarding Group competition each day. Weirdly, that works to your advantage.
You can book a Park Pass for any day and feel comfortable that you’ll wait about the same amount of time…except for Wednesday.
Now, the downside to this statement involves actual wait-times. Everything at Hollywood Studios comes with a substantial line.
Last week, the three “shortest” waits came from Alien Swirling Saucers, Star Tours, and Toy Story Mania!. All of them were in the 25-minute range.
When you schedule a Park Pass here, simply take a zen approach. You’ll wait a while, but Hollywood Studios is home to many E-ticket attractions.
Everything’s worth the wait!
Have you ever seen the movie, Swingers? There’s a hilarious quote from that, “Nobody goes there because it’s too crowded.”
EPCOT…is kind of the opposite of that.
Right now, the former Future World portion of EPCOT looks like a disaster zone. Walls are up everywhere, causing navigational issues.
Even longtime EPCOT park guests can get turned around at the park.
However, this minor amount of frustration comes with an ancillary benefit.
The lines at EPCOT are as short as I can ever recall.
Yes, the big three – Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track – still come with long lines.
Thankfully, Soarin’ added that third theater a couple of years ago, though. Alert guests frequently find times when the line’s less than 30 minutes.
I say that even though the average wait-time often reaches 50 minutes. As long as guests track My Disney Experience, they can find sweet spots.
Similarly, EPCOT tends to slow down in traffic after 6 p.m. So, you can knock out any remaining attractions after dark!
Best of all, you can ride plenty of attractions by virtually walking on!
Reading between the lines here, you can pick Park Passes for EPCOT for almost any day of your trip.
You won’t need to worry about long lines and can have a thrilling park day.
Simply slot in your EPCOT Park Passes in the gaps from the other days! Wednesdays and weekend days present great opportunities!
Presuming that you’re spending more than four days at the parks, you’re most likely to visit Magic Kingdom twice.
People (correctly) view Magic Kingdom as the anchor of a Walt Disney World vacation. And I have great news here!
Magic Kingdom works about the same every day of the week.
Sure, the park will host more traffic on weekend days, but it’s a negligible change.
Disney recently upped park capacity limits from 25 to 35 percent. Magic Kingdom will reach that level on most days.
I’d actually recommend a weekend visit here. Yes, you’ll wait a bit longer on some rides, but you’ll relish the experience nonetheless.
Disney’s running Cavalcades frequently on the weekends, too. So, you’ll receive a more standard Magic Kingdom experience despite the pandemic.
On weekdays, Tuesdays through Thursdays work best.
You may witness a bit of weirdness on Mondays, as guests pick this park as their final destination before exiting Walt Disney World.
That actually happened to us. We spent a Thursday and a Monday at Magic Kingdom. I felt like we did twice as much on Thursday.
Overall, the selection of Park Passes comes down to the length of your trip and the actual days of the week when you’ll visit.
Please use this guide to make an educated guess about minimizing your wait-times and maximizing your fun.
As always, feel free to ask any specific questions in the comments!