Posted by: Lauren Wallis
I go to Disney World quite frequently now that I am a Central Florida resident, about twice a week. I have also been going to Disney World for 35 years, so I have learned a few “insider secrets” along the way when it comes to the best times to visit. Over the last three years or so, I have noticed a major increase in crowds, year round. What were once vacations where I could ride Peter Pan twice in a row without a wait are now a fond memory of the past. But, there are still times that I have gone to the parks and noticed smaller crowds. Can I guarantee you 5 minute waits at all of your favorite rides? Not exactly. Can I guarantee you that you’ll get a walk up table at Le Cellier or Be Our Guest? No, but I can guarantee that the following time periods are usually less packed than the summer or the holiday season.
After the kids go back to school and the hub bub from the holiday celebrations are over, most families leave the theme park area to resume normal life. While most of January used to be pretty low, schools have been pushing into the first week off after New Year’s Eve and Martin Luther King Jr. 3 day weekends seem to have large crowds. January also has some nice weather, a change from families used to battling 90+ degree weather and thunderstorms. It is usually in the 70’s without rain!
The week of Valentine’s Day brings huge crowds, but if you can travel the first week or so of February, you are in for a real treat. Lower crowds and temperatures in the 60s-70s make for perfect days in the parks. Just make sure you also pack some winter wear, as nights in February can get down into the 30’s. Most schools have only been back in session for about 3 weeks, so parents are not usually taking vacations, so this is a perfect time to visit…unless you were planning to tan at the pool often.
Florida schools are back in session the third week in August, so despite the heat, it is actually a pretty decent time to visit. First, the pools in the resorts are so refreshing and there could not be a better time to visit the two awesome water parks! So, if can only travel during summer months, the end of August is the best time to visit!
While most out of staters are focusing on getting back to school, Floridian families are going to Disney World over the Labor Day weekend. If you can travel in September, you are going to find lighter crowds and shorter lines for the rides starting the week after the holiday. Just keep in mind that the incredibly popular Food and Wine Festival typically opens in the third week of September, so Epcot starts drawing its biggest crowds during that time. Weekends will start to get busier!
All of October used to be my favorite time to visit Disney World, but the first couple of weeks are getting busier every year. Disney has started giving deep discounts on hotels and adding free dining plans to entice more visitors and November is usually a time for free dining, so people are trying to travel in early November instead of late October. Just take a look at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party dates, that will draw big crowds to Magic Kingdom.
The week of Thanksgiving is totally packed, but the week leading up to it is usually pretty tame. It has been the time of year that I can get the dining reservations I want without any difficulty. The parks are in the starting phases of getting ready for the holidays and some holiday activities and decorations are already in full swing.
While kids are ready for a winter break, most parents are not taking their families on vacations before a 2 week school break. The weather is perfect, most days in the 70’s to low 80’s and all of the holiday activities and decorations are on full display. Holiday music is pumped through the speakers everywhere, cast members seem to be even happier than usual and you can get on more rides due to shorter lines. You will also find that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be crowded, but not crazy packed.
Of course, another great time to visit Disney World is Monday through Friday. Usually, hotel rates are lower on weekday stays and crowds swell on the weekends. Monday through Wednesday will be your best days for Magic Kingdom, while the other parks are great for the full 5 days. Just be careful, weeks off from school, especially the Florida schools, can change this in an instant!
DisneyDining.com is not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company. Official information can be found at DisneyParks.com
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