Best Time to Go to Disney World

Best Time to go to Disney World

We all know that Disney World vacations are memorable and magical. But did you know that the season, month, week, and even day you choose can make a big difference in your in-park experience?  The time period you visit will also have an impact on costs and your ability to make dining and FastPass+ reservations. Therefore, the best time to go to Disney World is an important consideration as you book your family vacation.

Deciding when to visit Disney World will depend on variable factors like crowds, cost, and weather. You should also weigh other aspects like special events, seasonal festivals, and extended park hours. This article will highlight the main factors to you should consider the best time to visit Disney World. So let’s get started!

Crowds – Best Time to go to Disney World

Best Times to go to Disney World

Walt Disney World is the single most visited vacation resort on the planet. And with an average annual attendance of over 52 million people, you should expect to encounter crowds on any given day of the year. Sorry – this is just a fact. However, there are certain times of the year with fewer crowds. So if your idea of the best time to go to Disney World is when there are fewer people to contend with, then here are a few tips.

Heavy Crowds

As a general rule, you can expect the crowds to be higher during school vacation weeks, holidays, weekends, and during the summer season. In particular, the crowds swell around February school vacation week, Spring Break, Thanksgiving week, Christmas, and holiday weekends (ie, MLK, Memorial Day, Labor Day).  You can also expect the park to be busy right after a new section/land or attraction opens (such as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge).

Lighter Crowds

Disney World theme parks are usually less crowded from January 2nd until Presidents’ Day week (the third Monday in February), the week following Labor Day until the weekend preceding Thanksgiving week, and the week after Thanksgiving weekend until the weekend prior to Christmas vacation week. There are also some lighter non-vacation weeks in the late winter/early Spring. But it goes without saying that Disney World is less crowded when families are busy with school and work, and more crowded during school breaks, holidays, and on the weekends.

Disney has recently introduced a surge pricing model for its theme park tickets. Ticket prices rise on a day-by-day basis as the demand increases. Disney insists that this policy was instituted as a mechanism to even-out the crowds throughout the year. But despite this new ticketing model, the normal seasonal patterns still remain in-play for the most part.

Please refer to our Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar (or our Disneyland Crowd Calendar) for up-to-date crowd predictions.

If you need help planning and booking your next Disney vacation, or to just receive a free price quote, please contact the commission-free Disney travel agents at The Vacationeer at 1-833-4MY-TRIP.

Weather – Best Seasons to go to Disney World

Best season at Disney World

Florida is known as the sunshine state. But while everyone loves suns, most people dislike the heat and humidity that often accompanies the Florida sun. Plus, rain showers and thunderstorm are commonplace at Disney World during the summer months, and there’s even a remote chance hurricane in the June through October months. We would recommend that you pack an array of cooler-weather and wet-weather clothing in your luggage because Disney World weather can be unpredictable.

That said, Disney World experiences really great weather for most of the year. It’s rarely cold and snowstorms are unheard of.

As far as weather is concerned, we think the best time to go to Disney World Resort is during spring and autumn seasons. Temperatures tend to be warm yet still quite comfortable for walking around the park. Humidity levels are lower than the summer months and the UV index remains relatively safe. And for the record, winter isn’t so bad either. Summer is the only season that is routinely unpleasant because of the heat and humidity.

Spring

The Spring season is a short one but its a really gorgeous this time of the year. With its vibrant flowers and blooming, aromatic trees, spring is a wonderful season to go to Disney World. Low temperatures range up to around 82°F with moderately low rainfall and relative humidity of around 50%.   The sun is strong for at least nine hours per day which gives you plenty of daylight hours to enjoy the park.

Autumn

The Autumn season is near perfect at Disney World.  It, too, is a short season but it’s well worth a visit during this stretch between Labor Day and Christmas.  Granted, the start of fall may be on the warm and humid side as summer still drags on, but rest of this timeframe experiences crisp air, mild to warm temps and lower rainfall. Visitors will still have up to 8 hours of full sunshine and then evening and nighttime temperatures often drop enough for a jacket or sweater.

