How to Save Time and Skip Long Attraction Wait Times at Disney World and Disneyland

by | Feb 16, 2024 | Disneyland Parks, WDW Blog

If you’re looking to save time and skip the long wait for the most popular rides at Disney theme parks across Disney World and Disneyland, try these expert tips.

On busy days at any Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme park, you can find yourself spending hours waiting for your favorite rides. While waiting in line at any Disney theme park is almost unavoidable (unless you’re visiting on a particularly empty day!), there are ways you can subvert the crowds and shorten your time spent in attraction queues. 

At WDW Magazine, we’re Disney experts who’ve spent years mastering the ins and outs of ride queues and attraction wait times. So, put these tried-and-true pro tips from us to use the next time you’re seeing big crowds and long waits at the theme parks!

Use Single Rider Lines

When you’re facing long wait times and don’t want to spring for the added cost of Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes, there’s one trick that’s guaranteed to help you speed through the queue: Single Rider.

Single Rider lines are shorter because they allow single riders (or individuals) to hop into ride vehicles that have just one open spot. When odd-numbered guest parties board the ride, leaving seats open, Single Riders get to fill those seats.

If you opt to use Single Rider, just note that while your wait time will be much shorter for an attraction, you won’t be able to choose where you sit or who you ride with. So, if your whole party or family wants to get in the Single Rider line, you’ll be split up and placed wherever each individual fits –– meaning you may ride in different rows, vehicles, or at different times.

Single Rider lines aren’t available at every attraction, however. In fact, they’re very limited at Walt Disney World theme parks; you’ll only find Single Rider available for four rides across all four theme parks. At Disneyland, you’ll have far more options, with nine Single Rider lines across two theme parks.

Head to Popular Rides During Peak Entertainment Times

Space Mountain thrills magic kingdom

Photo by Cliff Wang

If you want to keep your party together while you ride, or you’re looking to save time and skip a long wait for a DIsney attraction that doesn’t offer Single Rider, you can avoid the most crowded periods of the day if you head to popular attractions when something else popular is happening.

For example, if there’s an in-demand parade taking place or a beloved nighttime spectacular happening, you can expect many guests to get out of line and instead wait for these entertainment offerings. That means you’re likely to find shorter wait times at many attractions, giving you a chance to ride without spending hours in line. 

Take a look at the daily entertainment schedule regardless of which theme park you’re visiting, and note any highly popular offerings on the schedule. Then, you can plan your day and the attractions you’ll ride by heading to the most popular ones when entertainment is taking place.

For example, at Disneyland, parades can free up a lot of Fantasyland’s most popular attractions, making for shorter wait times on rides like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Peter Pan’s Flight. When the fireworks are taking place later in the evening, you can also expect shorter wait times for coasters like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (which is a great place to be if you’re hoping for some stellar fireworks views!).

Keep in mind that you won’t have no wait time with this tip –– but your wait is likely to be noticeably shorter. 

Seek Out Shorter Wait Times at the End of the Day

While rope dropping any Disney theme park at Disney World or Disneyland is a well-known way to save time and walk right on some of Disney’s most popular attractions, you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to ride without an hours-long wait time! In fact, if you’re a night owl, we’ve got good news: You’ll also find shorter wait times at the very end of the night.

Once the fireworks and nighttime entertainment wrap up for the night (and families who’ve brought little kids along head back to the hotels for earlier bedtimes), many ride queues start to clear out. Sure, there are always people in the parks at night –– but if you don’t mind staying until the park closes, you can hop on some popular rides with shorter wait times.

While Disney die-hards will stay from park open to park close, there are plenty of guests who simply won’t put in a 12-hour (or longer!) day at the theme parks. So, you can expect the crowds to start thinning out once the big “finale” of the evening occurs. At EPCOT, that could be Luminous The Symphony of Us; at Disneyland, it might be Mickey’s Mix Magic.

Head to the attractions you’d like to ride shortly before these end-of-the-day happenings are scheduled to take place, and you can take a look at the wait times. The later in the evening it is, the better your odds of shorter lines!

Don’t Forget to Use Genie+ and Lightning Lanes

TRON Lightcycle Boarding

Photo by Maria Salerno

Okay, technically this isn’t a little-known tip or trick –– after all, if you’ve been to Disney World or Disneyland since the launch of Genie+ in 2021, you’ve likely already given this service a try! But it’s worth calling out as a huge time-saver in the theme parks, especially if you’re visiting for only a few days and want to hit as many attractions as possible.

Adding Genie+ with Lightning Lane, or purchasing Individual Lightning Lanes for single attractions, is one of the easiest ways to save time and skip long lines. Not only is Disney’s Genie service designed to help you plan your day in the most effective and efficient way, but opting into Genie+ will give you Lightning Lane access to a select number of rides at each theme park.

Plus, if you’re hoping to skip the hours-long wait at new or highly popular attractions, Individual Lightning Lane is a super handy add-on. This extra paid service allows you to skip the wait at select attractions like Rise of the Resistance and TRON Lightcycle / Run. 

Not sure if Genie+ is worth buying to save you time? We’ve done the hard work for you to help you break down when Genie+ is most valuable.

For more vacation planning tips to help you save time at Disney theme parks, keep reading:

How Much Does a Disney Vacation Cost? Comparing the Cost of Walt Disney World vs. Other Disney Parks

Why You Should Consider a Vacation Rental Near Disney World

Posts by Heather Adams

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Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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Authored by
Heather Adams

Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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