WDW Park Strategies for Days without FastPasses

Updated March 2, 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 2021, 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. 


  • 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

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


  • Only guests with a Disney Hollywood Studios park pass reservation to start the day will be eligible for a spot in the virtual queues 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

Park Strategy Test Results

The following share test results from various recent visits.

Animal Kingdom – official park opening 8:00am

Magic Kingdom – official park opening 9:00am


  • 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!
Take a look at how Get Away Today can help with your vacation


  1. Hello!! We are doing a last minute trip to Orlando next week. Our plan is to get a one day ticket for Monday, March 8th for Magic Kingdom. We are staying off property. We went 4 years ago and stayed on property and I had a binder of schedules and we rushed from ride to ride. This time we are planning on taking it easier. How do I make sure we don’t spend all day waiting in line but still don’t rush from ride to ride? How do I get in early when we are driving in? I’m going to be with three kids (all 8 and under) and three adults.

    • Hi, Courtney.

      Arrive just over an hour early in your car to park in the Magic Kingdom parking lot. They’ll usually let you drive in and park at the one hour mark.

      Use my Magic Kingdom strategy to stay focused on rides early in the day. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll be able to accomplish!

      Have a great time.

  2. Hi Casey I have a question about visiting other resorts right now. I read that some resorts won’t let you visit unless you have a reservation. Are you able to visit to eat at their quick service spots? We wanted to go to the polynesian captain cooks (quick service) for their banana stuffed french toast for breakfast one day. Will they let us in? We are stay at POP century. Thank you.

    • Hi, Christie.

      The only issue I have had is at The Contemporary. Otherwise, you should be just fine. I stayed at Pop three times last year and visited all the other resorts with no problems.

      Have fun!

    • Hi Christie, the best thing to do (in my opinion) is a mobile preorder-usually I just get a $2 chocolate milk or something , for captain cooks. That way you will have no problem at gate..you can also do your whole order ahead of time, but just in case plans change last minute, I like to just do a “placeholder” order.. we spent a morning at the Poly last week and had. A wonderful time. Have fun!

  3. Thank you for this super helpful info!! We are planning to go to Disney for my son’s 10th birthday the weekend of Apr. 23-25. We’ve currently made reservations to go to Epcot on Friday 4/23 and to HS on Saturday 4/24. My son is also a little interested in AK, but his BIGGEST interest and excitement are Epcot’s different countries and all things Star Wars. So we’re trying to decide – on Sunday Apr. 25th, do we add a 2nd day of HS to maximize all the Star Wars stuff, or do we go to AK? Do you think that Saturday is sufficient to fill my son’s Star Wars heart? LOL Or is it worth booking a 2nd day? I haven’t been there since it was MGM, but I don’t remember there being a TON of stuff to do to fill  2 full days there. I know a LOT has changed though. Any advice? Thank you in advance! 🙂

    • Hi, Jamie.

      I would go to Animal Kingdom. It’s so so beautiful and the attractions are fantastic. You can do everything at Hollywood Studios in one day with a good plan.

      Hope y’all enjoy it all!

  4. Perfect–thank you so much! I switched parks and we all set to Uber in the mornings. I am so grateful for all of your tips and info–we have visited DL many times and I have a good sense of all of the where, how, and what tricks. WDW has me feeling a bit out of sorts (but so excited for a new experience) so I love having your information to guide us.

  5. I have used your plans at Disneyland and CA numerous times and they have always helped our experience be amazing!! My Mom and I are going to WDW at the very end of April/beginning of May so it will be an adult trip. I am following your advice and I reserved our parks for: MK on Thursday with an early breakfast reservation at The Wave (when I can make the reservation!), AK Friday, no park day on Saturday, Epcot Sunday and HS on Monday. We both love rides so I am so exited to try out your plans! Do you have tips on what to see on our no park day? Any must do things at Disney Springs? I am also wondering if the resorts let you look around without dining reservations at this time.

  6. Hi Casey! We are headed to Florida mid June and plan to spend one day at Disney. Which park would you pick? My kids are 15, 12 and 10. We have been to Disneyland and California Adventure a couple times but never Disney World. Thanks for your help!

    • Hi, Jennifer.

      That’s a good question.

      If y’all want to do some comparisons to the California parks, Magic Kingdom is similar to Disneyland Park in many ways. But, it’s still very interesting.

      Disney Hollywood Studios feels similar to California Adventure to me. Lots of strong theming, but not all of it syncs to a cohesive story. (Just like DCA 😉

      Epcot is completely different from what y’all know. (Also my favorite park.)

      Animal Kingdom, too.

