No matter where your family plans to go on vacation each year there is going to be the question of what time of year do you want to go to a specific destination? There is no destination, anywhere in the world, where this question is more important than when planning a vacation to Walt Disney World. From spring to summer to the holiday season you have many, many options as to when to take your family vacation. There are several components that I would like to discuss regarding this; which will quite possibly be the most important decision you make when planning your vacation.
There is going to be a give and take no matter what time of year you are wanting to travel to Walt Disney World. If you choose high-peak times you are going to go when the crowds are at the absolute highest and it will be the most difficult to navigate the parks. You will also be traveling at a time when things such as dining reservations will be at a yearly high and hotels and restaurants at Disney even raises their prices at peak times. At off-peak times you are going to get parks that are much emptier and easier to navigate as well as you will be able to hit the hotels and restaurants at times when their prices are the lowest of the year.
There are also some counterpoints to those. When you travel in the peak season you will experience higher crowds, but Disney will also have the theme parks open early and late so the park hours you will experience will be expanded. So even though the crowds will be higher you will have longer hours to experience the many things there are to do. At off-peak times you will see parks that close earlier in the evening, sometimes as early as 7:00 PM which will limit the time you get to spend in the park. There is obviously a fine line between the two options and your family’s preference is something to seriously think about. Do you want less time in a very un-crowded park or do you want more time in a crowded park?
Once you understand the main differences in peak and off-peak times to visit Disney World you can decide a specific week within that period to visit. Here are some thoughts on the various time periods to visit and the positives of each.
January and February
These two months are among the best times to go to Disney World, with the exception of a couple of holidays that take place within these months. The holiday weekends and marathon weekend draw higher crowds, but other than that it is a great time to visit due to cooler temperatures. Do be aware Disney routinely schedules maintenance of several rides during this time of year. If you are content missing on a few attractions that are being refurbished I highly recommend this cool and low crowd level time of year.
March and April
This time period is full of mostly peak season due to spring break weeks around the country. Often the first week of March is a relatively low crowd time period, but the crowds come quickly once spring breaks start as the second week of the month arrives. April also draws higher crowds usually due to Easter holiday season. Despite higher crowds these are still decent times to visit as park hours will be longer and the weather is some of the best of the year.
May is usually one of the best times to get a mix of both the positives of off-peak times and peak times. The crowds are usually moderate, although not the lowest of the year. The hotel prices are also in the moderate category during this time, but Memorial Day does draw slightly higher crowds and prices due to the holiday. The weather in May is relatively warm, but again, not as warm as June-September. May is often a great middle ground to some of the negatives of Disney World trips as long as you complete your travel prior to Memorial Day.
June, July, and Early August
The summer months are some of the most crowded times of year, although most of this time period is still a good time to go. Crowds are heavy and will reach a peak around the July 4th holiday, but park hours will also be the longest and there will be very few refurbishments scheduled. The weather will definitely be hot and is something to keep in mind if that will affect your family in a negative way. All in all, there are better times of year to go, but if its the best option for your family a great trip can still be had during this time.
Late August, September and October
These two months, in the past, have been the lowest crowds of any time of year, although Disney has marketed this time of year well recently and crowds have moved to more of a moderate level. The weather will be the hottest of the year during the beginning of this time period, but prices of hotels will be the lowest. Of minor concern is that this time of year is hurricane season, so a lot of rain is possible if you trip overlaps with a hurricane or tropical storm. Also, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (Extra Charge Applies) will happen in September and October. This time of year is definitely a preferred time as it is still the lowest crowd level period year in and year out.
One of the best times of year to travel is November to the middle of December. The Christmas decorations are up in both the resorts and the parks is one of the many reasons to travel during this time period. With the Christmas season comes many special events such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom (Extra Charge Applies) and the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. In addition, the weather is usually nice and cool this time of year which is in contrast to many times at Disney World. The crowds are among the lowest of the year, with the exception of Thanksgiving week, although even the off-peak times at Disney World are now showing moderate crowds.
Holiday Season – Mid-December thru Early January
Crowds start to grow very fast the Friday before Christmas and those crowds will hold at the highest levels of the year for the next two weeks until school resumes around the country. The Magic Kingdom will get so crowded during this time that it will periodically close to guests on some days until the park clears out. Despite the extremely high crowds a trip is still possible here with a great touring plan and getting up early in the morning. The parks will open early, often 8:00 AM or before, and will stay open late in the evening, until midnight or later. And of course the Christmas decorations and fireworks shows are fantastic.
Other Events and Holidays
Keep in mind there are other events and minor holidays that happen through the year where crowds may grow, but a good touring plan can help you significantly in any of those situations.
Please post any questions you may have on this topic below and we’ll do our best to help you.