Planning Your Disney Itinerary: Late Arrivals

I still think one of the best ways to see the parks with less waiting is to arrive before park opening, but this can get tiring – especially if you’re not exactly a morning person, like me. Not every day in your itinerary needs to involve getting to the parks as early as possible. If you want to plan a day to sleep in, here are some tips.

Take advantage of FastPass – This goes for every day of your itinerary, but it is especially helpful for a day when you won’t be arriving early to hit the rides. Guests can reserve FastPasses ahead of time through the My Disney Experience website, and so don’t need to be there early in order to grab FastPasses. This way you can come into the parks in late morning and still be able to go on Peter Pan’s Flight or the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster without a long wait.

Stay late – Maybe you’re not a morning person, but perhaps you are a night owl. Crowds often decrease close to park closing, particularly if the park is closing late at night. During busy times, the Magic Kingdom can be open as late as 1 am, and many people leave after the fireworks show. Consider taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours if you are staying at a Disney resort, if you are planning to stay up late anyway. Remember, though, that late night crowds do not disappear for all rides – some very popular rides, like Space Mountain or Toy Story Midway Mania, often retain long lines even late into the night.

Pick the right park on the right day – Be careful about which day you decide to sleep in, and which park you decide to visit on that day. Arriving late at the Magic Kingdom on a summer Saturday will not be the same experience as arriving late to the Animal Kingdom on a weekday. Pick a park where you are planning to do fewer attractions (or that has fewer attractions overall), and visit on a day when that park will be less busy, in order to make it easier for you to tour without having those early morning hours. If you are staying for more days this will be easier – we slept in one morning before going to a lunch reservation at Epcot, but we had already been to Epcot a couple days before and visited all our favorite rides.

While I don’t recommend it for every day of your trip, arriving late can certainly be done if you do a little planning beforehand.

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Elizabeth lives in Kansas City with her wonderful parents and sister. She enjoys long walks, happy thoughts, and Disney magic! Elizabeth first visited Disney as a child, and when she prepared to visit Walt Disney World as an adult, she foolishly thought she may have ‘outgrown’ Disney. Happily, Elizabeth was proven wrong. After planning a second trip to Walt Disney World, Elizabeth is now her family’s go-to resource for Disney. She even has her own blog,, with advice on how to plan your next Disney trip. Someday, she even hopes to be an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Elizabeth’s Disney wish list is a mile long, so she’s always ready to plan her next Disney adventure.

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