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

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

With the arrival of Lightning Lane Multi Pass, Single Pass and good old Virtual Queue at Walt Disney World comes the need for 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 so you don’t spend your Disney vacation waiting in lines, or going over your Disney Budget.

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

ALL Rides at Disney Parks have Stand By Lines. It is always FREE to just stand in line and wait in the ride queue. This isn’t always a bad thing, as many of Disney’s ride queues are beautiful and interesting. And frankly, nothing says theme park-like stand-by lines! Thankfully, 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. 

Check the Ride Time at the Ride!

Believe it or not, we’ve found loads of time discrepancies between the My Disney Experience App and the REAL-TIME Wait times. That said, we always recommend actually walking to the ride and checking the wait time. Though the wait times posted are sometimes also off, we’ve had experiences of a 20-40 minute difference on some rides. Where the Wait time is actually MUCH LESS than the posted time on the sign or the App. We believe this to be a result of the app algorithm where additional time is built into each disclosed wait time to give the illusion of the lines going faster than you expect, and making time for if the ride breaks down, or has to stop. While nice, it often affects if we try for a ride at all. An example, on a random day in Magic Kingdom the Winnie the Pooh Ride was posted on the app at a 40-minute wait, on the sign at 20 minutes, and in real life, the wait was 11 minutes. As such, don’t let the posted wait times deter you from riding. Always check the actual ride time at the ride. 

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 Between 9:30- 10:30 am

The majority of Disney guests arrive between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm, and rope drop crowds are in line from park opening. As such, sometimes the best time to get in line is after the rope drop crowds, but before the incoming guests arrive. If you aim for the most popular rides in this sweet spot time, you have a good chance of low lines.

Plan Rides During Meal Times

People like to eat at certain times; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That said, 9:00-11:00 am, 12:00 pm -2:00 pm, and 5:00 pm-7:00 pm 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, many 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, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • 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. And 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. 

Disney Ride Tips for Busy Times

As with all things, you can only plan for so much. So, if you’re traveling during Spring Break, the Holidays or even just the Weekends, here are some tips on how you can actually get to ride some rides at Disney World, without wasting hours in line. 

  • Know which rides you’re hoping to ride BEFORE you enter the park. 
  • Plan your ride order based on which rides are close to each other, so you’re not running across the park.
  • You’ll find the lowest waits for rides during meal times (12-2 pm and 5-7 pm) and fireworks, parades, or showtimes.
  • Try for rides later in the evening. The park typically empties right after fireworks, and all lines get lower. 
  • Grabbing an early breakfast reservation inside any park will get you closer to the action for easy line access. 

rope drop at hollywood studios

Rope Drop Popular Disney Rides

Using a Rope Drop strategy at the parks is a  strategy for getting on the most popular rides without waiting in super long lines. However, since many people use this strategy, you may find even longer lines at the popular rides, early in the morning. As such we recommend if you’re using this strategy that you arrive as early as possible at the gates so that you can be at the front of that line, giving yourself the best chance of getting your ride first. 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’, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • 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. 

Animal Kingdom’s Busiest Rides

Flight of Passage. Typical 2-3 hour wait during the holidays. On a rope drop morning, this goes down to about 45 minutes, unless you’re really fast, of course. 

Epcot’s Busiest Rides

Guardians of the Galaxy located in Epcot World Discovery is available via Disney Boarding Pass Virtual Queue. You must enter the Virtual Queue with drop times at 7am, 1pm and a special drop at 6pm for Disney Deluxe Resort Guests. 

For Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure we recommend you add these to your Lightning Lane Multi Pass, or plan to wait during meal times, when lines are lower. Waits are typically over an hour for Frozen Ever After and Remy during the holidays. 

Hollywood Studios Busiest Rides

Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge, Slinky Dog Dash and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway are the most popular rides in Hollywood Studio. We recommend adding these to your Lightning Lane selections or running to these rides once the gates open, as it gets pretty filled up throughout the day. 

Magic Kingdom’s Busiest Rides

TRON, Snow White’s Mine Train Ride and Peter Pan’s Flight are by far the most popular rides in Magic Kingdom. TRON currently has a Virtual Boarding Queue in place which is required in order to enter the ride. So be sure to check your My Disney Experience App at 7am and 1 pm to get into the Virtual Boarding Queue.  Pirates of the Caribbean, Jingle Cruise, and Haunted Mansion are also somewhat busy rides and all have devoted followings and higher waits this time of year. 

rise of the resistance at star wars galaxys edge

Virtual Queue Boarding Pass System

The Virtual Queue Boarding System at Walt Disney World is offered for TRON Lightcycle/Run in Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT park. Disney’s virtual queue is available through the My Disney Experience App and involves accessing boarding passes at certain drop times. Check out our Virtual Boarding Pass Guide to get a feel for how to compete with thousands of other guests for a spot. And our best virtual queue strategies. 

Lightning Lane Multi Pass and Single Pass

Disney’s newest ride system is available in 2 ways. Lightning Lane passes can be purchased for individual rides OR can be purchased as a Multi Pass, allowing you access to an initial 3 rides that you can schedule ahead. The Lightning Lane Multi Pass has variable pricing but is able to be scheduled up to 7 days in advance for Disney Resort Guests, and gives you your best chance for  stacking your ride selections so that you can keep line waiting to a minimum. NOTE: These prices change based on the time of year, demand, and crowds. You can see the current pricing for the day you visit in the My Disney Experience App. 

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. Of course, we typically only travel during the Cheapest and Lowest Crowds at Walt Disney World, which helps. 

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


  • 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


  • 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/Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
  • TRON (Get Virtual Queue to make this wait time less. )

Animal Kingdom

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey


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. 

Ride Strategies for Walt Disney World so you don't have to wait in lines. Here's all the ways to tackle rides at Disney.


Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.