The marketing folks at Disney do a good job of keeping Disney World busy throughout the year. From events like the Food & Wine Festival to the various marathons, Disney gives people all kinds of reasons to visit. Even so, there are times considered to be the “off season”, and visiting during those slower times can mean smaller crowds.

However, there are two times of the year when you will definitely not see smaller crowds: around Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and the New Year. These are two periods when the crowds are guaranteed to be huge. Really huge. Crushingly huge.

Even with the large crowds, there are some things you can do to make your trip more enjoyable. Here are seven tips for dealing with the largest of the large crowds at Disney World:

1 – Make Your Priorities

Don’t wait until you show up at the park to discuss your priorities. Take a few minutes in the days before your trip to discuss with your traveling party what everyone hopes to do. Are there certain rides that are “must do”? Do you want a great seat for a certain show? Are you looking for the opportunity to check out the decorations? With this information in mind you will be better equipped to make your plans, and you will be ready to bypass those shows, attractions, and experiences that aren’t high on the priority list. When crowds are big, you will need to make tradeoffs.

Decide what is important so you are ready to make trade offs.

Decide what is important so you are ready to make trade offs.

Bigger crowds mean that there is a better chance for families to get separated. Getting separated can be frustrating for groups of adults, and it can be frightening for parents and children. Pick a spot where your party can regroup in the event that people get separated. You might also consider getting everyone the same brightly colored shirts so it is easy to spot the folks in your clan. In addition, take a picture of each of your children at the start of the day so that you have a record of the clothes they are wearing. Finally, remember that while getting separated from your family can be traumatic for you, it is something that Disney deals with every day. The Cast Members have seen this before, and they will help you.

3 – Show Up Early

I think this is a good tip any time, but it is especially important when the parks are crowded. Show up early. I know, you are on vacation and you aren’t interested in waking up early, but you might change your mind if you know that you can see and do more during the first few hours of the day than you will otherwise be able to do all day long. Lines are much shorter during the early morning.

Arrive before the park opens.

Arrive before the park opens.

Forget about park hopping when the crowds are super-sized. When there are large crowds it takes longer to get from place to place. In addition, Disney occasionally has to close the parks due to capacity issues. When that happens, you will not be allowed back into the parks, even if you were there earlier in the day.

5 – Eat At Off Hours

Just as you will encounter large lines for attractions, you will find large lines for everything else too including restaurants. Make plans to eat during off hours. Consider a late breakfast so that you can avoid restaurants around the traditional lunch hours. Take in a late dinner, with an afternoon snack to tide you over.

6 – Use FastPass

Using FastPass or FastPass+ is a great idea any time, but it is especially important with large crowds. Realize that all the FastPasses for the most popular attractions, especially Soarin’ at Epcot and Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, can be distributed early in the day. If you have your heart set on riding one of the most popular attractions like these, be sure to get your FastPass early in the day before they are all gone.

7 – Plan To Be Patient

Even with all these tips, you are going to be wading through a lot of crowds and you are going to be waiting in a lot of lines. Be patient, and do your best to enjoy the decorations, the fun atmosphere, and the magic that Disney provides even when the crowds are big. Finally, keep in mind that a day at Disney World, even with huge crowds, is usually better than any day in the real world. Have fun!

Do you like visiting Disney World when the crowds get huge?