As we head into the summer vacation season many of you might be scratching your heads at when to go to Disney World. Possibly the most visited destination in the country and certainly the most popular theme park in the world, Disney World attracts over 50,000,000 visitors every year. This causes a number of fluctuating factors including crowd density and resort price levels. Well, to help you out, we've collected and sifted through the data to find the best times to visit the "Happiest Place on Earth" for your next vacation.
The first thing that might be on your mind is the crowds. It's no surprise that Disney World is known for their huge crowds which means long wait times for rides and higher prices at the resorts. There are value times to visit which, coincidentally, occurs right after schools go back in session. Since parents usually don't want to take their kids out of school just weeks after they've started a new semester, look to late August through September and January through mid-February. Here are some low crowd times to consider:
January: second week through mid-Feb
August: second half
September: all month long
Peak periods are probably the worst times to visit if you want to avoid huge amounts of people. The following are the busiest times of year for Disney World:
Winter break - mid-late Feb.
Spring break - early Mar.-mid Apr.
Summer vacation - late May-mid Aug.
Christmas high season - mid-late Dec.
Florida, known as the "Sunshine State," has an average year-round temperature between 60 and 90 degrees, making for beautiful, sunny skies and good park weather. Yet, being situated in the Florida peninsula, Orlando is in a hot-seat for rain, hurricanes, high humidity, and extreme temperatures. If you decide to go in the summer season, try to avoid late July all the way through August when temperatures are at a high and you run the risk of heat related issues like dehydration, heat stroke, and more. Visiting in the winter months is recommended although it tends to rain and can be rather cold. Hurricane season in Florida is from the beginning of June through the end of November and while Florida hasn't had a major hurricane come its way in many years, heavy rain is a strong possibility. Be sure to take rain gear with you no matter the season you decide to visit. Chances are it will rain at least once during your stay and you don't want to be caught unawares without a poncho or umbrella.
Price is, of course, another factor to keep in mind. While ticket prices don't fluctuate, Disney resort prices rise and fall according to seasons. Off seasons such as September and January grant package deals and special perks. Some packages include discounts on select rooms and free dining plans during certain times. Special value times this year occur August 15-September 10 and September 11-December 10. However, these times also coincide with hot weather and large crowds later on in the season. Value resorts such as those with All-Star themes offer the lowest prices during January, late August, and early December. The absolute most expensive times to visit are during Christmas and Easter break.
The final considerations have to do with attraction and event availability. Be fully aware that if you travel during the off season there might be fewer crowds but there also might be fewer rides open. Disney takes excellent care of their attractions which means inspections and renovations throughout the year. To keep everything going smoothly during the busy times, they tend to close rides for maintenance in September and January. Not all will be shut down, of course, but several major rides such as Splash Mountain and Expedition Everest might be closed.
Disney World stands out as a winner among theme parks because of their devotion to their brand and that includes special events such as character meets, fireworks shows, and parades. While other parks have seasonal or temporary events, Disney has events going year round. Holidays are the most crowded but they're also the most fun. New Year's Eve and Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day all schedule fantastic shows, parades, special attractions, and more. There is an event influx during the high seasons but Disney is never dull. Some events that coincide with the off season include Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival, Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Villains Unleashed, and more. Certain events may create an invasion of crowds like Independence Day, Halloween, and Christmas and even festivals that you might not have thought about like Mardi Gras and the Chinese New Year.
It is a basic rule of thumb that when school is not in session, there will be larger crowds. This shouldn't deter you from visiting Disney World, however, as there are tricks to bypassing wait times and crowds by utilizing Fast Pass and Extra Magic Hours. If there's a festival you'd rather die than miss, by all means take advantage of the opportunity and go but be aware of the weather and higher resort prices. Even during the high-seasons, the crowds are navigable with the right information, so don't worry.
Remember, when in doubt, talk to your travel agent and they'll help you out. That's what they're there for.