Once you’ve made the decision to book a Walt Disney World vacation, then the next step is deciding which time of year to go.
The biggest considerations for choosing when to visit are promotions, festivals, crowd sizes, and weather.
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each consideration.
During their slower seasons, Disney World offers several promotions to lure guests to the park.
By far, the largest and most popular promotion Disney offers is the Free Dining promotion. For select dates in the fall and winter (usually August – December), Walt Disney World offers this free dining promotion to guests who book vacation packages with non-discounted resort hotels and non-discounted park tickets. Each member of the booked party is eligible for Free Dining.
There are a few caveats.
- First, the promotion sells out quickly because, well, who doesn’t like free food? So act quickly if this promotion appeals to you.
- Secondly, a 3-night minimum stay is required (with a maximum of a 14-night stay). This means that you are not eligible for purchasing discounted WDW tickets from authorized resellers (so do the math to determine which promotion or discount will save you the most money in the long run).
- Next, there are room exclusions for the promotion. The following do not qualify: All-Star Movies, Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms, Bay Lake Tower, Fort Wilderness campsites, Port Orleans Resort French Quarter, all 3-bedroom Villas, Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian, and standard rooms & bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Port Orleans Resort Riverside is eligible, but only for select dates.
- And lastly, guests who are participating in the promotion are required to purchase tickets that include either the Park Hopper Plus option, or a 2-day (or more) Park Hopper.
So, while the Free Dining plan is a wonderful promotion, be sure that it makes financial sense, includes menu items to your liking, and aligns with your particular Walt Disney World vacation plans.
The Disney Travel Agents at The Vacationeer stay up to date on all the current promotions and can add them to your reservation if they will save you money, even after booking. Click HERE for a free, no-obligation price quote.
Walt Disney World is a great destination any day of the year. However, there is something about the seasonal festivals which make the park extra magical.
Besides the spectacular Flower & Garden Festival during the month of May, most of our favorite seasonal events take place during the Fall and Winter months.
Epcot hosts The Food & Wine Festival in September and October, and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a real treat for Magic Kingdom guests around – you guessed it – Halloween. During November and December, the wildly popular Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party takes place at Magic Kingdom, as do a host of other holiday events, such as A Frozen Holiday Wish Show (Magic Kingdom), Christmas Day Parade on ABC (Magic Kingdom), Joyful! (Epcot), Holidays Around the World (Epcot), and Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam (Hollywood Studios).
If we had an absolute favorite week to be at Walt Disney World, we may have to choose some time in early December. The park is festive, the weather is comfortable, and the crowds are lighter than normal.
Crowd sizes are a major consideration when planning a trip to Walt Disney World.
Because park attendance fluctuates throughout the year, there are certainly better (less crowded) times of the year go.
For those of you who are not tied down with obligations, you are in a much better position to be flexible with your travel dates. For the rest of us, work schedules, school schedules, and other factors often influence the timing of our vacations, so we just have to plan a trip around a timeframe that works.
With millions of annual visitors, each Walt Disney World theme park can become crowded. The week you choose to visit the park can have a major impact on wait times for attractions and crowd density on the sideways and in the restaurants.
The best way to gauge crowd sizes any particular day – at any one of Walt Disney World’s 4 theme parks – is to consult our Disney Crowd Calendar. By using data compiled from recent years, our crowd calendar determines which theme parks will have the shortest lines and which parks will have the longest lines.
While not everyone has the flexibility to plan their trip around the least-crowded dates, crowd calendars can still be a valuable tool to help you to maximize your Disney experience during your visit.
When is Walt Disney World Least Crowded?
Walt Disney World parks are typically less crowded from January 2nd until just prior to Presidents’ Day week (third Monday in February), the week after Labor Day until just prior to Thanksgiving week, and the week after Thanksgiving weekend until the week prior to Christmas. As a general guide, when schools are in session, WDW is usually less crowded.
When is Walt Disney World Most Crowded?
Walt Disney World parks generally experience their highest attendance around school breaks. These include around Presidents’ Day week (third week in February), the Spring Break timeframe from mid-March through late April, Memorial Day weekend, Summer (mid-June through Labor Day), Thanksgiving week, and Christmas week through January 1st.