WDW Park Strategies for Days without FastPasses

Updated January 15, 2021

With FastPasses not currently in use, you’ll want a good focus for each park at Walt Disney World.

After many years of providing super effective strategies for both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, I’m finally publishing what you need to know in order to move through the Walt Disney World parks in the same efficient manner.

My strategies are:

  • Free! Most (all?) blogs charge for these.
  • Consistently tested and updated to ensure you have the best focus for your day. Testing results are published so you can see how effective they are.
  • Perfect for families. (I love Single Rider lines, but they’re not for everyone.)

This post will detail exactly how to navigate each park. Absolutely don’t miss this post, too, for details on what it’s like to visit WDW right now. I’ve been twice since it reopened in July of 2020. There’s so much to know!

Basic Info

A few notes before we get started:

  • If possible, visit the parks on weekdays, as weekends are busier.
  • If you have to visit some parks on the weekends, aim to visit both Magic Kingdom (MK) and Disney Hollywood Studios (DHS) on weekdays. These are more challenging parks right now, so the lighter crowds most often found during weekdays are ideal.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK) and Epcot are less intimidating right now. (Who thought this would ever be said about Flight of Passage’s park?) Visit Animal Kingdom or Epcot on the weekend if necessary.
  • Each park strategy includes all attractions for Epcot, DHS and DAK.
  • Magic Kingdom’s strategy does not include every attraction, as busier days won’t always allow time for them all. I listed what I deem as the most iconic in the park. As time allows, include others not listed or repeat favorites.

For everything you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World during 2020, check out this post.

Ready to book your WDW vacation? Start here.

For All Strategies

The following are essential:

  • Arrive at each park an hour prior to official park opening. Check with your resort to see how early buses and/or the Disney Skyliner are running so you know which to take to be on time.
  • Enter the park as soon as you’re allowed in (often 30-60 minutes prior to official park opening). Line up at Rope Drop in the direction you’re headed.
  • Note: With the park pass reservation system in place, Disney knows exactly how many guests are en route to their park each morning. If crowds dictate, attractions will open early to keep guests safe. For example: I’ve boarded Flight of Passage at 7:28am! And Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 7:54am! (Both with official park openings of 8:00am.)
  • Focus on attractions for the first several hours of your day. I’ve listed the ideal order to follow, per park, in this post.
  • Break for a late lunch after moving through your list. I recommend having a dining reservation for around 1:00pm.
  • Return to attractions and/or enjoy entertainment in the afternoon and evening.

Magic Kingdom

  • Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train
  • Peter Pan
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Splash Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Space Mountain
  • Mad Tea Party (teacups)
  • Carousel of Progress

Note: After Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, feel free to add in nearby attractions as you see fit. The attractions with the longest lines are listed first. After Big Thunder, you can relax a bit. 

Epcot

  • Test Track
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Living With The Land
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • Frozen Ever After (last hour of the day)

Note: If the line to get into the building in Mexico is long, feel free to skip the “Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros”. Watch the wait time for it if it is and swing by later if it shortens.

Animal Kingdom

  • Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Expedition Everest
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • DINOSAUR

Disney Hollywood Studios

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Toy Story Mania!
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours
  • Millennium Falcon
  • Rise of the Resistance (fit this attraction into your day based on when your timing is set in the virtual queue)

Tips for Acquiring a Spot in the Virtual Queue for Rise of the Resistance

Details

  • When park hopping resumes on January 1, 2021, only guests with a Disney Hollywood Studios park pass reservation to start the day will be eligible for a spot in the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance.
  • There are two opportunities to grab a spot in the queue for Rise. They are at 7:00am and 1:00pm.
  • The first available time to enter this virtual queue is at 7:00am. (Instead of the previous 10:00am time.) You need a theme park ticket/Annual Pass and a Park Pass Reservation for Disney Hollywood Studios to qualify. But! You do not have to be inside DHS to enter the queue at 7:00am. You can be snug in your hotel room bed if you wish! Disney shares more on this new option here.
  • The second available time is 1:00pm. You must be inside Disney Hollywood Studios to enter the virtual queue scheduled for 1:00pm.

