Visiting during a slower time of year is a great way to avoid crowds and see and do more while in the parks. Does this mean, though, that you can toss the itinerary planning that so many Disney fans have encouraged you to do? Not at all – certainly you won’t need the same kind of rigid itinerary as a high-crowd period, but you should still plan an itinerary to make the most of your time. Here are some tips for planning during a low-crowd period.
Remember to check park hours as you plan. The parks tend to close earlier during slower periods, and closing times could vary widely from one week to the next. These varied hours could also lead to more dramatic swings in park crowds – if one park is open later or has Extra Magic Hours when the other parks do not, it is likely to be much busier by comparison.
Low crowd times are also a great opportunity to use a Park Hopper ticket. Because the hours are shorter, it is easier to have more park time if you are able to visit a park that may close early (pretty common for a couple parks during non-peak times of the year) and spend the evening at another park.
Realize that if you are visiting during a slow time, there will likely be several attractions closed for refurbishment. Disney does many of their long refurbishments outside of peak times, so check refurbishment schedules before you create your daily plan. If you plan to visit the water parks, check on them before your trip. They often close for maintenance during slower periods, particularly during the winter. If you are visiting during January or February, the water parks may close due to low temperatures.
Don’t skip the dining reservations. Granted, visiting at a slow time gives you a much greater chance of getting into table-service restaurants without a reservation, and with a lot of restaurants you probably won’t have to worry. But, if you are set on any particular restaurant, making a reservation will make sure that you have a spot for dinner. With immensely popular restaurants like Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table, fewer crowds overall do not mean that tables will be available. Better to make reservations than to show up and risk disappointment.
Don’t waste your FastPasses! With Disney’s FastPass+ program, guests can make changes to their FastPass selections while in the park. With lower crowds, it’s possible that you will encounter lower waits for some headliner rides, so if you find that you don’t need a FastPass, change it to another attraction to use later. Popular attractions like Toy Story Midway Mania and Space Mountain still regularly have waits over an hour, even if it’s a slow period, so you can definitely make use of an unneeded FastPass elsewhere.
I’m Elizabeth, and I’m a planner, a vacation enthusiast, and quite the nerd. Even better, I’m dedicated to helping you plan an unforgettable vacation without all the stress. I like to say that I specialize in nerd travel – to me, being a nerd has always meant being unashamedly passionate about the stories I love. This is why I love planning for my favorite destinations – these are places that can take you right into the world of your imagination and make it real. If you’re just a grown-up kid like me, you’ll love these destinations, too. Whether you’re imagining fairytale castles or adventures with wizards and dragons, I can help you make it happen! I’m putting all that I’ve learned about vacation planning and my nerdy love of fantasy to work for you, so that you can write your amazing vacation story. Visit my blogNerdTravelPro.com to learn more about how you can get help planning your next adventure, and come visit me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for even more vacation fun and tips. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to start planning.