12 – Arrive Early, Stay Late
Quick take: You can see and do more early in the day and late in the day.
Many folks on vacation want to sleep in and move whenever the mood strikes them. I totally understand that. A vacation should be a time to relax and have fun.
However, realize that at Disney World, the crowds in the theme parks will have a big impact on how much time you will wait in lines and how many fun you get to have each day.
Here is my recommendation: Get up early so that you can arrive at your selected theme park for the day about 30 minutes before it opens. Take a break away from the park mid-day, then return and stay late into the evening.
Why do I make this recommendation? Let me break it down:
Arriving Early: Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, this is still good advice. Arrive before the parks open and you will be rewarded with smaller crowds, shorter wait times, and the ability to see and do more in the first few hours of the day than you might otherwise be able to do all day long. Trust me on this. It is worth getting out of bed. You will be rewarded greatly. Instead of waiting, say, 90 minutes to get onto Toy Story Mania, you will be able to walk on in just 10 minutes. Imagine the time you will save and the extra fun you will have!
Taking A Beak: The crowd levels at the parks swell at mid-day. The lines get longer, and especially in the summer, the heat and humidity skyrocket. This is your time to relax. Take a few hours to return to your hotel for a dip in the pool or an afternoon nap. You will rejuvenate from your early morning wake up time, avoid the heat and crowds, and you will rest up for the evening fun to come.
Staying Late: Disney parks are truly different places at night. They come alive with special shows and beautiful lights. The crowds often start to thin out, and the temperatures moderate. Since you took a mid-day break, you are refreshed and ready for a full evening of fun, enjoying shorter wait times and more fun.
I know this approach where you arrive early, take a mid-day break, and then stay late won’t work for everyone. Some people simply hate getting up early. Others have very young or older folks in their travel party that make this approach impractical. I understand. However, if you can use this approach, you will be richly rewarded. Try it once at the start of your vacation and see how it goes!
Take away: If you are able, try this approach at least once early in your vacation: Arrive early, take a break, and stay late. You will have a blast!