When is the best time to visit Disney World? When it comes to planning your Walt Disney World vacation, choosing your vacation dates can be one of the most important things you do. It can also be one of the most difficult. With normal day-to-day schedules to think about, weather, Disney special events, crowds, ride closures… there’s a lot at stake. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips and tricks for choosing the best time to visit Disney World.
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Planning a Disney World vacation in 2023? Be sure to check out our guide to all that the Walt Disney World Resort has to offer this year including the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run Roller Coaster, updated nighttime spectaculars, and more!
Here’s the truth… The best time to visit Disney World for you and your family will come down to your personal preferences and priorities. Your idea of the “perfect” Disney vacation won’t be the same as someone else’s. For you, the ideal time might be during a special holiday or event. Or perhaps the best time to visit Disney World comes down to crowds or ideal weather. No matter what, however, the best time to visit Disney World will be up to you, and hopefully these tools will help you to determine when that is for you and your family.
1) Check school and work schedules to narrow down some possible dates
While it may seem smart to plan a Disney vacation during school breaks when your kids are already out of school, keep in mind that everyone else will probably be having the same idea. That being said, school vacations may not be the best time to visit Disney World if you’re not a fan of crowds. The parks will almost always be busier during school breaks and major holidays. On the other hand, Walt Disney World in Florida has done a tremendous job in recent years spreading out its crowds. With tiered pricing, promotions, and seasonal events, Disney World really has something to offer all year long. This has made for more even attendance.
For my family, we look at our schedules and I make note of all of our available times. Doing this step first makes the most sense. After all, the best weather and the lowest crowds don’t really matter if it’s at a time that’s impossible for us to get off work.
2) Find a good crowd calendar
There are many good ones online. My favorites can be found at WDW Prep School and Undercover Tourist, and of course, here at Magic in the Planning! While crowd calendars can be a big help in planning your trip, keep in mind, they are predictions at best. They are not the end-all when it comes to choosing the best time to visit Disney World!
When designing our own crowd calendars, we take a look at events, school calendars, ticket prices, park hours, holidays, and typical monthly patterns. But unfortunately, our calendars cannot predict other things such as weather, travel advisories, pandemics, or last-minute openings or closings of shows and attractions.
Another thing to consider when it comes to crowds is ride closures. Disney tends to schedule its ride refurbishments for when the park is less busy. For example, every visit my family has made in January has been met with a couple of bigger ride closures. (Splash Mountain has been closed for us twice in January.) So while you may have fewer crowds, you may have more closures. It was worth it for us, but for you and your family, it may not be.
3) Pay attention to holidays and events
No one does the holidays better than Disney, and it can be the best time to visit Disney World if you love the holidays! Keep in mind that Disney strives to make the most out of each season. For example, the Halloween season typically begins early-mid September and lasts through October 31st. And Christmas decorations typically arrive early-mid November. So if you’re itching to take part in all of the Christmas festivities at Walt Disney World, your window of opportunity may be wider than you may think!
Visiting Disney World during holiday events has its pros and cons. While it’s amazing to see the park all lit up or enjoy holiday parties after the park closes, be prepared for more crowds and higher prices. And many of the after-hours activities for Halloween and Christmas have additional ticket fees. I have been to the parks both during holiday events and slow non-holiday times. Both are amazing. And the higher prices are definitely worth what you get out of it. The parks are beautiful at Christmas! Just be mindful of all of this when choosing your perfect vacation dates.
4) Don’t forget about special dates and promotions!
Disney is constantly offering new and exciting events or promotions. RunDisney has become quite popular and generally causes busier than normal parks throughout the marathon events. Epcot has several festivals throughout the year including its Food and Wine Festival in the early fall. And Free Dining is offered periodically as well. For some, these events and promotions are ones you don’t want to miss. For others, you will want to avoid the crowds these events tend to bring.
5) Be mindful of your budget
If you’ve ever purchased airline tickets during peak travel times, you will understand why this is on the list. I often check flight prices as well as hotel costs before settling down on specific dates. When my family traveled from the Pacific Northwest to Florida in the month of January, our plane tickets were SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive than when we booked our tickets for mid-November as we were getting close to the holiday travel season. Hotel costs will fluctuate too based on demand as well as the season.
Disney World also adjusts its prices throughout the season. If traveling on a tighter budget, the best time to visit Disney World may not be during peak season when their prices are higher all around. You will definitely find lower prices on hotel reservations as well as park tickets if traveling during a slower time of year.
6) And lastly, don’t forget to check the weather
On our last vacation to Walt Disney World, we experienced everything from a 32-degree morning to an 80+ degree afternoon… all in the course of the first three days! And while this wasn’t typical weather for the month of January, it’s smart to pay attention to what the weather is typically like during your vacation dates. This will be important both as you plan your trip as well as when you actually start packing.
Going in the summer will generally mean hot temperatures and afternoon thunderstorms. While going in the fall could mean even more rain. (Although one of my best memories of Epcot was during a major downpour in November! We nearly had the place to ourselves!) I highly recommend January and February if you’re looking for cooler temperatures with less rain. But if you’re wanting to hit the water parks, you’ll definitely want to avoid the colder season! April and May are excellent months for this. They are a bit warmer, but still not as hot as the summer months.
7) Finalize your dates, and do your homework
Once you’ve figured out the best time to visit Disney World for you and your family, do your homework and be prepared. Know what you’re getting into as far as crowds, events, holidays, weather, and more. Here are some monthly guides (including free crowd calendars) to get you started:
**Once you’ve chosen the best time to visit Disney World, be sure to visit my step-by-step guide to get started!