Special events such and the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival can bring crowds

This is not going to be one of those pieces that tells you about magical times of year when you can walk right onto all of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World. In fact, I’m not even going to give dates for the most part. Walt Disney World is crowded all year long, that’s a fact that you can’t get around. Instead of trying to avoid crowds, prepare for them, and decide ahead of time that you will have a great vacation, even if the parks are packed.

One good rule of thumb to follow is that if schools are out, the crowd level will be higher. Thanksgiving Week and the week between Christmas and New Year’s are some of the busiest times of year. The end of June, all of July, and the beginning of August are also packed. Spring Break weeks (often around Easter in many states) will also have larger than normal crowds.

Another thing that you might want to check if you’re hoping to have slightly less people in the parks is the RunDisney events. Those weekends pick up. Three day weekends are busy as well. If a ride or attraction is opening or closing, there could be extra people around that time.

If you want to get an idea of whether or not Walt Disney World is expected to be particularly crowded when you’ll be visiting, check the park hours. If the parks (especially the Magic Kingdom) are going to open late a good part of your vacation, expect there to be a lot of people. Special events such as Epcot’s festivals can also be busy, especially the first couple of weekends.

Will crowds ruin your vacation? Only if you let them. There are a few different ways that you can be prepared. Take advantage of FastPass+. This will mean at least three shorter lines each day. Make dining reservations. You can do that online, on the My Disney Experience App, or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463). If you’re staying on property, take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. Change parks once it opens to the general public if it gets too crowded (you’ll need Park Hopper on your ticket for that). If you’re not using Extra Magic Hours, arrive before the park opens so that you will be one of the first inside. The parks are least crowded the first couple of hours of the day.

One of the most important things that you need to do when dealing with crowds is to be patient. No one likes to wait in line, but take advantage of it. Notice the details, enjoy the interactive queues, and make small talk with Cast Members. If you stay positive, the rest of your party will be more likely to do the same.