If you want to plan a vacation to the vacation capital of the world, you’re probably wondering, “when is the best time to visit?”
The short answer is “just about any time.”
The long answer is that it depends on what is important to you, as well as you schedule and your budget.
Let’s look at the details of determining the best and worst times to visit based upon how busy the parks are:
The busiest times at Walt Disney World are usually during school breaks meaning around holidays like Martin Luther King Day weekend, President’s Day weekend, Spring Break, Easter, Summer Vacation, Thanksgiving, and – especially – the time from Christmas to New Years.
These days, Disney World always has events going on to bring in the crowds.
Winter sees the holiday parties including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Holidays around the World at Epcot, and the Candlelight Processional at Epcot and the runDisney marathon in early January.
These are followed by the International Arts Festival and the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot in the Spring.
Disney welcomes fall with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival.
They’re all fun and unique, so find one that fits your interests and try to visit during this time, but know that the parks will be pretty busy especially during the event.
In the case of the Festivals at Epcot, Disney started these events to bring people in during traditionally slow times. runDisney events are also meant to bring guests in. This means that these times are no longer slow.
Other events like Mickey’s Christmas Party and Halloween Party coincide with holidays so they’re always busy. These events just make them even busier. If you’re visiting during these times, be patient. If you take advantage of FastPass+ reservations, Advanced Dining Reservations, and Extra Magic Hours, you’ll have plenty of time to see and do just about everything you want to.
Regular crowds usually occur in late April after Spring Break and late May when college students are out of school but grade schools haven’t recessed yet. August to Labor Day is also a good time to visit because families are getting ready to go back to school. This is the only holiday that doesn’t see the highest crowds.
October to Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times to visit because the crowds are steady, which means there is a lot to see and do, and because the fall decorations are out. The same is true for early December until the week before Christmas. You can enjoy the festivities without the huge crowds.
When the parks are busy and moderately busy, Disney extends park hours. Likewise, less busy days mean shorter hours and fewer things to do. There are more characters, shows, and activities going on during busy and steady days because Disney can afford to do so with more people in the parks. That’s why I think moderately busy times are the best times to visit.
The least busy times are while students are in school and there’s not much going on. These are also good times to visit, but you’ll have to deal with some weather and fewer activities in the parks.
Mid-January to mid-March are excellent times to visit if you like cooler (yes, sometimes even cold) weather and lower crowds. Even the busiest attractions will have short wait times, and the less popular attractions might not have any lines at all. If you visit during this time, pack accordingly. You might need jeans and a sweatshirt in the morning and evening hours and shorts and a tank top in the mid-day. These drastic temperature swings can prove to be too much for some people. You can always get a locker in the parks to keep extra clothes, or you can head back to your room to change clothes.
Labor Day through October is also a good time for low crowds and comfortable temperatures. Although this used to be a slower time, Disney started offering Free Dining, and business has picked up a little. This is also hurricane season in Florida. If you want to visit during this time, consider getting trip insurance just incase your flight is delayed or the parks close, which doesn’t happen very often.
Early to mid-December is pretty slow as well, but this time sees a lot of high school sports groups. If you’ve never been in line with 100+ high school cheerleaders and you want to know what it’s like, this is perfect time to visit. If not, this might not be the time to plan a vacation.
Best and Worst times
So what is the best and worst times to visit Disney World?
As I said, there isn’t a good answer for this since it depends on your personal preferences.
If you like smaller crowds, cooler temps, and don’t mind fewer “special” activities in the parks, then visiting during the least busy times noted above might be right for you. If you can only schedule your visit around the kids’ school schedules, then you might not have a choice but to visit during the peak seasons. The events are great opportunities to see Disney World in a new way, and the weeks leading up to holidays have the same benefit.