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How to Spend the Holidays in Disney World—While Beating the Crowds

Disney World is truly a magical place to be with your family during the holidays, but it can also be overwhelming. Here are foolproof tips for beating the crowds and getting the most out of your visit.

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disneyvia Charlie Champagne

All it takes is a little planning

After visiting Disney World during the Halloween season, I know that the crowds can only get worse if you visit Disney World at Christmas. After immersing myself in everything at the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot I learned some pretty easy ways to ease the stress and avoid being overwhelmed by crowds. Michelle Baumann, spokesperson, Walt Disney World says, “The holiday season is an enchanting time to visit Walt Disney World Resort. To make the most of your visit, be sure to plan ahead—and secure any special ticket offerings and dining reservations ahead of time.”

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disneyvia David Roark

Download the Disney apps

There were two apps that made all the difference during our visit: My Disney Experience and Wait Times. Wait Times is pretty self-explanatory as it gives you a real-time view of how long the wait is for every single ride, show, or experience at any given moment. This allows you to plan accordingly and avoid rides where you know there will be intense crowds. My Disney Experience allows you to link your tickets, meal plan, book your daily fast passes, reserve dining, and even order food. Not only does it help you stay organized and breeze through crowds (by having everything linked to your Magic Bands that you wear everywhere), the app also provides all the information you need to make sure you don’t miss anything you have your heart set on seeing. These are the 23 secrets Disney employees won’t tell you

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disneyvia Kent Phillips

Master the art of FastPass+

One of the most useful Disney fun facts during the holidays is the Fastpass+. A true lifesaver for families, it is included in the cost of every ticket or annual pass, and it gives you three fast passes per day. This means that you can reserve a time slot to get into specific attractions where the wait is lengthy. Show up during your time slot, jump into the fast pass lane, and you can avoid the wait. As an added bonus, you can start making your reservations at least 30 days prior to your trip (60 days if you’re staying at a Disney hotel). Planning early is recommended as the slots fill up quickly! If want to learn more about FastPass+, Disney has an amazing instructional video. Here are 23 magical Disneyland facts you need to know

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disneyvia Matt Stroshane

Take a private VIP Tour

Ready to spend big and cover the entire park? Varying in price between $425-600 per hour—with a seven-hour minimum, and park tickets aren’t included—the VIP Tour allows you to magically avoid almost all crowds with ease. Your tour guide will act as your personal fast pass, giving you access to every single ride in all parks; you and your party waltz right up, hop into the fast pass lane, and take your ride. Your guide will also make restaurant reservations for you and drive you from park to park. You’ll bypass the main security and check in, and your entrance will be back stage at each park. The guides will also give you all the history and fun facts about every park and ride.

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disneyvia Ryan Wendler

Take time to sit down and eat

If you’re getting overwhelmed with the Disney crowds, one of the best thing to do is book a table at one of the restaurants for a family sit-down. I recommend booking a table well in advance so that you don’t miss out on eating at a place you really want. The restaurants are a great place to get away from the crowds and enjoy a moment of peace. Here are 10 foods to try at least once at Disney World.

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disneyvia Ryan Wendler

Take a break

Mid-day is the busiest time at all the resorts, so if beating the crowds is your goal this is a great time to escape back to the hotel for some down time. Save your energy for the early morning hours and evenings when people start to filter out. Baumann says, “And as a special perk, Disney resort guests enjoy early entry into the theme parks (on certain days) with Extra Magic Hours.”

We even took a break for a short, hour-and-a-half trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Not only did we escape the parks during the afternoon, it really added to our trip.

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disneyvia Disney

Take note of “hidden” bathrooms

I spoke with one of the exclusive VIP Tour guides (who asked to remain anonymous), and she gave us the scoop on the best bathrooms to escape to when you just need to get away from the crowd.

Magic Kingdom: Either seek out the Tangled bathrooms in Fantasyland or the hidden upstairs bathroom in Columbus Harbour House. The Tomorrowland Terrace in the upstairs section where you order food has a small bathroom, as well, that not a lot of people know about.

Epcot: The bathrooms in France (in the back near the quick service) or Norway—are very spacious and rarely have a line.

Animal Kingdom: Look for the restrooms near Festival of the Lion King on the pathway to or from Pandora; they’re nice and never too crowded.

Hollywood Studios: The best bathrooms are by Star Tours, next to where you meet with Olaf. While these are more on the busy side than the ones at other parks, they are the nicest. Next, check out the 9 secret differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World?