Disney Ride Strategies and Tips So You Don’t Have to Wait in Line

Disney Ride Strategies and Tips So You Don’t Have to Wait in Line

With the retirement of the FastPass+ system comes the need for some new Disney Ride Strategies. Stand-By Lines, Rope Drop, Virtual Queue Boarding Pass systems, and Lightning Lane purchases are all in the lineup of ways to make sure you get on your favorite Disney rides. Our goal? How to ride our favorite Disney Rides without paying for them. And while we obviously will be paying for a few rides through Disney’s Lightning Lane Pass system, we’re going to do our best to MASTER all the other ways to get on rides at Walt Disney World without waiting in line! Here are all of our Best Disney Ride Strategies now that the free FastPass+ system has retired.

Partners Statue Photos at Magic Kingdom

How Not to Wait in Line for Rides at Walt Disney World

If you’re looking for some Disney Ride strategies, this is where you’ll find them. Not big on waiting in lines, we’re always ready to try out new ideas, tips, and ways to make sure we get on Disney rides without waiting in line. With the free Fastpass+ system gone, guests will now have to combine timing, stand-by, virtual queue, and Lightning Lane to make sure your must-do list is checked off! 

Stand-By Lines

Nothing says theme park-like stand-by lines! But at Walt Disney World there are multiple options for making this bearable!  Because it’s all about planning ahead and making adjustments at the moment to make sure you still have access to your favorite rides sometime during your vacation without having to wait more than 45 minutes to ride them!. Here are our best Disney ride strategies for stand-by lines. 

Check the My Disney Experience App Often

Ride wait times are built into the My Disney Experience App and can give you a good idea throughout the day of what ride waits look like. This allows for last-minute ride choices when you see a ride you hoped to ride has “too long” of a wait! We use this strategy constantly to ride rides we like but often don’t have on our to-do list. 

Visit on Weekdays 

One of the best Disney ride strategies is all about timing. This one is just about which day you choose to go to the parks! Weekdays between 9 am- 3 pm will always be less busy than evenings and weekends. Tuesdays, in particular always have fewer crowds. Check out the Best Days to Visit Each Walt Disney World Park to pick your best day in each park. 

Wait in line Before 11 am

Disney parks typically open at 9:00 am, and sometimes earlier. BUT, the majority of Disney guests arrive between 10:00am and 12:00pm, so there are fewer people fighting for line space if you aim for the most popular rides before 11 am. Mind you, you will be up against Rope Drop crowds for the most popular rides, but in general, planning must-do rides before 11 am, gets you the shorter waits in line. 

Plan Rides During Meal Times

People like to eat at certain times; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That said, 9:00-11:00 am, 12:00pm -2:00pm and 5:00pm-7:00pm are excellent times to plan rides, because everyone else will be eating. And since you’ll be riding while others are eating, you’ll also have better luck with the lines at the restaurants since you’ll be eating during off-meal times. 

Plan Rides During Park Hopper Transit Time

At Walt Disney World, Park Hopper opens at 2 pm for the second park of the day. As a result, may people are in transit to that second park between 1-2 pm. While this also overlaps with dawdling lunch crowds, you’ll get the double bonus of also having a large number of people heading to other parks. This opens up ride lines quite a bit between 1-2 pm. One of the sneakier Disney Ride Strategies, this one isn’t used by many, and you’d be surprised by how low waits can get this time of day. 

Plan Rides During Shows, Fireworks, and Parades

Following the same concept as riding rides during meal times, the same goes for shows, fireworks, and parades. While everyone is reserving their spot on the sidewalk for the parade, show, or fireworks, you can often find rides with little to no wait! Double-check the My Disney Experience App for ride wait times so you can catch a short line and still see the show afterward. 

Enjoy the Ride Queue

Certain rides at Walt Disney World have beautiful, interactive ride queues that are an experience all on their own. If you find you *must* wait in line for a ride, these are the rides that will offer the best waiting experience.  

  • Animal Kingdom: Avatar: Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest
  • EPCOT: Frozen Ever After
  • Hollywood Studios: Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Tower of Terror
  • Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Flight of Peter Pan, Jungle Cruise

Closing Time!

Another great strategy to get on the best rides at Walt Disney World, without having to wait too long in line is to just aim for that last hour the park is open for the most popular rides. Many people leave right after the fireworks show, or nighttime spectacular ( also a great time to hop on rides) so lines are naturally shorter late in the evening. Ans some Disney rides are better at night! Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios is a fun one to ride at night and routinely sees long waits all day long. 

rope drop at hollywood studios

Rope Drop

Using a Rope Drop strategy at the parks is a surefire strategy for getting on the most popular rides without waiting in super long lines. Rope Dropping is simply showing up at your park of choice 30-60 minutes prior to the park opening. If you have Early Theme Park Entry as a result of being a Disney Resort Guest, you can get in even earlier. Once allowed in the park, you can then race-walk to your ride of choice and wait in a considerably longer line than you’d surely find later. 