Winter

Don’t let the name scare you off because winter isn’t so bad at Disney World. In fact, it has quite a few things going for it. The average high temperatures are typically in the low 70’s and rainfall less common than other seasons.  Humidity is usually around 59% and the evenings cool off considerably. Winter does suffer from a few drawbacks, including fewer daylight hours, less incentive to jump in the pool because of the cooler temperatures, and the park grounds aren’t nearly as lush and beautiful.

Summer

Walt Disney World’s summer is its longest season because it extends from May through September. On the surface, it may seem like the perfect time to visit the park. School is out, there are roughly 14 sunlight hours each day, and the theme parks usually have longer hours and more entertainment offerings. But the major downside is the heat.  Mid-day temperatures often reach over 90 degrees and some days are even over 100 or 110! High humidity is also a factor with an average of 61%.  Then there’s the rainfall; Disney’s average precipitation of 6.4″ during the summer and July and August normally experience 13 days of rainfall. Yet if pools, water parks, longer park hours, and more entertainment are your top priorities, then summer may just be the best time to visit Disney.

Cost – Cheapest Time to go to Disney World

Best Month to go to Disney World

Single-Day Theme Park Tickets

The cost of a Disney World vacation fluctuates throughout the year. As far as nightly Disney World Resort pricing goes, the hotel rates increase during peak periods (like school vacations and holidays) and decrease during the slower, off-peak times of the year. This hotel pricing policy has been in effect for years now. But Disney has recently instituted a surge pricing model for its single-day theme park ticket as well.

As demand for tickets increases, then the price of theme park ticket also increases. The advantage of this new policy is that crowds are more evenly dispersed throughout the year. Or that’s Disney’s stated reasoning, at least.

Theme Park Ticket Tiers

Disney now offers three tiers of single-day theme park tickets: value, regular, and peak days. One-day tickets are given a category based on the expected crowds for that day.  Ticket prices also vary based on each theme park.

For example, “regular” single-day ticket to Magic Kingdom costs $115 (2019)  while Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom cost $107. This rate increases to $124 (Magic Kingdom) and $119 (other theme parks) on “peak” days, and decreases to $107 and $99, respectively, on “value” days. Pick your days wisely and you will save money!

In conclusion, it’s always best to go to Disney World when there are fewer crowds. You will usually pay less for theme park tickets and hotel stays, and have shorter lines.

Progressively Cheaper Rates on Multi-Day Theme Park Tickets 

Multi-day theme park tickets work differently than do single-day tickets. With multi-day tickets, the more days you purchase, the less you will pay per day.

For example, a 3-day ticket starts at $104 per day, a 7-day ticket starts at $61 per day, and a 10-day ticket starts at just $47.

It probably goes without saying that the cost of dining and lodging will add greatly to your overall expenses, so an extended stay – just to spend less per day on tickets – is not a money-saving strategy. However, it’s important to note this theme park ticket policy because most people spend more than a single day at Disney parks.

If you can afford it, we would recommend going for an entire week and experiencing at least one day at each theme park.  There is so much to see and do!

Perks of Disney Resorts 

There are over two dozen official Disney resort hotels on the property. Walt Disney World Resorts are categorized into 3 tiers: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe.

