If you’ve seen any Disney commercials lately, you know that they’re trying pretty hard to convince you that the best time to go to Disney World is NOW. And while it’s true that there’s never really a BAD time to go to Disney (at least in my opinion), some times are definitely better than others depending on what’s important to you.
Factors like crowds, budget, weather, special events, holidays, and festivals are all significant when it comes to picking the best time of year to go to Disney World.
Ideally, the perfect time to go to Walt Disney World is when the weather is cool and the crowds are low; however this winning combination knocks out the majority of the year. If you’re lucky enough to be able to plan your trip during one of the slowest and mildest times of the year, you’re sure to have a great time, but if not, don’t worry- like I said-there is no such thing as a BAD time to visit Disney!
Keep reading to find out what months have the lowest (and the most) crowds, what they weather is like throughout the year and my personal favorite times to go to Disney World.
When is Disney World the most crowded?
There are a few factors that go into determining just how crowded Disney World is at any given time of the year…the most significant of them being school schedules. Here’s a breakdown of some of the MOST crowded times to visit Disney World:
Pockets of Mid March through Late April (Spring Break)
Memorial Day weekend
Mid June through Mid August
Thanksgiving Day and weekend
Christmas week through New Year’s Day
Conversely, the slowest time of year to visit Disney World is not just when kids are in school (because that’s a large part of the year and many families pull their kids out for vacation) but when kids have JUST STARTED back to school in the fall and after the winter holidays. Fewer parents are likely to take their kids out of school right at the beginning of the semester. Also, pockets of days or weeks right before major holidays are likely to be slower as everybody is waiting to travel when they’ll have time off work and school. Here’s a breakdown of some of the LEAST crowded times to visit Disney World:
January (after New Years’ Day) up until President’s Week in February.
Mid August through Mid September
The week after Labor Day through the week before Thanksgiving.
The week after Thanksgiving through the week before Christmas.
A few things to note here…
There are always bizarre pockets of days that end up being more heavily crowded than others during a somewhat slow season and vice versa. My absolute favorite way to track crowds on a daily basis is with Touring Plans. Their Crowd Calendar is unparalleled.
Also, I feel like there needs to be a disclaimer here…while 20 years ago there were times you could go to Disney and feel like you were practically the only ones there, that doesn’t really happen anymore (late August/early September when the kids go back to school is the closest you’ll get anymore!) Disney has mastered the art of promotions (and events) that draw people to Walt Disney World pretty much year round, BUT there are times that are definitely less crowded than others.
What is the weather generally like at Disney World? If I can only answer in one word: HOT. If I can have more words…it’s a lot more nuanced.
Best months to go to Disney World
“Best” really depends on the kind of weather that you like, but hot and wet seem to be what bothers people the most. Well folks, this is Florida so I hate to tell you but it’s hot most of the time. The summer months are definitely the worst though. It also tends to rain more in the spring and summer although by the summer the thunderstorms are usually pretty predictable in the afternoon. They show up quickly and move on just as quickly.
Spring at Disney World
Okay, this is my absolute favorite time of year to go! While I like to try to avoid the spring break waves of crowds, parts of March, April, and even into May are pretty perfect. Especially towards the beginning of March you’ll get crisp mornings, warm afternoons, and cool nights with relatively low humidity. It rains a bit, but not terribly more than other times of the year in Florida.
Summer at Disney World
There’s not really a way to sugarcoat it…the heat and humidity during summer in Florida can be downright oppressive. If you go prepared for it though and take advantage of Disney’s generous a/c, it’s pretty manageable. While you’re probably thinking June, July, and August when I say “summer,” I will confess that the absolute HOTTEST I’ve ever been at Walt Disney World was in September. I’ve done trips in June, July, and August, but September was the worst. Generally, June will be the most pleasant of all the summer months.
This is my other favorite time to go to Disney World! The weather starts to get pretty much perfect by October and November. Cooler temperatures and comfortable humidity but daytime temps still warm enough to go swimming (bless those heated pools) make it a great time to go. Add to it the dwindling crowds and it’s a pretty nice time.
Winter at Disney World
And then there’s winter. If you go with the right expectations, winter at Disney World can be the perfect time to go (especially if you struggle in the heat). While it’s likely to be warmer than where you’re visiting from (especially if you’re from the north), it can get a little chilly. Now, temperatures rarely drop below freezing and usually hover in the mid 60s to 70s during the day, but for some reason that always FEELS colder in Florida. If you come with the right clothes (jeans, leggings, jackets, and maybe even hats and scarves at night), it can make for really enjoyable park days.
I think the winter months are the biggest swing months weather wise. Spring, summer, and fall are fairly predictable, but I’ve visited during winter months where I’ve been bundled up in a coat, hat, and gloves (burrrr!) and other times where we took swim breaks in the middle of the day because it was so warm.
Budget – Best Time to Go to Disney World
I’ll straight up level with you here. Disney is never “cheap.” Like anywhere, there are ways to save money and stretch your dollar, but it’s just not a cheap destination in general.
