“Go To” Attractions (To Escape the Crowds)

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We have all been there.

You are enjoying your vacation yet find yourself at one of the Disney World parks when it is crowded, hot, and pushing you quickly toward your last nerve. The question is: what to do? Many people suck it up and wait in an excessively long line for a popular attraction such as Space Mountain or Toy Story Mania. Many more wait in an only slightly less excessively long line for a mid-level attraction such as it’s a small world or Maelstrom. Yet others snap and scream at their children, spouse, a nearby Cast Member, or random passerby. I have another suggestion; run to one of your “go to” attractions.

What I mean by “go to” is not necessarily your favorites but those attractions that you can almost always get on with no wait or at least a short wait. Obviously utilizing FASTPASS would help with this, but what if you do not have one? Here is my list of attractions that I run to when I need a break from the pushing, dodging, stroller-in-the-ankle crowds:

Magic Kingdom

Tomorrowland Transportation Authority PeopleMover – Saying its full name will usually take more time than waiting in line for the attraction. This is the perfect example of what I mean, very short or no wait, a nice long attraction, sitting…perfect. When you need to get out of the crowd, the PeopleMover allows you to literally look down on the masses, which makes us all feel better about ourselves.

Carousel of Progress – While you are in Tomorrowland, you can slip into this unique show where you will probably be sitting in a less than full rotating theater. The Carousel is a classic which allows you to truly appreciate Walt Disney’s imagination…or you can just appreciate the seat and the air conditioning, it is up to you.

Walt Disney World Railroad – Many people do not even consider the Railroad an attraction, but it is a wonderfully relaxing ride around the park (which saves you from walking through it).

PhilharMagic – This one is not always empty, but it is easy to stick your head in the door and check out the line. Most of the time you can walk right into the preshow area which means that your wait will be under 12 minutes. Even if there is a line waiting in the room with the posters and switchbacks you will probably only have to wait through 2 cycles (or about 24 minutes). Not too bad for a delightfully fun (and air conditioned) attraction.

Pirates of the Caribbean – Yes, I know that Pirates is a very popular ride, but it is also a people eater (not literally, although that would be interesting). It only takes about one and a half minutes to cycle 100 people through the attraction, so the line has to be pretty long for the wait to go past 30 minutes (2,000 people long, in fact). At all but the busiest times on the busiest days this is a pretty safe bet.

Epcot

The Seas with Nemo and Friends – This is my number one for Epcot for an emergency crowd escape. It is a continuously moving ride system, which means fast loading and it hardly ever has a line anyway. Not only is there the ride, the entire pavilion tends to be light on the crowds. With its vast spaces, The Seas gives you ample opportunty to hide and practice talking to fish like Aquaman…what, just me?

Journey into Imagination with Figment - Much like The Seas, if you see a line for this than you are probably in such a thick crowd that it is unescapeable. I would believe you if you told me that the wait time board for Imagination only has a “5 minutes” installed.

Gran Fiesta Tour – The last easy one for Epcot, the Gran Fiesta Tour rarely has any sort of wait. This is a quaint, pleasant ride and, as the WEDWay Radio boys will tell you, everything is better on a boat.

Living with the Land – Another boat ride, which is always a plus. The minus here is that this can get some Soarin’ overflow and get some medium-length waits at times. If it is less than a 20 minute wait (it usually is), it is worth it.

Spaceship Earth – This is another hit-or-miss like The Land. While it is undoubtedly popular and obviously the most visable attraction in the park, it is a continuously moving ride that is another people eater (literally this time…do you see an exit line?). Even if there are a lot of people waiting, the waits are almost always under 30 minutes.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Great Movie Ride – This attraction has a few things going for it; 1) it has a high capacity and 2) people do not seem to realize it is there. Since the beautiful facade for this attraction now hides behind that monstrous hat (go ahead, guess how I feel about it), people seem to pass it by. Too bad for them, but good for you.

Star Tours – I really only included this because I could not think of another Studios attraction to put here. I am sure the lines get hefty for this attraction, but probably not as bad as you think and there is a lot to look at in the queue…so you’ve got that going for you.

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Single Rider – I just wanted to mention this because I feel like it is under-utilized. I have seen several instances where the single rider line is shorter than the FastPass line and you do not really need to sit beside your buddy. What, were you going to have a conversation with your friends during the ride anyway?

Animal Kingdom

Um…well, I could not really find a good one for Animal Kingdom, so I am going to go a different way with this part. I am going to advocate my favorite thing ever…go for a walk. Take a slow stroll through Africa and Asia, walk the animal trails, and look at all the wonderful details. Most importantly, find the trails that run from near the Bug’s Life entrance to the spot across from Pizzafari. They are wonderful, often empty, trails that meander along the Tree of Life and they are fabulous.

