The Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World
When is The Best Time To Visit Walt Disney World?
There’s more than one way to answer this question
Of all the questions I get asked about Disney travel, hands down the number one question from first-time Disney travelers is: “When is the best time to go to Disney World?”
The question has a few variations, but at the end of the day, there is no single answer that applies to everyone. Unless you know more about the person asking the question, the only true answer is: it depends.
It depends on a few different things, each relating to the definition of “best” by whomever is asking the question. So let’s take a quick look at the most likely scenarios and provide some Disney travel tips for each of these possible answers. Most likely you will be able to identify one of these scenarios as your own situation.
When is the best time to go to Walt Disney World?
I always answer this question with a question of my own, which is: based on what?
- Best Weather?
- Smallest Crowds?
- Special Events?
- Best Deals?
Depending on which of these is most important to you, the best time to visit will be different.
If you’re looking for the best time to visit Walt Disney World based on weather, you’ll first need to remember that there are no guarantees as far as weather is concerned–and that goes double in Central Florida. While Disneyland in California has a much more stable weather pattern generally speaking, Central Florida is a whole different thing. Having said that, if you are looking for the best time to go based on weather, your best bets will be April/May and October/November.
It seems that in recent years, crowds in the parks at Walt Disney World continue to increase and there are really no days when any given park is particularly empty (at least not when compared to the old days at Walt Disney World). The good part is that crowds are a little more consistent than weather and we can predict them a little more accurately.
So if you are aiming to visit Walt Disney World at a time when crowds should be among their lowest levels, there are several options throughout the year to consider:
- most of January and February (minus the Disney marathon weekends and U.S. holidays, like President’s Day);
- the first two weeks of April (before Easter);
- most of May (except around Memorial Day);
- the first week of June;
- the last week of August, but not including the Labour Day weekend (this week is good especially if you are Canadian, because local schools go back earlier than Canadian schools);
- most of September, October and November (not including American Thanksgiving in November); and
- the first two-and-a-half weeks of December.
Throughout these periods, crowds will generally be among their lowest, but it will still be moderately busy, so smart park strategies are always advised.
There are several websites that have Walt Disney World crowd calendars. These can be helpful guides for checking the average historical crowd sizes when planning a Walt Disney World vacation. So do a search for those if you’re so inclined.
At the other end of the spectrum, many people want to visit Walt Disney World to participate in their excellent special events–even if it does mean that it will be more crowded (which is generally the case). Walt Disney World has some great events scattered throughout the year and there is something for everyone. Crowds will be bigger, but there are some dates where you can visit during an event and still avoid the worst days in terms of Walt Disney World crowds.
The main special events held each year include:
- Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (typically takes place from dates in March to May each spring)
- Star Wars Weekends (if they happen, they have typically taken place mid-May to early June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (typically takes place from dates in September to November each fall)
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (dates in late August through October)
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (dates in November through December)
- runDisney races (a series of races typically held in October, November, January and February)
If you plan carefully, it is possible at times to book a one-week vacation that will overlap the end of the Halloween Party with the start of the Christmas Party, which can really increase the value of your weeklong stay.
Generally speaking, the lowest rates are usually found around the times of lowest attendance, noted above. However, in recent years the seasonality of rates has been declining somewhat as Disney takes more of an approach focusing on Special Offers versus seasonal pricing (there is seasonal pricing, but it is marginal). So the real savings–and arguably the only savings–is to try to book during one of the discount periods.
Nothing is set in stone in terms of the special offers, but using recent years as a guideline, discounts are usually announced for spring, summer, late summer, fall and winter. Generally, the offers have been along the lines of 20% to 30% reductions on room rates. Sometimes they will offer a free Disney Dining Plan instead of a reduction on the room rate; however, my advice is always to take a rate reduction over a dining plan. This is your best value.
So When Is the Best Time To Go To Disney World?
If you ask me, any time is a great time to go to Walt Disney World. But if pressed to give my recommendation as to the single best time to go (assuming you have no personal restrictions of any kind), I will recommend two options:
1. The month of September after Labour Day weekend.
By the second week of September, most kids in North America are back in school and that translates into some of the lowest attendance in the Disney Parks that you will see all year. As a bonus, the weather is usually quite good at this time of year. On top of that, you can catch the fall decorations around the property and if you travel towards the end of the month you may be able to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Both of these events are highly recommended and worth a visit. So if this timing works for you (or you can make it work), it is my number one recommended time to visit Walt Disney World Resort.
2. The first two weeks of December.
If the Christmas holiday season is something that you love, then this is an excellent time to go. Weather is usually pleasant (but can get chilly at night, so bring a light jacket or hoodie), crowds are relatively low, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is bringing holiday cheer to the Magic Kingdom and all the parks and Disney resort are decorated with their holiday finest. This is my personal favourite time of year to visit Walt Disney World.
There you have it. There is no single one-size-fits-all answer as to the best time to visit Walt Disney World Resort, but hopefully I have given you some information to help you decide when is the best time to visit for you and your family.
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As a Luxury Travel Blogger and author of The Very Best of Walt Disney World Resort, I blog regularly about Disney vacations of all shapes and sizes.
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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist