When Should You go to Disney World

We get asked this question all the time.  When should you go to Disney World?  There is no easy answer for this question but I’ll try to give some recommendations here.  Ultimately you need to decide what works best for your family.  Many people looking to go are greatly hindered by their kid’s schedule at school.

The most difficult thing about your vacation to the most magical place on earth may actually be leaving.

disney-world-we-are-sad-to-leave

Crowds

I think the major thing most people consider is the crowds.  The day of entering a park at rope drop and having it to yourself is all but over, even when the crowds are at their lowest.  No matter when you go, you will have some crowds to deal with, but how those crowds affect you can greatly be mitigated.  We will have a comprehensive guide to the crowds at Disney World coming soon.

In the meantime, we will break the crowds down into four categories:

  1. Low
    1. Mid January through most of February
    2. The first two weeks of May
    3. The last half of August
    4. September
    5. The last half of October through the fist week of November
    6. The first week of December
  2. Moderate
    1. January 4 through Mid January
    2. The third week in February
    3. The first half of March
    4. The last half of April
    5. The last half of May
    6. The first two weeks in June
    7. The first half of October
    8. The second week in December
  3. High
    1. The second half of March
    2. The first week of April
    3. All of July through the first half of August
    4. Thanksgiving Weekend
  4. For the love of all that is Holy I can’t even walk around
    1. December 24th through January 4th

Low crowds are obviously ideal, but they are low for a reason.  Most people are not afforded the time to go during this time due to life’s schedule, be it kid’s school or work.  We typically try for Low or Moderate times to go which is a good balance.  We have also been during high crowd times and it is very manageable if you make good use of FastPass+ and dining reservations (more on that another time).

We have not visited during the “For the love of all that is Holy I can’t even walk around” time but April really wants to go for Christmas sometime.  Based on people we have spoken with and other reviewers it can be shockingly busy.  I know for fact that Walt Disney World does have a capacity limit and will close parks to entry of new guests when they reach it.  This has, in fact, happened in July which I would consider a High month.

christisn-with-tinkerbell

I think our best trip was the time we went for the first two weeks of December in 2012, but I’m probably biased because Tinkerbell landed on me in that trip.  But the crowds were good.  We even were able to walk on many rides, something that definitely would not happen later in December.  Early December can be considered Low – Moderate.  Late December is definitely High.

Special Events

Another consideration to make on making your decision is special events.  We love, love, love the Food and Wine Festival.  April and I always make a date night and walk around and sample a bunch of the great international food that the best restaurants have to offer in Epcot (not to mention the wine and… ahem… beer).  You basically get a bite or two for each sample but the price is reasonable.  Try the escargot at the France pavilion.  Thank me later.

There are several special events throughout the year.  Some of them require a special pass that you must purchase and others are included with your Magic Your Way Base Ticket.

No matter what your interests are, there is likely a special event that you will enjoy.  We will have an events guide page coming soon so please check back for a more comprehensive guide for events.

Weather

Florida weather can be unpredictable.  No, you’re not going to get snow, but no matter when you visit you are likely to see at least a little rain.  The summer months can be absolutely sweltering.  Couple temperature in the 90’s during the day with high humidity and you will be sticky.

Conversely, the day time temperature in the winter months can be chilly.  The average temperature in January is a high of 71 and a low of 49.  Now if you’re from Chicago, a 60 degree day in January is going to feel nice and warm, but will it be warm enough to visit Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach?  That is up to you.  I will go to the water parks any time.

The water parks do stay open year round and they keep the water heated to a comfortable level.  They do close for inclement weather and if the temperatures get too low to keep the water a comfortable temperature.  If the water parks (or water rides) are on your “must do” list, you may want to make sure you are planning your vacation for when you can really enjoy them.

typhoon-lagoon-water-slide

The pools are a bit of a different story, at least to me.  All of the Walt Disney World Resort pools are also heated so you can also enjoy them year round.  It’s not as bad to make the short walk to get inside as it is if you’re out of the water for long periods of time hiking two the next slide, like you would be at a water park.

Back to the heat.

If you have to go in July or August there are ways to beat the heat.  They have a lot of shaded places and the dining rooms are all climate controlled.  Another option is to return to your resort or hotel in the heat of the day.  Take a lunch break and go back to the park when the sun is lower in the sky and the temperature is starting to drop.

Rain, rain, go away…

You will get wet in Orlando.  I think that goes without saying.  The rainy season typically starts in mid-May and runs through October.  That’s a long rain season.  With that said, most days it’s going to be a passing shower.

Speaking of rain, you know what brings a lot of it?  Hurricanes!  And Florida gets them.  Disney World does have a good hurricane policy but if this is a major concern of yours I would avoid September and October.  Personally, I would not avoid these months for this reason.  To the best of my knowledge Disney World has only closed the parks due to hurricanes twice, once in 2004 and once in 2005.  They do have an excellent policy and work hard to keep their guests safe and comfortable.

There is a lot to consider when planning your trip to Disney World.  It will be fun regardless of when you go.  There is always something magical to do no matter when you are there.

 

 

14 Replies to “When Should You go to Disney World”

  1. Hi there,

    Living in Florida we try to go as much as we can but we try to go when it’s not busy…say for instance when there is no holiday, spring break or on the weekend. Lol Mid week is awesome. You don’t necessarily have to worry about the fast pass. We always make sure we get our season tickets as well to save us money. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hey Tanya,

      My wife’s dream is to someday move closer to Orlando so that we can go to the parks whenever we want. We have quite a few friends that have moved to the Orlando area. One of them is even a DVC member and they still use some of their points for little getaways at the Orlando resorts. I must admit I’m a bit jealous.

