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Expect Crowds at Disneyland and Disney World

When I lived in Southern California during the 90s there were a few weeks where you knew it was going to be crazy busy. As a regular you just altered your plans, perhaps taking in a few more shows than usual or eating at off hours. But it was still quite rare for the park to close its gates. With the advent of Fastpass the park’s capacity was effectively reduced and phased closings upto and including full closure of the gates (turning away even those with tickets) has become more common. This week has been one of those crazy weeks, perhaps the craziest, for the Disneyland Resort. The OC Register even reports that both Disneyland and California Adventure reached the next to last phase of closure by stopping ticket sales and only admitting guests who already held a ticket (slightly updated).

Now that I live in the Orlando area, I’m more familiar with the ebb and flow of Walt Disney World. Of all the parks here only the Magic Kingdom gets to the point of phased closure these days. But so far this holiday season I haven’t heard of any phased closings. The parks have been crowded, but they’re not slammed. This is probably due to the bad weather up and down the east coast.

Either way, it takes a special brand of courage and a unique strategy for enjoying your day. What are some of your tips for visiting Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom on days when the park is so busy it closes its gates?

8 thoughts on “Expect Crowds at Disneyland and Disney World”

  1. My advice is to bring a lot of patience with you. If you don’t like crowds, stay away. Your plan is not anyone else’s plan. Stick with your plan even if you are with 50,000 of your closest friends.

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  3. I believe the Magic Kingdom closed for a while on Christmas. (Or at least so says an MK manager on the Facebook.)

    We’ll see if there are closures Friday as well. In past years, we’ve had people come into Epcot in the morning, so they’d be sure to make it in, then just camp out in places like the back hall behind Club Cool for hours. If I didn’t have to go in for work, I’d say as far away from the parks as I could on NYE.

  4. The Magic Kingdom definately was shut down to capacity levels being hit on Christmas. It reopened to guests much later that night. The good news is, this year, so far, none have closed but expect the Magic Kingdom to hit the first phase of shut down before 10am New Years Eve. My advice being a travel agent and an ex Disney employee is I hate the fact that you spend this kind of money for 2 hour ride delays…pick a different day & watch the fireworks from on top of the Contemporary balcony view which is open to the public…

  5. For WDW, if you’re a resort guest, you’ll get in even if they’ve shut the gates. We learned that the hard way over the Millennium New Year’s celebration, as we were staying in Davenport, Florida, and by 10am, they’d closed the gates to outsiders to all of the parks.

    Our solution was to go to Downtown Disney. Not only do you get some attractions, but you get food and shopping. Also, their New Year’s celebration was pretty fantastic, as the fireworks shoot off of the top of the buildings, and they end up bursting at a pretty close proximity.

  6. How to deal with holiday crowds? Go in January. Or early December. Why go when you know you’ll be miserable?

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