      This post details more than I can share here. Check it out to see if that helps narrow down your options:


      Let me know if you need more help! We will figure this out together. 🙂

  7. So much great info! Thank you! We are staying at Pop Century week after next—and we are going to follow the park plans your recommend. Does the Skyliner work to get you to Epcot and HS an hour before park opening? I’m trying to figure out if we should plan to Uber in the mornings and then use the Skyliner in the afternoon/evening. Another question—I’ve reserved MK for a Thursday and AK for Friday but noticed today that MK will be open for three extra hours on Friday (compared to Thursday) and AK closes at 7pm both days. Do you think it’s worth switching days and going to MK on Friday? I’m assuming crowds will be heavier at MK on a Friday but thinking it might be worth it for three extra park hours. What’s your expert opinion? Thanks for all of the info you share—you are the best!

    • Hi, Sarah.

      Sorry about the late reply on this.

      Skyliner opening times and crowds seem to vary…..at each resort and as capacity/hours change.

      Your best bet is to ask at the front desk. I, personally, would Uber. I don’t want you to have to incur more expenses, but I can always rationalize a $10 Uber to get me there on time.

      I recommend you swap your days and enjoy longer hours at Magic Kingdom. Definitely.

      You’re visiting soon, so your wait times should be similar to what I have seen on this trip. You’re going to be really happy!

      Excited for you! Have a great visit.

  8. Casey,

    We used your plan at DL fall of 2018 and it worked perfectly! My kids were so thrilled. Now we’re headed to WDW for 7 days end of April and can’t wait to use your plan again.

    Two Questions.

    #1 We are thinking of making dinner reservations at Saana (animal kingdom lodge after a day at AK) Since they will close at 5pm we thought we could get a 6:30 reservation and take the bus there. We’re staying at POP century. Will that 1.5 hours be enough time for park close and getting bus to AK lodge? Also Just wondering recommendations on getting back to POP Century since most parks will be closed by then. Not sure how we get back.

    #2 With the parks having limited hours, do you recommend doing any sit down reservations i.e. Be our guest? I’m wondering if it’s worth taking the time. I have twin 12 year old boys who are all about rides. They want to eat, but I’m trying to decide if it’s worth taking the time to sit at a nice restaurant or not.

    Thank you for your continued help! Fingers crossed you get back to DL soon. I miss your Instagram posts at the park!


    • Hey, Christie.

      6:30pm sounds perfect! You should have plenty of time. You can Uber back to Pop (around $10) or you could bus to Disney Springs and then to Pop from Animal Kingdom Lodge if need be.

      Be Our Guest is always impressive, even for 12 year old boys. I would make that reservation and any others for around 1:00pm. It’s nice to have at least one sit down meal while you’re at a Disney Park.

      Happy to help you! Thanks for your kind words.

  9. Hi Casey! We’re visiting in late April and this was my park schedule plan:
    Tuesday: Epcot
    Wednesday: DHS
    But should I swap the 2nd DHS day for Epcot on a Saturday?
    I’m overthinking this now that I’ve ready your thoughts!

    • Hey, Amy. There’s more to do at Epcot, so unless you’re a huge DHS fan, I would double up at Epcot. Especially if you want to wander World Showcase for a while.

      But, your schedule looks good!

  10. Hi Casey! We are going to WDW in the spring. Should we plan for 2 days at Epcot or Hollywood Studios? Lots of the entertainment is not open at Epcot right now so wondering if we should visit Hollywood 2 days instead. We also have 2 day reservations for Magic Kingdom and 1 day for Animal Kingdom. Thanks!

    • Hi, Julie!

      I would spend two days at Epcot. Even though some entertainment options aren’t available, there’s still more to do at Epcot overall.

      Two days at Magic Kingdom and one at Animal Kingdom is perfect.

      Hope you have a great visit!

  11. We have made reservations for the week after Easter…busiest time I know, but unfortunately it was our only opportunity to use our passes before the expire (they have already been extended twice). I see that you suggest visiting Frozen Ever After in Epcot at the end of the day, instead of first thing. This is a MUST DO for my youngest and we will only have one day to do it…would you still stick with this plan? Any other tips for visiting during a busy time added to the pandemic?

    • Hi, Brittany.

      If this attraction is a must do, start with it and then follow the plan as it is after you complete Frozen. You won’t be as fast getting through attractions this way, but you should still be ok with an early arrival.

      Arriving an hour early will make all the difference. Have a great time!

  12. Casey, I never thought I’d be using your great advice for WDW rather than DLR but it’s a whole new world isn’t it. We are headed there mid May. Do you think park reservations need to be made now or do you think all parks will be open for reservations in a month? And thank you for the GREAT advice about ride order in each park!

    • It is a whole new world!

      I would make reservations now. Then, if you don’t get what you want, keep checking availability to see if anything else opens up.

      Please let me know if I can help in any other way. Excited for you!

  13. We are visiting in June for the very first time, busy I know, but I am trying to make park reservations ASAP and don’t know what day’s to pick, especially since park hours/schedules have not been released yet. Help please!!!

  14. Thank you Casey! I was feeling lost thinking about a WDW trip (as opposed to Disneyland!), especially during a pandemic. I appreciate your info SO MUCH!

  15. 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.


  16. 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!