Disney Value Resorts are the least expensive tier, followed by Disney Moderate Resorts as the middle tier, and Disney Deluxe Resorts as the most exclusive and costly.  Staying at any one of Disney’s hotels is more convenient and also more cost-effective when you consider all of the extra perks you will receive. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Advance Reservations:  As a Walt Disney World Resort guest, you are able to reserve your FastPass+ rides and attractions a full 60 days in advance of your arrival (instead of 30 days in advance for non-guests). Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) can be made up to 180 days in advance of your arrival at Walt Disney World restaurants.
  • Extra Magic Hours: Guests staying at a Disney-owned resort can enjoy Extra Magic Hours (additional time before and after the official opening and closing times at a designed Disney World theme park).
  • MagicBand: All Disney World Resort guests will receive a MagicBand for a more convenient vacation experience. These secure all-in-one devices allow you to access the choices that you’ve made with the My Disney Experience app.
  • Airport Transportation: Disney World Resort guests receive complimentary shuttle transportation to/from Orlando International Airport and their Disney hotel.
  • Transportation to the Parks: Disney World Transporation is convenient, abundant, and totally free to every guest and non-guest. But if you are staying at a Disney Resort, then you will be much closer to all of the action and save plenty of time getting to/from the parks.

There are tons of non-Disney resort hotels in the Orlando area. Most of them are adequate and cheaper than many of Disney’s offerings. However, when you add up all of the perks offered to Disney Resort guests, we think the benefits greatly outweigh the extra cost. Stay at a Disney World Resort and be close to the action!

Children

One thing that hasn’t changed is the rate for children under 3 years old. They are admitted for free into any of the four theme parks and two water parks. Children ages 3 – 9 pay a reduced rate, while kids 10 and up pay the normal adult prices. We should also point out that most Disney World restaurants offer a children’s menu with lower prices.

Holiday Festivals and Seasonal Events

when to go to disney world

For many people, the best time to go to Disney World is during the holiday season. This is the time of year when the park dazzles with decorations and there is holiday cheer in the air.  Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party kicks things off in August – October and then Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party takes over for November and December. Popular non-holiday events include the extensive Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and the adult-friendly Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Let’s look at what each month offers at Disney World.

January

January may just be the quietest month of the year at Disney World because the holiday vacation crowds are gone and cool temperatures keep people away. The high temperatures only reach 70 degrees during January. If you don’t mind the frosty early mornings and chilly evening temperatures – and the fact that Disney’s water parks are typically closed – then January may be the best time to go Disney World. The pools are still heated and the cheaper off-season rates and shorter lines make it worthy of your consideration.

January events include:

February

With the exception of Presidents’ Day week, February is another slow month at Disney World. And like January, Disney’s two waterparks usually remain closed during this time. Off-peak pricing is in effect for non-holiday weeks. If crowds are a major concern, then February is a decent choice so long as you avoid the school vacation week (Presidents’ Day week). But be warned that February does lack some of the beauty and excitement that other months at the park have.

February events include:

March

March experiences heavier crowds because of Spring Break, Bike Week, and Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival. The weather begins to rise in March, and the water parks re-open during the first half of the month.

March events include:

April 

April is characterized by heavier crowds and milder temperatures. Spring Break and the Easter holiday are especially popular times to visit Disney World, so we would avoid these periods if possible. Temperatures rise to the mid-80s and the flowers and trees are in full-bloom mode.

April events include:

  • The Star Wars Rival Run Half-Marathon weekend includes the half-marathon, Star Wars 5K, Star Wars 10K, Star Wars Dark Side Challenge, and the runDisney Kids Races.
  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival continues

May 

Crowds moderate during May because there are no major holidays or school vacations. Although its spring and the flowers are still in full bloom, the weather feels more like summer with temps reaching into the 90’s. Thunderstorms are common occurrences during the afternoon.

May events include:

  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival wraps up

June

The summer season kicks off during June. While the first half of the month sees fewer crowds, the latter half experiences heavy traffic as students are off on summer break. Single-day ticket prices increase as the crowds swell, but the parks do have extended hours and more shows and activities to even out the lines a bit. June has long days of sunshine and hot weather, so come prepared with your sunscreen. A great time of the year to visit the water parks! (See our Blizzard Beach vs Typhoon Lagoon page)

July

Most people associate July with family vacations, so it’s no surprise that July is Disney’s peak month of the year. Florida is sizzling hot during July and temperatures can reach 100+ during the afternoon with lots of humidity. Rain and thunderstorms are also common.  The good news is that the theme parks have extended hours so you may want to hit the air-conditioned attractions, eat your meals, or head back to the pool during the hottest times of the day while experiencing the main attractions during the mornings and early evenings. Prices are typically higher during the summer months so don’t expect to find any deep discounts.

