Friday, June 4, 2010

“Why Didn’t Anybody Warn Me?”

It can get quite crowded at Walt Disney World.  Shocking, I know.  I mention this only because this fact apparently catches some people off guard.  In all fairness, however, there can be crowds at times that used to be considered the “off” season.  Therefore, I thought I’d mention a few events throughout the year that might catch you unawares.

Star Wars Weekends (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – Unlike most of the festivities I will discuss today, this one is actually a Disney-sanctioned event.  Over the course of four weekends each year in May and June, fans of all ages will converge to celebrate the heroes, villains, creatures, and droids of the saga.  In addition to Star Wars costumed characters, activities, and the Star Tours ride, celebrity guests will be in attendance for meet-and-greet sessions, star conversations, and a classic Hollywood-style motorcade.

Now, I am a huge Star Wars fan.  I even dressed up as Princess Leia for Halloween a couple of years ago.  

That said, I have no particularly keen desire to attend Star Wars Weekends anytime soon.  The crowds are crazy huge, with fans camping out in the DHS parking lot overnight to get spots in the celebrities’ autograph queues.  And we’re not talking George Lucas or Carrie Fisher here.  The celebrities are more along the lines of the guy who played the rancor’s keeper in Return of the Jedi.  I’ll pass, thanks.

Gay Days -- This is an annual event since 1991, taking place the first weekend in June.  It started as a single designated day when the Les-Bi-Gay community and friends were encouraged to "Wear Red and Be Seen" while visiting the Magic Kingdom. From its beginnings with 3,000 attendees, this one-day park visit has evolved into a week long, citywide celebration. Gay Days attracts over 135,000 celebrants from across the nation and around the globe. This can impact theme park crowds considerably, particularly those in the Magic Kingdom on the first Saturday in June.  While I generally avoid the crowds, one day I’m going to have to make it down for this event.  Mostly, I just want to grab a bag of popcorn and a seat on Main Street, U.S.A., so that I can watch as any homophobes present freak out when they realize that for that day at least, they are no longer in the smug majority.  I think that would be vastly entertaining.  Until I could no longer keep my mouth shut, that is.  Then it would probably get ugly.  I may need to rethink this plan…

Pop Warner -- Each year, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. hosts the Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer and Dance Championships.  For the past ten years, the event has taken place at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex during the second week of December. This even will have some impact on the parks, but more of an impact on the resorts, particularly the value resorts.  They will be swarmed with screaming children and their families.  Even more so that usual, I mean.

Foreign Tour Groups, Cheerleading Competitions, and Fan GroupsIf I could do a better job of predicting when these groups are attending Walt Disney World, believe me I would.  All that I can say is that your odds of being stuck in line behind a huge group of Brazilian teenagers increase dramatically if you’re with me; it never fails.  And there’s um, nothing quite like being awakened at 4:00 A.M. by 3,000 squealing cheerleaders.  Good times, good times.

These are by no means the only large groups that can descend like locusts upon Walt Disney World, but they are some of the most consistent and most noticeable.  By doing a little research when planning your trip, you may be able to join them or avoid them, depending on your preference.  Just don’t whine to me that nobody warned you!


  1. Believe it or not, Christmas Day is one of the biggest days that sneaks up on some people. (I guess some people just can't read.) Christmas Day is the busiest day of the year at Walt Disney World. Over 100,000 guests will descend on the Magic Kingdom by 10:00 in the morning. That's just the Magic Kingdom.

    Invariably, hundreds of people will complain about the huge crowds. They say that Disney World is terrible, that they should get a refund, that they couldn't ride any rides. It's awful.

    Hey, Gurgle Disney World and Christmas Day, it's not a closely held secret.

  2. Thanks for the mention of Brazilian teens! I call all schools of South Americans guided with flags the turismos, and I include the ever-infamous Brazilian tour groups as well! They come twice a year!