Tips:

  • Confirm you’re using the most updated version of the My Disney Experience app.
  • Use data instead of WiFi if possible.
  • Make sure all guests in your party have tickets or APs linked in your My Disney Experience app. Delete any tickets for guests not with you in your app. As you are going through the steps of this process, Disney will auto-fill everyone attached to your account.
  • Take a minute to get organized and do all of this on your own, away from children who could distract you. Spots are gone in seconds (literally) for this virtual queue. You will need to focus.

Steps:

  • Be in the app a few minutes prior to the times available to try – either 7:00am or 1:00pm.
  • One minute prior to 7:00am or 1:00pm, click on “JOIN” under “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Request Access with Virtual Queue” in the My Disney Experience. (Shown in the image, below.)
  • Refresh the app from that screen again and again until the “JOIN” button appears in green. (Refresh the app by simply dragging down the screen. You’ll see it refresh.) Click “JOIN” immediately.
  • Follow the prompts to complete the queue as quickly as possible.
  • If you don’t get a spot at 7:00am, try at 1:00pm. Good luck!

How to get to the Parks if your Bus Won’t Arrive an Hour Early

When possible, use Disney transportation during your visit. It’s included in your cost!

Because I want you to arrive an hour prior to official park opening on strategy days, you’ll need to check with your resort to see how early their buses run.

If your resort’s buses aren’t running early enough, consider an Uber.

Ubering to Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney Animal Kingdom is easy. You’ll be dropped off quite close to the entrance.

Magic Kingdom is a little more tricky. If you Uber to this park, you’ll be dropped off at the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center). From there, you’ll monorail to Magic Kingdom. Because the monorail likely won’t be running early enough, however, you need a backup plan.

Consider making a breakfast reservation for The Wave or Chef Mickey’s, both of which are located in the Contemporary Hotel. This will allow you to eat a nice meal prior to what will become a busy day in the park. Make your reservation for 2 hours prior to Magic Kingdom’s official park opening.

Dine for an hour and then walk from The Contemporary to Magic Kingdom. The walk takes about 10 minutes. (Ask a cast member where to find the path to MK if you don’t see it.)

Why not just Uber to the Contemporary and walk? They often won’t allow you to. You must have a reservation for all guests in your party to enter this resort.

Note: I often find that buses arrive earlier than expected, but there’s no guarantee. An Uber is your best bet for arriving an hour early, as I recommend doing on strategy days.

Notes

  • Remember that the last hour of the day includes lower lines for attractions, as many guests head out for dinner since evening in-park entertainment is on hold for now. If you run into a wait time that exceeds what you are comfortable with, save that attraction for the end of the day.
  • Enjoy dinner in Disney Springs or at your resort once you’re finished with your day at the park. You can board a bus at any of the four parks to get to Disney Springs.
  • Unlike life pre-Covid, I do not recommend taking a break in the middle of the day. Start early and plan to stay until you finish everything. Let kids nap in strollers at Relaxation Stations when you need a break.
  • Most attraction wait times listed on the Disney app are higher than what you’ll actually experience. Yay!
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6 COMMENTS

  1. Do you think that this itinerary is doable in 2 1/2 days or do you recommend waiting until we have more time? I am 7 months pregnant so trying to squeeze in a last minute trip. Thank you!

    • Hi, Penny!

      I would focus on one park per day and use the plan I have created for it. Arrive early, as recommended and follow the steps. That will keep you out of line for as long as possible and hopefully more comfortable.

      Enjoy!

  2. for HS, what/when do you suggest we do the droid & lightsaber builds? I would like to do it as part of our mid-afternoon break but worry about having to carry it around if we don’t go back to the hotels. but probably will have to return to the hotel to at least drop these off.

    • Hi, Judy.

      You got it. I recommend building droids and light sabers in the afternoon. Get your “work” done in the morning with fewer people in line. Then, when the crowds build, you’ll have attractions finished and can focus on other things like the droids and light sabers….which allow you to make a reservation.

      My goal is for you to not wait more than 20 minutes for any attraction. It’s not easy without FastPasses. But, it can be done if you arrive an hour early.

      Please let me know if I can help you with anything else!

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