Disney World: Too Crowded?

Disney World too crowded

Disney World: too crowded?

I’m really wondering about this question after a recent trip. I’ve been to Disney World three times in my life. As a child in 1973, the Orlando theme park was brand-new, and crowds weren’t much of an issue. In 2008, our family went. We specifically chose what was supposed to be a “non-peak” time, January 4-11. We even took the kids out of school, although I carefully considered their ages before doing this (grades 1,3, and 5 at the time). I remember feeling that all 4 parks had reasonable crowd levels at the time, and was so glad we’d opted to go when we did.

This year, I went with a group of women friends, February 8-13. Again, this was calculated as a “light” time to visit. But this time, the crowds seemed much larger to me. My sister, who visits the Mouse frequently, commented that she didn’t feel the crowds were much better than when she visits during “busier” times.

We did the parks “on a mission” — always arriving 30 minutes or more before opening, usually staying until they closed. Still, one clear memory is the first morning at the Magic Kingdom. We were set for a quick takeoff to Space Mountain. Now, I may not walk as fast as I used to, but I’m still far from ambling. And yet, as I rushed into the empty park, I had my ankle run over twice by eager stroller-pushers (one scar remains to this day, 2 weeks later). Another hurrier stepped on my shoe hard enough to pull it off (trying to get it back on without being totally mowed down was another challenge). I had to wonder, what was going on here?

Disney World crowded

I noticed many groups, large and small, ostensibly made up of non-Americans (judging by group names on their shirts). I chatted with a husband/wife from England who were on a 21-DAY visit to Disney. They had done the same thing last year. When I told them I was here for six days, she said, “Oh well, it’s better than nothing!”

So, I’m guessing that a large part of the crowds owes to foreigners visiting. I’m betting that more of the crowd levels are due to others like me, trying to visit at “non-peak times” that have become more crowded than they were hoping for. Disney is probably even in on this, offering their Dining Plan or other perks to entice people into the parks at a fairly steady clip year-round.

Throughout the visit, I was amazed at what Disney has wrought. As an author, I publicize all the time and work as hard as I can to get the word out about my books. But Disney appears not to need to do any of that. Even on a miserable, rainy day, the “Fantasmic” night fireworks show at Hollywood Studios was packed (I had to laugh when I saw the legions in the stands, most clad in — yep — $9 Mickey Mouse ponchos. I joked that it looked like we were at a weird cult gathering of some sort.)


rainy night at Fantasmic

Visiting Disney is hugely expensive, and yet it’s a rite of passage for most families. Disney just hiked ticket prices at its parks since my return. The Florida and California parks both posted record attendance and revenue for 2014. It just amazes me that people seem to have no limits on what they’re willing to spend on Disney.

While I definitely did my best to create my own magic, I gotta admit: trying to dodge the masses did kind of get me down.

I’m curious, if you’ve visited. Do you think Disney World has become too crowded?

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9 thoughts on “Disney World: Too Crowded?

  1. Your words make me even more pleased that I decided to buy stock in Disney after my last visit to the Magic Kingdom! Keep going, folks!

  2. Your article makes me wonder what these crowds really value? We’ve been there twice now as a family. I was not excited about going the first time but was very impressed with the parks and staff (although I remember being hit by strollers). Second time we had a wonderful time but I thought that many of the staff weren’t as friendly. 6 days is plenty time for me. Could never do 21 days.

  3. I have visited both Disneyland and Disney World and much prefer the Disneyland experience. I am okay with the crowds, because they have improved the experience with the fast pass tickets and great customer service.

    Why you should visit Disneyland instead of Disney World:

    1) Park is MUCH smaller and you do a lot less walking overall to get to all the rides.

    2) The weather is nicer (no humidity, cools off in the evenings, no mosquitoes).

    3) Pirates of the Caribbean is superior at Disneyland…the rides at both parks are not identical, just FYI!

    4) Much easier to stay off the park property and find a good value. It’s an easy walk from several nice motels to the entrance. There are also a ton of restaurants nearby where you can save $$.

    BTW, if anything goes wrong on your Disney trip be sure to stop one of the employees and tell them. They are more than willing to help. I was surprised at the level of service they give in order to make you happy! Especially when it involves a kid. 😀

  4. As you know, going to Disney is definitely on my bucket list. Don’t know if it will ever happen, but I’m going to continue to dream.

  5. Attic Girl — yes, for stockholders, Disney’s popularity is a good thing. Nancy, I noticed as well that the employees seemed noticeably less friendly in ’15 than they were in ’08. KJ — interesting. I have never been to Disneyland (actually, I’ve never been to CA!) and your points make me want to go. Elaine — just keep swimming, as Nemo would say 🙂

  6. Susan, imagine about 1/4 of the walking. Plus California Adventure! You should definitely give it some thought. It is quite nice not being ‘trapped’ at Disney World when you pick a motel right outside the park. 🙂

  7. 21 days?!?!? Our first trip with children was for 7 days, and we thougth that was a bit much. 😉 I can’t even imagine. . .

  8. Just went to Disney world magic kingdom on sat 10/1/16, it was soooo crowded that it made it a horrible experience. Been to Disney world over 15 times and it has gotten so crowded now it’s no longer enjoyable.

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