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 of year 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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Planning a Disney World vacation in 2024? Be sure to check out our guide to all that the Walt Disney World Resort has to offer this year including the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the return of the Disney Dining Plan, and more! (You can also find our 2023 guide here!)
News and Updates for 2024
- Beginning on January 9, 2024, theme park reservations will no longer be required for date-based tickets. Reservations may still be needed for non-dated tickets and other admission types (student group tickets, sport and convention tickets, annual passes, etc.)
- Good news for Annual Passholders… Disney is introducing “good-to-go days” in 2024. These are select days when guests can visit the theme parks without needing a reservation. (Details from Disney will be released at a later date.)
- Disney Dining Plans are returning to Walt Disney World beginning January 9, 2024, with bookings opening on May 31. Two plans will be offered – the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan or the Disney Dining Plan.
- Although this isn’t a change, Disney has announced that Disney Resort hotel guests will continue to enjoy early theme park entry for visits through 2024. Those staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort or Deluxe Villa will also continue enjoying extended evening hours at select parks on select nights.
- Disney has announced that they will be simplifying the Disney Genie+ experience allowing guests to plan their visit ahead of time. While details have yet to be announced, this is a very exciting change for those who don’t enjoy scheduling their Lightning Lanes inside the park on the day of their visit.
- 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!) I also visited in January when temperatures were over 80 degrees. And while these extreme temperatures aren’t the norm, it’s good to be prepared just in case. 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 the Walt Disney World Marathon! The entire event will take place this year from January 3-7. Races include a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (Half-Marathon and Marathon), and Dopey Challenge (all four races). As one of Disney World’s most popular races, be prepared for some crowds both before and after the race.
The Epcot International Festival of the Arts will be back in 2024, and this year’s event takes place from January 12 through February 19. This event 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. It also features the Disney on Broadway Concert Series on select nights throughout the festival.
*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 in January:
- Disney Girls Soccer Showcase – January 12-15, 2024
- 2023 Sand Dollar / Whitlow Invitational – January 19-21, 2024
- Youth Flag Football World Championships – January 20-21, 2024
- 2024 USA Field Hockey Sunshine Showcase – January 26-28, 2024
Other dates to consider in 2024 would include New Year’s weekend (December 29 – January 2) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend (January 12 – January 16). These weekends will be significantly more crowded as they are holiday weekends.
January Refurbishments & Closures
*We’ve included all current refurbishments here on this list… even ones that may be open in time for January 2024. (Please note that this list could change at a moment’s notice.)
- Tron Lightcycle Power Run is now open!
- Splash Mountain closed permanently on January 23, 2023, to become Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The newly rethemed attraction is scheduled to open in 2024.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is now open!
- EPCOT Forever returned on April 3, 2023 (replacing Harmonious which permanently ended on April 2, 2023)
- Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana opened on October 16, 2023!
- Luminous: The Symphony of Us, a new nighttime spectacular will be debuting on December 5, 2023.
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid is temporarily closed with no reopening date yet.
- Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple has permanently ended.
- Primeval Whirl is permanently closed
- It is anticipated that Dino-Rama, as a whole, will likely close at some point to make way for a major expansion. Disney has shared plans for potential replacements, such as a Moana Mini-Land, which includes detailed concept art. Additionally, there is the possibility of a Zootopia Expansion beyond Dino-Rama. Although these proposals are promising, it should be noted that they have not yet been approved or funded by Disney. Therefore, the fate of Dino-Rama remains uncertain, but it is evident that its days are limited.
- Blizzard Beach closed on March 19, 2023, for refurbishment, and it will reopen on November 6, 2023.
- Typhoon Lagoon will close on November 6, 2023, for winter refurbishment. No opening date has been announced.
- Disney Skyliner Gondolas will experience closures in mid-to-late January 2024. This will be a phased closure that will occur first with the Disney’s Hollywood Studios side of the routes, followed by the Epcot side.
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. It’s best not to completely rely on them when making your Disney World vacation plans.
While crowd calendars can be a big help in knowing what to expect, 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.
On top of that, many are choosing to travel differently these days. Quiet months have become popular due to runDisney events as well as other Disney events and promotions, while busier seasons have seen a downward trend in the last couple of years.
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 has been a bit busier these past few years during the months of January and February. Once seen as a “quiet” time to visit the parks, crowds have certainly picked up as many choose to take advantage of cooler temperatures and unique festivities throughout the resort.
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
Planning your first Walt Disney World vacation? Be sure to visit my step-by-step guide to get started!