That is it for my crazy plan and I am sure I missed something. So what do you do when the crowd gets unbearable but you do not want to (or can’t) go back to your hotel?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Posted on September 4, 2012

23 Responses to ““Go To” Attractions (To Escape the Crowds)”

  • by Andrew Drummond on September 4, 2012, at 10:12 am EDT

    I love the post. These are all great for trying to save your last nerve.

    For the Animal Kingdom, I’ve usually found that the conservation station area is usually under-populated. There are definitely areas of the petting zoo and some colouring stations in the air-conditioning that can really help.

  • Great list! And, I completely agree with going to the lesser-loved attractions (especially the air conditioned ones) when the lines are just too much to bear. For Animal Kingdom, I’ve been lucky enough to get into Finding Nemo the Musical by hopping on the line close to show time. It’s a fantastic show, air conditioned and keeps you busy for 45 mins! Love it!

  • If you have kids, or were ever one yourself, then consider Tom Sawyer Island in Magic Kingdom. The raft ride to get there is unique. There are caves to explore. There are trails to explore. There are a few picnic tables. There are caves. There is even playground equipment (though it is pretty much the same stuff you would find in your local park). Rope bridges. And caves.

    My boys cried because they didn’t want to leave.

  • At Epcot, our “go to” is always Ellen…40 minutes in the A/C is always a great break. At Animal Kingdom, a ride on the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch is a nice escape as well.

  • Some other thoughts – at Epcot, stop into one of the Innoventions buildings. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in the activities or exhibits, it’s rarely crowded and is air conditioned, wiht places to sit. Also at Epcot in the World Showcase, take in a movie in the countries that offer them – France, China, Canada, and Norway – although you have to stand in all but Norway’s. In the Animal Kingdom, go down behind the Flame Tree Barbecue and rest at a shaded table by the water, complete with a great view of Expedition Everest (best done if you’ve actually bought food there, or, if you haven’t, as long as there are plenty of empty tables not needed by diners). At the Studios, there’s always “One Man’s Dream,” the exhibit about Walt. Again, air conditioned and almost never crowded, and there’s a short movie you can sit through that runs about every 20 minutes or so. The Rose Garden at Magic Kingdom is nice to walk through, and there’s a covered spot with benches to rest down by the water, overlooking the side of Cosmic Ray’s.

  • Don’t forget the Hall of Presidents!! A glorious 22 minutes of air conditioning and darkness (in case someone needs a nap).

  • At Animal Kingdom, It’s Tough to Be a Bug would be a candidate for the go-to attraction.

    and for those advocating American Adventure at Epcot, add another 15 minutes and enjoy the fabulous Voices of Liberty!

  • At Animal Kingdom, slip into a Flights of Wonder show if the time is right. It’s amazing, different every time, and it’s never crowded. You’ll end up laughing.

  • Is it wrong that these are my go-to even when its not crowded?

    • Nahh…. Then they’re basically walk on attractions (unless they’re shows) And a lot of these are just attractions in which you can stay seated and air conditioned for a good length of time.

      Plus, they’re still good. And if you’re not into the motion-challenging based rides, then the there are only so many headliner shows, and the rest are pretty much go-to / less crowded attractions.

      We all have our favorite ones.

  • This is a great article. I completely agree with having a back up attraction in mind to get away from the hustle and bustle.

    Or start using Fastpass+ in the future, too. http://wdwdork.blogspot.com/2012/09/dreams-really-do-come-true-fastpass.html

  • EPCOT: Ellen (This one is so long you’re guranateed to mess up any reservations or other plans you’ve made!! This isn’t a break, it’s a hibernation.)

    DHS: This is a park of shows. There should never be a wait for shows IMO but there are unfortunately, and crowds tend to be cyclical around the show schedule. But remember, the back lot tour definitely is a people eater and takes a while.
    If you can stand listening to park guests sing, then american idol is usually never that crowded.

    And most shows can be snuck into through an exit or whatever after they start as long as you aren’t taking the whole clan and it’s just a few of you at one time.

  • For Animal Kingdom:

    When it’s cold no one rides the water ride (kali river rapids)

    Use the single rider strategy!! Everest single rider is usually a pretty good way on.

    Bug’s life is also a show that doesn’t see a lot of wait. (But I wouldn’t know the best as I usually only go during less crowded times.)

    And there are the air conditioned and darkened booths in the Rafiki’s planet watch. They just don’t stay dark and silent long enough for a good nap.

  • At EPCOT:
    Don’t forget the Michael Jackson attraction (used to be honey I shrunk the audience). That one has really lost its luster. People were only so nostalgic.

  • I love this article and could not agree more. I try to hit most of the attractions you mentioned, usually with no line, although I was surprised on my last visit to see a line for the people mover. It was a Sunday, Sept 24 and there was a bit of a line. Oh well, it went down quickily. I am usually by myself, if the wait is over 30 mins, I avoid the attraction and may come back to it later. I have found the Tower of Terror has not been busy when I get there and its my “not Miss ” ride. Thanks for the article.