Easter is less than one week away, can you believe it? It’s pretty unbelievable, seeing as it snowed on Saturday here in New York. But in other places around the country, Disney in particular, spring is in full bloom and people are getting into the Easter spirit. Like Christmas, Easter is a very popular holiday at Walt Disney World. If Christmas week sees the highest crowd levels at Disney, Easter and July 4th are a close second. While I’ve never been to Disney during Easter, I’ve found that you can apply a lot of my Christmas tips to Easter week. Rather than read my book, which is filled with Christmas tips and tricks, I thought I’d create a brief outline tailored to Easter weekend.
Most likely, you’ve already got your FastPass+ reservations, your dining reservations and your hotel lined up. If you don’t, you should probably stop reading and look into that now! Otherwise, here’s some tips for enjoying your Easter vacation at Disney:
Weather and How to Pack
Just like in my book, I’ll caveat these tips with the following: everyone is different. For some, 70 degrees can be chilly; for others, it’s a tropical vacation.
While I’ve never been to Disney during Easter, I have been to Disney at the end of March/early April. Three years ago we went down to Disney for a friend’s wedding. I remember it being nice out in New York – normal spring weather. I packed mostly shorts and t-shirts. The weather is much more consistent in Orlando during this time of the year than during the months of December and January. In December and January, you may see temperatures as low as the 30s or as high as the mid-80s! In April, the temperatures will usually hover in the high 70s or 80s, with some days as high as 90. The weather forecast is currently calling for temperatures in the mid-80s, with some days hitting the 90s!
If I were going to Disney for Easter, I’d pack shorts, t-shirts and comfortable shoes. When we first arrived for our friend’s wedding, it was a gorgeous day. I remember there being a slight breeze and it feeling cool in the shade, but very warm in the sun. After spending the day in EPCOT, my scalp was burnt from the sun. I would definitely recommend packing sunscreen. The sun is starting to get very strong in Florida and those with fair skin will get burnt!
Many kids are on Spring and Easter Break this week. That means many families will be heading to Disney for vacation and many locals will spend a day or two at the parks. This is very similar to Christmas week. My family usually arrives on Christmas Eve. For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the crowds are typically all families. As we go through the week – December 26th, 27th, 28th, we start to see a lot of high school-aged kids roaming the park. The combination of tourists and locals make for packed parks and long ride wait times. As I recommended to all Christmas guests, tailor your expectations. This is not the vacation where you should expect to do everything – the long wait times will prohibit this. By planning your day, however, you should be able to get a lot done. Keep in mind that you’re in Disney and make the best of it!
Park Hours and Planning Your Day
While March and April are considered a slower time of the year at Disney, the parks are typically open later during the Easter holiday. Disney will usually add to the hours of operation or add Extra Magic Hours depending on the crowds. I’ve been to Disney when they’ve added Extra Magic Hours intra-week. WDW Magic is the best news source for park closures and added hours.
Take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours (EMH.) On Friday, Magic Kingdom has morning EMH from 7am to 8am. EPCOT has evening EMH from 9pm to 11pm. This is a great opportunity to beat the local crowds. If Easter weekend is anything like Christmas, the parks shouldn’t get overly crowded until 10am. With the Extra Magic Hours, this gives on-site guests around three hours and off-site guests two hours to go on rides at a shortened wait time.
If you’re not a morning person or if you’re coming from the west coast, take advantage of evening Extra Magic Hours. Magic Kingdom will have late-night EMH on Saturday, April 4th. The park will close to the public at 1am and have Extra Magic Hours from 1am to 3am. This is an excellent opportunity to experience the park with significantly reduced wait times. Here’s my way of thinking: during Christmas week, many families will “champ it out” and stay at the park; But this is the night before Easter. Most families will want to head back to their rooms and get a good night’s sleep and wake up bright and early on Easter Sunday. If you don’t have young children or don’t have big plans on Easter Sunday, take advantage of the late EMH and sleep in on Easter Sunday. Many of the parks close relatively early on Easter Sunday – with Magic Kingdom closing at 1am. This may be your only opportunity to go on your favorite rides!
Arrive Early on Easter Morning. Okay, so this is the complete opposite of my argument for late-night EMH. We always get up pretty early on Christmas morning. The parks don’t get too packed until 10 or 11am. My theory: most families enjoy a nice breakfast or open gifts before heading to the park. They will probably do the same on Easter morning. Many Disney restaurants offer brunch on Easter morning, giving those that head straight to the park an advantage. Take advantage of the morning EMH at Magic Kingdom on Easter morning and go on as many rides as time permits. Eat breakfast around 10am while many guests are still entering the park. By noon, you’ll have gotten so much done! Then, you can…
Take breaks during the day. The peak time for crowds is usually between 11am and 5pm. Crowds will typically filter out after the first parade or fireworks show. My family usually heads to the park in the morning. On Christmas Day, we arrive at Magic Kingdom for the last half hour of morning EMH. We are able to get onto Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear in under 20 minutes, the Jungle Cruise in around 30 minutes, and then we grab something for breakfast. By then, it’s around 10am. The ride wait times will start to creep up, but won’t see a significant jump until 11am. We usually have our FP+ after 11am. We redeem those and leave the park by 1 or 2pm for a relaxing afternoon at the hotel.
Avoid the Hype. Unless you have a FastPass+, you’re probably not getting onto Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train this trip. My family thought we were so smart. We arrived at Magic Kingdom early Christmas morning and raced to New Fantasyland to jump in line. Even during morning EMH – before the park even opened – there was a 90-minute wait. For many guests, Disney’s additions and expansions in the past few years are “new.” The novelty for Fantasyland is still at an all-time high. While the area is gorgeous and definitely worth seeing, avoid it during the afternoon.
Spend Time Outside the Parks. I know, you head to Disney for the parks, but sometimes it’s just too crowded. If you’re going for a short three-day weekend, then spend as much time as possible in the parks. If your trip is a bit longer, you can afford to take a break from the parks. While the resorts may not have the decorations and appeal that they do during Christmas, the resorts will have decorations and Easter-themed activities. WDW Info has a full list of activities and offerings – including Easter Egg hunts, brunch, and create-your-own Easter baskets. Easter aside, many resorts are just worth seeing during your trip. Take the monorail tour – stop by the Contemporary, explore the newly renovated Polynesian, and swing by the Grand Floridian for tea. You can even stop at each resort’s bar for a drink!
Downtown Disney is evolving into Disney Springs. The new causeway opened and is filled with terrific shops, including delicious snacks and accessories. There’s two Starbucks, BabyCakes is open once again, there’s four new food trucks and plenty of amazing shops. On a nice day, nothing beats grabbing an iced coffee from Starbucks and shopping, people watching and touring Disney Springs.
So overall, here’s a summation of tips for Easter weekend:
1) Use Extra Magic Hours to your advantage.
2) Expect warm temperatures and prepare for hot days. Pack sunscreen!
3) Tailor your expectations – don’t expect to see and do everything.
4) Spend some time away from the parks. Take breaks during the day and tour the resorts and Disney Springs.
5) Enjoy Disney – it’s vacation and believe me, it goes by way too fast. Don’t worry about the crowds or getting everything done. Enjoy your family and time in Disney!