After thawing out from winter, we’ve learned that we absolutely need to schedule some warm weather fun during Tad and Lily's week off from school. So we frogs are quite hoppy to join in that annual rite of spring known as spring break. And more often than not, that means a trip to Disney! While we love visiting any time we can, spring break ranks just behind the weeks of Christmas and New Year's as the busiest time to visit Disney World. For 2020, we expect spring break at Disney World — especially March — to be even busier than usual.
Now don't go calling off that trip! You can still have an amazing time even when there are more frogs in the pond, so to speak. But it does mean you need to have a plan! That's where this post comes in. We're going to be sharing our best tips so you will have an amazing time this spring break at Disney World. But first, let's talk a little bit about crowd predictions.
Spring Break Crowds at Disney World in 2020
Because this traditional week off from school is staggered throughout the U.S., it typically creates a spike in attendance at the theme parks over a period of a few weeks. For this reason, we've come to think of spring break as a season. While the start of the season is always early March, the end fluctuates, thanks to Easter. The date of the holiday changes every year, and many school districts adjust their spring break or give additional days off because of it. Typically when you have a later Easter, there is a longer, but less overall less crowded spring break season. For 2020, Easter falls on April 12, so there will be an overall shorter but more crowded spring break season, especially compared to last year when Easter fell on April 21.
There are a few other factors driving bigger crowds this spring break at Disney World. The biggest is Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance more specifically. Disney opened this new land at Disney's Hollywood Studios in phases last year, with only one ride, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, open at the beginning. With the headlining ride, Rise of the Resistance, not opening until Dec. 5, many people postponed their trips. Now, with the entire land open and rave reviews for Rise of the Resistance, everyone wants to visit!
We always recommend you check our Crowd Calendar for daily crowd levels and recommended parks, but you should especially do so if you are visiting Disney World over spring break in 2020. Now, onto our tips!
Tips for Visiting Disney World Over Spring Break in 2020
1. Arrive at the theme parks ahead of official opening
Our single-most important tip is to arrive early, especially during spring break. This is especially true for Disney's Hollywood Studios if you want to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, since you will need to join a virtual queue as soon as you arrive for your best chance at getting on the ride. Arrive at all parks at least 45 minutes before rope drop and ride your favorite attractions in the first hour or two before the lines get really long. Make sure and check the park opening times, which you can see on our Crowd Calendar, because they can and do change. Disney has also been opening Disney's Hollywood Studios an hour ahead of the other parks on some days to help manage the extra guests.
Arriving early also helps with parking, if you plan to drive, as the parking lots fill sooner during peak seasons such as spring break. And keep in mind that security in the parks has been tightened, so you are likely to spend more time going through bag check. Know that closures are possible at the parks on the very busiest days, although likely on only the very busiest of days, such as Easter. Closures are done in phases, and they don't normally last all day. As guests leave the park, more are allowed to come in. Keep in mind also that moving between parks takes up a lot of time and can be tougher on little ones when there are more crowds to navigate.
2. Take advantage of FastPass+
Disney World's FastPass+ service lets you pre-book attractions up to 60 days or 30 days in advance, depending on whether you are staying on-site or not. You get three rides or show selections per day from any one park. If you will be visiting Disney World during spring break in 2020, you definitely want to book those rides as soon as you can! And make sure to buy your tickets far enough in advance that you can book your FastPass+ selections when your reservation window opens. You'll find full details inside our FastPass+ Guide.
3. Follow our park plans and download our wait time app
In addition to using FastPass+ and arriving early, we recommend you at least have an idea of which attractions you want to visit in the parks. Lucky for you, we offer park plans for all of the Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando theme parks so that you can experience the most in-demand attractions with the shortest durations first. Download the printable park plans from our site before you go, or use our app to follow or customize our plans! You can also use our free wait-time app for iPhone to check wait times for rides nearby instead of having to traverse the park.
4. Rent a car
While Disney World offers complimentary transportation, wait times can be long during peak times. Buses (boats, Disney Skyliner gondola capsules and monorail cars) can fill quickly, and you may find yourself waiting for a second or third bus before you can board. Having a rental or driving your own car gives you the convenience of going anywhere at any time. (Undercover Tourist conveniently offers car rentals, and you can save even more when you bundle your tickets and rental together!)
5. Eat breakfast at the hotel and pack your own drinks and snacks
Lately, one of the longest lines at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the morning has been ... can you guess it? ... Trolley Car Cafe, the only place in the park that serves Starbucks. We caffeine-fueled frogs get it. But get it before you get to the park, so you can spend those precious early hours on rides and not in the coffee line.
You'll save more time if you eat ahead of time, and if you're eating breakfast off-site, you'll also potentially save more money. And when you bring your own snacks and drinks, you can avoid lines — as well as hunger and hydration meltdowns!
6. Avoid dining during "prime time"
Unless you've made Advance Dining Reservations, the restaurant crowds can be as busy as the attraction lines. You'll find the shortest lines during "off peak" hours, for example, before 11 a.m. or after 2 p.m. for lunch. Just remember to adjust your breakfast and snack times accordingly.
Oh, and just because you didn't make a dining reservation in advance doesn't mean you can't while you're on vacation. Check for openings on the days of your visit for last-minute openings due to other people's cancellations.
7. Review your safety plan
Crowds + tadpoles = sky-rocketing anxiety levels for parents. Review things like “what happens if we get separated” beforehand as a family. Take a look at Lily's tips for not getting lost at Disney for more hopful hints.
8. Take a break from the parks
If you or your little ones are completely frazzled by the afternoon, take a break from the parks completely. Let the kids have a swim or a nap and then decide if a trip in the evening — perhaps to the resort's entertainment and shopping areas such as Disney Springs or Disney’s BoardWalk — might be in order. We love factoring in one full afternoon for just pool time. If you're staying at Disney's Beach or Yacht Club Resorts or Disney's Art of Animation, which has multiple, themed pools, you might want to plan even more pool time for your tadpoles.
9. Pack your patience
The Grinch is great as long as he stays in his place at Universal's Islands of Adventure. Don’t let that old sourpuss take over your vacation! If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath and maybe a 5-minute "time-out." It’s very important to bounce back from a melt-down ... yours or your kids'!
10. Watch the fireworks from outside the parks
Magic Kingdom fireworks shows are viewable from the Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the beaches at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the Ticket and Transportation Center and on the boat ride between Magic Kingdom and Fort Wilderness. Epcot fireworks can be seen from the bridge that connects Disney’s BoardWalk Entertainment District and Disney's Yacht & Beach Club. You don't have to be staying at the hotels to watch the fireworks from them, but do keep in mind that we now offer discounts on Disney World and Orlando hotel rooms.
11. Be flexible with plans
While I love when a great plan comes together, I know when it’s OK to change course. Take occasional "temperature" checks of everyone's energy levels and attitudes. If you have to cut something short or go to a different park than you planned, don't sweat it. It’s about quality, not quantity.
Have a question about what to expect during spring break at Disney World in 2020, or a Disney World spring break tip to share? Share it with us in the comments below!
Related: Best Time to Visit Disney World