July events include:

  • Fourth of July fireworks at Magic Kingdom, with special fireworks displays at Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Disney Springs.

August

The Disney World weather can reach extremes during August, the hottest month of the year. You can beat the afternoon heat by seeking shelter at air-conditioned attractions and shows, restaurants, AMC movie theatre (Disney Springs), and at the water parks and Disney resort pools. Crowds are heavy for most of August, but the parks do thin out (a little) as kids return to school towards the second half of the month.  However, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Epcot International Food and Wine Festival help to draw the visitors during the later-half of the month.  Like July, it’s a hot, humid, wet, and crowded time to go to Disney World.

August events include:

  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party begins mid-August
  • Epcot International Food and Wine Festival begins late August

September

Early September is still hot, but temperatures do moderate slightly as the month wears on. The latter half of September is one of the best times to go Disney World because the weather is decent and lines are manageable since most kids are back to school.  Hotel rates and park tickets are also lower, and Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party are in full swing. September is a great time to visit Disney World!

September events include:

  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

October

The afternoons are still hot but the evening temperatures drop considerably during the month of October. Disney’s parks are decorated for the autumn season and most evenings showcase Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party events. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is still going strong and the crowds are moderate. October may be the best month to visit Disney World!

October events include:

  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

November 

November would be an excellent month to visit Disney World if it weren’t for the crowd swell during Thanksgiving week. But if you avoid this week (and weekends around the holiday), then you will experience pleasant weather, relatively short lines, and a festive holiday atmosphere. Cast members are decorating throughout the month, but most of the Disney’s Christmas decorations are up by the mid and end portion of November. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party kicks off and guest can enjoy many holiday events during the month.

November events include:

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on select nights at Magic Kingdom

December

Disney’s theme parks are festively decorated, and there are holiday-themed events happening daily throughout the month. December is a popular time to visit Disney World because, well, most people love the holidays and most children are out on school break. The beginning of the month experiences slightly lighter crowds, but the latter half of December is among Disney World’s busiest time of the year.

December events include:

  • Events include Holiday Wishes fireworks, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Castle Stage Show.
  • Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the best time to go to Disney World will depend on your personal preferences. It will depend on what your budget and timing allow. There is no universal “best time to visit Disney World” because everyone’s vacation goals and lifestyle realities are different.

That said, there are certain times of the year that have better weather and fewer crowds. This is quantifiable. Luckily, many of these periods are also less expensive.

We personally view September – Early December (minus Thanksgiving week) as the best time to go to Disney World, followed by the late winter through the short spring season. These time periods have favorable weather and fewer crowds. Just avoid school break weeks, if possible.  At the end of the day, you’ll have to make your own determination as to what works best for you.

We would certainly recommend staying at a Disney Resort and checking out at least two of the theme parks. You really have to stay at least 3-5 days to get the full Disney experience. And if you can go for a full week – and hit all 4 theme parks (and a water park) – even better!

Hopefully, this information will help you make more informed decisions so that you’ll get the most enjoyment and value out of your trip. But whatever dates you pick, we are sure you’ll have a magical Disney World vacation!

Enjoy your trip!

We hope our Best Time to Visit Disney World has helped you decide the best week for your next vacation.

For more useful Disney World information, please review some additional pages on MagicGuides like our Animal Kingdom Restaurants, Best Magic Kingdom Rides, Best Hollywood Studios Rides, Disney Travel Agents, Disney Dining Plan CalculatorDisney World Map, and Adventures by Disney Reviews articles.

Thanks for reading and we hope you have a magical Walt Disney World vacation!

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