Rides to Rope Drop-in Each Disney Park

  • Animal Kingdom: Avatar: Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, Kilimanjaro Safari
  • EPCOT: Test Track, Frozen Ever After, Soarin’
  • Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash,  Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Flight of Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Mind you, planning to wake up early on a vacation is never fun, so pick maybe just one or two important rides to Rope Drop on your vacation. 

rise of the resistance at star wars galaxys edge

Virtual Queue Boarding Pass System

The Virtual Queue Boarding System at Walt Disney World is in place for Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.  Disney’s virtual queue is available through the My Disney Experience App and involves accessing boarding passes at certain drop times. Check out our Rise of the Resistance Boarding Pass Tips to get a feel for how you can prepare to snag boarding passes for these two rides when you’re competing with thousands of other guests for a spot.  

Lightning Lane Pass

Disney’s newest ride system is available in 2 ways. Lightning Lane passes can be purchased for individual rides ( full-ride list not yet released) OR can be purchased through the upgrade to Disney Genie+ as part of the Disney Genie service. While the Disney genie service is free, the purchase of the Disney Genie+ option ( at $15 for Walt Disney World guests and $20 for Disneyland guests- per person per day), get you 2 Lightning Lane Passes that are good for a pre-selected list of rides. 

Since Lightning Lane Passes will cost different amounts based on the rides, it’s important to get a good handle on which rides you’re willing to pay for, and how much. Consider that if you buy the Disney Genie+ add-on then you’ve added the $15 ( or $20) per person per day already, but this will only be good for 2 ride reservations. And more popular rides may not be on the Genie+ list of rides to choose from, at which point you can pay extra or stand in line, if a stand-by queue is available. 

mickey's runaway railway

How Long Should You Wait in Line at Walt Disney World?

Frankly, everyone will have a different personal tolerance level here. We try never to wait longer than 45 minutes, for the most popular rides. This includes Flight of Passage which often sees waits over 2 hours. For us, park time is precious, and we’re usually strategic enough to avoid waits longer than 45 minutes. We also sort of run this on a bit of a sliding scale. Having been going to Walt Disney World for about a decade now, we know how long certain ride lines should be, and how long we’re willing to wait, for anything, changes based on the ride. 

Typically this is our breakdown in each park for rides we enjoy and ride often, and on average on our personal tolerance levels for waiting ( which is pretty low). Note that these are averaged pre-pandemic levels. 

Magic Kingdom

  • No longer than
    • 15 minutes: Mickey’s Philharmagic, “it’s a small world” 
    •  20 minutes: Pirates of the Caribbean, Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid
    •  30 minutes: Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
    •  45 minutes: Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train

Animal Kingdom

  • No longer than
    • 30 minutes: Na’vi River Journey, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids,  Kilimanjaro Safari
    • 45 minutes: Avatar Flight of Passage, DINOSAUR

EPCOT 

  • No longer than
    • 15 minutes: Spaceship Earth, Living with the Land, Gran Fiesta Boat Tour with the Three Caballeros
    • 20 minutes: The Seas with Nemo and Friends
    •  30 minutes: Soarin’, Mission Space
    • 45 minutes: Test Track, Frozen Ever After

Hollywood Studios

  • No longer than

Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios things to do guide to Toy Story Land Get ready to play big in Andy's Backyard #toystoryland #toystory #playbig

Which Rides at Walt Disney World have the Lowest Wait Times?

Magic Kingdom

  • Barnstormer
  • Carousel of Progress
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Mickey’s Philharmagic
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Under the Sea Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom

  • IT’s Tough to be a Bug
  • TriceraTop Spin

EPCOT 

  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • Journey into Imagination
  • Living with the Land
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Hollywood Studios

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Lightning McQueen Racing Academy
  • Mickey Shorts Theatre- Vacation Fun
  • Muppet Vision 3-D

photo spots in animal kingdom

Which Rides at Walt Disney World Have the Longest Wait Times?

Magic Kingdom

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train
  • Splash Mountain, soon to be the Princess and the Frog Ride.

Animal Kingdom

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • DINOSAUR

EPCOT 

Hollywood Studios

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Disney Ride Strategies or How Not to Wait in Line for Rides at Walt Disney World. 

Hopefully, this post has given you some insight as to all the ways ( so far) that you can save some time by not waiting in line at Walt Disney World. With all the changes at Disney due to the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World there will naturally be more crowds, and so much more to do! Get a handle on your ride strategy before you go. If you’re vacationing in 2022, be sure to read up on our Disney Vacation Planning guide for 2022, for all the tips and tricks to navigate the celebration. 



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