As a general rule, the off-season is cheaper. Less people=less demand= lower prices. Prices usually follow the crowd calendar with the off season being cheaper and the peak season being downright ridiculous. The best “deals” will come when Disney is expecting low capacity (i.e. not when kids are out of school).
Ticket pricing now fluctuates depending on demand so tickets for days when crowds are projected to be high will be higher. Resorts and hotel prices (including vacation packages) change a lot also depending on crowds.
So again, the absolute cheapest time of year to go to Disney World is going to be when crowds are lowest and that’s generally late August/early September.
But Disney runs so many promotions and specials throughout the year so keep an eye out for discounts.
Disney World During the Holidays
Holidays are some of the most popular times of year to visit Walt Disney World. Halloween and Christmas draw big crowds because of the extra special celebrations. While Halloween is pretty much limited to the Magic Kingdom (pumpkin and fall decorations around Main Street USA and an after hours Halloween themed party), Christmas is a BIG DEAL around the resort. All four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom) and the resorts get in the spirit with holiday parades, decor and a special ticket event in the Magic Kingdom after hours.
Now, when exactly are the holidays at Disney? If you think Halloween is at the end of October, you’d be wrong. At least at Disney. Halloween starts end of August and runs up to Novmber 1 when they quickly do a switcheroo and start busting out the Christmas decorations by November 8th. Because people come from all over to visit Walt Disney World, they want to give people as much time as possible to celebrate (ahem spend money) during each holiday. So don’t think you have to go end of October if you want to see/do Halloween at Disney or end of December for Christmas. You’ve got a WINDOW, folks.
Remember how I told you that Disney has figured out ways to draw people in during what used to be relatively slow parts of the year?
Fall back to school slump? Boom! How about a Food and Wine Festival?
Pre summer travel slump? Kapow! Let’s do a Flower and Garden Festival!
That weird time at the beginning of the year when holiday travel is over but spring break season hasn’t started? Let me introduce you to the International Festivals of the Arts!
Okay, okay you get the picture.
Epcot is unique from all of the other parks because it has a whole world of festivals that run for a few months at a time. It’s a joke in the Disney community that while the festivals used to pop up for a few weeks here and there to fill in gaps in the seasons, there’s pretty much ALWAYS a festival going on at Epcot now.
There are four festivals at Epcot:
Epcot International Festival of the Arts (January – February)
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (March – May)
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (September-November)
Holidays Around The World at Epcot (November – December)
They’re all great in their own ways, but I would say the Food and Wine and Flower and Garden Festivals are the major-go all out Festivals while Festival of the Arts and Holidays Around the World are more “festival-lite.”
If you’re particularly drawn towards one or another, that might determine how you choose when to go to Disney World, but I will tell you that my absolute favorite time to go to Disney is in the spring during the Flower and Garden Festival. They’ve really amped it up over the years so in addition to completely decking the park out in the most elaborate landscapes you can imagine (including dozens and dozens of detailed topiaries of Disney characters), there are tons of food booths so it’s basically a second Food and Wine Festival.
Besides the big holidays like Christmas and Halloween, there’s a smattering of other holidays and events throughout the year at Walt Disney World. Valentine’s Day, Earth Day, Easter, Mother’s Day…there’s a little something special every month (nothing super elaborate but maybe a special treat or character meet or two).
Besides smaller holidays, Disney hosts a slew of RunDisney events (marathons, half marathons 10Ks, 5Ks) with various themes from Princesses to Star Wars throughout the year.
So by now you’ve gathered that there’s not really a “perfect” or “best” time to visit Walt Disney World because it’s largely influenced by what’s important to you, your schedule, etc. BUT I still have a personal FAVORITE time to go to Disney World.
Two actually. In order, they are…
Early spring for Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival
Mid March to Mid April is my hands down favorite time to go. The Flower and Garden Festival usually starts around the first of March so I like to give them a couple of week to get all the kinks worked out (plus all the crowds of bloggers, influencers, YouTubers, people who must do everything on the absolute first day it opens, etc.) to thin. Also, the flowers really start growing into themselves (is that a thing?) by mid April but they’re not droopy with heat exhaustion like they are come mid May.
The weather is ideal. Cool(ish) in the mornings, warm enough to swim in the afternoons, and pleasant in the evening and if you avoid pockets of high spring break crowds, the crowds are pretty tolerable.
There’s two different fall windows I like to shoot for.
1) Late August/early September when the kids have just gone back to school and the parks are as empty as they’ll be all year. Ideal crowd situation but I’ll warn you it is HOTTER THAN THE SURFACE OF THE SUN. I’m not terribly bothered by the heat though.
2) Mid October through Mid November. The weather starts to majorly cool off, the Food and Wine Festival is in full swing, the crowds are still relatively low and if you’re a holiday junkie (I’m not) it’s possibly to catch Halloween and Christmas in the same week.