January is a wonderful time to enjoy Walt Disney World! In fact, it’s one of my favorite times to visit. The holiday crowds have gone home, and the spring break crowds are still months away. But that doesn’t mean crowds won’t play a factor. In recent years, January has become a more popular time to visit the parks. Cooler temperatures and special events will play a key role. And for many, January is an easier time to take off from school and work. So when it comes to visiting Walt Disney World in January, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind before finalizing your travel dates.
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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!
- Prepare to wear layers! January weather can be unpredictable. I have personally visited when temperatures were close to freezing overnight and in the early morning. (Rope drop was VERY cold!) And I have also visited in January when temperatures were over 80 degrees. Typically, you will want to layer up as mornings and evenings are cooler and afternoons warm up a bit.
- While some days are warm enough to swim, others are not. And sometimes pools are closed due to cooler temperatures. Water parks tend to take this time to refurbish as well.
- January prices tend to be less overall. Park prices, hotel prices, and airfare prices are typically lower in January as it isn’t a peak travel time. Disney is also known to offer discounts and incentives for January, so be on the lookout for these when planning your vacation!
- There will most likely be refurbishments. Because January sees fewer crowds, Disney often uses this time to refurbish certain attractions. This includes some of the bigger water attractions like Splash Mountain.
- New Year’s, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend tend to be busier times for Walt Disney World. If you’re visiting in January to avoid the crowds, be sure to avoid these weekends.
The biggest event in January is definitely the Walt Disney World Marathon! The entire event in 2023 will take place from January 4-8, 2023. And while details have yet to be announced, 2022 featured a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (Half-Marathon and Marathon), and the Dopey Challenge (all four races). Virtual options were available as well!
In 2022, Epcot hosted the Epcot International Festival of the Arts from January 14 to February 21. And it is likely this event will occur around a similar time frame in 2023, although nothing has been announced or confirmed by Disney at this point.
According to Disney, this festival celebrates the “creation of art and cuisine.” It also boasts some of the best activities of all the Epcot festivals. In addition to all of the artistic culinary creations, you will find animation classes, a paint-by-number mural, workshops (for an additional fee), photo ops throughout the park, and must-see galleries as well as artwork available for purchase. Epcot festivals tend to bring more local crowds on evenings and weekends, so plan on visiting Epcot during the week if crowds are a concern.
ESPN Wide World of Sports typically hosts several athletic events each month. These events don’t usually have a major impact on crowds in the parks, but they can affect resort availability and crowds at Disney’s value resorts. Here are the events scheduled so far as well as events that are typically held in January:
- UCA National College Cheer & Dance Championship – TBA (held January 14-16 in 2022)
- Disney Girls Soccer Showcase – January 13-16, 2023
- 2022 USA Field Hockey Sunshine Showcase – TBA (held January 28-30 in 2022)
Other dates to consider in 2023 would include New Year’s weekend (December 30 – January 2) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend (January 13 – January 17). These weekends will be significantly more crowded as they are holiday weekends.
January Refurbishments & Closures
As things return to normal at the theme parks, nighttime spectaculars and fireworks are returning as well! Two new shows premiered on October 1, 2021, for the 50th Anniversary Celebration. “Disney Enchantment” kicked off the 50th-anniversary festivities at Magic Kingdom Park, and “Harmonious” also debuted at Epcot. Fantasmic! will also be returning to Hollywood Studios at some point in 2022!
*We’ve included all current refurbishments here on this list… even ones that may be open in time for January 2023. (Please note that this list could change at a moment’s notice.)
- Walt Disney World Railroad is closed indefinitely due to construction on the new Tron roller coaster.
- Enchanted Tales with Belle is also temporarily closed with no reopening date yet announced.
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is reopening August 25, 2022
- Tron Lightcycle Power Run is still under construction (We are hopeful for a 2023 opening date!)
- Splash Mountain will close at some point for retheming to become Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. No dates have been announced yet, however.
- Character meet-and-greets at both Pete’s Silly Side Show (Donald Duck, Goofy, Daisy, and Pluto) and The Thotful Spot (Pooh and Tigger) are returning soon!
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is now open!
- Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana is expected to open in 2022
- Canada Far & Wide in CircleVision 360 is closed through November 2022 (most likely for the Food & Wine Festival)
- Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away (stage show) has permanently ended
- Fantasmic! is returning in 2022
- Frozen Sing-Along Celebration will close on August 22, 2022, for refurbishment and is scheduled to reopen on September 9, 2022.
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid is temporarily closed with no reopening date yet.
- Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple is also temporarily closed.
- Primeval Whirl is permanently closed
- Rivers of Light has permanently ended
- Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! debuted on June 13, 2022
- Festival of the Lion King returned with a FULL version of the show on July 15, 2022
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park is closed for refurbishment. The opening date is TBA.
Overall, the weather in Orlando is quite pleasant in January. So if you’re looking to visit Disney World without the heat, this may be the perfect time to go. The average high is 72 degrees and the low is typically around 51 degrees. It is also typically a dryer month in terms of rain. All that being said, January can be a bit unpredictable at times. I have personally experienced highs of just 50 degrees one day, only for it to be 80 degrees just a few days later. You will definitely want to check current temperatures when packing and be prepared to wear layers.
January Disney World Crowd Calendar
Crowd calendars are very popular, but they can also be a bit unpredictable. That being said, the pandemic has made predicting crowds even more difficult than normal.
While crowd calendars can be a big help in planning your trip, keep in mind, they are predictions at best. When designing our calendars, we take a look at events, school calendars, ticket prices, park hours, holidays, and typical monthly patterns. But unfortunately, our crowd calendars cannot predict other things such as weather, travel advisories, pandemics, or last-minute openings or closings of shows and attractions.
January isn’t usually considered to be a crowded month. In fact, it usually boasts some of the lowest crowds (and prices) of the year. If crowds are a big concern, avoid holiday weekends as well as the marathon weekend, and you should be good to go.
Overall, most weekdays in January are going to be fairly low in terms of crowds. That being said, it is worth noting that Disney World will be nearing the end of its 50th Anniversary Celebration (which concludes in March 2023). This could draw many to the parks who are trying to take part in the festivities before they end. So we expect January 2023 to be a bit busier than typical for this time of year.
**For a free printable PDF version of this crowd calendar, be sure to visit our resource page to become an email subscriber! You will also gain access to other printable resources to help you plan your next Disney vacation!
Ready to start planning your visit to Walt Disney World in January?
Here are some resources to help you get started!
Walt Disney World Resort Guides:
Walt Disney World Dining Guides:
Walt Disney World Attraction Guides:
There’s nothing better than knowing what to expect on your Disney World vacation. Our monthly guides can help you visit with a plan!
January (you are here) | February
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