A huge part of planning a Walt Disney World vacation is working around the crowds. And truth be told, this has become more difficult in recent years. Disney has done their homework in trying to spread out the crowds by creating special holiday events, discount incentives, and unique festivals in order to keep visitors coming and avoid lulls in attendance. This is where Disney World crowd calendars come into play. Basically, Disney World experts try to predict when the parks will be at their busiest so that potential visitors know to avoid these times. But are Disney World crowd calendars reliable?
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**The reopening of Walt Disney World is an ongoing process that is constantly changing. Be sure to visit our guide to visiting Disney World during the phased reopening for updated information to guide your vacation planning!
The way it used to be…
It used to be a lot easier to predict the crowds in Disney World. School vacations typically led the way. Everyone knew that summer break, winter break, and spring break would be busy. We also safely assumed that major holidays would be crowded. No one goes to Disney World on Christmas only to be surprised by the crowds!
When I was younger, my family traveled to Disney World during “off” months. We would go in November or February, and we would practically walk onto the rides. But things have definitely changed. Disney introduced RunDisney events, things such as the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, and free dining in the fall. For example, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party usually starts in August and provides activities and events through Halloween. It’s become quite popular making September and October busier months for Disney. (For 2021, it’s been replaced with the Disney After Hours BOO BASH!)
That being said, Disney has worked pretty hard to make sure there is always a reason to visit Disney World… even in what used to be “off” months. So predicting crowds has become quite difficult if you’re not fully aware of everything Disney World has to offer throughout the year.
Are Disney World crowd calendars reliable?
Disney World crowd calendars do provide valuable insight into the events happening at Disney. For example, I learned that one of the dates I had selected in January for my most recent vacation actually fell on the weekend at the Walt Disney World Marathon. I was able to adjust my dates for the following week to avoid the event.
So yes, crowd calendars can be a big help in planning your trip. But keep in mind, they are predictions at best. These predictions are based on events, school calendars, and typical monthly patterns. But they cannot predict other things such as weather, travel advisories, or pandemics.
My husband and I have visited Disney World twice in the month of January. (…which is actually one of our favorite months to travel to Disney!) One trip gave us 80+ degree weather and sunny skies, while the other provided 50-degree days… it was cold! It was the same exact week in January, yet the crowds were noticeably different. Warmer weather brought more crowds.
So, are Disney World crowd calendars reliable when planning your vacation? Yes and no. Use them, definitely. They may save you from visiting at a time when crowds are off the charts due to a major event. But… remember they can only go so far in their predictions.
Where do I find reliable crowd calendars?
Because crowds can be hard to predict, I highly recommend using more than one calendar. I typically look at several and use my best judgment as they sometimes have wildly different opinions! (Two of my favorites include WDW Prep School and Undercover Tourist.) We also offer crowd calendars here at Magic in the Planning! When designing our calendars, we take a look at events, school calendars, ticket prices, park hours, holidays, and typical monthly patterns. Our monthly planning guides also include current ride refurbishments, typical weather, and special events!
- Visiting Disney World in January
- Visiting Disney World in February
- Visiting Disney World in March
- Visiting Disney World in April
- Visiting Disney World in May
- Visiting Disney World in June
- Visiting Disney World in July
- Visiting Disney World in August
- Visiting Disney World in September
- Visiting Disney World in October
- Visiting Disney World in November
- Visiting Disney World in December
Looking to plan your Walt Disney World vacation? Be sure to visit my step-by-step guide to get started!