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. I’m really super excited I found this blog re: when you should go to disney world. I’ve always wondered this myself. I love also how you add some perspective on weather. I forgot that Orlando is still pretty warm in Jan. One of the things that popped out at me though is the fact that Star Wars Weekends is coming in 2016. I really want to get in that Starspeeder 1000 and do simulation of being in space. Awesome.

    1. Hi Tiffany,

      Yes the Star Wars Weekend is new for 2016 as is a major overhaul to the Hollywood Studios park. In fact I believe they are even changing the name but have not announced that yet. Although I’m sad to see the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular go, I’m really excieted to see the new Star Wars expansion.

      Thanks for your input.

  3. Dear Christian,

    Based on reading this Article of yours, I feel the need to make a trip down to Disney World myself.

    What was your favorite part of the trip overall?

    I have been to Six Flags as a child but never since. I do feel a bit left out when others have gone to Disney World but I haven’t yet. I hope to in the future despite the expenses I am sure it is well worth it. 🙂

    I do recall I got lost in Six Flags too and can only hope the same won’t happen to me if I ever step foot into Disney World since I am sure it can get just as crowded too. 🙂

    Wishing you all the best with your online success above and beyond the horizon,

    ~Angel

    1. Hi Angel,

      We’ve actually been to Disney World several times, most recently last September. Disney World certainly does get busy and that’s a great point about getting lost or separated from your party. We have always picked a central point in the park to meet if we get separated. Usually we try to pick something that is easily identifiable in the entire park, such as the castle at the Magic Kingdom.

      As far as my favorite part, it’s too hard to pick just one. I think my favorite attraction is probably the Rockin’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios. Being a Foode, though I also enjoy walking around the Epcot World Showcase and getting treats and snacks to share with my wife.

      Thanks for your input.

  4. This is a great post for someone like me. I have no patience so its good that someone wrote about better times to hit up Disney world. The last time i was there it was so packed that I didn’t even want to stay. I like disney world but the waiting is intolerable so I am a happy person now lol. Great stuff keep it up

    1. Thanks, Marc. Check back for our guide that will be coming soon on the lowest crowds. Also, remember FastPass+ can get you through the lines faster. The parks will never be “dead”, unfortunately, but you can certainly mitigate your wait times. When we were there in the first part of December we had very little wait times for the more major attractions and virtually no wait for the less popular ones.

      There are two attractions that I think there are almost always waits for, though. Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios and Soarin’ in Epcot almost always have some sort of a wait.

  5. Thanks for the info Christian. Really liked the low, moderate and high season information you’ve provided here. I didn’t know that there are special events there. One which caught my attention is the international flower and garden festival. My mum would love it. She really loves flowers. Do you know when that festival starts?

    Thanks again in advance. Cheers!

    1. Hey Andrew,

      Thanks for the comment. The date for the festivals is always a bit of a moving target. The dates for the 2017 Flower and Garden Festival are March 1 – May 29. It’s always beautiful there that time of year and the weather is also usually very cooporative.

  6. OMG I love category 4: “For the love of all that is Holy I can’t even walk around”. I can COMPLETELY attest to the validity of that category as we (stupidly) decided to go to Disney over New Years with our daughter and her boyfriend. What a huge mistake. Disney had to ‘close’ Magic Kingdom (not letting any new guests in) at around noon on New Year’s Eve because of the enormous crowds so we never even got in and spent the day at Epcot instead. I will say that we really enjoyed being at Epcot on New Year’s Eve – every country in the World Pavilion had a DJ playing a different kind of music paired with a light show. My husband and I stayed at Germany for 70s music while our daughter and boyfriend headed over to England for some other music that I still cannot identify. It was all good until we sat in almost 2 hours of traffic exiting the park at 12:30 AM that night. It’s definitely something to experience once, but we will take your advice and plan accordingly next time!

  7. Hi there,
    When I read your title, “When to go to Disney World”, and saw that funny “sad face” picture of you with your family, I was thinking I’d be getting an answer to at what age my kids should ideally be when we go to Disney World with them. Any thoughts on this? How young is too young for it to be worth the cost? (I’ve never been, but we have a 3 year old and a 2 year old – and I’m thinking a trip down to Florida this year to visit Walt Disney World could be AMAZING… or could be a disaster).
    I still found myself drawn in to the post though, even though I thought it was about something else LOL. Love that you “caught Tinkerbell”. My 3 year old is obsessed with her right now! Awesome pic! Cheers, and thanks for a fun read!

    1. Hi Marlaine, thanks for your comment. IMHO, the absolute “perfect” age to take a child is around 5 or 6. If you think you can only go once, I’d highly recommend waiting until your younger child is about 4 or 5. At that age, you really can experience the magic through their eyes. The first time we went our youngest was 5. She thought all of the princesses were real and was positively enthralled at the character meetings and dinners. She met Ariel in mermaid form with her mother and the next night met her in human form with me. She was certain it was the same Ariel and made sure to introduce me to her since I “had not met her yet”. That’s the moment that hooked me on Disney World.

      However, your kids are not too young now. There is so much to see and do to keep them entertained that they will have a wonderful time (and so will you). They will certainly have a wonderful time. Just remember to pace yourself. If you’re going when the weather is hot, I’d try to schedule nap/pool time in the hotter times of the day back at your resort. At this age, you would really benefit from staying at a Disney resort and using the Disney transportation. All of the resorts have fantastic pools and great water play areas for smaller children and usually a bar for dad :).

      I hope you get to go and have a great time. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any other questions.

  8. Great advice.. my sister and her family has season passes and they always try to go and the off peak times of year. Disney can get CRAZY and you can have so much more fun and time to spend on rides and other things when there are less people in the park. Good guide.. thanks for sharing!

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